Online shopping – we all do it. It’s possibly one of life’s greatest (and worst) inventions – literally anything you can think of? Yeah, it can be bought online. Want to shop at 3am or 3pm? Go for it. Want to compare a product across multiple retailers for the best price, fit and other factors? Well yeah, this can be done too. But jumping across multiple ecommerce websites can make that a pretty timely pastime.
Cue online shopping marketplaces. What’s that you ask? You know – the Amazon, Etsy, and eBay’s of the world. Oh! and let’s not forget – Google Shopping. While it’s by definition not exactly an online marketplace, it does provide a one-stop-shop for consumers to browse and compare a vast array of product based on their search.
Unlike other online shopping marketplaces however, Google Shopping also benefits the retailer by directing customers to their own online store for customers to complete the purchase process.
So, you get what we’re saying right?
If you’re not advertising your products on Google Shopping, our good friend, you may be missing out. Don’t stress- we can help you get up to speed with all things Google Shopping and getting started with your first shopping campaign.
Starting over, what is Google Shopping? It’s a Google service the allows consumers to search for, shop and compare for physical products across a variety of retailers who have paid to have their products visible. You may recognise Google Shopping results as the thumbnail size product images that directly compare each retailer and their prices for the same or similar product.
As a form of paid advertising with Google, you are correct in thinking – is this an extension of Google AdWords? Yep, you best believe it is however the clear distinction between Google Shopping and Google Text based ads that display based on keywords, is that product data is instead used.
Why use Google Shopping? Do we need to answer this? Just kidding – we want to and in short, it works.
Google Shopping adds a visual experience for a user to an otherwise text-heavy browsing experience that is Google. As a business, you have the opportunity to display product multiple times for one search and it’s proven to have a higher conversion rate than standard Google text ads.
Want to get started? We thought you might.
The easiest way to add products to Google Shopping is by following the below steps:
Ready for a walk through?
Ready for a walk through?
1. Set up your own Google Merchant Centre account
To get your products featured in Google Shopping results, you must sign up for a Google Merchant Center account. Google Merchant Center is simple to set up and even easier to navigate. This account will be your home base that houses all of your products and the corresponding product information.
2. Optimize your product imagery
Because Google Shopping uses product feeds uploaded by you to index search results, but pulls product imagery from the related retail websites. This makes it imperative for brands to have their product imagery optimised for web on your own website before you put the to market in Google Shopping. Your product photos are undoubtfully the most significant part of your Shopping listing, and they will dictate how shoppers choose which product to click and then purchase. Google Shopping knows how important the visuals are to give the consumer the best experience and quickly. Because of this, Google will deny any low quality product feeds. If you think your images aren’t up too scratch but want to give it a go anyway? Think again, Google is strict with this and they do frequent and at random quality checks. Google do not shilly-shally from suspending accounts who do not follow these requirements. Luckily – because this all sounds very brutal – Google have their own guidelines which we recommend having a read of yourself and following from the get go! Some key points we have taken however were:
- Use a solid white background
- Use good, natural lighting
- Clearly display the product being sold
- Avoid blur, noise, excessive editing
- Other best practices include showing apparel products on face or on a model, using shadows to add realistic depth, and providing multiple images
3. Collect and input your product data feed
Now that your product images are all definitions of perfect, it’s time to get into creating your product data feed. Your product feed is what gives Google information about your products. This data is vital because it helps Google find and display your products correctly when people search for certain product terms.
To set up your product feed, go to your Google Merchant Center account.
- Click Products > Feeds, and then click the blue “+” icon.
- First, enter your country and language. What you enter here will dictate who will see your product.
- Lastly, give your product feed a name and choose how you will enter your product information.
Hot tip: If you choose Google Sheets, you can either upload your own spreadsheet or use a template provided by Google Merchant Center. This step also allows you to create an upload schedule which is great if you are updating your inventory often.
If you use the spreadsheet upload, the product attributes that Google requires to display your products are organized together. We’ve added a brief list of some of the required product attributes that Google uses to create your Google Shopping ads. Please note; these are case sensitive:
id: This is your product’s unique identifier and is most often called the SKU Code.
title:This one is obviously your products title and should match the product landing page. Here you can add any specifics that might help customers when they are searching. Examples can be size or colours.
description: An accurate and direct description of your product. And what does direct mean? only include information about the product.
link: The URL of your product’s landing page. Should start with http or https.
image_link: The URL of your product’s main image. Should start with http or https.
availability: Your product’s availability. Match the availability from the product landing page. Example: In stock
price: Your product’s price. Match the price from the product landing page and the currency from the country in which the product is predominately sold.
google_product_category: The Google-defined product category for your product. Include the single most relevant category.
brand: this seems obvious but people do forget to add the product’s brand name. Provide the name generally recognized by customers.
As this is only a small snippet of the Google’s data specifications, we’ve linked the full list here. If you are downloading the template directly from Google Merchant Center, then these attributes will already be reflected in column headers – bonus!
From this point forward, you have now set up your product feed and you can access it by going to your Google Merchant Center account under Products > Feeds > Primary feeds.
4. Link your Google AdWords account
When you search for a product on Google, the Google Shopping results you see are actually advertisements – yeah now we’re talking some inception type of stuff aren’t we? That’s right — in order to get your products on Google Shopping, you have to pay – surprise! Said no one at Google, ever. Another way of putting it is that Google Merchant Center is supplying the information to Google but it is Google AdWords that pushes your products to consumers.
Have we lost you? Don’t say it’s so! All that we need to do is link your Google AdWords account.
To do this log into your Google Merchant Center account. You will then see there are three vertical dots in the top right-hand corner. When you click these dots, the menu will expand and you will then see an option for Account linking.
If you don’t have a Google AdWords account, you can create a new account at this point. Otherwise, it’s as simple as entering your Google AdWords customer ID and clicking Link Accounts.
How easy was that? And we’re back…
5. Creating a Google Shopping campaign
Now that we have linked your Google AdWords account, we can create a Google Shopping campaign and start advertising your products. As always, we love an option and there are a few when creating a Google Shopping campaign.
The first is to create a Google Shopping campaign through your Google Merchant Center account. As your accounts are now linked, you will be able to access your accounts from the same place. Then simply click Create Shopping Campaign. You will then be prompted to insert the campaign name, daily budget and country of sale. Once you click Create, a pop up will ask you if you wish to continue managing your campaign through Google AdWords.
Want to try the other way? The second is to create a Google Shopping campaign through your Google AdWords account. Start by logging into your Google AdWords account and open the Campaigns tab on the left-hand side menu. Click the blue “+” icon, and choose New campaign. First, choose a campaign goal. When creating a Shopping campaign, you will notice you can have a goal of Sales, Leads, or Website traffic.
Let’s break these down:
- Sales campaigns will drive sales online or in person and can be great if you also have physical locations.
- Leads campaigns gather leads and other conversions by encouraging shoppers to complete an action. Most often a sign-up form.
- Website traffic campaigns bring the right people to your website where it’s then up to your site to wow them.
It’s important the goal you choose is realistic and relevant to your business as Google will personalise each campaign to support your chosen goal. After you have chosen a campaign goal, define the campaign type as Shopping. Make sure once you do this that your Google Merchant Center account is visible so Google AdWords will know where to pull the product data from. The final step is to indicate the country you are selling from and choose a campaign subtype. As we are beginners learning, it’s best to choose the Standard Shopping campaign.
You will then be able to view all of your Google Shopping campaign settings. You need to enter a campaign name and click additional settings if you want to set filters for your inventory or enable local inventory ads.
6. Place bids on your Shopping campaign
The next screen, under the Google Shopping settings will prompt you to select your bidding strategy and set your campaign budget. Similar to previous ads we have set up together, we know that bidding is how we pay for people to view and click on your ads.
When selecting your bid strategy, we have the option of Manual CPC (cost-per-click) meaning you set your own maximum CPC for your ads. Alternatively, you can also set an automated bidding strategy. Target ROAS (return on ad spend) and Enhanced CPC both involve conversion tracking as Google uses your ad’s conversion rates to fix the most effective bid for your products. With “Maximize clicks”, Google Ads routinely sets your bids to get as many clicks as probable within your budget. You can set a Maximum CPC bid limit to control your spend per ad.
We can now set a campaign budget. You will be asked to add a daily budget however Google will dispense your budget monthly. This means that your daily budget times the number of days in each month if your monthly spend and Google will not exceed this. If you are running multiple ad campaigns, you can set a priority list so Google will know which bid should be used first and where.
7. Target and schedule your Shopping campaign
The concluding segment of the Google Shopping campaign settings is all about dictating who you will target and when. The first two settings — Networks and Devices — won’t need to change generally. This is because they are simply telling you where your product ads will be visible.
The next stage is setting the locations that your ad will target. It’s important that you are selecting locations that your business is located or ships to. Under Location options, you have the option to change the Target and Exclude settings. We generally recommend Google’s default choices as these options ensure that you are marketing to the very best people being those in your target locations and also whom are interested and already actively searching for your category.
You can now set the start and end dates of your campaign. If you do not set an end date, your ad will continue to run – yes it truly will run for eternity so don’t forget this step!
8. Build ad groups
Once you have finalized your Google Shopping campaign settings, you will be asked to create ad groups for your campaign. The type of ads you run and how you organise the bidding for those ads makes up an Ad group.
For Shopping Campaigns, there are two types of ad groups you can set live: Showcase Shopping Ads and Product Shopping ads. Broken down, Product Shopping ads promote a single product whereas Showcase Shopping ads are a new format and allow you to advertise multiple products as part of a product or campaign ad that represent your business.
If you choose a Showcase Shopping ad group, enter your ad group name and set a maximum CPE (cost per engagement) bid. When a user expands your Showcase Shopping campaign and clicks on a link within the ad then this will count as an engagement bid. You can then choose what products to promote as part of the Showcase Shopping ad.
If you choose a Product Shopping ad group, you will need to enter your ad group name and set a maximum CPC bid. This will create one big ad group for all your products. You can go deeper here and filter your products further if you business houses multiple categories by creating separate ad groups for these different categories.
Alright, the big moment we’ve been waiting for. You can click Save– go for it! Your campaign is now submitted.
Google Shopping is the new age department store – we’ve called it. As a shopper, you can enter and search for what you want, and be exposed to multiple brands and a variety of products all in one screen. For that reason alone, it’s no wonder many people are choosing to shop on marketplaces over shopping for products on a standalone ecommerce site. For businesses, not only will it boost your website traffic, but will provide leads and sales you otherwise might not have amassed.