If you have a Yahoo Store and do not host your images somewhere outside your Yahoo Store there are serious issues that will affect your listings on sales sites including one that is especially important to your success: Google Product Search aka Google Base (formerly called Froogle).
If you don’t know or have not paid someone to upgrade your Yahoo Store and host your images somewhere else this issue affects your store.
Fortunately, there is already a solution you really need to know about. That solution is provided by YourStoreWizards (formerly Y Store Tools) and ironically we were using them, but we would not know what we do now if we had not changed feed providers and come back to them.
It has taken months, dozens of hours and emails, and increased costs for one of my favorite Yahoo Store owners so if you find this information valuable I ask that you repay them by visiting their excellent online personalized gift store.
I finally know enough about how Yahoo Stores work to determine what the issues are and share them.
If you have a Yahoo Store it is IMPERATIVE that you read and understand this post.
If you know anyone who owns a Yahoo Store do them a huge favor and send them a link to this post. It will save them a lot of money and increase their sales.
Special thanks to Jim at YourStoreWizards (Twitter), Yahoo Store Developer Michael Vorel of VastPlanet, and most importantly Yahoo Store Expert Rob Snell, author of the book Starting a Yahoo! Business For Dummies for answering my questions
Here is the distilled version:
- The default hosting in Yahoo stores has drawbacks and that is what most Yahoo stores use. Two major issues that affect feeds is that there are no thumbnail images in a standard Yahoo Store and the URL of your images in your store actually changes. (If anyone knows why a Yahoo store would do something with such negative consequences I would love to hear from you!)
- YourStoreWizards actually pulls the images from a Yahoo store, hosts them on their servers for use in feeds, and creates thumbnail images which they also host and use for the feeds. Other Feed solution providers do not choose to provide that service and should only be used if you host your images outside your Yahoo store (which is recommended but can be a major undertaking with additional risks and expense).
- If your images are currently stored at Yahoo since there are no thumbnail images in your store so no feed service provider that does not host your images can pull them and get them into your feeds or c an not include thumbnail images.
Yahoo Stores should ONLY use YourStoreWizards unless they store all their images including thumbnail size images somewhere outside their Yahoo Store.
I am not aware of any other feed solution that provides image hosting services as part of their feed solution. The other two best feed solutions I know of are GoDataFeed and SingleFeed. I know that GoDataFeed does not choose to host images.
SingleFeed and Rob Snell did an excellent Webinar on Shopping Engine Success for Yahoo! Stores which includes this warning:
Making changes to sizes of images or any other image changes can cause loss of images in Yahoo stores. They advise that it is better to host images elsewhere and call them into your store.
Based on that information I believe that SingleFeed does not host images so only Yahoo Stores who have their images hosted outside their store should use SingleFeed. I am attempting to confirm this information and will update this post when I hear back from them.
There is a known problem with images from Yahoo Stores and Google Product Search. Yahoo stores continually change the URLs for where they store your images and that affects whether Google Product Search (and probably other sites) can find them or not.
When the path to an image changes in your Yahoo store between the last feed sent to Google, when the search occurs your images will be missing from the feed.
Since YourStoreWizards hosts multiple sizes of your images at static URLs this issue does not affect their feeds. This is the reason Yahoo Stores using YSW will get more traffic and sales from Google Product Search.
- It would be best to host the images used in your Yahoo Store elsewhere to avoid future problems with images. A recent change caused images in some stores to be too large.
- If you want to continue to allow Yahoo Stores to host your images you need to use YourStoreWizards at least for the SAS and Google Product Search feeds. Some sites resize their own images so you could use SingleFeed or GoDataFeed for them but you would have to check that on a case by case basis – most likely not worth the hours involved.
- If you chose to host your images elsewhere so you have total control, I would recommend staying with GoDataFeed because there solution is far more powerful than YSWs (so far – YSWs is upgrading their service) and they are much easier to work with. I received 19 separate emails from Jim before I finally understood they were hosting images. I still had to go to Rob Snell to get definitive answers.
- I advised GoDataFeed that they should be notifying their clients that have Yahoo Stores about this issue. GoDataFeed needs to either host the images or make it clear that they do not and recommend alternative image hosting solutions to their Yahoo Store clients.
- I have detailed information from Rob Snell regarding image hosting that I can sort through if you want to consider hosting your images elsewhere.
The bottom line: You need to choose one of these options and only you as a Yahoo Store owner can decide what is best for you:
- Leave your images in the Yahoo store and use YourStore Wizards exclusively for your feeds.
- Leave your images in the Yahoo store and use a combination of YWS and GDF so that you can take advantage of optimizing whatever feeds do not have to rely on images hosted at YSW.
- Pay extra to host your images at YSW while using other feed solutions. The last email I got from Jim at YSWs said, “We can provide hosting for images to be used on their Yahoo store but will need to charge for the bandwidth. The hosted images each have unique URLS which remain static. These could be called in using HTML.”
- Host your images elsewhere for maximum control and freedom to use any feed solution you choose. I sincerely believe GoDataFeed has the strongest benefits for you but only if you control where your images are (or they decide to add image hosting).
If you currently leave your images in your Yahoo Store and use GoDataFeed, SingleFeed or any other feed solution that does not host your images the way YourStoreWizards does you need to expedite moving your feed to YSWs.
That should increase traffic and sales from Google Product Search because it will eliminate the missing images issue.
GDF currently does not believe their not hosting images affects very many Yahoo Stores and YSW has built an entire business model around the fact that it does.
What I have explained here is critical to the success of Yahoo Stores. If you do not understand it or need specific questions answered use the comment section in this post or contact me directly.