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Why You Should Feed Your Data

Aug 18, 2007
E-commerce sites need to get their content deep linked on search engines and indexes- one of the quickest and cheapest ways to do that is to create a data feed of your product catalog and post it to shopping sites.

Creating files for shopping feeds like those for Shopzilla or Google Product Search is easy, once you master some basic techniques. The steps are as follows:

- Export Shopping Cart Data
- (Normally, you are exporting MySQL data using phpMyAdmin)
- Import Data into MS Access
- Create Queries to Format Data in Shopzilla/Google/ShoppingDotcom format
- Export Data From Query to Create product data feed file

This same technique can be used to create affiliate data feeds and any other type of web data export.

Start With Google Product Search

Google Product Search is fed from Google Base. To create a product feed for Google, you must first do an export of shopping cart or catalog data to create what Google terms a bulk upload. Follow Google's instructions, particularlly the field name conventions for products, carefully.

After you have downloaded the data from phpMyAdmin, you import the data into Access, then the key step is creating the format queries:

Most providers recommend using Excel to process feed data. We like to import catalog or merchant feed data into MS Access and use the powerful query functions to massage and manipulate the product data.

The process works like this:
1. Import your raw feed or data file into Access using the import feature
2. Create a query to reformat the data into the desired result:
a. Use the field alias feature to 'hard code' field data that may not exist in your original file ie:,
expiration_date: "YYYY-MM-DD"
b. Use the concatenation feature to reformat fields from existing data -
ie, your product_image filed contains "image.jpg":
image_url: "http://www.yourdomain/images/" & [product_image]
3. After your fields are created in the query, simply export a delimited file from your query and process. You can re-import your original feed data into your Access file, run the query and re-export very quickly whenever you need to refresh your data.

Format Query In Access

You use the field alias feature in Access to create the fields with the required field names, and use the concatenation functions to piece together the data in the required formats.

Start with the basic fields (use Google's naming convention explicitly):

title
description
brand
condition
link
price
product_type
image_link
model_number
payment_accepted
expiration_date (format: YYYY-MM-DD)

You can use any type of delimiter you wish for your file, we prefer pipe "|" for readability, but the Google default of tab delimited works fine as well. (If you change the default delimiter, you 'll need to specify the change in the bulk upload properties.)

You will need to re-upload your file regularly to Google, since bulk uploads typically expire in 30 days.
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Become a E-commerce Data Wizard - Create Product Data Feeds Easily With Our DVD
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