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Will Google Merchants Gobble Up Some Affiliate Holiday Sales?

Linda Buquet

Google quietly just made a change to their interface that could help boost holiday sales through Google Checkout merchants and other merchants that upload products to what used to be called Google Base and before that was Froogle. The changes could take a possible bite out of affiliate sales in a couple different ways.

1) More prominent "Product" links, which affiliates aren't allowed to be listed in.
2) Heavy Google Checkout emphasis (see below). Some merchants last Christmas did not properly implement affiliate tracking links, so if the consumer bought through Checkout it was a leak and affiliates didn't get paid.

<center><strong>See anything different in this screenshot?</strong>

<a href="" title="google product search by 5starAffiliatePrograms, on Flickr"><img src="" width="580" alt="google product search" /></a></center>
The search options at the very top of the page used to be <strong>Web, Images, Video</strong>. So they just replaced video search with product search. I think this happened 2 days ago, just in time for Black Friday. Since video is so hot these days I have to assume this may just be a temporary change for the Holidays. This change will probably end up taking more people to Google products.

Additionally now on many product related searches - between the new Google product link, Google advertisers on top (Adwords) and Google merchants listed in product search results - almost the top 1/2 of the screen is taken up by Google, pushing natural search results down.

Another issue affiliates should take a close look at and pro-actively research is Google Checkout. Notice that "<strong>see product results available through Google Checkout</strong>" is listed right there on the main search results page. But also if you click the either of the 2 product search links at the top of the page, once you get to the products page Google Checkout is listed TWICE at the top of the page. It takes the spot where an Adwords advertiser normally would be plus is at the top of the results page.

<center><a href="" title="google checkout product search by 5starAffiliatePrograms, on Flickr"><img src="" width="240" height="149" alt="google checkout product search" /></a></center>

So affiliates, double check with your merchants that use Checkout and be sure they have implemented tracking and it works. Last Christmas it was a big problem (see all my blogs below.) Most of the bigger high profile merchant took care of the issue, but I bet there are still some merchants that either don't know, don't care, or care but never put the tech resources into actually doing the integration.

Last year Matt Cutts and Kyle Harrison, the Google Product Manager for Checkout, actually got involved to help solve the problem after I raised the issue here at the 5 Star blog. So affiliates if you have clueless merchants, send them here. See my 06 blogs below for more info.

<strong><a href="">Google Checkout Eats Affiliate Holiday Sales</a>
<a href="">Google Checkout Affects Affiliate Tracking - New Info Part 2</a>
<a href="">Google Checkout Affiliate Tracking Now Works - Here’s How</a></strong>

<strong>NOTE: </strong>I'm not faulting Google for any of this and I don't mean to say this is an anti-affiliate conspiracy AT ALL! Google is just giving their customers and merchants that work with them the highest possible visibility. It's just something affiliates should be aware of, that's all.