There’s no shortage of ways to increase sales for your ecommerce business.
Fortunately for you, one of the best ecommerce sales tactics is extremely easy to implement: Google Shopping ads.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to set up a Shopping Campaign and get your products to the top of the SERPs.
What You’ll Learn:
- What Google Shopping ads are
- The phenomenal growth of Google Shopping ads
- Who should use them
- How to get started with Google Shopping ads
- How to create your feed and create a campaign
- How Google determines which ads will show
- How to optimize your product feed
- Google Shopping ads tips and strategies
Ever Google something and see featured results at the top of the page with a “Popular Products’ heading? Those are Google Shopping Ads, a type of rich search results. They present Google users with a thumbnail image of a product, its title, its price, and an aggregate review rating.
They’re also a great way to boost sales.
Considering that 84% of Americans are shopping at any given point in 48 hours and Google is the first place they look, there are a lot of opportunities you could be throwing away if you don’t market to people who shop on Google.
In this article, we’ll go over Google Shopping Ads, explain how you can set them up for your own business, and offer some best-practices when it comes to using them.
Google Shopping Ads Are PPC Ads
The first thing you need to understand about Google Shopping Ads is that they’re ads. They’re not part of organic search results, and the cost money.
Google Shopping Ads follow a similar pay model as any other PPC Google Ad. You get charged every time somebody clicks on the ad.
Like any other PPC campaign, it’s important to optimize your product title and description for the right keywords. You don’t want to pay for clicks from people who aren’t even in your target market.
Google Shopping Ads
Where Do Google Shopping Ads Appear?
Google Shopping Ads can appear on the very top of the search results pages or on the right-hand side of the screen.
In either case, they’re one of the first things a user sees in search results, making them prime real estate. Of course, that’s great news because the top of the search results is prime digital real estate.
Google Shopping Ads Have Seen Phenomenal Growth
One of the reasons that so many marketers love Google Shopping Ads is because it’s one of the best ways to reach customers.
Don’t take my word for it. Look at the numbers.
Google Shopping clicks account for 85.3% of all Google ads clicks, growing at a whopping 34% year-over-year. One study from Q1 2018 shows that roughly 80% of all retail search ad spend is allocated to Google Shopping campaigns.
Growth was particularly noticeable on smartphones. Impressions increased 55% YOY in Q3 to 111% YOY in Q4.
Suffice to say, if you’re running an ecommerce site and haven’t yet tried to increase your reach with Shopping Ads, now is the time to get started.
However, Google Shopping Ads Aren’t for Everybody
By now, you might be sold on the idea of Google Shopping advertising might sound great in theory but that doesn’t mean that they’re right for you in practice.
If you have fewer than 500 products in your ecommerce catalog, it might be difficult to gain visibility. Google tends to favor websites with thousands of products.
If you’re in a highly competitive industry, you might find that the cost per click (CPC) just won’t give you the kind of return you’re looking for when compared to your larger competitors.
If your website isn’t high quality, Google might not show your products even if you’re paying to advertise them. You need to have a Google-optimized site. Check your site for broken links, invalid images, and non-responsive content.
Get Started With Google Shopping Ads
If you’ve determined that Google Shopping Ads are right for your businessthere’s quite a bit of upfront effort involved. This Google Shopping Guide is here to help you get started.
The first thing you need to do is create a Google Merchant Center account. That’s the tool you’ll use to inform Google about the products you’re selling.
Next, you need to set up a Google AdWords account. Of course, you can use that account to run other kinds of ads as well.
Once you’ve got both of those accounts established, it’s time to link them. That will enable you to share info between the two accounts.
Create the Product Feed
After you’ve created your Google Merchant Center and Google AdWords accounts and linked the two, you need to create a product feed.
The product feed is a digital listing of the products that you’re selling online.
It will include quite a bit of detail about each product you’re offering, such as its title, description, URL, price, and image URL. You can find a complete list of eligible attributes in the product feed here.
You’ll submit the product feed in either TXT (.txt) or XML (.xml) format.
If you’re not a developer, it’s probably much easier to create a TXT feed. Fortunately, you can do that with Google Sheets.using a Merchant Center add-on.
Remember, some attributes are required (such as the ID) while some aren’t (such as shipping dimensions). You’ll have to make sure that all the required attributes are complete for each product when you submit your feed.
If you aren’t sure which fields are required, review the list on this page. Look for the word “Required” in bold, red letters in the second column of the table.
If you submit a feed that doesn’t include all the required info or you miss something, Google will notify you of the errors so you can correct them.
Once you’ve submitted your feed, it’s time to hurry up and wait. Google will process the feed and it could take as long as 24 hours before you see anything in the search results.
Create a Google Shopping Ad Campaign
Now that you’ve uploaded your feed, it’s time to create a campaign in Google Ads. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow.
- Sign in and click Campaigns on the left.
- Click the plus button and select New campaign.
- Select Shopping for “Campaign type” and click Next.
- Now, enter campaign specifics:
- Campaign name – Be descriptive.It’s how you’ll reference the campaign in the future.
- Merchant – Select the Merchant Center account that you just used to upload your feed. Note: if you don’t see any accounts listed, then you didn’t yet link your Merchant Center account to Google Ads.
- Country of sale – Use the country where your products will be sold and shipped to. Only people from that country will see you ads.
- Inventory filter – This is optional and you shouldn’t bother with it on the first attempt.Later, you might use it to limit the number of products that appear in Shopping Ads.
- Bidding – Select the type of bidding you’d like to use.
- Daily budget – This is your PPC limit. How much money per day are you willing to spend on Shopping Ads? Put the answer to that question here.
- Campaign priority – Leave this alone unless you’re advertising the same products in multiple campaigns.
- Networks – Choose whether you want your ads to display on Google search partner web properties in addition to Google search.
- Devices – If you want to limit your ads to mobile platforms or desktops, do that here.
- Locations – If you’re doing geotargeting with your campaign? If so, specify the locations where you want your ads to appear.
- Local inventory ads – Only worry about this if you’re selling your product in brick and mortar stores.
Once you’re done filling out that info, click Save and continue.
Next, you need to choose the kind of ad group you want to create.
- If you’re brand new to this, select Product shopping ad.
- Enter a name for the ad group and a bid.
- Click Save.
In the product groups page, you’ll only see one option: “All Products.” Don’t enter anything.
- Later, you can create more product groups that highlight only a portion of your inventory.
Congratulations! You’ve created your first Google Shopping Ads campaign!
How Does Google Determine Which Shopping Ads to Show?
Once you’ve launched your campaign and started tracking your analytics, you might be surprised to learn that your ads are receiving very few clicks. In all likelihood, that’s because they’re receiving very few impressions.
This could be due to a number of reasons.
Consider your bid and look at competitor products. If you’re getting outbid by competitors, then Google will use its profit motive to prioritize their ads.
Also, take a hard look at the quality of your site. As we’ve seen, a website that offers a poor user experience and isn’t SEO ready will not get too many ad impressions.
Finally, consider the CTR of your ad. If Google has shown it a number of times and yet very few people chose to click on the ad, it simply isn’t resonating with your audience. You might need to update the product title or image.
Optimize Your Feed
If you want to reach likely customers with your product feed, you’re going to have to optimize it. Fortunately, if you’re already familiar with basic SEO, feed optimization isn’t that different.
For starters, each product should focus on a keyword. That keyword should be a popular search term related to the product itself.
Use a keyword research tool like SEMRush to find the most popular search terms related to your products.
Note: this is one of those times when using a brand name in the keyword might be a very good idea.
You might also find that product attributes figure prominently in popular keywords. For example, if you’re selling TVs, you could notice that “32 inch LCD TV” is a popular search term.
Once you’ve found the most popular keywords for your products, be sure to include them in the product titles and descriptions.
Also, don’t stuff your titles and descriptions with keywords. Google will pick up on that and your impression count will suffer.
Google Shopping Ads Best Practices
Now that you know how to create a Google Shopping ad campaign, you need to know how to create one that works.
The following tips and strategies will help you do that.
Include Negative Keywords In Your Google Shopping Ad Campaign
Unlike traditional Google Ads campaigns, you can’t specify which keywords you’ll associate with your Google Shopping Ads. Google will determine which search terms trigger your ads.
However, you can still add negative keywords to your campaigns or ad groups.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of negative keywords, they’re keywords that people use in search that disqualify your ad from appearing. That’s so you don’t risk getting (and paying for) a click from somebody who really isn’t interested in your product.
For example, if you’re selling shoes for women but not men, you might want to add “mens” as a negative keyword. That way, people who Google “men’s shoes” won’t see your ads.
Follow the Money
Everything in marketing should track back to performance and ROI, and Google Shopping Ads are no exception. Allocate larger portions of your resources to successful campaigns and don’t waste your budget on campaigns that aren’t performing.
Check your analytics data to see which products are performing best. Then, create specific ad groups for those products and max out your bids.
Avoid getting too exuberant with your bidding, though. You don’t want to erase your margins in an effort to boost top-line sales.
Likewise, move poorly performing products to separate ad groups and lower their bids. to improve your overall ROI.
Send Your Feed to Google Daily
Make sure you update and send your feed to Google every day. That will ensure that it’s completely accurate.
Google favors businesses that provide data consistently, so this won’t only ensure your customers are seeing the most accurate information, but also likely increase your impressions.
Pick the Right Image For Your Google Shopping Ads
As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. That’s never truer than in digital marketing.
Make sure that your product images are of the highest quality and clearly illustrate your product and its benefits.
Keep in mind that Google Shopping Ads only show a thumbnail of your product image. Shoppers won’t see the full-sized image until they click on the link. That’s why you should ensure that your image looks great even when it’s scaled-down.
Show Ratings On Your Google Shopping Ads
Think about your own online shopping experiences. When you’re on the fence about a purchase, what do you usually do?
If you’re anything like most shoppers, you probably look at the reviews.
First, you’ll check the aggregate review rating (usually expressed in “stars”). You might read a few individual reviews.
Your customers also want to see some social proof of your product’s value.
That’s why you should send a request to Google so that you can include ratings in your Google Shopping Ads.
Keep in mind, though, if you have low ratings, you don’t necessarily want to show off as it will work against you. Make sure that you’re practicing outstanding customer service and offering a genuinely high-quality product
Populate Your Google Shopping Ads with Tripwire Offers
One great way to add new people to your email list is to populate your Google Shopping Ads with tripwire offers.
A tripwire offer is an intentionally low-priced product that you offer just to get people into your virtual store. Then, you collect their contact info so you can send them promotional messages from time to time. You might occasionally see these offers as “free item. Just pay shipping” or “free full-sized gift with purchase.”
You can upsell and cross-sell during the checkout process to improve your overall return on a single order.
People who visit your site are also eligible for retargeting even if they don’t make a purchase. If a shopper is tempted by your tripwire offer and clicks on it but doesn’t ultimately place an order, you still keep them in your sales funnel.
Use Showcase Ads to Give Customers a Choice
Once upon a time, Google might have only displayed a single ad from your campaign in response to a search query. Now, Google can highlight multiple products from the same merchant with Google Showcase Ads.
When people search for general terms like “laptop” or “vacuum cleaner,” they really haven’t said everything about what they’re looking for.
What kind of laptop or vacuum do they want to buy? What brand? New or used? What features do they need?
Google allows you to market your products to people who use those kinds of generic search terms.
Showcase Ads highlight related products you offer that match a specific search query. Consumers can browse your related products to find the one that’s right for them.
For example, if you’re selling electronics and have a Showcase ad campaign for “laptop”, you can display side-by-side a shopping ad for a Toshiba laptop, another ad for a Hewlett-Packard laptop, another ad for a Lenovo laptop, and so on.
All your ads display together giving a clear message that they’re related.
Keep in mind: bidding for Showcase Ads works differently than bidding for other types of ads.
Usually, you’ll pay per click (PPC) with Search Ads. In the case of Showcase Ads, you’ll pay per engagement.
How does that work?
First, you set the highest amount that you’re willing to pay per engagement.
An engagement is defined as a user expanding the Showcase Shopping ad and spending at least 10 seconds looking at the products inside.
It’s possible that someone can browse your showcase shopping ad, look around at the products you’re offering, leave without even clicking on anything and you’d still pay for that interaction. Keep that in mind when you set your budget for Google Showcase Ads.
Use Shopify’s Google Shopping App
If you’re running a shop that relies on Shopify for ecommerce, there’s a convenient app to sync your products from your store to the Google Merchant Center.
It’s a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. Once you update your products on Shopify, the app will take care of keeping them in sync with the Merchant Center. The Google Shopping app also offers analytics so you can see how your campaign is performing. If you’d like to adjust your daily budget, you can do so without leaving Shopify.
All hail the power of marketing automation.
Use Merchant Promotions to Stand out From the Crowd
It’s a safe bet that people who are searching for a product online will want to know about any discounts or deals available.
Fortunately, you can tell folks that your product is on sale with a merchant promotion.
A merchant promotion highlights something special about a product that you’re offering in an effort to boost your click-through rate.
For example, if one of your products is currently offered at 30% off, you can run a Google Shopping ad with a small banner at the top of the image thumbnail that reads: “30% Off.”
That banner draws attention and can lead to more clicks. You can also set a promotion expiration date so you don’t have to worry about manually changing your Merchant Center if you only want to offer the deal for a limited time.
You can also include a “Special Offer” tag at the bottom of the ad. When people hover over the words “Special Offer,” they’ll see a pop-up that gives them more info about the promotion.
Here are some merchant promotions you should consider:
- BOGO (Buy One, Get One free)
- Free Shipping
- Reduced free-shipping threshold
- Brand-specific rebates
Wrapping Up Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping Ads are a great way to boost your sales. They appear at the very top of the search results and they’re usually clicked on by people with high purchase intent.
If you want to become a true expert beyond this initial guide, Google has a free Shopping Advertising Assessment with more detailed coursework and an available certification.