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Google gives edge to paid advertisers in its shopping business

May 31, 2012|By Jessica Guynn
  • Starting this fall, consumers in the United States who click on Google Shopping will get search results for products that are influenced by how much retailers pay.
Starting this fall, consumers in the United States who click on Google Shopping… (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty…)

Google is looking to load more cash into its shopping cart.

It's changing its free product search service into a paid one in a bid to generate more revenue from its search engine business.

That means starting this fall, consumers in the United States who click on Google Shopping will get search results for products such as running shoes or handbags that are influenced by how much retailers pay. In the past, product search results were mainly based on relevance or price, and retailers got free access to shoppers.

It's a big shift for Google, which in the past had resisted using paid instead of "organic" listings.

"It’s the first time Google will decommission a search product that previously listed companies for free. The company says the change will improve the searcher experience, but it will also likely raise new worries that Google may further cut free listings elsewhere," Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineLand.com, wrote Thursday.

The move could help Google compete with online retail giants Amazon and EBay, which dwarf the search giant in shopping-related searches. Both companies advertise on Google's search engine.

"Google Shopping will empower businesses of all sizes to compete effectively — and it will help shoppers turn their intentions into actions lightning fast," wrote Sameer Samat, a Google vice president, on the company's blog.

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