Google Shopping is no longer Free: 5 ways to be better off

Google Shopping is the paid version of the free Google product Search. In the US Google migrated to the paid model in October 2012. In Europe the migration is complete on June 11th.

Should you be sad about losing that free traffic? Or should you be happy with Product Listing Ads (PLAs) as a new opportunity? It depends. If you are willing to make an effort, Google Shopping will get you better results. Here are 5 ways to be better off:

1. Optimize your product data feed

Google requires more information for Google Shopping than they did for the free Product Search. They want to have more information to better match your products with the consumer’s search query. They want this higher quality for 2 reasons:

a) User experience. Consumers will easily find their way to the products that they are looking for and they will trust PLAs as a way to find what they need.

b) Value-for-money: If they make you pay per click, they’d better offer high quality traffic and good conversion rates.

So make your data feed perfect. The feed that your shopping cart exports is often not good enough. Most shops do have fields for these Google Shopping mandatory attributes:

  • ID: unique id for each product
  • Title: shows on Google’s result page
  • Description: shows on the product page
  • Link: the URL of each product page
  • Image link: the URL of each image
  • Price: duh

But Google Shopping also requires more complicated fields like

  • Availability: in stock or not
  • Condition: new or used
  • Brand: of each product
  • Google Category: every product must be assigned to one the categories that Google has defined.
  • MPN: Unique identifier set by the manufacturer
  • GTIN: Unique ID according to international standards

Huh? Yes, Brand, MPN & GTIN. If you don’t have at least 2 out of these 3 fields Google will not show your ads.  Many of our customers ‘map their way around’ that by entering the ID as MPN.

If you are selling apparel or books or dvd’s there are even more requirements.

Use a data feed optimization tool to overcome all problems related to Google’s requirements.

2. Get the (better) picture

The picture of your product is the most dominant element on Google’s result page. The picture tells the consumer in a split-second if this is the product that he is looking for and if he likes it.  Google Shopping allows you to add high quality pictures. Do make use of that, because the Picture is the single most compelling item of your product Listing Ad.

3. Beat the competition

With the free Google Product Search, there was no way to know if Google would list your product or a competing one. Now there is a level playing field. The quality of your feed and the bids for your product targets give you an edge and enable you to outsmart and outspend the competition. With that you have much more control over your listings, your cost and your competitive environment.

4. Focus on your winners 

Now that you are paying for your Google Shopping traffic, you want to make sure that every dime spent is aimed at your money-makers. If you export your entire feed to Google, you will also be spending your advertising budget on products that have a (too) low margin, products you should not advertise for (accessories) and products that are off-season. So make sure you analyze which products are making you good money on which channels and exclude the rest from your feed.

5. Bid intelligently

The key to intelligent bidding is to create product targets for products that have a similar conversion rate: You can have one target and one bid for products that ‘behave’ the same way.

If you are getting started, set a product target for each product type (or, if more appropriate, for each brand). Then start looking for the ones that stand out: Products with similar conversion rates but a very different gross margin should not share the same bid because you are willing to pay more for products that earn you more money. You may also find that products with certain attributes (size, colour, gender, diameter, flavour, etc.) do much better than the rest of the group. For these high performers you need to create a separate product target and use an AdWords Label to include the attribute that makes the difference.

So if you want to bid more for the XXL-size T-shirts, you add ‘size’ as an AdWords Label to your data feed and you set a product target like this:

By: Jacques van der Wilt, CEO at DataFeedWatch

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