What is Google Shopping- a quick guide to help you set up Product Listing Ads (PLA)?

Are you are confused about Product Listing Ads in Google shopping. Or, are you not sure why you need them?  Then follow this brief outline as I explain product listing ads. 

What is Google Shopping?

Google shopping, previously known as Google Products Search, is a search service provided by Google.  Visually, the user can find products and compare prices from different e-commerce brands. Successful listings on Google Shopping are broken into three important criteria: bidding, monitoring, and optimization. Together, these lead to the optimization of the product through feed creation.

In 2012, Google announced a paid model for the merchants to list their products on Google Product Listing Ads (PLA). PLA is based on cost-per-click (CPC), and in contrast to traditional ads, it uses categorization and product descriptions in addition to keywords.

A bid is set by advertisers.  Google determines whether the ad is relevant based on the information submitted through a data feed. The data feed uses a variety of information. For example, image, name, size, color, category, description, availability and, brand all play a role. Product Listing Ads are visible on either the top of the search result or the top right corner of search result page.

Why you need Google Shopping

If you are wondering why you need it, here are few facts to consider:

  • Many online businesses have experienced higher CTR (click through rate) in comparison to text only ads. This helps vendors increase their sales by a significant percentage.
  • Qualified leads are generated by using product listing ads. More detailed information is gained through Google PLA and therefore, customers are more likely to purchase online.
  • It is one of the easily manageable shopping campaigns where you can divert high traffic not just based on the keywords you enter but the product description and attributes you record in the data feed.
  • You can extract competitive data from Google PLA and can report performance of your ad campaign. Benchmarking data is used to develop an insight on the competitive landscape.

How does the process work

Google shopping is an e-commerce platform where you can use Product Listing Ads to promote your products. You can generate more traffic for your e-commerce store and build your customer base.

After creating a campaign on AdWords and linking product information to Google Merchant Center, you create Ad campaigns. Google then creates ads for potential customers based on their product searches. These are known as shopping ads as they not only contain text-based ads. They comprise the product images brand name, price, and rating. Shoppers can then compare your product along with similar products and pricing.  If you have a compelling offering, then you can build additional site visits

What are Google Merchant Center vs.Google Adwords

Google shopping requires both Google AdWords and Google Merchant Center.

In order to submit your data feed, you need to create a Google merchant center account. It is a store where you can add your data feed to make it accessible for PLA’s. Whereas, Google Adwords is where you build your campaign.

Tips to list your product on Google Shopping

Google Shopping is a great place to promote your products if you follow Google’s rules.

Optimizing a product Image

The image sells the product.  Therefore, in order to have a good product listing ad, you have to have a great image. High resolution showing the package the customer will get.  White backgrounds work the best.

Google combines the information from your product feed into category pages for comparison-shopping. The result is an image driven ad with the product’s description and price. So, product images are a crucial part of PLA.

Whatever you put into your feed directly affects your product listing Ads. So make sure your product feed is optimized.

Larger the feeds, better the exposure

Google picks up feeds that have more products. It does not mean that Google won’t pick up smaller fields (less than five hundred items), but it might have a lesser impact than larger feeds.

Optimization of feeds through Search Engine Optimization

SEO is your best friend when it comes to Google Shopping feeds. Ensure that you completely fill out Google’s attributes chart and provide as much detail as possible; for instance, additional details like specifying gender when listing apparels. The more specific you can be in your data feed, the better your PLA listing.

Enhance your product title by adding the brand name, size, color and other product attributes. And make your product description as detailed as possible.  An add for a sweatshirt will not be as appealing as a Blue North Face Sweatshirt for Men.

Keywords to include and not to include

Everything is driven by keywords.  And product listing ads are no different.  You want to make sure that you know the correct search terms. But with product listing ads, you get to be as specific as possible with what you are selling.

To illustrate the point, selling razors is great.  But selling a 5-blade men’s razor is even better. Product listing ads allow you to be very focused with your ads.  Take advantage of this and think about how the consumer is searching.

Invest on your best selling product

You can track your best selling items through Google Analytics. Does it matter how you get traffic and sales to your site?So maybe the best thing is to focus on what your best sellers are and exploit them.  Here is an example.

I was in the razor e-commerce business for many years.  We sold 3-blade, 5-blade, men’s, women’s.  But i learned early on that there are far more people searching for a men’s 5 blade razor.  So I focused on that product and became efficient at it.  Did we stop selling the others?  No. In fact we did not lose any sales.  We drove people to the site with the men’s 5-blade and the purchased women’s or 3-blade for other family members.  But it was more efficient and saved us a lot of money.  You can monitor the performance of your products placed in a different group by analyzing Ad word of “Product” section.

Creating a Shopping Campaign of Google PLA

Your images are ready, data feed submitted, and your AdWords and Merchant Account are linked.  Now, you need to make a great campaign to advertise to customers. A shopping campaign can be controlled from the merchant account as well as AdWords.  But the Merchant account only allows for the minimum control. Building the ad in adwords allows for more control.

Following are few tips:

  • If you want to advertise or push your ad on YouTube, Google maps, etc., you can do it by simply clicking the option of “include search partners” in “network.”
  • After creating a campaign, another tip is to select “ad group creation”. This allows customization of bid on different groups; for example, for a music store, you can separate guitars, piano, drums and much more on various ad groups.
  • Follow your competitors in PLA and figure out ways to stand out.

Sending Feeds to Google on a daily basis

Google loves current and updated information.  So monitor your campaigns, your product names, product descriptions and continue to optimize them.  Send daily feeds to Google. The best way to keep your product feed updated is to link it to your e-commerce site.  Then you can be sure you have the same up to date data as your site.

Using Automated extension in Goggle PLA

In August 2016, Google announced that they released automated extensions for Google Shopping Product Listing Ads based on promotional messaging. It uses the data that you have already provided to Merchant Center and other information like price reductions or free shipping and shows them in the ads. This can provide a competitive advantage to your product over others. Make sure that you have added these messages on your data feed.  These little changes increase the chances of adding extensions to your Google PLA.

The Power of Reviews and Ratings

Google price listing ad show the product rating and customers and number of customer reviews. Use this information to make your ads stand out.  We all know the power of reviews. And here is a tip.  If you are selling national brand items, you can tap into syndicated reviews by using the manufacturers GTIN in the product feed.  This comes in handy if the manufacturer has a lot of great reviews and ratings on their site.

To show ratings on your products in the PLA, you need to have a minimum of 3 reviews on one product and a total review count of 50 for all your products. Reviews and ratings help make your product visible.

At Hound Dog Digital we can show you the tricks and tips we have learned to optimize the Google shopping platform.  Take advantage of any opportunity to build trust and awareness online.