Do you want to get your products seen by more potential buyers? That question is entirely rhetorical, of course, because if you’re running your business correctly, you know that advertising is an essential part of your success. The primary issue here is which advertisers to use to get your business in front of the most people possible. Few advertisers have more reach than Google, which makes Google Shopping a viable option for many companies.
Here’s everything you should know about Google Shopping, as well as some additional tips and advice to help improve your return on investment. For more information on related topics, see our eCommerce reviews.
Note: This guide is for selling products through Google Shopping, not using the service as a consumer.
How Does Google Shopping Work?
As the name suggests, Google Shopping is a search engine for products. It allows consumers to see and compare prices from different sellers around their country or even the world. Functionally, Google Shopping is a branch of their larger AdWords service.
When users input a type of product to find, Google attempts to guess the correct product and shows a variety of results. The accuracy of this varies by the search, but with Google’s experience in the field, it’s usually close.
Once users have the results on-screen, they can either browse normally or start narrowing down the results. Depending on the product, they will be able to do one or more of the following: find physical stores with the product, buy it through Google, adjust the price range, or narrow the results even further.
In essence, Google Shopping functions similarly to most online retailers and shares many of their features and design options. The difference is that it shows things from many different sellers and can control which sellers are seen.
Many people browse for the best price on products and look to Google to provide trustworthy results. That makes Google Shopping into something of a powerhouse, mainly because it’s an excellent way to find products that may be harder to locate, out of print, or otherwise not available through other large retailers.
Why Should Sellers Use Google Shopping?
The main reason a business should use Google Shopping is the increased visibility it can offer for specific products. However, it’s essential to understand which types of products perform best on Google Shopping and why.
Many people who use Google Shopping are looking for specific products such as books, electronics, or video games. This means they’re often searching by particular names. Other people are browsing specific categories, such as tablets.
Google Shopping is also better than comparable text ads at converting people into buyers. In a 2017 report, Marketing Charts found that Google’s product listing ads performed about 30% better than text—that’s enough of a difference to provide some real returns on the investment. It also more than justifies the cost of participating in the program.
Keep in mind that Google Shopping’s performance varies based on how much information you can add and how well consumers can narrow down their searches.
For example, if you’re selling a couch, you want to clarify what material it’s made of, how many people it can fit, what brand it is (if relevant), and so on. Some sellers aren’t used to putting this information on their web pages in a way that Google Shopping can understand, and this can decrease its overall effectiveness during an ad campaign.
Read on to find how to make sure you include the right information for Google Shopping.
How To Add Products on Google Shopping
Follow these steps to add a product so it’s visible on Google Shopping. If you already use Google AdWords, you may have done some of these steps already.
Step 1: Get a Google Merchant Center Account
Google Merchant Center is the primary platform for adding product information to Google so they can display it, and the first step in getting seen is activating your account. You can sign in with your existing Google Account (get one of those if you don’t already have one) and get started on this page.
Step 2: Improve Your Product Images
Once you’re ready to begin, optimize the product images on your website. This is where Google Shopping takes its pictures from, and photos are an essential part of getting seen on this visual-oriented platform.
Google can and will deny listings for products with low-quality images, so don’t slack on this. Be sure to read and follow these guidelines to ensure your pictures match their expectations.
Step 3: Make a Product Data Feed
After optimizing your images, go into the Google Merchant Center and click on Products, then Feeds. After that, click the blue circle with a plus sign in it. Follow the prompts to add information such as your country, language, and other fundamental data.
From there, you can upload spreadsheets using the formats provided to add extra information. This is essential to optimizing your listings, so take the time to check every box and make sure it’s perfect before you submit it.
Step 4: Link to Google Ads
If you don’t already have a Google AdWords account, make that now. If you do have Google AdWords, click on the main menu button (usually three vertical dots, in the upper right) and click Account Linking. Once again, follow the on-screen prompts to get through this process.
Step 5: Make a Google Shopping Campaign
Once you’ve linked AdWords and have enough money in your account, you can create a Google Shopping Campaign. You can do this directly from the Google Merchant Center or through the AdWords interface. We recommend using whichever you’re more familiar with.
Also, consider starting with a small campaign to get used to creating them. Once you have more experience, you can start running campaigns in earnest.
Everything from here is largely prompted, including setting bids and targeting and scheduling each of your ads. We recommend using Google’s Bid Simulator to get a better sense of how campaigns are likely going to perform.
Remember that Google cannot predict real-world events, so the Bid Simulator does not perfectly represent future performance. However, it is a good way to see how ads are likely going to perform.
Step 6: Create Ad Groups
Finally, once you’re done setting up your campaigns, it’s time to create ad groups. These help determine what ads you’ll be running and how you can organize bids for each of those ads.
The exact features and options in ad groups change over time as Google works to optimize the program, improve seller experiences, and ultimately gain more revenue. With that in mind, there are two important things to know about ad groups.
First, Google actively favors companies with a higher CPE (cost per engagement). This usually refers to when the user clicks on an ad and spends at least 10 seconds on it. The more you spend, the more likely it is people will notice your products.
The goal, as always, is to maximize the return on your investment. This means that paying more could result in more people buying products, and therefore a better return.
Second, you may need to create multiple ad groups for products in different categories. It’s usually better to split products by type, so try to organize them before you start making campaigns.
Google Shopping is a powerful tool for expanding your reach to consumers, especially if you’re selling physical products. You can even reach people and bring them into your physical stores, which is much harder to do with regular ads.
As with all of Google’s offerings, however, it can take some practice to get good at it. Don’t be afraid to start small to learn the ropes and then progress to doing more.