updated 06:04 pm EDT, Sat June 2, 2012
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Google is changing formats for its Google Product Search service from free to paid. Merchants will no longer have the luxury of free listings on the service, now rebranded Google Shopping, with merchants having to pay to be listed. A Google blog post writes that the search engine believes it will encourage merchants to “keep their product information fresh and up to date,” improving search results for the end user.
Merchants will have some time to change over to the new model, with automatic monthly credits throughout the year for early adopters and a $100 AdWords credit toward Product Listing Ads for existing merchants. The changes are due to be completed by the fall, and will give further options to merchants, such as marking special offers and to participate in a Google Trusted Stores program offering a $1,000 lifetime purchase protection guarantee for shoppers.
This marks the first time Google is decommissioning a search product that previously listed companies and merchants for free, which could be seen by some parties as Google preparing to cut free listings in other areas. [via SearchEngineLand]