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Comparison Shopping Engines: Optimize Your Product Titles

A properly formatted Product Title should be considered the cornerstone in your comparison shopping engine optimization (CSEO) efforts.

To achieve optimal relevancy on most shopping engines, you may need to revise the Title in your feed from its original appearance on your site. On the other hand, Google prefers that the Title in your feed reflects the product title found on your website’s landing page. You need to consider using a bit of art and science when crafting a Product Title because the balance of form and function changes from one shopping search engine to the next.

In general, the Title you select for your product page should be clear, descriptive and accurate. A good Title should start with Brand, followed by a descriptive phrase or adjective about the product, and end with the product type (noun). Great information to include in your Title is gender, size, color and other descriptive attributes. You should avoid unnecessary use of punctuation, capitalization and symbols as way to make your products stand out. Crafting a Title that does not describe your product can lead customers to lose the trust in your store, classically known as the bait and switch.

The Title is a major factor in how your products match to search queries and is used by most engines to tie your products to additional sub categories. Your Title should not focus on clever marketing terms or fluff text but rather relevant product information a user may search for (such as brand, gender, model number, etc.). Keep in mind that you will not be able to craft a perfect Product Title that catches every nuance of every related search and categorization opportunity. For example, “Duck Pond American Liner (Black Maple)” is relevant for the person searching for “Duck Pond Liners “, but not as much if they are searching for “Duck Pond Equipment”. Remember, if you can’t fit it all in the Title you can use the product description to include additional descriptive information.

Be aware of the total allowed character limit each Shopping Engine has for Product Titles and take advantage of it to ensure you have the most optimal Title in play. Do not exceed the allowed limit for a Title or it will be truncated. A truncated Title is an easy way to lose credibility because a potential customer may view this as a mistake and look somewhere else to purchase even if you offer the best price.

Here’s a quick reference to how many characters are allowed in the Product Title by Shopping Engine:

Engine Field Length
Become 80 Max Characters
Google Product Search 80 Max Characters
Bing 255 Max Characters
MSN Shopping 50 Max Characters
NexTag 80 Max Characters
PriceGrabber 255 Max Characters
Pronto 255 Max Characters
Shopping.com 100 Max Characters
Shopzilla 100 Max Characters
Smarter.com No Limit, Truncate 70 characters in Search Results
Yahoo Shopping (PriceGrabber)
No Limit, Truncate 45 characters in Search Results

In general, the preferred Product Title structure is:

Brand >> Model >> Descriptive Copy >> Product Type

Even though this structure will work for most products, consider each product type has a unique list of attributes that could be used to make the Title more relevant.

Here are a few examples of different Product Title structures:

Product Type Title Format Example Title
Clothing Brand  >> Style / Color / Material >> Gender >> Clothing Type Eddie Bauer Blue XL Tall Long Sleeve Men’s Straight-Collar Oxford Shirt
Electronics Brand >> Model Number >> Style / Color >> Product Type Apple iPOD Touch (MA627LL / A) Black 16GB Wi-Fi Digital Video / MP3 Player
Furniture Brand >> Series >> Style / Color / Material >> Furniture Type South Shore Lexington Collection Dark Mocha Queen Size Platform Bed
Movie Title >> Year >> Author / Artist / Director >> Format Type Swingers (2002 Miramax Collector’s Series) ~ Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, and Ron Livingston (DVD)
Musical Instrument Brand >> Style / Color / Material >> Series >> Instrument Type Fender American Deluxe (HSS) Black Stratocater Electric Guitar
Wine Winery >> Year >> Region >> Wine Type Etude 2006 Carneros Estate Grown Pinot Noir Wine

Helpful hints for Product Titles:

  • Use standard spelling and grammar.
  • Use common terms. (Use “sofa” not “davenport”)
  • Do not include HTML or control characters.
  • Don’t use ALL CAPS and unnecessary punctuation. (!, ?, etc)
  • Don’t use promotional text (Clearance, On Sale! & Free Shipping).
  • Avoid using specific price, availability & time information.

There is no “one size fits all” formula to crafting a Product Title. The information above summarizes general best practices that will help you get 80% – 90% of the way there. Careful consideration needs to be given to the type of products you have, the channels you’re advertising on and how your target audience searches for these items. You can never go wrong with testing ideas on a subset of products, measuring the results and testing again. Of course, using tools like Hitwise, WordTracker and Google Insights for keyword research can go a long way for finding different word combinations such as “track shoe” vs. ‘footwear” or “drum set” vs. “drum kit” and so on.

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