Google Shopping Best Practices for 2021 – Complete Guide
Did you know that Google Shopping Ads generate around 20% of the retail paid search clicks?
So, if you haven’t used Google Shopping Ads, you are clearly missing out on a huge opportunity to scale up your eCommerce revenue.
Setting up Google Shopping Ads does indeed require some initial effort, but today we’ll teach you how it works, how to start from scratch and create your first campaign, along with the Google Shopping best practices to optimize the process.
Google Shopping Ads: What are they?
Google Shopping Ads are known as Product Listing Ads (PLAs). They are product-based ads that appear when users search for products across Google and Google Shopping.
They show up at the top of the search results or on the page’s top-right before any organic search results. PLAs can be one of the best ways to generate sales and revenue for eCommerce businesses, if not the most effective one.
While Google has been making significant strides to improve the shopping experience by releasing new tools and ad formats; but, putting the right strategy in place can be challenging, requiring some practice.
Google Shopping is currently available in over 40 countries. It is not the only comparison shopping engine but by far the most popular.
So, what does the Product Listing Ads include?
Five components provide shoppers with everything they need to decide if they would like to explore further.
- Product image and name
- Seller’s name
- Shipping Information
- Promotions or reviews
Why does every eCommerce business need Google Shopping Ads?
Although figuring out how they work and setting them up can take some time, here are 5 major reasons why you should start using Google Shopping Ads today!
#1 Get your products at the top of Google’s SERPs
As mentioned earlier, Google Shopping Ads show up even before organic search results and based on the customers’ search queries. This makes it much easier to get noticed by potential buyers who are already interested in your products, which means better conversion rates.
#2 Get a better performance than text-only ads
The components that make up Google Shopping Ads like high-quality images, reviews, star ratings, price, and discounts make it more effective at targeting than AdWords text ads. A study showed that Google Shopping Ads generates 26% more conversions than text-based ads, along with a 23% decrease in cost-per-click.
#3 Gain high-quality leads
Since Google Shopping Ads are information-rich, they tend to be more visually appealing and help you gain high-quality leads. These leads visit your website intending to purchase as they are already familiar with your product.
#4 Easier-to-manage ads
Keywords selection and bidding are one of the most challenging tasks for marketers. But, with Google Shopping Ads, you don’t have to worry about that. Instead, Google determines the keywords relevant to your product data feed, saving you time and effort.
#5 Expand your reach
Google Shopping Ads is getting smarter by the day about using synonyms. Your products will not just appear to exact matches, which makes the search quite flexible.
How does Google Shopping work?
The whole process includes two main platforms:
- Google the Merchant Center
2. Google Ads (formerly AdWords)
Step 1: First, eCommerce businesses create what is called a “product feed” (more on that later). It is a file that contains all the information useful to describe the products that they sell.
Step 2: This product feed is passed to Google Merchant Center. This is a Google platform that collects and organizes your product feed and makes it available to Google Ads.
Step 3: Google Ads is then connected to Merchant Center so that the advertising platform can receive and interact with the product data.
What do you need to get started?
For setting up your first Google Shopping campaign, you need:
- An online store (eCommerce) with products available for purchase
- A product feed, delivered independently by your site
- A Google Merchant Center account
- A Google Ads account, where you can start creating your campaign
Now that you are getting more familiar with how Google Shopping campaigns work let’s get into details to understand what makes this activity effective.
Here are some prerequisites related to your online store to employ Google Shopping campaigns:
- Feature products that users can directly purchase from you (no affiliate links/services).
- Your online store must be in the language that you will be submitting your product feed in so they can match.
- Clearly state your return and refund policy on your site.
- Manage user data securely. Google details what it expects from advertisers in this regard.
A product feed is a file (.txt or .xml ) that contains all the products that your eCommerce sells, grouped through different attributes.
How to obtain this file?
It depends on the Content Management System, a software that helps create, manage and modify site’s content.
To simplify this step, Google also provides some examples of product feeds in .txt and .xml formats, along with a small guide to using Google Sheets to set up product data.
It is important to fully configure the Google Merchant account as it acts as a link between your site (identified through a product feed) and the Google Ads advertising platform.
Merchant Center asks for some information about the business like location, name, and checkout options upon registration.
Once you have completed your registration on the platform, you can view your account, products and get tips for growth.
The “Products” section contains the most valuable information. Active products (used in ads), disapproved, pending, or expiring products are displayed there.
The “Feed” subsection allows you to upload or update your product feed and make sure it is always available and updated.
Google Shopping Best Practices Step By Step
Step 1 – Set Up Google Merchant Account
- Go to the Merchant Center, click on Sign Up and fill out your basic information.
- Claim your website domain by downloading an HTML file from the Merchant Center and uploading it to your site. Google provides some extra support here.
Step 2 – Link Your Merchant Center to Google Ads
- If you don’t have a Google Ads account, you can create one here.
- Head to the Merchant Center and press on the three dots on the top-left side of the page and choose Account Linking.
- Your Google Ad account will show up; click on Link Account.
Step 3 Optimize Your Google Product Feed
In order to increase your click-through-rate and make your products show up for the right search queries, you need to apply the following optimization tactics.
- Add your most important keywords without stuffing them.
- Aim for longer search queries
- Include specific information like color, brand, gender, and size.
If you are selling a maternity swimsuit for a particular brand, ‘BodyShape.’ You can choose the title “BodyShape Plus Size Maximum Coverage Black Halter Neck Maternity Swimsuit.” This title highlights the brand, the color, the type, the product itself, and one of its exclusive features.
But since Google only previews 35 characters, try to make the first 35 as relevant as possible to what users are searching for in your product.
Inside the Google Merchant Portal, it will only display 75 characters, and the rest will show upon clicking on the product. So make sure your titles are within 75 characters and include target keywords for optimized results.
Note that promotional phrases can negatively affect your performance, and Google’s algorithm does not like them. Avoid adding words like “Limited offer,” “Special Discount,” etc., in your titles.
This helps Google identify which keywords will trigger your Google Shopping ad, so make sure to apply the following:
- Again, avoid keyword stuffing
- Be very specific and include a concise, detailed description of the product without emotional language.
Although you can write up to 5000 characters, Google Shopping Preview will only display the first 175 characters. So, include the benefits and the best features of your product in the first couple of lines.
Google Shopping takes the featured product images from its respective eCommerce website, so you need to optimize them as follows:
- HD images
- Lighter backgrounds like gray, cream, or white
- Uniform and clear lighting.
- Add images from different angles like close-ups and rear-view images
- Your product should cover 75-90% of the image
- Avoid extra blurring, fading out, pixelation, and fringing.
- Use shadows to add more depth to the images
- You’re not allowed to include any text, watermarks, or logos (unless they are on the product itself).
With over 5,400 categories available to choose from, being extra specific will help Google trigger your ads for the right search queries. You can download Google’s taxonomy here.
For example, if you are selling Eyelash Curlers, you can select the category.
Health & Beauty –> Personal Care
But, being more specific drives far better results:
Health & Beauty –> Personal Care –> Cosmetics –> Makeup Tools –> Eyelash Accessories > Eyelash Curler
Step 4 – Upload your products to Google Shopping Feed
If your online store is connected to Google Merchant Center via its API (like on Shopify ), skip this step as the data is automatically sent to Google Merchant Center.
If not, you have to do it manually.
Click on Products, then Feed. To add a new product feed, click on the (+) button, and you will be guided through the whole process.
When you’re done, go to Diagnostics to check it out.
On the first upload, most product feeds will most likely have some errors.
Don’t be discouraged and follow the instructions to resolve the most urgent ones (red-colored). Do not postpone this step, as failing to provide any corrections could result in suspending your account.
In addition to uploading the product feed, you must provide Google with your shipping and/or tax information.
Configure shipping settings
Google needs to know shipping costs to make an accurate price comparison with other suppliers.
To set it up in Google Merchant Center, click on the wrench icon in the top bar and then select Shipping and Returns.
Step 5 – Create your Google Shopping Ads Campaign
There are two ways to do this:
- Within the Merchant Center.
- Within Google Ads.
We’re going to show you how to set up your first campaign in Google Ads because this is where you’ll be monitoring and optimizing your campaign in the future.
Once you get your products approved, create a Google Ads account if you don’t have one.
Head to Google Ads dashboard, click on the plus sign on the Campaigns screen, select Create a campaign without a goal, and then Shopping.
Your Google Merchant Center account will be displayed, along with the country you are selling in.
Standard Shopping and smart Google Shopping campaigns
After selecting Shopping as your campaign type, you can choose to set up a Standard or Smart Shopping campaign. Then enter the campaign name and if you need to set up an inventory filter, enable local inventory ads, or change the URL, click on Additional Settings.
Choose the offer and budget for your Shopping campaign
Next, select your bidding strategy and set your campaign budget.
Bidding is how you pay for users to view and interact with your ads. Google has a bid simulator tool that will show you how bidding changes could affect your ad performance.
Manual CPC (cost per click) means that you set your maximum CPC for your ads. You can also set up an automatic bidding strategy.
Maximize Clicks allows Google Ads to automatically set your bids to get the most clicks in your budget. You can select a maximum CPC bid limit to limit your spending on each ad.
Next, set your campaign budget. It is the amount of money you want to spend on average each day. Google manages your monthly budget, so you won’t spend more than your daily budget for the number of days in each month.
For example, if your campaign budget was $500 for October. Google understands that you are willing to spend $500 x 31 days = $15,500 in October. Since Google bids on your ads, Google may spend over $500 in a day, but it will never spend more than $15,500 a month.
You can also set up a delivery method for your budget: Standard spends your budget evenly over time while Accelerated spends it faster.
Finally, if you’re running more than one campaign, you can set a campaign priority, so Google knows which offer will be used.
Choose the target and plan your Google Shopping campaign
This part determines who will see your product ads and when.
Select the locations that you will ship to and set the start and end dates of your Shopping campaign. Without an end date, your campaign will be continually running.
Create ad groups
Ad groups determine the type of ads to run and how you will organize bids for those ads.
There are two types of ad groups that you can run. Product Shopping ads that allow you to promote a single product and Showcase Shopping ads to advertise multiple ones as part of a product ad.
Enter the ad group name and set a maximum CPC bid. If you choose to add more filters to your products, you can create separate ad groups for different categories.
Next, choose which products to advertise as part of this Shopping ad and click save. That brings us to the last step of setting up your first Google Shopping Ads campaign.
Now, let’s have a quick wrap up on the Google Shopping best practices to optimize your ads 2021!
- Segment your margin, availability, price, and everything.
- Boost your titles with your target keywords to gain impressions.
- Provide as many product details as possible, think color, size, material…
- Fill in all required fields.
- Don’t waste time on products that don’t have unique and eye-catching visuals.
- Avoid stock photos.
- Don’t use Google Shopping Ads if you can’t compete on price.
- Don’t stuff your product titles and descriptions with keywords.
Building Google Shopping campaigns can be intimidating, however, the priceless control and efficiency in exposing your eCommerce products to the next potential customer make it worth trying.