How to Get Started on Google Shopping

Google shopping (formerly known as Google Product Listing Ads or PLA) enables B2B and B2C ecommerce retailers or manufacturers to reach customers worldwide for their products from sunglasses to high end furniture. When a potential customer clicks a Google shopping ad they are directed to the product page of the advertisers ecommerce website. It’s a powerful way to drive target visitors directly to your products with a single click.

Google Shopping AdWords


Google shopping is the part of Google AdWords platform which allows advertising on Google search, Google Display Network and YouTube. Google shopping enables shoppers to find products easily and quickly on Google and compare prices among different advertisers. Google Shopping is currently available in the United States, Australia, UK, Germany, Japan, Italy, France, Netherlands, Brazil, Switzerland, Spain and the Czech Republic.

Google Shopping Guide Video

To build your shopping campaign, you need two things – an AdWords account and a Merchant Centre account. Once you’ve signed up, you need to upload a data feed which is basically a file comprising of the list of products that you want to advertise in your store. The data feed can be in text or XML format. You can do this through Excel, but a richly populated data feed is more complicated to process and likely to result in errors. Ecommerce packages like Bigcommerce can help you set up data files in the appropriate format for your Merchant Center.

How to setup your Google Shopping Merchant Center Account – Video

Your products need to have a suitable title and description. They also need to be assigned certain attributes such as price, stock availability and product identifiers like Globbal Trade Item Number (GTIN). Google is strict in terms of product codes, so you need to make sure you get the right one so that your ad does not get filtered out of the search results. For items like clothing, you will need to mention size and color as well. If you want to make sure all the information has been filled correctly, you can export the test feed from your shop and upload it on Google Merchant’s feed debugger to manually check for any errors.

Once you have verified the details in the Merchant Center, you can link it up with your AdWords account. You can manage your product inventory and customize your product groups based on chosen attributes. By default, all your products in the data feed are uploaded in your shopping campaign, but you can use the Inventory Filter to limit products you wish to advertise based on popularity or demand.

Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are different from text based campaigns because you no longer have to specify keywords and Google works out the best product based on the search terms used by the customer. The algorithm runs in the background and users are directed to ads based on their preferences or location. It is important to make sure that your listing is eligible to appear in Google shopping because Google has strict policies such as images with watermarks cannot be advertised. Before listing your products, go through Google’s editorial policies to make sure your business is aligned with the given regulations.

Google Shopping Product Search


Regardless of what logic Google uses to pick ads, some basic tips will help you improve your rating:

Relevance: The closer your product matches the search terms of users, the higher will be your chances of getting an ad displayed in the top results by Google. You might want to keep the details broad, so users can easily be redirected to your website. If you use specific terms that consumers don’t really search for, you ad might be left behind the curtain.

Bid Price: The more you bid, the better are chances of appearing in the top window. However, you have to be careful while bidding like in which items to bid for because not all of them might carry the same demand or profit margin. Using priorities to segmentation traffic is one way to specify your products based on search queries. This approach has been known to cut costs by 20%.

Location: Google normally shows results based on user’s location. So if, for example, a user searches for bikes, Google will tend to boost the ads of bike shops near the person’s actual location.

Completeness of Data: There are relatively small number of mandatory fields for a product data feed, however providing all the optional data fields makes it more likely for Google to match your products with the user’s search results.

Fresh Data: Google will reward more recent data which is more relevant to the user’s search. By listing new products and offering promotions, you are likely to redirect more customers to your shopping website.

Merchant Credibility: The longer you keep your Merchant account active, the more credible Google regards you as a merchant. Google also uses various independent review sites to determine your reputation as an online seller. Reviews are very important for your profile ranking and get you at a higher position among other competitors. Sometimes, it is useful to ask customers for a feedback after they make a purchase, so that you can get the maximum number of reviews for your products.

Distinct Images: The image is everything, and it needs to look tempting so the product gets more attention from the consumers. Generally, products shot against white background, look good in ads. Your product page needs to look equally appealing so that consumers spend more time browsing around and selecting products to purchase.

Optimizing Product Titles: Optimizing product titles within the product feed has a huge impact on traffic volume generated by online users. Rewriting titles sometimes allow traffic to be directed to certain products, and might increase the chances of getting more visibility of your ad. You can experiment with this using different keywords, and also try testing at different times of the day to see how the search results change.

Product Pricing: It is vital to make sure that the product prices are accurate especially if shipping outside country or trading in a foreign currency. Google will filter out your products if the information is not correct, and it will not appear in the search results.

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