People don’t just search on Amazon for products.
Google Shopping is growing at an alarming rate. Accounting for 55% of Google search ad clicks in the US, Google Shopping is a huge traffic-driving source, ultimately increasing earning potential for online businesses. Google product ads work.
Unlike traditional AdWords SERP (search engine results page) ads, to be successful with Google Shopping eCommerce advertisers need to take an SEO optimization-type approach. When creating your SERP AdWords ads you create campaigns, ad groups, descriptions and images, all in line with your chosen keywords.
With Google Shopping, however, Google is the one who determines when and where your shopping listings are shown, triggered by your bids, your store, and your shopping feeds. It’s fast becoming a popular marketing choice for eCommerce, with some studies proving that they result in as much as a 26% higher conversion rates for product listing than traditional search text ads.
So, what makes Google Shopping so successful? There are three things that play a part in Google Shopping success: feed creation and optimization, your bidding strategy, and campaign monitoring and optimization. In this guide we will take you through all the steps, from A to Z, to build and optimize your first successful Google Shopping campaign.
Step 1: Creating Your Google Shopping Account
Opening Your Google Merchant Center
The very first step you need to make to be able to run Google Shopping campaigns is to open your Google Merchant center. A Google Merchant center is where your Google Shopping feed data is listed and populates from. Visit www.google.com/merchants to open your Google Merchant Center and follow their setup steps, which include basic business information, term and conditions review, and website verification.
Setting Up Your Tax and Shipping Rules
Your next step is to set up your tax and shipping rules, both of which are essential for running Google Shopping ads. To do this, you will go to the ‘general settings’ and either input your tax rates or, if you’re a US seller, input the states you’re trading in and Google will do the rest. Here are Google’s US Tax guidelines:
Linking Your AdWords Account
The next thing you will need to do is link your AdWords account to your Merchant Center account so that you can run your first campaign. You can link these accounts through your Merchant Center dashboard by clicking on ‘AdWords’ from your settings. You will need to ensure that both platforms have the same email address with Admin access and have your AdWords ID ready to link accounts.
Setting Up Your Product Feed
To set up your product feed you can either manually build it using Excel or, if you’re using top platforms use apps, plugins or extensions to automatically link product feeds.
Do an audit to ensure your shop’s backend product info is well-structured with keyworded product descriptions, structured titles and good images before you import from your feeds.
You’re now ready to run your first Google Shopping Campaign.
Step 2: Creating Your First Google Shopping Campaign
Choosing Your Campaign Settings
When creating a Google Shopping Campaign, you will be asked to name your campaign and then select country and priority for your campaign – which can be set at high, medium or low – and lastly input your merchant number.
Google decides when to show listings based on priority settings and then your bid. This means that should there be a variety of merchants selling the same product that are set at the same priority, Google will choose based on the highest bid. You can run a variety of Google Shopping campaigns with different priority settings.
Note: It’s important to note here that Google Shopping Campaigns are country-specific, so you’ll have to set up campaigns per product for each location you’re selling in!
Choosing Products for Your Product Feeds
Next you will be able to select, or filter, your product feed. If this is your first time using Google Shopping, you may want to limit your product lists to entry products, products already getting a lot of traffic, and sales and unique products where your may have less competition, as you test different campaigns to find your best ROI combinations.
Setting Up Product Groups for Easy Optimization
Just as we advise you do with any AdWords campaign, when creating your first Google Shopping campaign you want to start with well-structured, segmented groups. This will ensure that optimization, vital for AdWords success, is easier to manage. Unlike SERP ads, Google Shopping campaigns only allow for one AdGroup per campaign, however you can divide this ad group down further into product groups.
You can set this up by clicking your Google Shopping Ad Group name, where you can then divide your products into groups based on category, brand, product type, and custom labels. Here’s a quick breakdown.
Category Product Groups
Category product groups are our least favorite of the four. This is where you can divide your products into Product Categories. The issue with choosing this product group is that within one category you can have a wide range of different products and therefore this doesn’t always provide a segmented structure for better optimization.
Brand Product Groups
Another way you can subdivide and group your products is by brand. This is where different products from one brand name are grouped together. If you’re selling all unique products by your own brand, this wouldn’t be an effective way to subdivide your products. However, if you’re selling an array of products made by different brands, this will help you group by brand name and then assess metrics per brand.
Product Type Product Groups
This Google Shopping AdGroup subgroup is where you group products based on their type. This is the best way to group and segment your products, as it based on the taxonomy of your site and will be much easier to optimize.
Custom Labels Product Groups
Lastly, you can subdivide your products based on your own labels such as ‘Most Popular,’ ‘Workout Clothes,’ ‘Back to School,’ ‘Christmas Gifts,’ or any other groups you feel would be worthwhile. You get up to five different custom levels you can choose from and is a great way to group seasonal products so that you can make quick bid adjustments to products that will be more popular for different seasonal events.
Pro Tip: Negative Keywords
As we mentioned, keywords don’t get triggered when your product ads show like traditional ads, however, you can add negative keywords to each of your product groups to have some control over when your ads are not shown. For example, if you have a ‘silver earring’ product group, by adding ‘gold earrings’ as a negative keyword, you can eliminate the chance of uninterested shoppers seeing your product listings and affecting your ad stats.
Once your groups are in place for your campaign, it’s time to set your delivery and bids.
Google Shopping Campaign Bids
Like with any PPC campaign, you want to look at your product price, your profit margin, and average conversion rates to find a budget that ensures you’re getting sales for your spend.
When setting up your first campaign, you will want to start your bids for each group a little lower than what your bids are at for your traditional search campaigns, and then tweak up or down as the impressions and CTR (click through rate) data comes in.
You want to set budgets low at first so that you have room to grow and scale up successful campaigns. Here are some pro Google Shopping bid tips to get you started:
- Bid higher in high-value/traffic regions and lower in low-value/traffic regions with geographic bid modifiers.
- Bids can either be accelerated or standard. You want to start with accelerated to ensure quicker product/search matching and quicker access to optimization data.
- When setting your bids for ‘Everything Else’ product groups, aim lower than your named groups to ensure product data and traffic in that feed go to that specific product.
- Get awesome insights from Search Impression Share metrics to see which product groups have good potential for growth.
- Start with mobile ads before adding desktop shopping ads to find the optimal placement for you.
- As Shopping ad bids differ from traditional search bids in that you bid per product or product group, you want to start off with a bid between $0.10 and $0.85, depending on the amount of competition you have.
Beginner Hack: If you’re new to using Google Shopping Campaigns, start with a small product data feed of your current best-sellers or a few of your products with the highest profit margins, to get a feel of how they work and how to optimize before scaling up.
Step 3: Optimizing Your Google Shopping Campaigns
Like with any PPC campaign, dynamic or otherwise, the true secret to Google Shopping campaign success is in the optimization. In full, Google shopping success comes down to three important factors: feed creation and optimization, your bidding strategy, and monitoring and optimization. The first two factors we discussed above, but regarding monitoring and optimization, however, we’re just getting started. The first step into proper optimization and monitoring is in setting up and linking your Google Analytics Account.
Setting Up & Linking Your Google Analytics Account
The three things you need to do to ensure you have access to the data you need to optimize for more sales are: linking Google Analytics to AdWords, setting up conversion tracking, and accessing the right reports. Here’s a short how-to for all three.
How to Link Google Analytics to Google Accounts
- Sign into your Google Analytics account
- Click on ‘Admin’ and navigate to the property you want to link
- Click AdWords Linking in the property column
- Click ‘+ NEW LINK GROUP’
- After selecting relevant AdWords account, click’ Continue’
How to Set Up Conversion Tracking
This is done either by using an eCommerce platform app or manually putting a code on your website. The easiest way to do this is to go through Google’s conversion setup wizard or follow this step-by-step guide:
How to Access the Right Reports
Once you’ve linked all your accounts and have started running the first campaigns, it’s time to look at the data for optimization. The two main reports you should be monitoring are Search Query and Product Performance Report Reports.
You can set up these reports directly in your analytics account through your dashboard.
Search Query Report:
Product Performance Report:
Maintaining Google Shopping Feeds for Optimization
Maintaining your Google Shopping Product Feeds is essential to the optimization and success of your Google Shopping campaigns. In fact, if your feed info is not accurate, Google will not show your ads.
Setting up and keeping your feed well-maintained ensures you show up in the right searches, and the key to optimization and management is to ensure you have set them up correctly from the get-go.
Say you’re running ads and find that your products result in high impressions but a low CTR. You know by the high impressions that Google finds your products relative, however, the lack of clicks tells you one of three things: either your images aren’t good, your titles aren’t enticing, or the most likely cause – your product price isn’t on point.
Here’s a breakdown of tips for each aspect of your feeds data you should be maintaining and A/B testing for maximum optimization.
Your product titles should include your main keyword or phrases, your product name, model numbers, and be a maximum of 150 characters. You want your descriptions to be as detailed and clear as possible. For example: green cotton tennis socks. Ultimately your title is, besides your photo, the biggest draw card for potential shoppers and can make or break your campaign.
Your product descriptions not only have to be accurate and concise, but should include your most relevant keywords. If you manually loaded your product descriptions, you will to ensure that they are checked and updated accordingly.
Google requires white background images for Google Shopping campaigns and that your thumbnail is visible. Try A/B testing two or three images until you find the one that brings in the most interested clicks.
Use Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnostics Tool to compare how your product photos compare to your competitors’.
Google has over 6k different categories and subcategories you can assign your products to. It’s important to ensure you choose the category as close to the product as you can, and we would advise reviewing Google’s full taxonomy list – which you can download here.
Although not required, including a product type is particularly important for those whose products don’t fit into Google’s categories 100%. If your site’s taxonomy is on point, you can cut-and-paste your bread crumbs into the feed’s product type field. For example: clothing > women > shorts > denim shorts.
As we mentioned, campaigns will be run for each country separately and therefore you need to not only ensure the correct price is showing, but that it is in the right currency.
Product Listings Quality Score
The quality of your product listings for Google Shopping Campaigns are determined by your expected or current CTR, the relevance of your ad, and your URL or product landing page experience. You want to make sure that not only is your product feed information correct to ensure your ads are always relevant, you need to ensure that your destination product page URLs are live and without 404 errors, as well as ensuring the product description and titles match the content of the product pages you’re sending them to when they click.
For instance, if your product has a high CTR but your conversions are low, not only is this a sign to Google that your product listings may not be relevant, but it also means your ROIs are going to be in the tank. Have a look at your competitors’ product pages; are they offering free shipping, guarantees, discounts or any other incentives that you aren’t?
As Google takes your ad history associated with your Product IDs into consideration, when you’re optimizing, you want to ensure that you keep product IDs of high-performing ads alone. If you want to ‘erase’ the performance of low-performing products, changing Product IDs will reset your product scores.
As we mentioned previously, you want to start your bids low and then bump up good performers 1-3 times a week until reach your ROIs. Weekly monitoring and tweaking is needed to ensure you keep your performing ads at their peak. So what are the signs that your bids are either too high or too low?
If you find your impressions are low, this is a clear sign that either your product feed information isn’t clear or more likely, your bids are too low. In these cases, we suggest you go over your titles, categories and descriptions, etc., and then raise bids slightly to confirm that your bids – not your feeds – are the reason for your low impressions.
The issues with making dramatic bid changes to product groups that have lots of products includes. Although some products in the group will have high competition, which ensures that bid increases help ad performance, big product groups may also include low-competition products, which would result in paying more for listings without improving your results.
With Google shopping, it’s imperative that your optimization and bid changes are done in very small increments and shouldn’t be dramatically increasing or decreasing your bids by more than 20%. Instead, make small adjustments and delete those unprofitable products from groups altogether.
To ensure max chances of Google Shopping campaign success, it comes down to your feed creation and maintenance, your bidding, and ad monitoring and strategy. The trick to their success, like with AdWords, is A/B testing to finds the best combination of information, image, title and bid, and then to monitor and tweak your ads continuously to ensure you getting the most clicks and conversions for your buck. Alternatively tools such as Traffic Booster will run and optimize your Google Shopping campaigns dynamically for maximum success.
Yes, your ads are shown dynamically and they have good ROIs, but they are definitely not PPC campaigns you can leave and forget about.