Over the past few months, the face of the CSE’s has drastically changed ever since Google announced that their free comparison shopping platform would transition into a paid one.

We’ve done a ton of coverage here on our blog but we’re just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of the transition, which won’t be 100% complete until October. This has not only affected merchants and shoppers that use Google Product Search/Shopping, but has also affected the other CSE’s as well.

As merchants start to allocate their advertising budget toward Google Shopping they must also decide how this affects their spend on the other CSE’s–and similarly the CSE’s have to adjust their strategies as well. It’s no wonder you can’t spell “Chess” without c-s-e.

However since the new changes didn’t really start to take effect until the very end of the 2nd quarter, we haven’t seen anything drastic in this edition’s rankings, but the next one should certainly provide a different picture.

The Study

Like we did with our rankings each of the past two quarters, we’ve split up the rankings into 4 specific categories (free registration required):

For full details of how we measure the CSE’s check out our previous rankings’ page:

So let’s get started.


There’s little change at the top here–Amazon is still the top dog, Google follows up in 2nd, and the rest of the top tier engines finish a cut above the rest.



Again Google is the top revenue driver in the past quarter, but Nextag makes a big leap as the #5 traffic driver to being just slightly behind Google here.

Below the charts are broken into two parts, dark blue represents data from Q2 2012, and light blue reflects data from the previous quarter, Q1 2012.

Conversion Rate % (orders/clicks)

The results here are quite similar to what they were previously, with Pronto jumping a spot on Nextag.

It’ll be very interesting to see how Google’s traffic quality is affected with the transition taking place, and certainly something we’ll keep a close eye on.

COS (Cost divided by Revenue) %


The paid CSE’s sort of flip-flop between increases and decreases here, but overall nothing too dramatic took place.

Average CPC (Cost-per-click) Rate



With the exception of Amazon, who actually just announced that they are raising rates for a number of their categories, there were CPC increases across the board for the rest of the paid shopping engines.

Shopping Engine Responsiveness Rating (ranking from 1-10, 1 being best)


Our account managers here are constantly in touch with the shopping engines in an attempt to optimize our merchants’ accounts and know first hand which engines are quickest to contact and who acts best.

Merchant Tools (ranking from 1-10, 1 being best)


In the end we ranked each shopping engine from each of our metrics from 1-10 and assigning a point value for each category (higher being better).

We doubled the COS % value making that out of a possible 20 points, and weighted traffic + revenue as 1.5 each for a maximum of 15, summed it up, and got the following:



The top looks as familiar as usual, with Google leading the way and here we have Nextag coming in second. Close behind is Pricegrabber and rounding out the top half are Amazon and Shopzilla in a tie.

However will this be the last quarter we see Google at the top of our rankings? There’s no doubt that as the largest search engine to serve as a starting point that traffic provided will be high, but will the quality of traffic be affected during the transition?

And without the benefits it gets in our rankings of being free, it certainly opens up the door for another shopping engine to either close the gap or perhaps take over.

Breaking Down the Rankings by Category

Through special demand by our readers asking us to break down the CSE’s by specific categories, we have created separate studies that concentrate on apparel, electronics, home & garden, and sporting goods.