I’d like to share a great question that one of my friends from the Bing Shopping forums asked yesterday.

It was: When you search for a product, how does a shopping engine determine whether to lump products together into a comparison page (like this) or list the products separately?

Answer:

Comparison shopping engines will match UPCs, MPNs, and even attributes like product title to define whether a listing can match an existing product in their product database. This is an automated process that is not 100%. The shopping engines are more or less comparing different variables, seeing if they match or not, and determining through some algorithm whether or not the two products are the same and should be compared.

It’s easy to do with most electronics because of UPCs and most other product information is identical. But like on this page, sometimes merchants don’t include complete information and products will get their own separate listings besides the main comparison page.

Unfair Advantage?

Websites such as eBay submit products from each individual seller instead of lumping all of their sellers into a seperate comparison page to submit. In the phone example above, there are not only multiple listings from the same seller on the main product comparison page, but a number of separate listings of the same item from eBay sellers.

Best Practice

It’s in each shopping engine’s interest to match the same products into one comparison page to organize search results and improve the shopper’s experience. Usually the lowest and most attractive offer will float to the top of the search results on the most heavily populated comparison page that most closely matches up to the shopper’s search.

Those offers usually have the most product information, and most importantly there’s a larger pool of merchants and one of them most likely has the lowest price.

That’s a lot of most.

If you can, you’ll want to list on each product’s main comparison page. It gives your products more visibility.

Price is the top variable that influences clicks and sales, probably followed by reviews and brand recognition. But if you’re a listing outside of the comparison page, you probably won’t get much attention or traffic.

Don’t know why you’re not listing on a comparison page? Make sure you’re including all pertinent attributes that are displayed in the product details of that comparison page. If you can add a UPC that’s listed on a comparison page to your product information you’ll jump onto that page.

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