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Once known as Google Product Search and way before that known also as Froogle (which in terms of puns isn’t the most fitting, surely nobody involved wants you to be economical with your cash), now simply Google Shopping, this is a service that lets consumers search for products and compare prices through Google Search.

Previously I had assumed that consumer products appeared on SERPS through an ecommerce site’s own specific markup or through the relative strength of the Google algorithm.

This is no longer necessarily true. Since Google Product Search transformed into Google Shopping, ecommerce sites now have to pay to have their products appear in these listings.

Google Shopping is not a place for organic listings, it’s a place for search marketers and advertisers to exploit. In some respects this is great, especially if you’re a small business with a significant enough budget to go up against the bigger brands. There’s theoretically much less competition now. 

Other benefits include: better site traffic as searchers that click on the ad will be directed to your store. Higher click-through rates thanks to richer search results, rather than standard text listings.

You’ll also be providing the consumer with better quality adverts, that should be entirely relevant to their search, improving the overall ecommerce experience. 

Here I’ll be taking a brief overview of how to get your products listed on Google Shopping. It is by no means exhaustive, it’s just meant to highlight and clarify a few key areas for beginners.

Getting started

You can find Shopping within Google Ads, here you’ll be creating Product Listing Ads (PLA) featuring relevant details, rich images, product prices and your store name. 

It’s worth noting here that Google only charges you when a searcher clicks-through on your ad to your store.

To start a campaign you need two things:

  • An AdWords account
  • A Merchant Centre account

If you’re a stranger to AdWords, it’s very simple to set-up especially if you already have a Google sign-in. Here is a helpful and straightforward guide from the blog: How to make money from AdWords without using the experts.

A Google Merchant Centre account is easy to set-up too. This is where you’ll upload your store and product data in order to make it available to Google Shopping. Initially you won’t need any more information than the following…

Next you will have to upload a data feed, which is basically a file comprising the list of products from your store. The data feed can be in either text or XML format. Each one of your products should be assigned certain attributes, which have a standardised value or ‘answer’, in order to describe it accurately.

These attributes include information like availability, price, product identifiers like an EAN or an ISBN and information such as size and colour if it’s an item of clothing.

Some of these attributes are required for all items, some of them are just recommended. Failure to provide relevant attributes may lead to your products not turning up in the search results. 

Then once you’ve verified your website within Merchant Centre, just link this account to your AdWords account.

Create a campaign

Immediately after you’ve linked the two accounts, the red ‘Link account’ button turns into a ‘create Shopping campaign’ button. This is probably the quickest way to start building your PLAs, but you can do achieve this through AdWords too.

To build your first Shopping campaign in AdWords, sign in, click on Campaigns along the top and then hit the big red ‘+ Campaign’ button. A drop-down menu will reveal various options. Select ‘Shopping’ and you’re on your way.

If you create a basic campaign within Merchant Centre and you’ll be able to edit and manage this campaign from your AdWords account.

It’s very straightforward…

Last of the big spenders as you can see. Once this has been saved, you will be redirected to your AdWords account where you can manage, edit and measure your campaign.

You can also manage your product inventory and create customised product groups using your chosen product attributes. By default, all of your products within your uploaded data feed are included within your Shopping campaign, but using the Inventory Filter it means you can limit the products you wish to advertise using different attributes.

Product Listing Ads are much easier to set up than text based campaigns. You no longer have to specify keywords, Google works out the best product for a particular search term for you. As Kevin Partner over at PC Pro points out: “the keyword research and optimisation skills you’ve earned by years of sweat and toil have become redundant.” 

If you have any experience with Google Shopping, good or bad, or have any advice to give to fellow search marketers please leave a comment below.

Further reading for beginners

During my first year at Econsultancy I’ve been making a point of writing beginner’s guides to any new terms or phrases I find particularly baffling, or that I might suspect other people may find baffling too. 

The following related articles should help clear up a few things… 

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 12 May, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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