The Complete Guide to Setting up Your Google Shopping
There’s never been a better time to sell products online. Heck, online shopping is booming and for good reason too. It’s convenient, easy and quick. That’s not to say it’s a piece of cake for the merchants though. It can be tough to navigate the world of online marketing when there’s plenty of competition and it’s a challenge to continually attract new customers. One of the big players when it comes to searching online for products is Google Shopping. You’ve probably seen Shopping ads pop up when you make a search in Google. When I searched for “goodr shades” in Google today, a list of image ads appeared on the right hand side. From here I can click through to the Shopping page and browse a whole range of products on offer. What’s more, I can filter the search results to find what I’m really interested in. For example, if I only wanted to spend up to $50, and I wanted to buy some new shades (not a used one). With images and key product information available at a glance, Google Shopping is pretty popular with consumers. And that means it’s a handy platform for businesses who are trying to sell products too. If you’re not advertising on Google Shopping, you may be missing out. For those who want to know how to get listed on Google Shopping or are just curious about what it can offer them, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide just for you!
What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is an online Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE). Or in real terms, it’s a service which lets shoppers search for and compare products from a whole range of different sellers. Shoppers can use filters to narrow down their search for things such as price, colour or brand. If a shopper finds a product they want to purchase on the Google Shopping website, they can click through to the seller’s website and buy the product directly. A very brief history lesson: Google Shopping used to be more similar to the normal Google search results, but in 2012 it became a paid advertising platform. Google Shopping advertising is currently one of several ways of advertising through Google AdWords. That means sellers who want their products to show up in the Shopping results need to create ads and pay when someone clicks on them. Shopping ads sometimes also appear in the main search results. Unlike traditional AdWord ads, they are visual based ads. The product data (such as price, brand and availability) is collected from Google Merchant Centre, where the seller uploads it and keeps it up to date.
Is Google Shopping worth it?
When it comes to paid advertising, there are a lot of choices, so is Google Shopping worth it? For a lot of businesses who sell physical products, Google Shopping is a rewarding investment. Let’s check out the benefits:
- Superior search engine - Google has been the main name in the search engine game for some time now, so their platforms (including Google Shopping) are pretty robust. It’s easy for shoppers to search and compare products that match their specific desires.
- Massive audience potential - Over 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day which means a heck load of people are using Google. That means when you advertise with Google, you’ve got a huge potential audience at your doorstep.
- Get more clicks - Google Shopping ads get clicks. In fact, according to Adthena, about 85% of all AdWords clicks are on Google Shopping ads.
- More intent to buy - With just a glance, customers can see what your product looks like and how much it costs. So if they click on it, they are much more likely to convert compared to text based ads.
- Visual ads - Product listings are visual based ads, which offers you the opportunity to grab attention and get more clicks. In fact, visual ads have a 30% higher conversion rate than text based ads.
- Get powerful data - Advertise on Google Shopping and you get access to key data and reporting about how your products perform. This can help you streamline your Google Shopping strategy and make smarter business decisions.
- Easy to manage - Shopping ads don’t use keywords which can be off-putting to many sellers. Instead, your product listings are generated by using the data you upload to Merchant Center.
If you’re convinced Google Shopping has some solid points going for it, check out our simple step-by-step guide on Google Shopping setup below.
How to Add Products to Google Shopping
- Set up a Google Merchant Center account
- Optimise your product images
- Set up your product data feed
- Link to your Google Adwords account
- Create a Google Shopping campaign
- Place bids on your campaign
- Target and schedule your campaign
- Build ad groups
- Create product groups
Before your products can be found in Google Shopping, you must set up a Google Merchant Center account. Google Merchant Center is where you’ll upload key info about your products so that Google can generate your product listings. The cool thing is, it’s completely free to use Google Merchant. (“Is Google Shopping Free?” is another question. You’ll need to pay for any clicks you get on your Google Shopping ads. Google Shopping campaigns are managed through Google Adwords, but we’ll touch on that in points 5-8.). To set up your Google Merchant Center account, follow the steps below:
- Create a Google Account if you don’t already have one.
- Go to the Google Merchant Center website.
- Click on ‘Get Started’ and follow the instructions to set up your account.
Simple as that. Now that you have a Google Merchant Center account, you can get onto optimising your images and setting up your product data feed.
Google Shopping is primarily a visual-based platform which means if you want to stand out your product photos need to be on-point. Your photos are going to play a major role in influencing shoppers to click on your listing. Product images should be optimised on your own website because this is where Google will pull them from. Google understands that quality photos are key to good customer experience, and they’ll penalise you if your photos aren’t up to standard. In other words, bad photos won’t just reduce your sales, they might get your campaigns denied altogether. The good news is Google has released guidelines that can help you make sure your images are up to standard. Some of their advice includes:
- Use a solid white, gray, or light colored background
- Show the product in clear, even lighting
- Show the product with a view that clearly represents the item being sold. Back views and close-ups can be used for additional images, but not the main image.
- Show the product in the correct scale, not too big or too small. A product should ideally take no less than 75%, but not more than 90%, of the full image.
- Make sure the image is free of blur, noise, excessive jpeg artifacts, or other image artifacts like pixelation, fringing, and fading out
Other tips for images that lead to conversions include: providing several angles of your product, showing the product in use by real people, maintaining brand consistency and providing photos for each different version/colour of the product. These tips are helpful for Google Shopping, but are also a great way to boost customer interaction on your website or other shopping platforms.
In Google Shopping, a product data feed is basically a list of all the products you sell, specially formatted with attributes that help describe each product. Some (check out the full list here) of the attributes you’ll be required to input are:
- ID - The unique ID you use for each product.
- Title - The name of your product (this will be visible when your ad shows up)
- Description - A short bit of text which describes the product (this is shown when someone clicks on your ad)
- Link - The URL of your product landing page.
- Image link - The URL of the main image of your product
- Product category - Choose the most relevant from a list of categories Google supplies.
- Brand - The brand name of your product.
- Availability - Is your product in stock or not?
- Price - This should match exactly what is listed on your product landing page in the currency of the country where your product is mainly sold.
When people search for something on Google Shopping, Google pulls from merchant product data feeds to display the relevant products. You don’t need to write any text ads because Google generates shopping ads automatically based on your product data. It’s important to maintain your product feed when any information such as pricing or availability changes because if your info isn’t matching your website, your ads won’t show up. In fact, Google does frequent quality checks to make sure merchants’ data is up to standard. A product data feed can be uploaded to Google Merchant Center by a few different methods. One way is Google sheets, either your own that you upload or a template provided by Google. The template shows the product attributes as column headings, ready for you to fill out one row per product. Attributes that don’t apply should be left blank.
Unlike the normal Google search results which are organic, Google Shopping results are actually ads. That means you’ll need to link your product info in Google Merchant with your AdWords account so that you can create Shopping campaigns. To link your AdWords account, follow these steps:
- Log into Google Merchant Center.
- Click on the menu (three dots) in the top right.
- Click on Account Linking.
- Create an AdWords account if you don’t have one. Otherwise, click Link and enter your AdWords customer ID.
Now that you’ve linked your Google AdWords account to Google Merchant Center, it’s time to learn how to sell on Google Shopping by using Shopping campaigns. You can actually create campaigns through Google Merchant Center or through your AdWords account. We’ll walk you through both methods:
- Start in Google Merchant Center - If you have linked your AdWords account, you should be able to access the ‘Create Shopping Campaign’ link in Google Merchant Center. It’ll ask you to insert your campaign name, country where you’re selling, and how much you want to spend daily. Once you’ve created the campaign you’ll need to manage it in your AdWords account.
- Start in Google AdWords account - Log onto your AdWords account and open the ‘Campaigns’ tab. Here you should be able to see a blue “+” icon. Click this and create a new campaign. From here you’ll be prompted to choose a campaign goal, type and subtype.
- Sales - Use this when you want to drive sales, whether that be online or in store. It’s also good to use when you want to seal the deal with customers that have already been in touch or are close to making a purchase.
- Leads - Use this type of goal when you want more customers to show interest in your products. This could be measured through signing up for a newsletter or giving you their contact info.
- Traffic - Use this when you want more potential customers to be visiting your website.
Campaign type determines where your ads will show up and what format they’ll be. Your campaign type in this case should be Shopping. Check that your Merchant Center account is displayed when you select Shopping because this is where Google is going to pull the product data from. Your campaign subtype determines how many settings and options you’ll be able to use. For Shopping campaigns, you can choose a Standard or Smart Shopping (https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/7674739?hl=en-AU) Campaign subtype. Depending on what you want to achieve with your campaign, you might want the extra options that the Smart Shopping offers such as remarketing, automated bidding and ad placement across networks.
The next thing you’ll be asked to do is select your bidding strategy and campaign budget. Bidding is basically how you will be paying when people interact with your ads. It’s pretty important because if you bid the right amount, and have high quality product data, your ads will rank higher. If bidding is kind of intimidating, don’t worry. Google has a Bid Simulator Tool that you can use to predict how a bid will affect your ad’s performance. These are several different types of bidding strategies you can pick from:
- Manual cost per clicks (CPC) - Use this when you want to manually set a maximum value for how much you pay each time someone clicks on your ad.
- Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) - This helps you increase conversions by automatically adjusting your manual bids based on how likely a click is to become a conversion.
- Maximise clicks - Use this automatic bidding strategy if you want to get the most clicks possible for your budget.
- Target return on ad spend (ROAS) - Your target ROAS is how much revenue you want for each dollar you spend on your ads. This strategy automatically sets your bids to maximise conversion while reaching an average ROAS that you choose.
- Maximise conversion value - This strategy automatically sets bids to maximise conversions for your given budget.
Next, you need to choose your campaign budget, aka how much you want to spend on average each day of your campaign. Google calculates your budget based on a monthly schedule. That means if your budget is $100 in May, you’re saying to Google you are willing to spend $100 for the 31 days in May, which is $3100 in total. So Google might spend over $100 in a day, but it won’t spend over $3100 in May.
Targeting and scheduling are two really important steps that determine who is going to see your products and when they’ll see them. Firstly, Networks indicate where your ads will show up. By default, Shopping campaign ads show in the Google Search Network, Google search partners, YouTube, Gmail and Google Discover. If you want to limit these, you can deselect any of them. Secondly, Devices indicate what devices your ads will show up on. By default they’ll show up on computers and mobile devices. Thirdly, you’ll need to select which locations your ad will target (i.e. locations where you’re located or can ship your products to). Lastly, choose your start and end dates for your campaign. If you don’t choose an end date, your campaign will continue to run indefinitely
Ad groups are a way to organise your biddings for the different types of ads you want to run. The two types of ad groups you can create are:
- Product Shopping Ads - These are single product listings created automatically from your product data feed in Google Merchant Center.
- Showcase Shopping Ads - These let you show a selection of related products together and are more useful for when people search for general terms such as ‘backpacks’ or ‘boots’. These require a few extra steps to set up.
By default, Google will create one big ad group for all of your products but you may want to organise your products by creating extra ad groups. For example, you could create an ad group for each of the brands you sell which means you can make adjustments for each brand separately. Different groups in the same campaign will share all the other campaign settings, and if you accidentally have a product in multiple ad groups, Google will use the one with the highest bid. Click save, and you’ll be taken to the products group page.
By default, all your products from the campaign will be in one big group, which might not be optimal since the best ad performance might vary for different types of products. To make your bidding more product-specific you can create product groups to help you manage the campaign. Product groups are created by using the attributes you put into your data feed such as brand, category, condition etc. Depending on how much subdividing you want to do, Google lets you create up to 20,000 product groups in each ad group!! Keep in mind you’ll have to set bids on each of those groups. Some tips for organising product groups:
- Use product ID if you have a small data feed so that you can set bids on each product for more control.
- If you have a larger data feed, create groups with products that have similar profit margins. E.g. brand, category, product type - whatever makes most sense for your business.
- After a while of running your campaign, consider creating a product group for your best selling products. That way you can more closely control the product ads that are bringing you the most profit.
- Although Shopping ads aren’t keyword based, you can add negative keywords to your product groups if you want to prevent ads being shown to uninterested buyers.
With more and more people turning to the internet to search for, compare and purchase products, it makes sense to invest in online marketing. Done well, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising like Google Shopping can be a really effective strategy for boosting your sales. If you’re looking for a Google Shopping agency then Dilate could be the right fit for your business. Our team helps heaps of businesses with AdWords management, creating proactive strategies that see long-term results. To see how we can help you, why not get in touch with us today?