In talking about the effectiveness and benefits of using comparison shopping engines and marketplaces like Amazon, there is one aspect that often is overlooked. Discussion is usually centered on the ability to give consumers choice and visibility into products. This is true from a costumer’s point of view, but there is another big plus I think goes overlooked, and that is getting the costumer through the door in the first place.
As the prime decision maker or business owner, it’s vital to get people into the store before they buy, and a website is no different. Many tactics are available including search engine marketing (SEM) and laborious search engine optimization (SEO) work. The extraordinary thing about comparison shopping engines and marketplaces is in many ways, they do this work for the merchant. These channels spend a large amount of time drawing in traffic similar to site owners and getting those consumers the choices and information they are looking for. One interesting off-shoot of this competitive niche is just how well comparison shopping engines and marketplaces have gotten at their own SEO and SEM work.
To illustrate, I took a quick survey using heavily trafficked searches that most merchants would kill for (well, hopefully not literally). I then ran a quick search on Google, and scanned the promised land for any SEO and SEM guru, the coveted ‘Page 1’ Google results. Most businesses would need to invest a large amount of time and money to be ranked in these spots. The beauty here, is that these spots have been filled out nicely by the comparison shopping engines and marketplaces.
To test how effective these channels are, I performed a test by making searches on Google. This is not quite scientific because paid results will vary by search, natural results will vary by day, and I have purposely omitted sites which offer an advertising solution, but a slightly different model than the focus of this article (eBay, Overstock).
Below are the results of high traffic product related keywords searches on Google in both organic and paid placements:
The interesting thing in looking over the results, is the relative stability in the findings. With the exceptions of ‘gold necklace’ and ‘lcd tv’, the searches are fairly consistent in terms of coverage. You can expect to find about 3 results on the page, evenly divided between paid and natural listings.
The additional benefit to a merchant, besides not having to compete for these listings on their own, is the relative optimization work done by the channels. For example, if a paid listing is pulling in a lot of non-converting traffic, the engine will turn off the listing. This sort of trickle down optimization, works to the benefit of the merchant by making sure the right traffic is being pulled in initially, before a consumer even clicks on an item resulting in an expenditure.