Google's Product Search, the shopping-based section of the massive search engine once known as Froogle, is getting a makeover that Google hopes will both improve customer experience and bring in a bit more money. Search Engine Land reports that Google is experimenting with a new system called Google Shopping, which will catalog and display listings from retailers who pay to be included. Potential sellers, Google says, could buy product listings through AdWords, specifying how much they would pay both for the listing and for each sale that's generated through Google. They could also earn Trusted Store badges that would show up in Shopping. Unlike a traditional Google ad, however, sellers wouldn't be able to dictate placement or the information Google displays. The new system will apparently replace Product Search by the fall of 2012.
Google argues that this change doesn't constitute a reversal on its paid inclusion policy. "Paid inclusion has historically been used to describe results that the website owner paid to place, but which were not labeled differently from organic search results," it said in a statement. "We are making it very clear to users that there is a difference between these results for which Google may be compensated by the providers, and our organic search results." It also says that "a commercial relationship with partners is critical to ensuring we receive high quality product data." Eight years ago, however, Google stated that its free listing of shopping results meant "our users can browse product categories or conduct product searches with confidence that the results we provide are relevant and unbiased." This shows a reversal of that stance, as well as another sign that Google is increasingly shaping the web rather than simply cataloging it.