The Google PlusBox is now showing SKUs. We first saw the PlusBox in 2007, when Google announced Adwords Local PlusBox. There, a small "+" provides additional local information within the sponsored results. Now, the "+" can provide product details. Take a Google search for “diamonds”. The second paid search link for BlueNile.com contains the standard headline, copy and display url that we are used to seeing, but also sports a PlusBox to “Show products from Blue Nile for diamonds”. Clicking the PlusBox reveals three of BlueNile’s products, complete with item titles, descriptions, prices and images. Snazzy… but does it help the searcher? Remember, we performed a search for “diamonds”, nothing more, nothing less. I don’t know that I’m better off seeing three BlueNile SKUs. Two of the three SKUs are engagement rings. The third is a loose diamond. Prices range from $1,400 - $1,650. What if my goal were cheap diamond earrings? One of the fundamental reasons that paid search works is the relevance between user query and landing page. The standard link (headline of the BlueNile ad: Diamonds at Blue Nile) accurately takes me to the site’s diamond category page. However, any click within the PlusBox results will take me to a product specific landing page. Even if the majority of consumers were interested in engagement rings, it seems too early in the buying cycle to make specific item recommendations. Consider a brick and mortar analogy. You walk into a jewelry store. A salesperson asks if you need help. You reply that you’re interested in "diamonds". On that word alone, she presents you three expensive engagement rings. Engaged? Is that presumptuous? Perhaps you just wanted earrings for your sister. Google used to brag their goal was to get you off their site as quickly as possible. Embedded PlusBoxes for local, video, and now SKUs suggest Google seeks to hold users longer, Google-as-portal. The SKU PlusBox might make sense for specific SKU searches, like "HDR-FX1000"". But for a broad term like "diamonds"? I think this is a step backwards. What do you think?
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