Is product pricing a factor in the way Google ranks e-commerce stores in their search results? We've got the low-down for you
Google’s John Mueller has recently spoken about product prices as a potential ranking factor and offered some explanations around pricing as a factor that might impact the ranking position of ecommerce sites within search results.
The contentious topic was broached during the Google SEO office-hours hangout from October 8th, 2021.
Given that price rises, exacerbated by supply chain issues and global shortages are making headlines these days, it isn’t just a contentious topic, but also a very relevant one.
Many businesses selling their products and services online simply have no other choice but to raise their prices, due to rising operational costs and other issues seemingly beyond their control.
So, for example; if two or more businesses are selling the same product via their respective websites and one is forced to significantly increase the price of that product because of factors they simply cannot control, then they will find themselves in the untenable position of selling at a far greater cost than their competitor.
It isn’t difficult to imagine a scenario where Google would direct searchers towards the site selling at a cheaper price.
So, assuming all else is equal in terms of Search Engine Optimisation, can such price rises have an impact for the more expensive seller in terms of ranking?
According to Mueller himself, it would be wrong to assume that scenario would lead to penalties.
John Mueller takes a closer look at pricing and ranking
Google’s ability to recognise the prices of products is common knowledge, search users will often see prices listed directly in results, there is structured data created for that very purpose.
However, despite that ability to know how much something costs, Mueller confirms that Google does not use that data to rank the product page:
Purely from a web search point of view, no, it’s not the case that we would try to recognize the price on a page and use that as a ranking factor.
So it’s not the case that we would say we’ll take the cheaper one and rank that higher. I don’t think that would really make sense.
However, Mueller goes on to add that product pages also show up in shopping results and perplexingly they are ranked differently from regular search results.
Mueller states that he doesn’t know how those are ranked; it is possible that price may be a factor.
We do know that users can self-sort shopping results by price and that is an important thing to consider when thinking about the cost of items, versus competitor prices.
“However, a lot of these products also end up in the product search results, which could be because you submit a feed, or maybe because we recognize the product information on these pages, and the product search results I don’t know how they’re ordered.
"It might be that they take the price into account, or things like availability, all of the other factors that kind of come in as attributes in product search.”
Mueller is clearly careful with his words, not confirming anything, but not ruling out the possibility that pricing may affect shopping search results.
For web searching however, they key takeaway is clear; price is not a factor:
“So, from a web search point of view, we don’t take price into account. From a product search point of view it’s possible.
The tricky part, I think, as an SEO, is these different aspects of search are often combined in one search results page. Where you’ll see normal web results, and maybe you’ll see some product review results on the side, or maybe you’ll see some mix of that.”
You can watch the SEO Office-Hours hangout below: