Google Shopping Campaigns - A complete guide [2018]

July 12, 2018 Mark Adams

If your ecommerce brand is not using Google Shopping ads to expand your reach, then you’re missing out on a powerful opportunity to grow your audience online. It should come as no surprise that Google Shopping optimization has become a priority for many ecommerce brands given that Google Shopping Campaigns drove 75% of clicks for all retailers in 2017. Below, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you get started Google Shopping management and optimization.

What are Google Shopping Campaigns?

Google Shopping campaigns allow ecommerce stores to advertise their physical products on the Google search engine. Also known as Product Listing Ads or PLAs, these ads show search engine users what your products look like while also displaying the price before they even get to your website.

Here’s an example of what a Google Shopping ad looks like on the search engine results page (SERP):

Google Shopping Campaigns

Google Shopping ads provide much more information for consumers than the standard text ad.

The ads in your Google shopping campaigns provide much more information to consumers than the standard text ad. For this reason, the traffic that these ads bring back to your site tends to be from consumers who intend to buy. These visitors have already seen the product and know the price, so if they are more likely to purchase after clicking on the ad.

But how do these ads work given that Google Shopping does not allow you to target keywords? Well, Google shopping campaigns are served to consumers through a product feed in the Google Merchant Center. The product feed contains a list of all your products in a specialized format that includes essential attributes that describe your products.

Some of the attributes contained within your product data feed are:

  • Title – The name of your product, which consumers see when Google serves your ad.

  • Description – This information describes your product and consumers see it when they click on your ad.

  • Product Category – Choose the best category to describe your product from Google’s predefined categories.

  • Product Type – Choose the type of product.

  • Price – The ad will show both the price and sale price (if applicable).

The best part is that you don’t have to worry about ad copy for Google Shopping optimization. Shopping ads are automatically generated based on the information in your product feed.

Setting Up Your Google Merchant Center Account: Step by Step Guide

If you plan on launching shopping campaigns in Google, you’ll need to set up your Google Merchant Center account. Here are the steps you need to take to set up your account successfully:

1. Update your business information.

The first thing you will need to do is update your business information, which Google will display to search engine users. You will need to fill in your business display name, website, business address, and any authorized users on your account.

2. Claim, and verify your URL.

After you’ve updated your business information, you’ll then need to verify and claim the URL for your business website. Be careful during this step as your product landing page links must match the domain that you register during this step of the setup process.

3. Ensure website meets Google Merchant Center guidelines.

Google Merchant Center has some guidelines that your website must meet if you want to use Google Shopping ads. Check your site for the following:

  • Secure Checkout – Your site URL should include https in the address bar when consumers are putting in their payment information.

  • Site and Product Language – Your website and the data in your product feed needs to be in the official language of the country to which you will be serving the ads.

  • Global Shopping Cart – Even if you only sell products in the U.S. and Canada, consumers across the globe need to be able to access your shopping cart.

  • Accurate Contact Information – Your site also needs to include correct contact information for your customers.

  • Billing and Return Information – Your site should also have clear instructions on how customer billing and returns work.

4. Choose tax and shipping settings.

The last step in setting up your Google Merchant Account is choosing your tax and shipping settings. For taxes, you can set a flat tax rate or have taxes that are specific to the destination. When it comes to shipping, you can set rules for different order types. For instance, you can adjust shipping costs by product price, weight, number of items, and destination.

Google Shopping Management: How to Create and Maintain Your Product Feed

One of the most important parts of Google Shopping management is maintaining your product feed. Before you can start launching your first Google Shopping campaigns, you’ll need to make sure that your product data is complete and up to date.

As you start creating your product feed, you’ll want to make sure that it meets Google’s requirements. These requirements will ultimately depend on the types of products that your ecommerce store sells. However, there are a few standard requirements that Google has for every product feed:

  • ID – A unique identifier for all your products
  • Title – Product’s name

  • Description – Brief description of the product

  • Link – Link to the specific product page

  • Image link –Link to an image of the product

  • Availability – In stock, out of stock, or pre-order

  • Price – Price of product

  • Shipping – Cost to ship product

  • Tax – Tax on U.S. product

  • Condition – New, Used, Refurbished

  • Adult – Whether the product is an adult product

Be sure to check Google’s specific requirements for the types of products that you sell. Double checking that you have met all the requirements ensures that you accurately and fill in all of the data necessary for your product feed, which is an integral part of Google shopping management.

Once you have compiled the data for your products, it’s time to upload and submit the product feed. Google gives you a few different options for doing this. To get started, go to your Merchant Center account and click on the products menu. Then, click on the plus sign to add a new feed. After this step, the dashboard will ask you how you’d like to upload the feed.

Google Shopping Campaigns - Google Merchant Feed

Google Merchant Account gives you multiple options for uploading your product feed.

One of the best ways to upload your product feed is by using a Google spreadsheet. The Google Merchant Center will even provide a template for you. You can quickly create and update this spreadsheet on a regular basis to ensure that your product feed data is up-to-date.

Google Shopping Feed Template

Google Spreadsheet is a great way to organize and manage your product data feed.

Maintaining your product feed is an essential part of Google Shopping management. That’s why it is vital that you update your product information on a regular basis to ensure that your product feed is accurate. Any time there are changes to inventory, you should visit your product feed spreadsheet and make the changes as soon as possible.

It’s important to note that even if your inventory doesn’t change, Google requires your business to upload a full product feed every 30 days. When submitting your feed, you can check the “Create an upload schedule” option to automatically submit your spreadsheet regularly so that you are complying with Google’s requirements.

We have found that sending your product data feed to Google every day is a great way to make sure that your data is accurate and up-to-date. Google prefers companies that provide consistent and clean product data because it allows for a better experience for search engine users. Updating your product feed on a daily basis can help increase the likelihood that your product ads get placement.

Not to mention, keeping your product feed up-to-date helps consumers have a more seamless experience. Regular updates ensure that the information search engine users see on your ad is the same information they will find when they click through to your site. There is nothing worse than having a shopper come to your site to buy only to see that the product is out of stock. This type of user experience can impact your brand’s reputation and consumer trust.

Consider using integrations with your store to help ensure your product feed is always up to date. There are certain apps and other integrations that sync with your store inventory, making it easy for you to automatically make updates to your product data feed when there are changes to your inventory.

5 Tips for Google Shopping Optimization

Now that you know how to get started with your Google Shopping campaigns let’s talk about how to optimize them. Google shopping optimization can get a bit tricky, but with the tips below, you’ll be on your way to reaching more consumers with your Google Product Listing Ads:

Google Shopping Optimization Tip 1 - Use keyword-rich product titles and descriptions.

One of the most popular Google Shopping optimization tactics is using SEO keywords to optimize your feed. Google takes keyword data from your data feed to determine how it will show your ads in relevant search engine queries. So you’ll want to keep SEO best practices in mind when creating the data in your feed.

Start by creating a keyword-rich title. To optimize the product title, including brand, style, model, color, size, and other essential features within the title. Not only does this help Google serve your ads to the most relevant search engine users, but it will also provide a clear description for the consumer who is searching for products like yours.

Use this same strategy when developing product descriptions. Include important details like materials, shape, patterns, textures, technical specifications, and other vital features to describe your products.

Just as you don’t want to keyword stuff your blogs or site content, you should avoid doing this for your Google Shopping data as well. Instead, aim for titles and descriptions that are helpful and descriptive, giving the user a clear idea of what your products are.

Google Shopping Optimization Tip 2 - Include negative keywords in your Google Shopping campaigns.

Though you cannot actually bid on keywords in your Google Shopping campaigns, you can use negative keywords to avoid sending unwanted traffic back to your site. You can use these negative keywords at the campaign level or add them to ad groups.

To get started, add terms that you know are irrelevant to your brand. You can also add low performing terms later on after reviewing your search term report.

For example, if your store sells women’s clothing, you may want to include negative keywords like “mens,” “men’s,” and “male” to ensure that Google isn’t serving your ad content to consumers who are looking for men’s clothing.

Just as with your other Google ad campaigns, using negative keywords helps you improve relevancy. By driving more relevant traffic back to your site, you will boost sales while improving your Google Shopping ad ROI. Remember to update your negative keyword list periodically to ensure it is accurate.

Google Shopping Optimization Tip 3 - Choose engaging product images.

You only have a few seconds to capture the consumer’s attention. That’s why it’s vital that you choose relevant, targeted images for your Google Shopping ads. The image should clearly and accurately portray the image while highlighting its best attributes.

When choosing images for your product, use these optimization tips:

  • Choose high-resolution images that clearly showcase the product.
  • Use images that highlight the product’s features or options.
  • Test product and lifestyle images to see which works best.
  • Avoid using images that include text or watermarks.

The ultimate goal here is to make your product images stand apart from the competition. Many ecommerce companies will use manufacturers photos or use photos that are very similar to these stock photos. However, if you want to drive traffic and boost sales, you’ll need to help differentiate your product photos from the images your competitors are using.

Sometimes this is as simple as taking a photo with a background. Many manufacturer stock photos have a white background. By using images that showcase your product in a relevant setting, you can help your image stand out immediately to search engine users.

Google Shopping Optimization Tip 4 - Enable ratings and review counts for your products.

Google offers you the option to show a star rating and review counts for your products. These will appear under your product’s title on the Google Shopping ad. Google gathers these ratings and reviews from multiple sources, including your website, third-party sites, and editorial sites as well as Google users.

When you enable these ratings and reviews for your Product Listing Ads, it allows your brand to showcase the quality of your products. These reviews and ratings will help your ads stand out on the search engine results page and help you surpass the competition.

To add these reviews to your ads, you’ll need to send a request to Google using the Product Ratings Interest Form. Google requires you to have at least three reviews on the single product and at least 50 reviews across all of your products to show your ratings on the Shopping ad. To consistently get more reviews from your customers, make a habit of following up through email or social media after each purchase and asking for feedback.

Google Shopping Optimization Tip 5 - Set different bids for product groups based on performance.

Though you cannot bid on keywords with Google Shopping ads, you can bid on specific products. To do this effectively, you’ll want first to place your products into different product groups.

Product groups help you separate your brand’s products into relevant categories. When creating groups for your products, consider what categories you use to separate the products on your site. For instance, if you sell women’s shoes, you might divide products by type – heels, boots, flats, sandals, etc.

Once you have created different categories for your products, you can then set separate bids for each product group. We recommend placing these bids based on sales performance or profit margins. To find your highest performing products, look under “Products” in AdWords. Also, consider which products you sell with the highest profit margins.

Once you have identified a group of best-selling products or products with high profit margins, you can put these products in their own product group. Then, you can raise the bids for this product group, helping you maximize exposure for these products. Setting strategic bids for unique product categories is one of the best ways to ensure Google Shopping optimization and get the highest return on investment for your Google Shopping ad spend.

Monitor performance over time and adjust your product categories and bid strategy based on your findings. For example, if you find that a product that used to be a best seller is now performing poorly, you should remove it from its current ad group and place it in a different category with a lower bid.

Final Takeaways

Google Shopping ad campaigns are a must for every ecommerce brand. Not only do they help you connect with more consumers on the search engines, but the consumers you do reach are more likely to be interested in your products. Google shopping management is an ongoing process, but it’s vital for brands that want to use this powerful ad platform to boost sales. With the Google Shopping optimization tips above, you will be well on your way to launching successful campaigns in no time!

Launching successful Google Shopping campaigns can be a challenge if you don’t have much experience with the Google Merchant platform. If you need help with Google Shopping management, you have come to the right place. The SevenAtoms team specializes in Google Shopping optimization and can help you take your campaigns to the next level.

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