Why data feed accuracy for each CSE is the bee’s knees, even if it is a pain in the booty.

Because who doesn't love better conversion rates…

In a competitive economy, consumers benefit from multiple merchants who carry  the same products.

More selection mean more competition. And as any sale oriented shopper knows- it rocks!

However, one of the major downfalls of this diversity is in fact that- its diversity.

Consumers wishing to use  store incentive programs are required to use one specific to each store, and the same can often be said for coupons, return policies, and other merchant specific services.


My Starbucks Gold Card isn't going to get me any rebates at Dunkin Donuts. Where I will also be greeted with funny looks and deemed snooty for attempting to order a "Venti Frappuccino."

The same variables apply to online shopping, as evidenced in the CSEs.

Comparison Shopping Engine's are designed to do exactly the same thing, but have many differences in format and requirements.

It can be frustrating for merchants then, to perform similar tasks across multiple engines, such as categorizing, listing promotions and setting up data feeds.

Since each engine has its own unique requirements and formats, non-inclusive of one another.

CSEs have different format, but are designed for the same purpose.

Although they are annoyingly different, it is still important to adhere to each CSEs specific format on each site.

This goes doubly for feed format.

CSEs use feed format to properly list products on their pages.

Including categorization, price and availability- major determinants for conversion, and shopping cart abandonment.

Important? Yes! Inclusive of even a shadow of resemblance? No!

Fortunately, most CSEs share similar base requirement for the most important product information, such as a product image and description url, price, and shipping info.

These are very important variables which if left out, can lead to the account not going live, or a large tendency towards cart abandonment.

The same base product information requirements in each engine- that doesn’t sound so bad.

Except that these items are called different things in each CSE, and aren't  listed in the same order…

And if that wasn't enough- each engine differs in what it requires and "recommends" to be listed in the feed. Google requires merchants to include a brand condition, product link, price, image link etc.

While Shopzilla asks for a category id, condition, product url, SKU, etc.  This is just one example of the engine differences- which aren’t in the same order, or even inclusive of the same terminology.

Additionally, Google “recommends” categories such as MPN, ISBN and weight, while Nextag notes CPC, distributor id, and marketing messages as “optional.”

Search Engine’s are different in terms of feed specifications– what do I do?

Here's how to deal with it.

  •  Don’t leave anything required blank!

There’s nothing worse than wasting a click on a customer who is looking for more information on a product, since it is not listed on the CSE comparison page.

  • Be aware of the different names each engine uses for a category, eg. SKU vs. unique retailer SKU.

They'll be labeled differently- but in the end they are the same thing. Garbanzo beans or Chick peas? It may be a little intimidating at first- but you’ll get the hang of it!


  •  Be knowledgeable about what products do well in which engines.

Also be sure to reflect that shipping option in the account management tab on the respective CSE.

  •  List MPN and Retailer SKU.

MPN, SKU, UPC… its confusing alphabet soup. But even if you aren’t quite sure what it is, you can determine patterns, and double check numbers.  If nothing else- make sure your MPN's are correct. Leaving out an MPN can cause items to not SKU-up   on comparison pages, which can severely hurt product exposure.

  •  List any and all information available.

If its “optional,”- It'll probably help to add it, if you can, especially in Google.

  •  Utilize the “on sale” or regular vs. current price columns.

Yeah it’s a pain "in the booty" to change your feed for each engine, and understand CSE specific jargon and requirements—but it’s worth it!

Just like it’s worth it to call my coffee a “black-eye”(2 shots of espresso for anyone who is wondering), and use old-school diction.

More need to know info!

Don't get suspended on Google

CSE rankings

Holiday CPC changes


About the AuthorMary Weinstein is the Director of Content at CPC Strategy, and an expert in Retail Search, Google Shopping and Digital Marketing. A NY native, Mary spends her time educating online merchants, hiking and drinking copious amounts of coffee. You can also find her work on SEW, SEMRush, MOZ and Practical Ecommerce. See all posts by this author here.