After a good morning and early afternoon selling Christmas trees with our 4H club, I came home and started back up working on the website. I noticed a couple days ago that my traffic pattern had started changing, but I hadn’t had time to look into it. With Kim upstairs working on the new yarn stock (see it here) I took the time to start researching what was going on. I have been watching and noticing that many of the visitors to the site were looking for Glittens (which we are working on getting more in stock as soon as possible). This was a major change from the Friendship Bracelets being our most popular item. This got me to thinking that there must be something up Google so I started looking there first. Sure enough, we aren’t on the main page for Friendship Bracelets any more like we used to be. So I started digging into the various tools and couldn’t come up with anything that had changed from my perspective. All of my products were still being accepted by the new Merchant Center (which replaces Google Base for most things) and I didn’t see anything in the Webmaster tools that said there should be a problem with site. Went back to the search results and started digging in a little deeper and noticed that the three Friendship bracelets on the main page were now from Amazon, Overstock and Target. Seems that Google may have done a little adjustment to the how it presents ads for the holiday shopping season, and I am sure they aren’t getting any kickbacks for it too…riiiiight.

I was able to find my listing in the shopping results, especially if I sorted by price, because we still have the best price listed in the Google shopping results. I just need to figure out how to get back on the front page again. I started looking at some of the reasons I may have been demoted and could only come up with one that really made some sense. Instead of a single product for the Friendship Bracelets, we now offer several different options for purchasing them, and according to Google, this may appear as us trying to manipulate the search rankings by posting duplicate content. While I don’t deny that I am trying to push the Friendship Bracelets I really only created the new ones to give more options for purchasing them that better fit with the restrictions of my current shopping cart software. Hopefully, when the new site redesign is ready, and the new shopping cart along with it, it will have better options for what I want to do with selling and I can fix the issues with Google search for my products where we have many options for similar items.

On another note, I got an invite for Google Wave yesterday and so far I am still trying to figure out how to fit it into my daily alpaca life. It is a pretty neat tool, if you have people that you want to communicate with in that fashion. I have some invites if you would like to start trying it out with me, please let me know. If you already have it, also, I would be interested in knowing if you would like to be added as a contact with me and we can use it together.

I was also poking around my Google Merchant account today and noticed that there was a new feature allowing me to link to my Adwords account. So, I linked the two. Why not, right? Expecting some cool new feature to magically appear in Adwords that I couldn’t ignore and I would have to start paying Google again. Well, I looked around my account and didn’t see a change. I created a new campaign and ad group and kept looking for anything that would let me easily select a product (like maybe a Friendship Bracelet?) from my Merchant Account and use it for marketing through Adwords. After poking and looking and clicking and searching, I gave up and hit the help button back in the Merchant Account and discovered a single line in there that said in essence, “You suck as a Merchant. We have better people testing this feature. Someday, after the others have made a million dollars, we may let you have the same feature as the cool kids.” I may have misread it, but either way, I don’t have the feature in my Adwords account, so I guess I don’t have to give Google any more money there. If you have ever really tried Adwords, I would be interested if you got any useful traffic from it. I think I got one sale after spending about $100 on it, on top of the $50 free. Maybe I just don’t know how to market my products right. I will say that they have some much nicer features in there than when I first tried it, but the click fraud was so apparent when I used it, it really left a bad impression for me.

I do use many other Google tools, like Gmail, Adsense, Checkout (need to get that fixed…), Feedburner, and Custom Search, so I can’t say I hate Google. I really think they generally have some good products and uses. I’m just a little frustrated with them today because they directly affected my bottom line and it seems pretty apparent that the big guys get all the traffic.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

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