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Marketing 360® Blog

Introduction to Google Shopping – A Beginner’s Guide

Post By Scott Yoder | eCommerce Marketing | Paid Search

New to Google Shopping?  Here is an introductory guide to help you get started.

One of the main sales channels for eCommerce is Google Shopping.  For most new online retailers, success on Google Shopping and/or Amazon is essential to driving revenue.

Google Shopping can be very high ROI tactic, but the execution can get a little tricky.  It’s not a set and forget deal.

The initial hurdle comes from setting up your merchant account.  This process – particularly as it pertains to setting up your product data feed –  is error prone and trips up a lot of people.  The other challenges come from winning impression share, gaining clicks, and converting sales.  Let’s detail each.


Setting Up Google Merchant Center and Product Feeds

We’ll do two things regarding merchant center and product feeds.  The first is to share Google Adwords’ introductory video:


Do you feel uneasy?  Confused?  Welcome to the club.

That leads to our second suggestion.  Hire Marketing 360® to set up your merchant center and product feeds for you.

Of all the tactics involved in digital marketing, there is none where we get more frustrated people coming to us for help than managing merchant center.  And the more products you have, the harder it is.

Your product feed is basically a huge spreadsheet that literally “feeds” content into your ads.  You don’t actually create ads on Adwords itself.  It’s done by default through the merchant center.

Whenever you have any kind of error or discrepancy (like a different price on the feed and your website) your ads won’t show.  Glitches are common.

Managing merchant center and product feeds is work for technically oriented, patient people.  If that describes you, follow Google’s instructions.  If not, save yourself the headache and outsource it.


Setting Up Google Shopping

Once you have your data feed going through your merchant account, the technical aspects of this get easier.  First you need to get started with a shopping campaign in Adwords.  They have handy advice:

Campaign set up has a lot to do with to do with how you end-up managing products.  You can organize things by product type or brands.  Or you can organize by priority, creating Ad groups based on top sellers or high margin items.

You can also geo-target ads, so products likely to sell better in particular areas show only there with more competitive bids.

Keep in mind that the more products you have, the more work it is to manage campaigns.  You have to keep an eye on your feed and your performance metrics.  Businesses with thousands of products often outsource this work to Google partners like Marketing 360®.


Product Titles

One important difference between shopping campaigns and text campaigns is that shopping has no keyword optimization or match type.  The keyword queries connect to your products based on your titles and descriptions.

This means the titles and descriptions you put into your product feeds must be optimized for search.  You want to avoid obscure or business-centric product titles in favor of common descriptors or well-known brand names.

Do keyword research and consider what shoppers are likely to put into their queries to get the best results.  For example, I did a search on “extra large Fedora hats”:

google shopping serps

Notice how the two results on the right have the x-large size in the product title.  This draws my click because the title of products matches my query.

Max out the character limit (150 characters) with all keyword related descriptors you can.

Google discourages the use of sales terms like “save today” or “free shipping” in the product titles.  Keep to what people will search on and what best describes the product.

Here are some more tips:

how to write product titles infographic


Bidding Strategies

Google Shopping is a competitive platform where you have to carefully monitor your bids.  The trick is to stay within profit margins while ensuring you’re getting ranking and impression share.

The most effective bid strategy is to break it down by individual product ID.  This lets you watch bids by product to maximize your position for each.

However, this strategy only works when you have a manageable number of products (probably 200 or less).  If you have far more, you’ll need to categorize by product type and brand, then organize your bids with products that have similar profit margins.

Your bids must correspond to the price of the products.  If your bid is the same for a $25 hat as it is for a $2500 suit, you need to segment so your bids match profit margins.

Bids on Google shopping are typically much lower than on text ads.  Start with low bids then watch your impression share and ranking closely.  Small adjustments can make an immediate difference in your impressions and position.


Important Tip:  Variation of Product Name and Description

You don’t bid on keyword variations in Google Shopping campaigns, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to optimize for different search queries.

You may realize that shoppers search for your products with a variety of descriptors you can’t cover in one product title or description.

A solution to this is to add the product into your feed multiple times with different product titles, descriptions, and modifiers.  You can then categorize into multiple ad groups and use a different bidding strategy.  Over time, identify the search queries that are driving the most sales and increase exposure.

Your can view the search queries people use to find your products:

google shopping search terms

Using this tool, you might find a common search term you want to optimize for that you hadn’t considered a product title.  You might also find a certain detail, like a SKU, has the best ROI.


As a retailer on Google Shopping, you put yourself directly into a price comparison engine.  For example, when I look at my Fedora, I can compare prices right there:

google shopping pricing

If you’re carrying products available from other online retailers, you are in a price battle.  It’s something you have to weigh as you set up your entire shopping and bidding strategy.

Note that shoppers drill down on their search, shipping and special offers become visible.  It’s always important to compare your offering – including shipping costs and special offers.


Reporting and Optimization:  What to Look For

Here are some things to look out for with shopping campaigns with tips on how to optimize results.

Low Impressions

If a product is not getting impressions, either your bid is too low or your Google feed has issues.  There might be a glitch causing the product not to display, or you may be outside the guidelines for titles and descriptions.  Test your bids to make sure you’re competitive.  Also, check the feed to make sure the product is approved.  Last, test different product titles and descriptors to make sure you’re optimizing for common search queries.

High Impressions with No Clicks

In this case, you’ve got it right with Google.  Your product is showing, but nobody is clicking to your landing page.  The most common problem here is price.  If you’re losing the price battle, you simply won’t get much traffic to your website.  Keep close tabs on your competition and make sure you’re not getting underbid.

Also, make sure that low-quality images aren’t killing your click throughs.  Google shopping ads are visual, and poor images will do you in.

product images for google shopping

High Clicks But No Conversions

If you’re getting exposure and clicks on Google Shopping but still no conversions, you have landing page issues.

Make sure your landing page communicates your value offering.

  • Do you offer free shipping?
  • Do you offer guarantees?
  • Are your shipping options clear?
  • Do you have product reviews?
  • Are your images and videos professional?
  • Do you note financing or special incentives?

Your overall website design can play a factor here.  Do you seem legitimate and trustworthy, or is your website dated and disorganized?  Also, make sure you’re not losing people during check-out; keep that process smooth and fast.

Always keep in mind that on Google you’re dealing with comparison shoppers.  If you charge for shipping but a competitor doesn’t, you’ll lose.  If a competitor has useful reviews but you don’t, you’ll lose.

Here are some more power tips on Google Shopping:

Google Shopping is a fantastic tool for direct selling and creating brand awareness.  But it can be a handful to manage, particularly if you have a large inventory of products.

Some eCommerce retailers manage this internally.  Many more choose to run their business and let the pros at Marketing 360® – trained in Google product feed set-up and Shopping campaign management – do the heavy lifting for them.

Either way, make sure your products are out there.  eCommerce gains more market share every year.  Selling online is moving from being an option to a necessity.

Confused by internet marketing? Let’s make some sense of this. Get a free consultation for your business that includes a marketing software demo, website design tour, and pricing plans specific to your needs.