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Oct 18, 2010 | 2 minute read

Sneaky Tip to Optimize Product Bids on Comparison Search Engines

written by Linda Bustos

If you're a search marketing dinosaur, you'll remember the pre-Panama days when Yahoo Search Marketing (formerly Overture, formerly GoTo) still used a bid-for-position system. That was before it adopted a more Google Adwords-ish approach in 2006 (position determined by mix of bid price and click through rate). In those days, you could raise your position simply by raising your bid, and you had visibility into what your competitors were paying per click.

Though paid search platforms have nixed the auction-style system, bid for position is still alive and kicking in many comparison shopping engines (CSEs). But there's smart ways and not-so-smart ways to bid. Higher position does not mean higher ROI, and this has to be carefully monitored.

Andrew Davis and his team from CPC Strategy recently put out the Merchant Comparison Shopping Handbook, an ebook that references a couple Get Elastic articles (this one and this one). It contains this tip which Andrew has graciously allowed me to share with Get Elastic readers.

If we feel a merchant is not getting enough traffic on the CSEs, we’ll increase the bids of certain products or categories to $0.01 over the minimum, which accomplishes two things:

  • It leapfrogs that particular merchant over merchants with similar products and thereby gives more exposure at very little extra cost.
  • It doesn’t raise their result placement so high that it starts leading to lots of unqualified traffic.

You can also increase bids on products or categories that perform extremely well by $0.05 to $0.10 to drive more traffic and potential sales to those items, but watch these bids closely to make sure you don’t damage your ROI.

As we move closer to the holiday season, remember that competitive behavior may change in shopping engines (bid prices will likely go up). Also, consider that shopper behavior may also change (more clicks, more "window shopping" to get gift ideas). Make sure you carefully manage your bids daily, and don't be afraid to stop bidding on keywords and products that are sucking money.

For more tips on managing your bids and campaigns in comparison shopping engines, you can download Merchant Comparison Shopping Handbook for free, and check out last year's post Optimizing Your Comparison Shopping Engine Marketing for the Holidays.