May 3, 2012, 1:51 PM

Why Google converts best among comparison shopping sites

Google operates the comparison shopping site with the highest conversion rate in the first quarter of 2012.

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Google Inc. isn’t just the leading Internet search engine. Google also operates the comparison shopping site with the highest conversion rate in the first quarter of  2012, according to a new study by CPC Strategy, a company that helps online retailers sell through comparison shopping engines.

The study, which lists the 10 largest sites online consumers use to compare prices, is based on a survey of 113 e-commerce clients of CPC Strategy. It notes that product listings in Google’s comparison shopping engine, Google Product Search, converted ad clicks to orders at a rate of 2.78% in the first quarter, followed by second-ranked Nextag at 2.06%. Coming in a distant sixth was Amazon Product Ads, at 1.60%, even though Amazon Product Ads produced the most traffic to retailers’ sites of the 10 shopping sites in the study. Amazon Products Ads appear in search results and on other pages on Amazon.com, and drive traffic to the advertiser’s site to complete the purchase.  Amazon.com Inc. is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. CPC did not provide total traffic figures for each comparison shopping engine in the study.

The study covered more than 4 million clicks that resulted in $1.16 million in advertising spend, and nearly 83,000 online orders that generated $7.87 million in sales for the advertisers.

Google’s reputation as a starting point for searching the web appears to be a main reason why Google Product Search scores high as a comparison search engine, coming in second to Amazon Product Ads in traffic but first in conversion rate, CPC Strategy says. “People are just comfortable with Google,” says Andrew Davis, CPC Strategy’s director of marketing.

Also helping to drive up conversion rates on Google Product Search is Google’s requirement that advertisers include information on sales tax and shipping fees in each product ad, Davis says. He adds that, to boost their conversion rates, some advertisers appear to be indicating shipping is free when that’s not necessarily the case for all of the products featured in an ad.

CPC hasn’t quantified how many advertisers have listed questionable free-shipping notices, he says. Google didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Adding to Google’s appeal for advertisers is that it does not charge for clicks from Google Product Search. Nor does rival search engine Bing charge for clicks from its shopping portal, and many clicks from comparison shopping site TheFind also are free.

Following are the Q1 conversion rates, and corresponding cost-per-click rates where applicable, for the comparison shopping engines listed in the study:

● Google, 2.78%

● Nextag, 2.06%, $0.43;

● Pronto, 1.97%, $0.45;

● PriceGrabber, 1.75%, $0.27;

● Shopping.com, 1.71%, $0.34;

● Amazon Product Ads, 1.60%, $0.35;

● Become, 1.57%, $0.45;

● Shopzilla, 1.43%, $0.35;

● Bing, 1.35%

● TheFind, 0.71%

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