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Google Shopping Ads Guide - Best Practices in 2021

Just like Amazon eBay and other eCommerce platforms, Google Shopping Ads and Campaigns are part of the search engine that lets them get on the marketplace game. It offers opportunities for both paid and organic results, but is it worth it? 

Well, Google Shopping Ads generate around 20% of the retail paid search clicks. So, if you haven't used it yet, 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. 


What is Google Shopping?


Google Shopping Advertising is a separate area of the search engine, allowing retailers to promote their products and users to search directly for them. The products searched appear in the search engine under the "Shopping Tab," organized in a grid-like list. Plus, there's also a stand-alone Google shopping site where shoppers can search and shop for products.

Google Shopping Ads


Google Shopping Ads Can Appear On:

  • The Google Display network which includes the mighty YouTube, Gmail and Google Discover.
  • Google Search Partner websites
  • In the Google Search results, including image results
  • The shopping tab on Google Search in 99 countries including Europe, Asia, USA.

What's the Difference Between Regular Product Search and Google Shopping?


Google shopping provides a better shopping experience, listing products with photos, prices, ratings, manufacturer info and making it possible to filter the results by availability, size, seller, brand, condition, price, and more. The results sometimes appear at the top of regular organic search results as a sort of product carousel.

To benefit from this, retailers need to import their product data into a free Merchant Center account. If they don't want to just rely on organic search results for their products to appear, they can use paid ads known as Product Listing Ads or PLAs. 


What are Google Shopping Ads?


According to Google, "Google Shopping ads are more than just a text ad – they show users a photo of your product, plus a title, price, store name, and more.

But what does this actually mean?

Let's have a look at a Google Shopping ads example for trench coats:

Google shipping ads


As you can see, shopping ads show products at the top of the search results and also display products with an image and price – right at the search results page. This is a great opportunity for retailers to reach customers looking for exactly what they offer.

An advertising campaign type within Google Ads can reach shoppers wherever and whenever they're searching on Google.

In short, here's how Google shopping advertising benefits online retailers:

  • Replace text-heavy shipping experience with a visual, user-friendly one.
  • Bigger reach with a possibility to show up in search results as a website result, a text-only PPC result, and a Shopping result.
  • 30% higher conversion rates than text ads.


How Does Google Shopping Campaign and Shopping Ads Work?

The anatomy of Google shopping ads constitutes of 3 parts:

  • Product image
  • Product title
  • Price

Google shopping ads example


Source: www.match2one.com

This info is pulled from an information sheet known as the Product feed, found on your Google Merchant Center account, the hub where you manage all product-related info. Once you're done adding all your products to the product feed, you'll then have to link your Merchant Center account with your Google Ads account.  


How can Google Shopping Help an eCommerce Store?

#1 Get your products at the top of Google's SERPs in the Shopping Tab

Since Google Shopping Ads show up even before organic search results and based on the customers' search queries. This means customers don't need to be familiar with your brand to find you through Google. Your products will be in the spotlight and appear to potential buyers whenever Google matches them to their search keywords.

#2 Get a better performance than text-only ads

The components that makeup 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. Since Google won't display your ads to users who aren't looking for your products, this means that every advertising dollar is focused on the right customer to generate a higher return on investment. 

#3 Gain high-quality leads

Shoppers are always looking to make informed purchasing decisions. By being information-rich, Google shopping advertisements tend to be more visually appealing and help you gain high-quality leads. Since the customers can see enough information within the ad, they become a little familiar with your product. Upon arriving at your website, they already know what to expect, and they're less likely to bounce. Instead, they have the intention to make a purchase.

#4 Easier-to-manage ads

Keywords selection and bidding are some 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. Google Shopping does all the work of matching keywords from your products sheets instead of manually searching for them on Adwords.

#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. Instead, it is much more flexible; for example, a search for "jeans" pulls up a couple of products with the word "jeans" in the name, but also "denim" and "pants." When using AdWords text ads, you'll need to bid separately on all these keywords, but not with Google Shopping advertisements. It provides you with a much bigger reach regardless of what words they use to describe the products they want.

seo checklist


Why do You Need to Establish Google Shopping Campaign Goals?


Just like with setting any other strategy, a Google Shopping Campaign also needs the right plan to set you up for success. As they consider their costs more heavily, small retailers must identify clear, specific, and profitable goals. Whereas larger brands often focus on increasing traffic and other broader plans.

Here are a few targets to consider:

1. Increase reach

Attracting a bigger audience means showcasing your brand more widely, increasing the Lifetime value and repeat purchases. This opportunity offered by Shopping ads helps you retarget visitors through personalized campaigns. Keep in mind that you need a minimum of 1000 unique visits captured by your remarketing tag for Google to allow for this.

2. Increase revenue

Increasing your sales doesn't always mean being profitable. Obviously, you need more sales to maintain your business, but you need to find a way to balance the increasing sales with achieving a profitable return on ads. 

3. Emphasize profitable products

The only way to determine whether you are losing money or making a profit is by incorporating your margin of products sold with your advertising ad spend. After running Google Shopping Ads for some time, most small and medium-sized retailers focus on top-performing products far more than put their entire catalog out there to prevent wasting advertising budgets. 


How to set up Google Shopping Campaigns

For setting up your first Google Shopping campaign, you need:

  • An eCommerce store with products available for purchase.
  • A product feed, delivered independently by your site (more on that later).
  • 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. And later we will cover how to optimize Google Shopping Ads for the best results.

#1 Your online store

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.

#2 Product Feed: What is it?

A product feed is a file (.txt or .xml ) that contains all the information about the products you sell. It is the critical part of the whole process because it needs to be as accurate as possible and exactly

according to the specifications of Google to get approved.

Think of it as a big spreadsheet with rows filled with your products and columns representing the fields that Google requires.

Google Shopping feed example



These columns include basic info like product title, price, description, SKU, link, brand, image link, and some other details that you might not have by default, like the Google product category, gtin, mpn, etc.

How to create a Product Feed

Depending on the eCommerce platform you use, you can generate it via apps, plugins, or extensions provided by these platforms (Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, or Bigcommerce) to help make this process easier. Otherwise, you'll need to create it manually. 

Here's a list of the best apps for each platform.


Shopify

Google Shopping app is the official Google Shopping app for Shopify and has plenty of updates recently made.

Pro tip: Refrain from choosing the "Smart Shopping" option when configuring the app (more on that later).


WooCommerce

Magento

BigCommerce

How to set up a Product feed on other eCommerce platforms

If you're running your online store on a different platform, you'll need to get a .CSV, TXT, or XML file with all of your products to upload to Google Merchant Center. If all you can get is a product export, you'll need to do additional tweaks. Some tools that help with this include GoDataFeed, Channable, DataFeedWatch, and Sales&Orders; they sit between your product export and Google Merchant Center, simplifying the process for you. 

Best practices to optimize your Google product feed (take images from original article)

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.

Product Title

  • Add your most important keywords without stuffing them.
  • Aim for longer search queries
  • Include specific information like color, brand, gender, and size.

Example:

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.


Product Description

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).

Product Category

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.

#3 Google Merchant Center

It is the place where your Google product listings ads live. They are sent and stored there to enable programs such as Shopping ads and Surfaces across Google.

Start with setting up a Google Merchant account here; the process is pretty straightforward. You'll need to verify your domain ownership by claiming your URL or accessing Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager, or you can add a small meta tag to your website's HTML code if those didn't work.

After this step, you'll be ready to upload your product feed to Google Merchant Center

How to upload the Product Feed to Google Merchant Center

If your store's platform is connected to Google Merchant Center via its API like Shopify, this step will be automatically completed. Otherwise, you'll have to do it manually.

How to manually upload the Product Feed to Google Merchant Center

Go to "Products" then "Feeds," and click on the big blue + button to guide you through the whole process.

Google Merchant Center example


When you're done, head over to Diagnostics to check the status and approval.


Google Shopping Diagnostics


It is common to have few errors initially; this might be due to missing or incorrect information that does not comply with Google's product data requirements. Follow the steps to resolve the red ones first to avoid getting your account suspended.

Next, you'll have to provide Google with your shipping and/or tax details.

Configure shipping settings

Google Shopping displays the shipping price in product ads; for that reason, you'll have to provide them with accurate information about shipping rates, minimum order limits, etc. 

Google shopping configuration example


Select "Shipping and returns" from the wrench icon in the top bar to create a new shipping service. Indicate your flat rate, carrier pricing, or any relevant shipping costs. 

Configure tax settings for selling in the US

If you are selling within the US, you'll have to configure tax settings also in Google Merchant Center.

Select "Tax" from the wrench icon to set up different tax rates depending on the state you're located in and selling to.

tax settings google shopping example


#4 Create a Google Shopping Campaign to Display Product Listings

Once your products get approved in Google Merchant Center, you can go ahead and set up a Google Shopping campaign. Sign up for a free Google Ads account here.

Google ads example


Click on the (+) sign on the "Campaigns" screen and choose "Create a campaign without a goal's guidance" and then "Shopping."

Google shopping ads


Then, you'll have the option to choose between a Standard campaign type or a Smart Shopping campaign. 

Before you choose, here's a quick layout of the difference.

Google ads

Standard Campaign vs. Smart Shopping Campaign

As you can see, Smart Shopping can lead to a bigger exposure; however, this exposure can be to people that aren't actively looking for your products (remember the relevance and profitability factor that we previously talked about).

Another difference between Standard and Smart Shopping campaigns is the bidding strategies available. Retailers have a lack of control on the bidding side with Smart Shopping as it is automated to optimize

the CPC rates via machine learning to increase conversions.

This lack of control also persists in insights. Google will provide little to no data on placements, so you can't do much to improve performance.

Bottom line, we recommend choosing the Standard Shopping campaign.

After you've chosen your campaign type, you'll have to finalize the general settings for your campaign, like the name and the Google Shopping bid strategy.

There isn't a minimum Google Shopping ads cost, so start with a small budget ($5-10/day), set a low cost per click (maximum $0.5/click), and choose Manual CPC as your bidding strategy and the locations where you want to show your ads.

Congratulations! Your Shopping campaign is now ready to start showing ads.

When you start with your first Google Shopping campaign, you won't be able to tell which products are going to be more profitable to advertise, so you want all of your products to get some visibility in the search results.

Here are some starters:

  • Check which products are getting fewer clicks and impressions and increase their CPCs. 
  • Decrease the CPCs for products with higher clicks.
  • Find irrelevant search queries to exclude from your campaign.
  • Allocate your budget on the most profitable products.
  • Make sure to set the campaigns in the right priority if you are running multiple ones. 

Now, let's have a quick wrap-up on Google Shopping best practices to optimize your ads 2021!

Do's

  • 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, etc.
  • Fill in all required fields.

Don'ts

  • 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.

Dealing with Google Shopping Ads, Google Merchant Center, and product feeds hard. Getting help from a veteran eCommerce marketing agency like Think Orion will help you infuse your best creatives everywhere customers turn. 


What to expect when working with Think Orion?

Expect a comprehensive audit, a dedicated Google Shopping Ads buyer responsible for planning and executing your custom strategy, shopping feed setup and management by our seasoned Google Shopping experts, and custom performance reviews and reporting.


Google Shopping Best Practices 2021 FAQs


How do I optimize my Google Shopping feed?

For a winning Google Shopping ads strategy:

  1. Choose a good title to improve the visibility and CTR of your products.
  2. Competitive prices improve the quality of your product feed for both your customer and for Google.
  3. Use simple and clear product images.
  4. Have solid SEO optimized products descriptions

How do I rank higher on Google Shopping?

  1. Use Google Special Offers, which are coupons AdWords displayed on Google ads.
  2. Encourage customers to leave feedback and rating; this helps your ads stand out and send positive signals to Google.
  3. Don't take products out of your feed; instead, adjust the product bid for this item to decrease clicks.
  4. Adjust your bids for mobile devices.

How do I Master Google Shopping Advertising Campaigns?

Although it may seem like a tough and complex job, mastering Google Shopping requires combining many small strategies. Refer to this Google Shopping ads tutorial to understand how to work on your product data, campaign structure, and bids which are crucial to pushing your products into the top search output on Google. 


Conclusion

Now you are familiar with all things Google Shopping Ads and got a leg up in getting started. But there is much more to it, more than you can even imagine! 

Have questions? Need help? Don't hesitate to get in touch.


https://www.thinkorion.com/services/paid-search-advertising-service