Froogle has a problem, and I assume Google Base will have the same problem. Because there are no setup fees and no per click fees, the results on Froogle are often made up of spammy results which make for a horrible user experience. Google might be great at general search and maps, but shopping search (in beta now for how many years?) needs serious attention.
I hate to pick on Froogle after Forbes.com panned the site a couple weeks ago and BusinessWeek’s Silicon Valley Chief gave the site a less than glowing review this weekend, but I just performed a search for ‘iPod Nano‘ which is one of the most popular products this holiday season…and the results made me laugh…then cry.
Initial results are deceptively encouraging: 225 prices for the first iPod Nano, 37 prices for the next, 64 prices for next, etc. Basically, it looks like I will get a great choice of merchants selling at a wide range of prices:
So I clicked on the first iPod Nano listing. First problem is that the search returned 216 prices, not the 225 listed on the previous page. Ok, not a big deal. Second problem is that most of the listings seem to be for the video iPod, not the iPod Nano. Ok, a bigger deal:
The major problem, though, is that the results are made up of spam and eBay affiliate listings. Almost every single store listed on the first 9 pages (90+ results) link to spam or outdated (and therefore incorrectly priced) ebay affiliate listings through a basic landing page.
eBay Affiliate Listing (you have to click through to get an updated price):
‘What is the best comparison shopping site?’ is the question everyone always asks me. To which I reply very objectively ‘every site has its strengths and weaknesses.’ Enough is enough, though. While Froogle is doing a lot of positive things and this is just a growing pain (all the search engines have to deal with spam), my advice to shoppers this holiday season: stay away from Froogle. My advice to merchants, for the next couple months: optimize your listings on the top shopping comparison engines and then if you have time left over, submit your datafeed to Froogle.
As with CNET, I’ll probably be stuck in the dog house for a year or 2 because of this post, but I already feel like I’m in the dog house – Froogle was less than forthcoming when I interviewed the company in September, and I don’t feel like that attitude has changed. I’ll continue to comment on Froogle from the sidelines as I’ve been doing – I was the first to report on the changes to the site back in October, and I was the first to talk with ShopLocal to confirm that they were working with Froogle on Froogle Local. Expect no less going forward.
And if you need more examples of searches containing spam/ebay affiliate listings, check out the results for Digital Camera – BertsCamera Store and ActiveCamera Store (probably the same company) are nothing more than eBay affiliates who are flooding Froogle with crap…what I call the eBayization of Froogle (and everyone was all worried that Google Base and Microsoft Fremont would kill eBay!). Froogle should cut these companies off and work with eBay on a more elegant solution.
More Froogle Posts:
Froogle Local Follies – December 4, 2005