Google goes Pinterest with shopping images by turning some search results – only a few for right now – into clickable links for direct purchases.
The new feature, which started rolling out last week to mobile searches and the Android search app, will enable shoppers to find in images which pop up in search result pages items they may want to buy.
Google will call the new feature, “Similar Items,” and it will mimic the Pinterest-style direct buying images found all over the popular scrapbook platform.
“The “Similar Items” feature is designed to help users find products they love in photos that inspire them on Google Image Search,” explains the Google Webmaster blog. “Using machine vision technology, the Similar items feature identifies products in lifestyle images and displays matching products to the user. Similar items supports handbags, sunglasses, and shoes and will cover other apparel and home & garden categories in the next few months.”
Note that last part: for now, only handbags, sunglasses and shoes. “Apparel and home & garden categories” to follow. And, we’ll bet, a whole lot more. The move could put a serious dent in Pinterest’s very successful click-to-buy functions.
“The Similar items feature enables users to browse and shop inspirational fashion photography and find product info about items they’re interested in,” says Google. “Finding price and availability information was one of the top Image Search feature requests from our users. The Similar items carousel gets millions of impressions and clicks daily from all over the world.”
But getting your items included in the new feature remains a bit tricky:
To make your products eligible for Similar items, make sure to add and maintain schema.org product metadata on your pages. The schema.org/Product markup helps Google find product offerings on the web and give users an at-a-glance summary of product info.
To ensure that your products are eligible to appear in Similar items:
- Ensure that the product offerings on your pages have schema.org product markup, including an image reference. Products with name, image, price & currency, and availability meta-data on their host page are eligible for Similar items
- Test your pages with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to verify that the product markup is formatted correctly
- See your images on image search by issuing the query “site:yourdomain.com.” For results with valid product markup, you may see product information appear once you tap on the images from your site. It can take up to a week for Googlebot to recrawl your website.”
Google promises to expand the feature to more search result platforms later this year. It’s a pretty big deal.
“If you have questions, find us in the dedicated Structured data section of our forum, on Twitter, or on Google+,” offers the search giant. “To prevent your images from showing in Similar items, webmasters can opt-out of Google Image Search.”
Landing pages are critical to success
The new shopping feature will, of course, make sellers’ landing pages even more important (like they weren’t already). The rule: as few clicks-to-purchase as possible. We are notoriously fickle as internet users, impatient. We’ll lose interest, get frustrated, move on to other sites if we have to click through more than a couple of pages. Keep the process to one or two clicks if you can.
Google calls it a “frictionless” mobile shopping experience.
“A seamless end-to-end mobile shopping experience is essential for capturing mobile shoppers,” says Google. “When your customers click on a Shopping ad, they expect to find relevant information and an easy checkout process. The single greatest (effect) you have on shaping your customer’s mobile shopping experience is through your product landing pages.”
Google offers a complete guide to creating effective landing pages and shop sites and it’s well worth any seller’s time to review the suggestions. Um, it’s Google.
Here’s a shorter version, also offered up by Google:
Use mobile-optimized landing pages or responsive design
- Use the Mobile-Friendly Test to identify opportunities for improving your product landing pages on mobile. Test your landing page with the Mobile-Friendly Test.
- If your website doesn’t have responsive design, provide mobile-optimized versions of your product landing pages in the mobile_link attribute of your product data.
- Check out other retailers’ mobile sites for ideas on how to make your own landing pages better.
Taking these measures will ensure that your website is always configured and displayed in the best format to create a better mobile shopping experience.
Decrease page loading times
Users will bounce from a website if it takes too long to load. You may be losing valuable mobile shoppers and potentially harming your brand. Page speed is an essential part of shaping your customers’ mobile shopping experience.
- Use the PageSpeed Insights tool to analyze your landing pages for opportunities to decrease your page loading times. Learn how to improve your page speed.
Remove popups or other interstitials
Shoppers will grow frustrated if they come across popups, registration requirements, or other interstitials before they can continue onto your product landing page.
- Avoid using popups or other interstitials. Give shoppers the information they’re looking for right away. Read more about helping users access your content on mobile.
- Your product image, title, description and pre-selected variant should match between your Shopping ad and product landing page. Being consistent and relevant before and after a click will create a smooth experience for your customers.
Reduce buying friction
Mobile devices are no longer just a research tool for shoppers. Consumers are growing more comfortable making purchases straight from their smartphones. When your customers are ready to buy, make sure you’re there to seal the deal with a quick and simple transaction experience.
- Offer the option to check out as a guest and encourage registrations with tangible benefits.
- Provide a one-click purchasing process with autofill fields for your mobile shoppers. Make it easy for your customers to complete their purchase.
- Embrace third-party tools and services if you’re short on resources to accelerate your mobile checkout flow, like Android Pay.
Every step you take to improve your transaction process will boost your customers’ mobile shopping experience and increase your mobile conversion rates. Get more best practices for checkout and payments.