Creating and Using Traits, Attributes, and Item Listings
For Maximum Exposure and Sales
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Why Bother, Why Here and Why Now?
If you’ve come from Ebay or Amazon, you know that those two selling venues are so vast and well-known that they dominate search results on Google and other search engines. If you were a subscriber to either of them, your visibility to the Internet at large was assured by their enormous popularity; in effect, you went along for the ride and did not need to concern yourself with “search optimization.” As a new Ebay seller myself, I was delighted to simply list an item and watch it magically disappear at the end of an auction. The buyers are THERE. Therefore I focused on style and mechanics related to the items I sold and the manner in which I operated on Ebay. My concern with ranking was limited solely to where I appeared on buyer searches within Ebay itself, and this I pursued by becoming a “power seller,” and jumping through all the right hoops. It was a delight to see my ranking being “raised” because of good service, communication, fast shipping and such other measures of seller quality as Ebay deemed to be important. Many of the Ebay rules and policies are archaic, at best, but at least I knew what they were. Were I to go it alone with an Internet store I would need to deploy all kinds of esoteric strategies to achieve high and consistent rankings on Google or other search engines. And the problem with that, of course, is that Google doesn’t publish any special rules or procedures which automatically give me some preference over everyone else when it comes to generic search results. There are good reasons why Google is tight-lipped about that. For one thing, if there was a particular method to assure a high ranking, everyone would rush to deploy it in an effort to be at the head of the pack. However, not everyone CAN be at the head of the pack, at the same moment in time, anyway. Google would be forced to deploy some other method to sort out all the “winners.” For another thing, no matter what Google is doing today to sort out the top listings, you can be sure they’ll be doing something different tomorrow. Why is that? Because everyone is always trying to figure out the Google method, so they can “beat the system.”
While Google has no exact cookbook that tells anyone how to get to the top, they do quite openly discuss the fundamental concepts at work and are more than pleased to pass that along to anyone who cares to see it. To boil it all down, Google ranks ordinary search results by two essential criteria which I call relevancy and currency.
Relevancy: In simple terms, relevancy means that the content (the text) of a web site must bear some logical relationship to the web site’s declared or apparent purpose. Thus, if I use many key words relating to model railroading in an attempt to position my site for people searching for model railroad material, the content of my web pages must actually relate to that subject. That’s an analytical process of Google’s own creation.
Currency, on the other hand, refers to how well integrated my web site is within the population of all other websites that have some connection to the same subject matter. In general, currency is estimated by the number of inbound and outbound links to or from other sites and even within my own site. Many such connections suggest my site ranks highly in the community at large, and this is reflected by a boost in my Google ranking. The beauty is that most of the evaluation is done by other websites -other people, really- and not by Google itself. The “votes” for your web site are based on simply measuring the traffic, and where people go -like one of those vehicle counters that lies across a road.
All of this does get very technical. If you would like to read more, follow this Google webmaster help link. This is what the professional web designers and developers use when they work on “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) for a web site.
Enter Google Shopping: All of this technology might indicate some pretty high mowing when it comes to you or me moving our own sale listings to the head of the line. Fortunately, the people at Google have recognized that the web is a popular place to buy and sell products and services. And they have also discerned that searching for products and services is fundamentally different than searching for other kinds of information. Consequently, Google initiated a “shopping” engine designed to optimize searches for product, and even provide a gateway for their purchase. But, unlike the veil of secrecy which surrounds other kinds of search rankings, there is no cloak and dagger regarding the methods for doing well in shopping results. The “how-to’s” are completely exposed and well-documented. Google wants you to know how it works, because the more people know, the more product is submitted to Google, and the more credible Google itself becomes as a primary source for product information.
Notice the last word of the preceding paragraph: information. Perhaps more than anything else, products and services are readily handled as pure, raw information -that is to say, as data. A product is a thing; most often, a physical thing, whose characteristics are expressed as weight and color and material and many other attributes whose terminology is well known and well understood and, most of the time, subject to brief expression. And thus, a set of easily understood rules can be promulgated to control the way we describe and classify products and services offered for sale. There need be no “black box,” with complicated formulas to analyze and interpret the subject matter. A car is just a car, with color, weight, horsepower, body type, year of manufacture -so on and so forth. Simply follow the rules to describe the car, and you’re in the game!
The beauty of a descriptive approach is that it is relatively indifferent to any sophisticated strategies or schemes to artificially tilt the odds in favor of higher ranking. Therefore, the playing field is level. A single individual is as capable of a high ranking as is Ebay itself. Go to Google and search for “Athearn box car.” And there is MY Bonanzle listing at the top of the heap -even on an ordinary, non-shopping search- above Ebay, above the major hobby sellers. (Note that this will change when the item sells -so it may not be there when you read this). Hopefully, these facts material will shed some light on the “Why bother?” question. The reason you bother is that it works and is easy to learn and deploy.
The next question is, “Why Here?” Why here, on Bonanzle? Aside from the fact that Bonanzle will not do the work for you, the essential reason is that in exchange for the work you do, you are rewarded with complete control of how the listing will play on Google, which is to say, on the Internet at large. This is a very attractive proposition in and of itself, and certainly far superior to the Ebay “black box” method over which no seller has any particular control. To be sure, Ebay has a big gun, but the aim is out of your control. Of course, Bonanzle does handle the grunt work of setting up your item descriptions for Google’s retrieval, automatically on your behalf. But its up to YOU to decide exactly what it is that Bonanzle will make available to Google. If you don’t like what Google gets, you can change it! Who wouldn’t want that?
Nonetheless, if you have never bothered with item attributes and the Google method, the procedure can seem complicated and even mysterious at first. Oddly, perhaps, while Google documentation is clearly written, it is also, to my mind, very fractured. You may do a lot of jumping from one page to another but in time, you’ll “get it.” Meanwhile, this material and Bonanzle help files will give you most of what you need. By the time you finish reading this, you will know exactly what to do. So, that answers the “Why Here?” question.
Let’s turn finally to the “Why now?’ question. The obvious answer is that the sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll see results. But there are more fundamental considerations: the popularity, familiarity and, most of all, credibility of Bonanzle itself as a web “destination.” As many of you know, most people you meet in everyday life have not yet heard about Bonanzle. And the owners (the “boyz”) have done nothing yet in terms of paid promotion and advertising while they continue to fine tune the web site. Many sellers have taken it upon themselves to spread the word in various ways -and all such effort is for the good.
All that said, such popularity and credibility as Bonanzle does NOW enjoy, in its infancy, has been the result of what I will call organic support. By “organic,” I mean the voluntary focus and attention of sources who have received no compensation for their support. A primary example is the media, who have no agenda as to the ultimate success or failure of Bonanzle. Bonanzle keeps a record of some press report which you may see at this Bonanzle Press link. Read them. No one paid Business week to write a Bonanzle article.
Other support is found in numerous blogs and web sites whose sympathies are often plainly stated, but whose owners or contributors have received no inducement to publish their views, nor any reward for so doing. Much of the expression in such venues is from people who are disenchanted with Ebay, and that disenchantment, in and of itself, is a positive for Bonanzle.
The other principle “organic” source is the very same Google shopping search results we’ve been discussing. Every time a shopping search returns the word “Bonanzle” in connection with the item being sold, yet one more highly credible validation for the Bonanzle site itself has appeared. No one went looking for Bonanzle -but Bonanzle is what Google gave them. Mere presence in an environment which is neutral as to the ranking of its contents establishes credibility. Consequently, your Google product feed is an important force multiplier. The Bonanzle site itself is promoted by your product feeds. As more and more people type out the Bonanzle URL directly (or make it a “favorite”) your listings, too, will receive more chances of being viewed. People are not being led or induced to go to Bonanzle; rather, they are discovering it. Presently, Bonanzle’s popularity, as measured by the impartial metrics of web analysis tools, indicates a phenomenal rate of growth. And Bonanzle got it “honestly.”
Remember what I said above about the Google Shopping emphasis on DATA, and let’s now turn to the instructional material which will show how to set up your booth items for a Google product data feed and give you some tips on getting the most for your effort.
SETTING UP TRAITS AND ATTRIBUTES FOR YOUR PRODUCT LISTINGS
A 7 STEP PROCESS
I’ve broken down the process into seven steps for the sake of a clear and logical presentation, but, once you know what to do, you will no doubt go through the procedure easily and naturally. Here’s the break-down for purposes of this article:
The Elements of Descriptive Data: Traits and Attributes – What Are They??
Setting Up Traits in Bonanzle
Understanding and Assigning Google Attributes – Format and Content
Applying Attributes to Your Listings
Moving Your Items to Google
Using Attributes, Titles and Listing Descriptions in Strategic Combinations
So, How Are You Doing Lately?
Let’s get started!
The Elements of Descriptive Data: Traits and Attributes – What Are They?
Certain qualities and properties of physical things (such as color, weight, material and part number) can be used over and over again from one thing to the next. Therefore these qualities are a very practical way for search engines to classify, sort and rank products which are well described.
Traits: Traits are a descriptive method used only within Bonanzle itself. On the “Add Item for Sale” window, where you enter a product, you’ll see “Item Traits” under Advanced Options. Select it, and you will see the traits Bonanzle has associated with the category you have chosen for the item you are listing. Note that the available traits are a work in progress. My own category under HO Trains has but ONE trait – the Condition of the item. But the Women’s Clothing (Blazers) category has four. In time, more traits will probably be added, and you may, in fact suggest additional ones The whole purpose is to assist buyers in finding what they are looking for ON BONANZLE.
Although not mentioned as traits, item price, shipping information and certain other bits of information may be regarded as “traits” nonetheless. While traits are the method that Bonanzle uses internally to sort and organize listings, they also are translated into attributes which Google uses to do essentially same thing -but in the context of the big Internet. And so, if you’ve assigned a trait, you have at the same time created a Google attribute!
For complete information on Bonanzle traits and how to use them follow this Bonanzle Help Traits link.
Attributes: Google’s product description system uses what Google calls, “Attributes,” to classify the many products it covers. Without doubt, the largest shop window on the Internet is Google, which shoppers use more and more often to do a quick, generic search for what they want. Learn to deploy attributes in your Bonanzle listings -and you’ll be rewarded with higher rankings on Google’s shopping search results. As a matter of fact, everyone on Bonanzle will be rewarded because more people will be coming to Bonanzle and the word will spread.
Conceptually, inserting attributes for Google into your listings is really pretty simple. Just type them into your Bonanzle listing, or add them later using “Batch edit.” The trick is in knowing how to “talk Google” and learning Google’s method of dealing with the data that it receives.
Understanding and Assigning Google Attributes – Format and Content
Format: The first step in “talking Google” is understanding the format of an attribute as entered in a Bonanzle listing, that is, exactly how the attribute appears when you type it in. As typed, the attribute format looks like this:
That’s right: two open brackets, then the name of the attribute, then a colon, then value of the attribute and finally two closing brackets. (The word “value” simply serves in this article as a placeholder for whatever description applies to the attribute). Here is a valid attribute name and value, properly formatted:
This color attribute tells Google that the thing you’re selling is black.
Be aware that if you read the Google documentation on creating attributes (and I recommend you do so) you won’t see any instruction or examples regarding the use of the double brackets. The double brackets are what Bonanzle uses to identify the material that Bonanzle will send up to Google for you.
Content: Content refers to the name of the attribute itself (left of the colon) and the descriptive data (on the right side of the colon).
Use only the attribute names which Google allows. You can see attribute lists at the following links:
Note that the complete attribute list includes various specialty classifications, for example, for real estate listing. Choose the attribute classification which is a best fit with your product or service. It does not matter if you use attributes from more than one classification of product or service -the material is classified simply for your convenience in locating what you need. You may also create your own attributes. The Google links above will take you to specific instructions.
For now, here is a list of commonly used attributes which will cover many, if not most, situations:
Guidelines for creating attributes:
- In the list above, the text to the left of the colon is the Google name for the attribute and you should never change it. To the right of the colon, the word “value” simply serves in this article as a placeholder for whatever description applies to the attribute. For example, for white sheets, the color attribute would be [[color:white]].
- Be aware of restrictions on the values you may use for certain attributes. For example, Google recognizes only “new,” “refurbished,” or “used” for values in the condition attribute. The upc code must be a 12 digit number. Likewise, the “made_in” attribute requires an ISO code for the country, such as IT for Italy. When you review the lists, you’ll see any specific restrictions. If there are none, then use any value you want.
- Pay attention to attribute name construction. Model number, for example, has an underscore character between the words, “model” and “number.”
- Keep your values brief and simple and avoid symbols and punctuation of any kind if at all possible. The reason for this is that some symbols (including punctuation) are reserved for special commands to the data handling system and will therefore be deleted when found where they don’t belong. That’s exactly why two brackets in a row don’t show up as such in your attribute listings on Google -the open brackets tell Bonanzle to send Google the material INSIDE the brackets and NOT the brackets themselves. This also applies -although less strictly- to your item titles and descriptions. You’ll get away with most ordinary punctuation most of the time, but don’t push your luck.
- You may use attributes more than once. For example, a product may have more than one important feature or function. You may therefore use the same attribute several times, for example: [[feature:zoom lens]] [[feature:autofocus]]
[[feature:timed shutter release]]
Optionally, you may want to make a list of your items and then assign attributes to them, perhaps in a word processor, spreadsheet, or even a sheet of paper. Merely looking at the possible attributes and your items helps organize your thinking about your products and gives you a kind of check-list to make sure you haven’t left out anything important.
Applying Attributes To Your Listings
Now that you’ve assigned appropriate attributes to your items, you need to make them part of your Bonanzle item descriptions. Within Bonanzle, there are basically two ways to do this:
From Within the Item Description text: Type in the bracketed material at the end of your description, just like the listing text. Make sure there is at least one space between each bracketed attribute, or put each attribute on a line by itself. If you do it right, the attributes will not appear as text when you actually save and put the item up for sale in your booth. In fact, they won’t even appear in the editor, either if you go back later to edit the item.