Datafeed Do’s and Don’ts By Scott Jangro

by FeedFront Staff on May 22, 2009

Product Datafeeds go with affiliate marketing like peas and carrots. They first entered the scene almost ten years ago when merchants and the affiliate networks began to make this information available.

Back in the “good old days”, it was easy to build a gigantic website based on the products provided by one or more merchants, using their category structure that would rank very well, very quickly. Eventually search engines became effective at eliminating “Datafeed sites” from their search results. Literally overnight, high-traffic, high-earning datafeed-based affiliate websites fell off the map, closing another chapter in the long, twisted relationship between affiliate marketers and search engines.

Over the years, we’ve had a lot of successes and failures using product datafeeds. As such, we learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work with using retail product data, and being successful comes down to a few simple rules.

Don’t be tempted by “store builder” type scripts and approaches that build a big store out of merchants’ data with “buy now” and “add to cart” buttons that redirect to the merchant. A sure way to get a site de-valued or outright banned from the search engines is to simply republish product datafeeds. Search engines have become very good at identifying duplicate data. When it comes to datafeeds, if it’s too easy, then it’s probably not going to work. There is no (longer) a free lunch.

Do data cleanup – merchants have their own way of naming products and formatting product descriptions. Use tools that will clean up the language that merchants use consistently in their feeds. For example, a merchant may put the same sentence in the beginning of each description. Clean that up. Better yet, write your own descriptions. We never use merchant product descriptions anymore.

Do Automate – It is critical to keep product data fresh. Products change prices and go in and out of stock every day. Write automated scripts that will update product data on a daily basis. Learn some PHP and MySQL skills or hire a programmer on one of the many freelance websites to create tools that will keep your product data clean and up-to-date.

Don’t make a mess – Datafeeds fall squarely into the “enough rope to hang yourself” category. So much easily accessible data allows webmasters to push out vast amounts of product information, provide bad user experiences, publish outdated information, and otherwise pollute the Interwebs. This is the right way to a smacked bottom.

Do something different and valuable – Most importantly, be creative. Mix up product information in a way that’s never been done before. General price comparison Web sites are a dime a dozen. But has anybody ever created a website organizing sports jerseys by number? Get niche and do something awesome! People will use it, love it, link to it, and search engines will reward you with high quality scores and low minimum bids for paid traffic, and even with good natural rankings.

Scott Jangro is a long-time affiliate marketer and a publisher of niche retail community shopping websites. Read his blog at http://www.jangro.com.

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FeedFront issue 5 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00category/issue-5

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Evan June 1, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Great article thanks.

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