Yesterday Google unveiled another tool to help sites with something to sell. It’s called the Merchant Centre and it’s basically a replacement for Google base if you’ve been using it for uploading product listings. Google base being the replacement of Froogle which allowed you to add products to the shopping section of Google. Confused yet?
The official word from Google is that the merchant centre isn’t replacing Google Base for all items. If you used Base to add your feed of products then all your data will have been moved over to the merchant centre. However if you are advertising or selling other items such as real estate, jobs and vehicles then you should keep using Base.
This looks like an attempt by Google to help out the ecommerce carts out there by giving them more information on how their feeds are doing. In line with Webmaster tools and Analytics the Merchant Centre makes more performance reports available so you can better manage your product listings. The main dashboard gives a quick overview of active items, clicks and impressions as well as any errors that are contained in your feed. So what do you have to change if you’ve been using Google Base? Not a lot. Just log in to base as you normally would and you’ll be directed to the merchant centre. You’re product listings will have been moved across. If you are uploading your feeds using ftp then you may have to re-submit your settings.
It’s difficult to say whether this will take the shopping listings from a relatively unknown Google product (compared to adwords or analytics) and get more non SEO’d sites using them. Just when Froogle and Base seem to have been gaining traction in the publics awareness Google ups and changes the name. As it’s essentially a free way of getting into Googles listings then maybe they want to keep it quiet.