November 8, 2006, 12:00 AM

Microsoft launches ‘Agora’ product-loading service for web search

Microsoft’s new service for uploading product data to its Internet search index is designed to make an e-retailer’s products easier to find in the company’s new shopping search engine, Windows Live Product Search.

 

Microsoft Corp.’s new service for uploading product data to its Internet search index is designed to make an e-retailer’s products easier to find in the company’s new shopping search engine, Windows Live Product Search.

The new product uploading service, code-named Agora, could make it more likely that shoppers will find what they want within Windows Live Product Search, says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which provides services and technology to online retailers. Using Agora should also boost retailers’ natural and paid-search rankings in Windows Live Product Search, he adds.

Search engine spiders often miss products when crawling retail web sites to capture data for a search index, leaving some shoppers unable to find what they want, Wingo adds. “So some shoppers may go instead to a comparison shopping engine,” where retailers pay listing fees, he says.

Agora is similar in function to Google Inc.’s Google Base, which retailers can use to load product data to Google’s search index. The use of both Agora and Google Base could increase online shopping directly through Microsoft and Google search engines, reducing the amount of traffic to comparison shopping engines, says Wingo, who today launched a comparison shopping engine blog, CSEStrategies.com.

Google Base has already proved to be lucrative to retailers who have used it to boost their product presence in Google searches, which enables them to cut back on the more costly route of listing products in comparison search engines, Wingo says, adding that Agora can be expected to have the same effect.

“Comparison shopping engines are at risk, because they’re used to getting a lot of traffic through search engines,” Wingo says. “If shoppers find what they need at the search engine layer, they may not need to go to the comparison search engines.”

 

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