There’s no denying the fact that, over the last ten to fifteen years, online shopping has taken over. The ability to browse from a more expansive range of products from the comfort of your own home and then to have your purchases delivered straight to your door is now the default shopping of choice. Everyone does it, which is why it’s becoming increasingly important to stand out in the online market.
But hopping between websites to compare and contrast is clunky and frustrating, which is why online shopping marketplaces have come to dominate the scene: eBay, Amazon, Etsy etc. And there’s one platform that has continued to be refined over the years and looks to take over – Google Shopping. When it comes to running a great PPC campaign for e-commerce and product advertising, Google Shopping can be a fantastic tool for getting your inventory in front of the consumers most likely to convert.
And Google Shopping sends traffic to your website in order to make the purchase when they click on your product link. Google Shopping has changed a lot over the years (first being worked on as early as 2002), and it’s more of an ads platform than online marketplace, but its ability to target customers based on a search query makes it a vital tool for online marketers. The fact is, if you’re selling products online and you’re not currently using Google Shopping, then you’re missing out.
What Is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is a search engine designed to facilitate online shopping made by Google, allowing users to find what they’re looking for with search results showing product information, product stock availability, prices, and more. But it’s also an ads platform, allowing PPC marketers to get specific product ads to appear in the Google SERPs (search engine results pages).
Online shopping has been evolving and taking over how consumers research and buy products for a long time. Typically, Google took note of this trend and began working on what would become Google Shopping back in 2002 (it was known as Froogle in 2002). Since then, the tool has changed a lot. In 2012, it became a paid service model and became a branch of Google AdWords.
Google has worked on Google Shopping every year alongside the changes in the way that users search and compare products online. In April 2020, Google Shopping moved to feature both organic product listings and paid Shopping ads (which can take several different forms). Now, there are a range of different Shopping ads:
Product Listing Ads – Product Listing Ads, or PLAs, are online ads for single products
Showcase Shopping Ads – These feature categories of products and items
Local Inventory Ads – These are for advertising products that are sold in-store locally
Google Shopping ads have become an increasingly important part of pay per click and online marketing. When Google judges there to be shopping intent in a search query, it will display any relevant Google Shopping ads as part of the search results. These ads usually appear as either a box or carousel with the sponsored disclaimer plainly visible. For businesses wanting to push their products in front of relevant potential customers with the best chance of converting, Google Shopping is a powerful tool.
How Important Is Google Shopping?
As consumer behaviour has changed online, so has the need for businesses and marketers to keep up. And with one in three paid clicks on the SERPs being made on shopping ads, it’s clear that this is a chunk of the market that businesses don’t want to miss out on. It’s no longer much of a choice – if you’re an e-commerce advertiser then you can’t miss out on the potential traffic and conversions generated by Google Shopping campaigns.
The big changes that the Google Shopping platform has undergone, including the paid feed, has meant that Google Shopping has come to dominate the search engine results page real estate, pushing organic results further down the page in favour of paid ads. When users search for a product on Google, the Google Shopping ads are going to be the thing that they notice first – and its any businesses first opportunity to bring in relevant traffic to their website without them even searching for your business specifically. This, in turn, has only increased the importance and value of shopping ads campaigns through Google Shopping, changing the way that consumers search, compare and purchase products online.
Why Should You Use Google Shopping?
Google Shopping ads are fantastic for businesses to target consumers online. With well optimised ads, you are able to target everything from generic searchers to those who know exactly what it is that they want. Making the most of the platform is all about understanding user behaviour.
Think about the ways in which you have shopped online. Depending on the product and your specific requirements, the type of search you make can change quite dramatically. When you’re looking for something that you have no particular prior knowledge of or any investment in, you’re likely to make broad and general searches in order to find as many similar products to compare and contrast based on price, features and more.
But if you’re looking for something very specific, your search is going to be very different, and the search results will potentially be much less in volume. As such, marketers need to satisfy both kinds of searchers. Fortunately, Google Shopping is great for both.
A lot of people use Google Shopping and rely upon it to deliver the best search results possible. Ecommerce websites can’t really afford not to use the platform. But there are a lot of similar products out there, so it’s your job to stand out amongst the crowd. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to optimise your ads.
Some of the reasons you will want to use Google Shopping advertising for your products include:
You can earn better SERP real estate – making use of the Google Shopping platform means that you have the chance to appear multiple times on a single search engine results page. You can show up as an organic website result, a PPC advertisement, and a Google Shopping result all at once, dominating your consumers’ results feed.
You can benefit from higher conversion rates – Google Shopping ads are proven to have a fantastic conversion rate – around 30 per cent higher than that of text ads, in fact. This is down to a number of reasons, but the fact is that the visual and detailed ads of Google Shopping are proven to be more attention grabbing than text results – and to secure more relevant traffic that’s ready to convert.
You can add a visual element to your advertising – The SERPs and online advertising are known for being incredibly text-heavy – but it’s no secret that the shopping experience, whether online or offline, has a massive visual element. Consumers want to be able to actually see the products they’re searching for before they are convinced to make a purchase. Organic traffic results and PPC text ads lack this, but Google Shopping gives you the opportunity to entice customers with a visual element to your advertising.
How We Create And Optimise Our Google Shopping Campaigns
1. Setting up a Google Merchant Center Account
First things first: when beginning a Google Shopping campaign, it’s important to set up and optimise a Google Merchant Center Account. This is where a lot of the magic happens, and is going to be where you give Google all the information it needs to fully display your products and inventory.
Google Merchants Center is where you will create and host your product data feeds. A product data feed is a list of every product you sell, including all the relevant information about them. You can optimize these feeds with a strong text snippet and featured image for your ad, but in short you product data feeds needs to have:
Description – this detailed text describes your product and will be visible by searchers when they click on and view your ad.
Product category – Here, you choose from one or several of Google’s predefined product categories under which your ad can be listed.
Title – Essentially, the name of your product. This is what searchers will see when your ad is delivered onto their SERP.
ID – this is a unique ID used to identify your product from all the others.
Price/sale price – This is the current price of your item and where you can also show current sale prices.
Product type – Unlike product category, this is a chance for you to define and categorise what type of product your ad is for.
Availability – This shows whether your product is currently in stock and available or not.
Link to your website – This link will take users to the product page on your own website.
2. Image Optimisation
One of the most appealing aspects to using the Google Shopping platform is the opportunity for digital marketers to add a crucial visual element to product advertising. But it’s important to know how exactly to optimize these images before you get started building a campaign.
While Google Shopping uses your given product feeds in order to index and deliver your ad in the search results, it actually pulls the featured images for the ads from the respective website. That’s why it’s important to optimize the product images on your own website first before you begin advertising them through Google Shopping.
This is important, because your product photos might just be the most important part of your ad. As we touched on previously, Google Shopping and consumer behaviour prioritises visuals, and it might be the deciding factor as to whether a user clicks on your product or a competitor’s. And there’s no cutting corners here – Google performs frequent quality checks and is known to deny Google Shopping campaigns and even suspend Google Shopping accounts if the product imagery is of very bad quality.
Fortunately, there are clear requirements for optimizing good imagery for Google Shopping – Google even has its own image guidelines for marketers to follow for the best success. Some of the things to remember include:
Using clear and even lighting for your products.
Using a solid and blank background, usually either white, grey or light coloured. Unintrusive backgrounds are best.
Showing the product at the correct size. You don’t want to have images where the product is too big or too small – the entire product needs to be on show without taking up the entirety of the image.
Showing the product clearly. You need frontal images – rear views, closeups and other angles can be used, but these should always be additional to the main image. Multiple angles are actually a great asset to have.
Showing the product in use or on-body where appropriate can be great.
Making sure your image has no blur or image tweaks like fading, fringing and pixellation.
Google holds image optimisation as a high priority for marketers using its Google Shopping platform. It has quite strict product image specifications, so it’s important to get these right. Getting them wrong can mean that you not only hurt sales through the platform, but actually prevent them entirely.
The good news is that following these guidelines will ensure that your ads gain the visibility they deserve and are appealing to customers. It will also mean that the strength and quality of the imagery on your website is better, and will also work if you choose to use other online marketplaces like eBay or Amazon.
3. Linking Up Your AdWords Account
When a user searches for a product on Google and sees your result on Google Shopping, they’re seeing an advertisement. While you need to set up a Google Merchant Center account and while that is where Google finds all of your product information for the advertisement, it’s still Google AdWords that displays your product through Shopping campaigns.
In order to display your product ads on Google Shopping, you still need to pay and bid through AdWords. To do this, you’ll need to link your Google AdWords account with your Google Merchant Center account. This is easy enough to do, but you’ll need to set up a full Shopping campaign too.
Fortunately, setting up a Shopping campaign is easy enough to do. You just need to link your account and then choose a campaign goal and campaign subtype – this is where you get to choose whether you want to drive traffic to your website, drive an increased number of sales of gather leads and other conversions on your site.
With that done, you need to set up a bidding strategy and set up a campaign budget. This is where you choose which target keywords and search terms you want to bid on for results, as well as deciding what you want your bids to achieve – whether this is to maximize ad clicks, return on ad spend, or anything else.
Get In Touch
The world of Google Shopping can be a little daunting and confusing – even for those experienced in paid digital advertising. But our talented PPC team has a lot of experience in setting up effective and efficient Shopping campaigns for our clients and, when you get it right, the results can be fantastic. Want to hear more? Get in touch with us today for a chat to discuss how we can help bring Google Shopping success to your business online.