4 July 2019
By Jon Akass
Jon is a Product Owner at Volo, and writes about how retailers and brands can improve their ecommerce performance.
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Google Shopping and Amazon are staples of online ecommerce. You need to be on both. But are both the same?
The quick answer is no. Each channel has its own specific qualities that you need to understand if you are going to make the most out of each channel.
Utilising both Amazon and Google Shopping to their full capacity will help you make sure that your products are getting maximum visibility.
This article will cover the differences between Google Shopping and Amazon, giving you a comprehensive insight on how to master both and increase your online retail sales.
This isn’t a ‘one or the other’ decision — it is about how to make the most of each solution.
To be honest, your ecommerce horizons should extend even further, encompass Facebook Shopping, Instagram Shopping and more — but let’s stay on topic!
The reality is that sometimes budget constraints will force you to prioritise. If it comes down to a choice, is there a reason to invest in Google Shopping over Amazon? What are the main differences between the channels?
There are two main differences between Amazon and Google Shopping: the relationship each channel has to your website and how you pay for listings. Together, these may impact which channel is better suited to your needs.
Find our full retailer's guide to success here.
Google Shopping directs buyers to your product pages. Amazon is a complete online marketplace, allowing shoppers to make purchases directly through Amazon. To use Google Shopping, you need high quality product pages to which users can be directed. However, the advantage is that this makes it easier to track customer data and ensure a great user experience.
It’s also worth noting that Google Shopping has announced it will roll out an ‘in Shopping’ purchase feature in the near future, which is closer to how Amazon operates. But for now, this difference is worth considering.
Google Shopping operates on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis — you pay when people click on your product listings. High conversion rates are critical to a good ROI on Google Shopping. It also means you have more direct control (through higher bids) to influence your ranking.
Unlike Google Ads, you don’t bid on keywords in Google Shopping, you bid on products (or product groups). High-quality product data (your Google Shopping feed) and good reviews are critical to ranking on Google Shopping. However, the maximum bids you place also play a role — allowing you to outbid your competition and guarantee a high ranking if you have the bigger budget.
Amazon payment options are far simpler. You either sign up for a monthly subscription (£25), or pay £0.75 per listing. You then pay a per-item selling fee, which can vary by category. This removes the whole challenge of placing bids, but also removes your ability to pay for placement. This can be a good or bad thing depending on your budget and team size.
What about the value of being on Google?
Google Shopping comes with the added value of being on Google — the top Google Shopping results generally appear right in the main Google search results for relevant search terms.
But the prominence of large online marketplaces (like Amazon) has reduced Google’s status as the only ‘go-to’ place to begin a product search. Surveys show a changing tide, with one demonstrating that almost half of US consumers go to Amazon first for product searches, whereas only just over a third use Google.
There isn't much mystery behind this change. You can use Google to find specific products, especially if you use the Shopping tab to see product listings. However, Amazon is a channel built specifically and exclusively for selling products. Using it to conduct product searches can help to cut out noise and present results in organised categories that are easier to filter. Amazon also conforms to the ‘one-click’ shopping experience many consumers want.
When it comes to being in front of customers that want to buy products, both Google and Amazon are leading channels. Again, in order to be an ecommerce leader, you need to be on both.
To be effective, you need to change your strategy to meet the specifics of each channel. This will allow you to capture the leads and sales that you're looking for. Use these key categories to tailor your approach for Amazon and Google.
Both Google Shopping and Amazon determine listings based on search engine algorithms. Google Shopping also takes into account your bid, but the algorithmically determined relevance (based on the quality of your product data) matters.
Long tail vs Short tail keywords
Long tail keyword phrases are important for ranking on Google, helping to give more context to your keywords and providing Google with the detail required to show consumers exactly what they are looking for. Keeping your long tail phrases together and using them strategically should be part of your plan when you're writing product listings that you want to rank well on Google Shopping.
Amazon, on the other hand, places more emphasis on individual keywords. Short tail keywords are more important, so it doesn't matter if longer phrases are broken up, with different parts in different sections. Fundamental to optimised Amazon listings is getting the right short tail keywords in the right listings.
Keyword stuffing was all the rage for SEO on Google ten years ago. It no longer really works, and Google’s algorithms have gotten a lot smarter — looking for authority, relevancy and value. Product titles should reflect how people search for your product.
Like with the dependence on short tail keywords, Amazon’s algorithms remain less advanced. You don’t want to go overboard, damaging readability or making your tactics obvious. However, getting those short tail keywords on the page multiple times will pay off better with Amazon than Google, and is less likely to backfire.
The one caveat to keyword repetition is character limits on Amazon. Prioritise diversity of information in listings (things your customers want to know) rather than keywords. Never damage readability for keywords. On both Amazon and Google Shopping, keywords in the titles matter more than in descriptions, but both are important.
Another major difference between your product listings on Google and on Amazon is that one prioritises clicks whereas for the other conversions are more important. As a search engine, Google is designed for selling adverts but Amazon is designed to sell products. Google weighs up the number of clicks you get, Amazon is much more interested in how many people are buying your products. That's why it's important to take a different approach to SEO with each channel.
All online marketplaces use a number of filters that enable shoppers to tailor their searches and find the products they want. The problem for ecommerce listing managers is that these filter categories are not always the same. For example, Google Shopping only provides 4 colour categories for jeans, while Amazon provides 12 — including a multi-colour category.
The price filters, style filters and brand filters are also not all the same on each channel. They also change from time to time. You need to know and track these differences, and then reflect them in your listings to appear in these results.
Creating an optimised strategy for both channels
Google and Amazon offer two different ways to promote and sell your products online. However, just because they are different channels, it doesn't mean that you should choose one over the other. Both are important to pay attention to if you want to give your products the best chance to sell. The thing to remember is that you should approach them in different ways so that you can optimise your product listings on both.
The challenge of managing and maintaining different channels (optimising your listings for each) and having time to plan channel-specific campaigns is one reason that successful online retailers are turning to ecommerce platforms for help.
Digital ecommerce tools can act as a central data repository within your organisation, making it simple to pull the latest product data for listings. These same tools can pull listing optimisation information straight from the channel (Google Shopping and Amazon), combine that data with customer insights gathered online, and use machine learning to automatically fill in product fields.
By using the latest technology, your listings can be optimised while freeing up more of your team’s time to focus on the specifics of campaign management. Ecommerce teams are alerted when needed, but all of your attention can be directed to writing compelling copy, using high quality imagery and developing bidding and listing strategies tailored for each channel.
This is the real secret to success on Google Shopping, Amazon or any other channel for ecommerce: use data-driven insights to inform your decision making, then create channel-specific strategies to make these very different channels work for you.
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