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Define What Is An ECommerce Site?

9:36 pm on Dec 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The term "ecommerce" has become part of the current web terminology. For most people it means a site built for the express purpose of selling things. I suspect it is a statement of the obvious that a lot of Google's aggressive spam fighting measures are aimed at keeping the ecommerce results clean.

Google claims that it can interpret the search query intent and will deliver ecommerce sites when the query is transactional. So there must be a profile or indicator that Google relies on when it needs to retrieve ecommerce sites.

But how do you think Google defines ecommerce? Where is the dividing line between a site that is a straight out online store and say an advisory/informational site that sells a few products, possibly a few affiliate lines, to offset their operating costs.

Is a site lumped into the ecommerce basket the moment it sells something?

[added] clarification [/added]
11:50 pm on Dec 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Is a site lumped into the ecommerce basket the moment it sells something?

No, because:

1) Not all sites that sell goods or services are e-commerce sites. (A company might refer prospective buyers to brick-and-mortar stores or online dealers and agents.)

2) Google's SERPs serve up pages, not sites. A page on "How to string your violin" from fiddle-warehouse dot com or "The rules of croquet" from a sportings-goods site probably would be classified as "informational," not "transactional."
2:53 am on Dec 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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This blurb from Google's "Search Quality Rating Guidelines" is what they tell manual raters to look for. I assume any algorithmic detection is similar, at a high level.

Features that will help you determine if a website is a true merchant include:

• a “view your shopping cart” link that stays on the same site.
• a shopping cart that updates when you add items to it.
• a return policy with a physical address.
• a shipping charge calculator that works.
• a “wish list” link, or a link to postpone the purchase of an item until later.
• a way to track FedEx orders.
• a user forum that works.
• the ability to register or login.
• a gift registry that works.

Please note the following:

• A page does not need to have all of these features to be considered a true merchant.
• Yahoo! Stores are true merchants – they are typically not thin affiliates.
• Some true smaller merchants take users to another site to complete the transaction because they use a third
party to process the transaction. These merchants are not thin affiliates.