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  • What is Google Shopping and How Does It Work

    What is Google Shopping and How Does It Work?

    eCommerce is typically more efficient for buyers and sellers.

    Sellers can reach more people, and buyers don’t need to leave their house.

    The rise of Amazon and Amazon marketing made this clear.

    But contrary to common belief and its share growth in ecommerce search queries, Amazon does not hold a monopoly on eCommerce search.

    Enter Google shopping, another third-party online marketplace platform.

    Google shopping hosts endless amounts of browsing products on its site.

    But unlike Amazon, all its listings are pulled directly from online retailers.

    Like its search engine, Google Shopping is a giant aggregator of information, only it is dedicated to physical products for sale.

    In this article, you can learn how to list your own product(s) on Google Shopping and take advantage of its huge reach.

    Let’s dive in!

    What is Google Shopping?

    Google Shopping is an online platform for searching, comparing, and shopping for physical products across multiple online retailers. Each product listing includes a thumbnail image with its price and other product information.

    What is Google Shopping?

    Google Shopping search results for “Dress Shoes”

    The beauty of Google Shopping is that it allows you to compare buying options across a large collection of retailers in one place. With dozens of stores listed for the same item, you can be sure you’ll get the best deal:

    Google Shopping search results

    Buying Options for an Instant Pot on Google Shopping

    Like Google Search, Google Shopping is second to none in its scope. It aggregates so many products shown and buying options across the web that you can’t go wrong.

    History of Google Shopping

    The first version of Google Shopping developed by Craig Nevill-Manning and released in December 2002 was called Froogle. Froogle used Google’s web crawler index to offer a simple price comparison service that eventually became a branch of Google AdWords.

    In 2007, the platform was rebranded as Google assistant Product Search to emphasize its integration with Google Search. Product listings would appear alongside regular search results.

    By 2012, the service had rebranded itself again and it was renamed Google Shopping. Google Shopping shifted to a paid advertising model in which retailers had to pay to be listed on the site, which turned out to be a controversial move.

    As of April 27, 2020, Google Shopping is once again a free platform, allowing any merchant to list their products at no cost. Google framed this change as an attempt to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whatever the reason, this means a new opportunity for small retailers, who now have access to a wide audience at zero starting cost.

    So whether you have a large digital marketing budget or not, listing your products on Google Shopping is a smart move because it can cost you as little as nothing.

    How Does Google Shopping Work?

    But how does Google Shopping work exactly? With all its changes over time, it can be a little confusing. So here are the basic mechanics of how Google Shopping works:

    First and foremost, not just any product available on a website will automatically show up on Google Shopping. Retailers need to opt in with Google’s Merchant Center. To do this, start by creating an account or signing up with an existing Google account.

    Signing Up with Google Merchant Center

    When signing up, you’ll first be asked for your business name, country, and time zone. But  you can opt to enter only your country to begin and fill out the rest later.

    Second, you’ll select where you want customers to check out when purchasing: on your website, on Google, or at your local store. You can select any combination of the three options and change them at any time later on as well.

    Finally, Google will ask you about what other eCommerce SEO tools you use, whether you would like to sign up for their emails, and to agree to their terms of service.

    And that’s all it takes to create your Google Merchant account! The first step is complete.

    How Google Lists Your Products

    Now that you have a Google Merchant account, it’s time to submit your products to be listed.

    First, you will need to prove to Google that your products have unique product depth and offer genuine value. In other words, Google won’t just list any product. It has to pass a certain standard.

    Upon checking out, customers buy products directly from sellers and only rarely through Google itself. For most products, the user is directed to another company’s website, whether it be Walmart or Target or a smaller retailer website.

    Each product listing consists of a product name, product details, photos, reviews, and different buying options. Many product listings even provide a typical price range. This way, you can know at a glance how good of a deal you are getting.

    Google Shopping Product Price Range

    Google Shopping Product Price Range

    When browsing product listings, customers can filter products by price (low to high or high to low), review score, brand, seller, and more. This allows shoppers to narrow down their search to their needs. Combined with Google’s massive scope, filters make a powerful tool for consumers.

    When no filters are selected, the product search results are ranked based on search relevance, information in the product data feed, and number of advertisement bids.

    Like Google search, Google Shopping offers paid or sponsored listings. Unlike free organic listings, paid listings cost money. In return, your product floats to the top of the page for extra prominence over other listings.

    Many retailers even run Google Shopping campaigns to target their product listings to specific audiences with keyword specific ads.

    As you can see, Google Shopping is a dynamic service that offers several different ways to market your product.

    Why Use Google Shopping?

    If you’re still not convinced that you need to take advantage of Google Shopping, consider the following:

    You should list your products with Google Shopping because it’s free exposure. Not only is it free, but you get access to a giant user base. Everyone uses Google. It’s the largest search engine in the world, occupying 87.6% of the search engine market.

    Google Shopping can only increase traffic to your product. It can’t hurt.

    Paid listings pay off as well: Google Product Listing Ads (PLA) Conversion Rates are 30% higher than comparable text ads on desktops. Ads on Google Shopping can be a huge boost to your digital marketing strategy.

    Plus, Google Shopping is integrated across other Google services. For example, any product listed with Google Shopping can appear in regular Google SERPs. So your product may be featured as a website listing, a shopping result, or even a PPC (pay-per-click) ad result.

    Google Shopping is a visual experience. It imitates the physical shopping experience by displaying your product among other products and stores. Many first-time customers may find your product while casually browsing on Google Shopping, while customers who visit your website directly need to know about you first.

    Whether you opt for free or paid listings, Google Shopping will help your product reach more people. That is why you should use it.

    How to get started with Google Shopping

    Once signed up with Google Merchant Center, you can list your products yourself or hire a third-party business to take care of the set up for you. Whatever you decide, here is the key information you or they will need to know:

    For paid listings, you will need to link your Merchant Center Google account to your Google Ads account. If you don’t have a Google Ads account, you can learn how to register for one here. From there, you can start a Smart Shopping Campaign to have your product appear as an ad on across Google two platforms like Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail.

    For organic listings, you will need to submit rich product information to a primary feed. Rich product information includes the description, technical specifications, reviews, and more. The primary feed is the main data source used to access and display that product information.

    Here is a list of all the rich product information you will need:

    • Title—The product title needs to be consistent across the web. So cross-reference with the product title listed on your website.
    • Product ID—Every product should have a unique ID to distinguish it from other products.
    • Description—Your best copywriter should tackle the product description. In a few lines, succinctly and accurately describe the product. This can make or break a sale.
    • Price—The price is key information. Should the price fluctuate, you can make sure to keep it up to date by using Merchant Center’s automatic item updates.
    • Brand—The brand name may be your own brand, but if you retail other brands’ products, make sure to include their brand name.
    • Availability—Like the price, product availability may vary. You’ll want to keep this current with automatic item updates in case the product ever goes out of stock.
    • Link—Double-check that you have a working product link for Google Shopping tab to redirect to.
    • Image Link—Provide links to any product images. You’ll want to make sure the images are high quality.

    Once you have gathered the above information, you can submit it to the primary feed in one of the following ways:

    • Upload the information on a Google Sheet. Merchant Center provides an optional template for you to use.
    • Have Google retrieve the product information from your server.
    • Manually upload the information to Google Merchant Center.
    • Allow Google to crawl your website and find the information itself.

    Once the product information is submitted, you will be well on your way to getting your products listed on Google Shopping. Just make sure to optimize the text and images before you submit. You want them to be as crisp and accurate as possible.

    Tips for Using Google Shopping

    Now that you know the basics of getting started with Google Shopping, here are some helpful tips to help you along your way:

    Optimize your store to be high-converting. Just listing your products on Google Shopping will not necessarily lead to sales. You need effective product titles, bullet points, high-quality images, competitive pricing, and positive reviews. The visual design of your own site is as important as how the product looks on Google Shopping, if not more important.

    Seriously consider running a Smart Shopping campaign. A Smart Shopping campaign allows you to target customers looking for your product. By investing in paid ad placements, you can make sure your target customer sees your product at the top of the Google Shopping results page. Plus, you’re only charged when someone actually clicks on your listing. That is why it’s also known as pay-per-click (PPC) marketing.

    Learn the difference between ROI (return on investment) and ROAS (return on ad spend). While ROI can tell you whether your marketing campaign benefits your business overall, ROAS tells you if your ads are generating any revenue. Both are important metrics, but ROAS is better at gaging the success of your ad spending specifically.

    Finally, though Google Shopping allows you to list most products, there are some it prohibits: counterfeit goods, dangerous products, inappropriate goods, unsupported ads content, adult content, alcohol, and gambling-related content. If you’re posting prohibited content or services, you won’t just get a warning,  you’re more likely to get a complete Google Ads account suspension.

    You will learn a lot as you go with Google Shopping, but these tips will get you off to a good start.

    Working with SEO.co

    Here at SEO.co, we understand how important Google Shopping is to an e-commerce marketing strategy.

    If you want to take advantage of Google Shopping but don’t have the time or means, we are here to help.

    Whether you need PPC management or you simply need help getting set up with Google Shopping, now is the time.

    Contact us today to get started.

    VP of Business Development at SEO Company
    Ryan Nead is the Vice President of Business Development at search engine optimization services company, SEO.co. Ryan has spent the last 10 years as a digital marketing consultant working with enterprise clients and top brands on digital marketing initiatives that drive digital results. He has worked with brands like Smashburger, Fatburger, PHH Mortgage and Con-Way (now XPO Logistics). He resides in Texas with his wife and three children.
    Ryan Nead