How would you like to get your ecommerce products listed at the very top of the search results? You can do that with Google’s Shopping Ads.
Essentially, Google Shopping Ads are rich results. They present Google users with a thumbnail image of a product, its title, its price, and in some cases even an aggregate review rating.
They’re also a great way to boost sales.
Consider that one out of every five shopping clicks in 2013 was on a Google Shopping Ad. That’s 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.
That means they cost money.
Google Shopping Ads follow a similar pay model as Google AdWords ads. You get charged every time somebody clicks on the ad.
That’s why 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 usually appear at the very top of the search results. Sometimes, though, they appear on the right-hand side of the screen.
In either case, they appear right at the top.
Of course, that’s great news because the top of the search results is prime digital real estate.
However, Google Shopping Ads Aren’t for Everybody
By now, you might be sold on the idea of Google Shopping Ads. That doesn’t mean that they’re right for you, though.
For starters, if you have fewer than 500 products, it might be difficult to gain visibility. Google tends to favor websites with thousands of products.
Second, 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.
Third, if your website isn’t high quality, Google might not show your products. 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 business, then there’s no better time than the present to get started. There’s quite a bit of upfront effort involved, though.
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 AdWords 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 Feed
After you’ve created your Google Merchant Center and Google AdWords accounts and linked the two, you need to create a product feed.
What’s a product feed? It’s a digital listing of the products that you’re selling online.
Your product feed 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.
Remember, some attributes are required (such as the ID) while some aren’t. 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, just check this page. Look for the word “Required” in bold, red letters in the second column of the table.
Also keep in mind that if you submit a feed that doesn’t include all the required info, Google will tell you exactly what’s missing.
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. You’ll do that in AdWords.
Click on “Campaigns” on the left-hand sidebar. Then, click the big plus sign at the top of the table on the main page. Select “New Campaign.”
Choose “Shopping” as the campaign type. Select your linked Merchant Center account in the lower part of the screen. Also, select your country of sale.
Leave the advanced settings alone for now as you’re just getting started.
In the “Locations” area, select the areas where you want your Google Shopping Ads to appear.
Your ads will appear on the Google Search Network and Google search partner sites by default. If you don’t want your ads to appear on partner sites, just deselect the “Include search partners” option.
Leave your bid strategy alone. You’ll set your maximum bid in the next step.
If you’re using conversion tracking, you’ll likely notice that “Enable Enhanced CPC” is automatically selected. Leave that alone for now as well. You can always make changes in the future.
Next, enter your maximum bid in the “Default bid” field. That’s the maximum amount you want to pay per click.
Since this is your first rodeo, select “Individual budget” in the Budget field. Then, specify the amount you’d like to spend per day on clicks.
Leave the advanced options alone for now. Again, you can change them later.
Click “Save and continue.’
After that, you’ll find that you’re on the Create Ad Groups page. That’s where you’ll organize your campaign just as you would any other AdWords campaign.
Once you’re done with that, you’ve completed your first Google Shopping Ad 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.
Why is that? It could be due to a number of reasons.
For starters, consider your bid. If you’re getting outbid by competitors, then Google will use its profit motive to prioritize their ads.
Second, consider the quality of your site. As we’ve seen, a website that offers a poor user experience isn’t likely to get too many ad impressions.
Third, 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, that means it 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, much of that optimization effort is based on common sense.
It’s likely that you’re already familiar with basic SEO. Feed optimization isn’t that much 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.
Include Negative Keywords In Your Google Shopping Ad Campaign
Unlike traditional AdWords 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
As with so many other aspects of marketing, you should allocate the lion’s share of your resources to successful campaigns.
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. That should improve your overall ROI.
Send Your Feed to Google Daily
Make sure you send your feed to Google every day. That will ensure that it’s up to date and accurate.
Google seems to favor businesses that provide data consistently, so you’ll likely increase your odds of getting impressions as well.
Pick the Right Image For Your Google Shopping Ads
It’s been said that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. That’s never more true than in digital marketing.
Make sure that your product images are of the highest quality. Also, make sure that, as much as possible, they highlight product benefits.
Remember, though, people will see a thumbnail of your product image. They 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?
You probably look at the reviews.
First, you’ll check the aggregate review rating (usually expressed in “stars”). Then, you’ll read a few individual reviews.
Your customers are no different. They want to see some social proof.
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, that will work against you. Make sure that you’re practicing outstanding customer service.
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.
What’s a tripwire offer? It’s 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.
Also, you can upsell and cross-sell during the checkout process. That’s a great way to improve your overall return on a single order.
Of course, people who visit your site are also eligible for retargeting even if they don’t make a purchase. That’s another way that you can use tripwire offers.
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’re not using them already, why not start today?