Google Shopping was just updated and here’s what you need to know
Written by Erin Hynes, Marketing Coordinator at diff agency.
Google Shopping, launched in 2010, has been gaining traction in recent years. In fact, the Google shopping benchmarks report from Sidecar discovered that retailer’s Google Shopping revenue increased by 29% in 2019, signalling the growing importance of Google Shopping as an advertising channel for ecommerce brands.
These ads are important for retailers because they feature products at the very top of Google’s search engine results page (SERP) before organic listings for keywords. The ads include visuals, as well as other details like pricing, reviews, and discounts. Information is kept simple and to a minimum, which, according to the Harvard Business Review, is exactly what consumers today want.
In this piece we will cover the recent updates to the Google Shopping platform, how to optimize Google Shopping ads, and whether or not Google Shopping makes sense for your business to add to its omnichannel marketing strategy.
Read Understanding the difference between multichannel and omnichannel to learn the differences between these marketing strategies.
What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is a service that allows users to search, view and compare products from online retail websites directly on Google’s search engine results page or under the shopping tab. Type any product into Google, and Google Shopping results will appear. For example, when a person types ‘memory foam slippers’ into Google (on desktop or mobile), they will see sponsored ads appearing at the top of the page.
Google Shopping will display ads as part of a search term's results.
Powered by Adwords and Google Merchants, Google Shopping ads are bid on at a product level and are based on feeds of products that are uploaded by the retailer in the Google Merchant Center.
Recent updates to Google Shopping
In fall 2019, Google unveiled new features and improvements to the Google Shopping platform. The new features emphasize creating a personalized shopping experience for users, which today is essential. According to a 2017 report that surveyed 1000+ respondents in the USA, consumers today expect and want personalization when they shop online.
Ecommerce personalization refers to the practice of creating personal interactions and experiences on ecommerce sites by showing content, media, or product recommendations based on factors like a consumer’s browsing behavior, purchase history data, and demographics.
In an effort to improve personalization on the Google Shopping platform, the following updates were introduced in the fall of 2019:
- Instant purchases: Shoppers will now be able to buy products directly from Google Shopping rather than being redirected to the retailers’ websites.
- Price tracking: Shoppers can track pricing on any product that they view on Google Shopping so that they are automatically notified if the price on that item drops.
- Product recommendations: Shoppers receive personalized product recommendations as they browse through the new Google Shopping homepage. Recommendations are based on their browser history and products that they’ve previously purchased or viewed.
- Local product searches: Shoppers will be able to limit their search to specific retailers or products in their own local area.
Here are some of the personalization tools available on Google Shopping.
In the above image, you can see some of the personalization tools that can be customized by the user. In the top left hand corner, Google Shopping displays your location. The column below the user’s location presents options for narrowing down the search query. At the top of the page, the user has the option to save products in their “Products I Like” folder for price tracking.
Note that these new features are currently available in France and the USA, and Google will be slowly rolling them out to other countries in the coming months.
How do you implement Google Shopping?
Setting up Google Shopping is different than setting up other text ads because Google determines when your ads will show up. This means that rather than selecting ad groups and ads that are focused around a chosen keyword, your product listing ads will show up when Google feels they are relevant.
The way that Google decides what ads are relevant is through a Google Shopping algorithm which selects ads based on a couple factors that include your feed, your site, and your bidding. To maximize the success of your ads you will need to ensure that they are optimized for the algorithm, and continuously monitor them. Here are a couple tips for optimizing your Google Shopping campaign:
1. Use both keywords and negative keywords.
Similar to search engine optimization, your product listing should use keywords in the product title and description. You will want to base the keywords on the keywords that your products rank for - Google Adwords is a tool you can use to find this information. By using keywords that are relevant to your product you ensure that your product is discoverable based on relevant search queries.
It is also important to indicate negative keywords, which explicitly define what you don’t want to rank for. To go back to the example of the query “memory foam slippers,” a negative keyword to indicate for this listing would be “memory foam mattress.” Because these search queries share similarities, there’s the risk that Google would display your ad. By noting memory foam mattress as a negative keyword, you avoid this.
2. Ensure product descriptions are detailed.
Google’s product descriptions allow for up to 10,000 characters. Rather than bombard the shopper with tons of information about the product, keep the description concise. It should include all important attributes (size, age range, special features, technical specs) including visual attributes.
3. Use the right images.
Shoppers will often turn away if a product image is low quality. To avoid this, make sure that your images are in the highest resolution possible (at least 800 pixels in height and up to 10MB in file size). It’s also important to include several photos, not just one.
In fact, a study by Salsify found that 66% of consumers want at least 3 product images. Each image should provide value to the shopper: it should demonstrate the product’s use, size, and features, from various angles.
Is Google Shopping a good choice for your business?
There are many ways in which Google Shopping can boost your business, from introducing a new channel to your omnichannel strategy, to expanding your brand’s online presence. To get your business started with Google Shopping, here are a couple of direct and indirect benefits of the platform, as well as points to be aware of:
- Google Shopping Ads ensure your products will appear above organic search results, which means that even if they don’t result in conversion, the ads will easily and effectively expand your brand’s online visibility.
- As part of an omnichannel strategy, Google Shopping provides another channel for sales. If well implemented, a Google Shopping campaign can drive traffic and boost your business’s revenue.
- Small businesses face competition from big brands. While this can be overwhelming, there are some features that will strengthen your campaigns despite the tough competition, like the ability to segment campaigns and geo-targeting.
- Google Shopping works through Adwords, which means that keywords are “auctioned.” It’s important to set your auction budget to be aligned with your business goals, because if your daily spend dips too low, your ads will have low visibility.
It might be time to consider Google Shopping
The Google Shopping platform is unique in that it allows for merchants to sell not just online, but offline. A consumer might browse your ads through Google Shopping, but opt to visit your brick and mortar location to purchase, meaning that the platform can be well integrated into a business’s omnichannel strategy.
With the latest Google Shopping updates providing improved tools for personalization, Google Shopping offers a fantastic option for merchants looking to expand their advertising reach.
Do you have any questions about ecommerce? Let’s chat!