Managing Your Data To work with the product indexes and e-commerce sites, you need to figure out how to manage your rebrandpress 2.0 review— that is, all the information about your products. You’ll probably need a data file (often called a datafeed) containing information about your products. This can be a simple text file carefully formatted, using the correct layout. A datafeed allows you to quickly upload hundreds, even thousands, of products into the directories within minutes. Although the datafeed file can be a simple text file, creating it is a little difficult for some people. Of course, if you have geeks on your staff, they can handle it for you. The ideal situation is one in which all your product data is stored in a database that is managed by capable, knowledgeable people who know how to export to a text file in the correct format. All you do is give them the data file specification from the shopping directory, and they know exactly what to do. If that’s your situation, be happy. If not, I’ll help you. I’m going to explain how to format your data in a spreadsheet program, which is probably the simplest method. If you have a large number of products, you may already have your data in some kind of database format. Unfortunately, you may need to manipulate your data — clean it up — before you can use it. I’ve noticed over the last couple of decades that, for some reason, data is usually a mess — whether the data files were created by small companies or large. Data is often badly formatted — for example, the text files contain the data, but the fields are improperly delimited (separated). I suggest that you use a spreadsheet program to create your data file. Creating the file in a text editor is difficult and error prone, especially if you have a lot of products. Also, remember that each shopping directory is a little different, requiring different information. The spreadsheet file is your source file, from which you can create the various text files as needed. You may already have a spreadsheet program; rebrandpress 2.0 review is hiding on millions of computers around the world, unknown to their owners. (It’s part of Microsoft Office. Or you may have Microsoft Works, which also includes a spreadsheet program. Various other database programs are available — StarOffice and AppleWorks contain spreadsheets, too, and you can get a free spreadsheet program at OpenOffice.org, or use Google’s Web-based Google Docs system (https://docs.google.com). Microsoft recently released its free Office Web Apps, which includes a pared-down, Web-based version of Excel; see http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps. ;You don’t need a terribly complicated program, because the work you do with the file is pretty simple. However, you want to use a program that can have multiple sheets open and will allow you to link from a cell in one sheet to a cell in another. You can also use a database program to manage all this data. It’s just simpler in some ways to use a spreadsheet. Of course, you may already have your data in a database, especially if you have a lot of products. The data you need Take a look at the type of data you’re going to need for your data file. Google Product Listing Ads, Google’s shopping directory, requires the following data: ✓ product_url: A link to the product page on your Web site ✓ name: The name of the product ✓ description: A description of the product ✓ image_url: A link to the image file containing a picture of the product ✓ price: The cost of the product ✓ category: The category in which you want to place the product ✓ offer_id: Some kind of product number, such as a stock keeping unit (SKU) or international standard book number (ISBN) Those are the basic fields, but there are others you can include, such as instock, shipping, brand, UPC, manufacturer_id, and so on. Each service is different, of course. (For details, you need to check the particular systems into which you want to load the data.) Here’s my suggestion. Begin by creating a spreadsheet file containing all the data you have about your products. At the very least, include this information: ✓ Product name ✓ Product description ✓ Product price ✓ Product category ✓ A URL pointing to the product’s page on your Web site ✓ A URL pointing to the image file that contains a picture of the product on your site You also want to include any other information you have — ISBNs, SKUs, EANs, media types, and so on. And, keep the file clean of all HTML coding; you just want plain text, with no carriage returns or special characters in any field. Formatting guidelines Some of you may have problems with the product URL. If your site is a framed site, as I discuss in Chapter 9, you have a problem because you can’t link directly to a product page. Even if you don’t have a framed site, you might have a problem or two. I discuss that in the upcoming section “Getting those product URLs.” Each shopping directory varies slightly, but datafeed files typically conform to the following criteria: ✓ They are plain-text files. That is, don’t save them in a spreadsheet or database format; save them in an ASCII text format. Virtually all spreadsheet programs have a way to save data in such a format (typically as a . csv file). ✓ The first line in each file contains the header, with each field name — product_url, name, description, price, and so on — generally separated by tabs. ✓ Each subsequent line contains information about a single product; the fields match the headers on the first line. ✓ The last line of the file may require some kind of marker, such as END. ✓ In most cases, you can’t include HTML tags, tabs within fields (tabs usually separate fields), carriage returns, new line characters within fields, and so on — just plain text. Creating your spreadsheet Take a look at rebrandpress 2.0 review. This is a simple spreadsheet file containing a number of data fields; it’s an example data file from Google Product Search. Each row in the spreadsheet is a product, and each cell in the row — each field — is a different piece of information about the product.