Google Shopping Campaigns, also called Product Listing Ads (PLAs), are an effective way to get your products in front of motivated customers. While they can be managed alongside other campaigns in AdWords, Shopping Campaigns are quite different than traditional pay per click or Display Network campaigns, and they require different methods, best practices and optimization efforts to be successful.
Here are three of the most important things for running a Google Shopping campaign:
1. Get Your Website Ready to Support a Google Shopping Campaign
Google has always emphasized that user experience is top priority in everything they do. That means that before you set up a Google Merchant Center account and start promoting Product Ads through AdWords, you need to make sure that your website follows their Merchant Center Guidelines. Some of the larger issues that could impact your eligibility to run Product Ads include:
- Your website doesn’t follow landing page guidelines like having key product elements (title, description, image, price, currency, availability, buy button)
- All information that can be considered personal isn’t captured through SSL secured pages
- Your website is under construction or not live
- Pricing is set for products dynamically - making it difficult for Google to identify the true price of a product
Additionally you’ll need to make sure that your site is capable of outputting the attributes required for a Google Shopping Feed and that you can update it easily and frequently. It can be extremely time consuming to create a feed of even the required shopping feed attributes and if you are spending all of your time creating a feed, you won’t have time to manage updates or your campaign.
Quick Tips: E-commerce systems like BigCommerce and Magento support Google Shopping Feed creation through plug-ins. Additionally, there are WP plugins and Third Party Services that can help streamline the process.
If your current systems can’t support feed management, start your shopping campaign with a few core products while you plan for a system upgrade.
2. Optimize Your Feed
The foundation of a successful shopping campaign is the ability to quickly create and update robust feeds to Google. The right feed management can truly propel your campaign forward and it is imperative to stay ahead of the competition. Although there are requirements that need to be met from an attribute standpoint, there is a lot of flexibility when providing those attributes.
Optimize your titles. Like in SEO and paid search, the title of your product can play a huge part in the visibility and click through-ability of your product in PLAs. So, once you have your feed submitted and you’ve gathered some data, take time to start testing out new product titles to give more depth and detail. You can use search query data, ad copy data, and keyword research tools to find the right combination.
Update your feed as often. Every time prices and availability change. This includes any sales that you might have. Doing this ensures that you stay price competitive and that your product information matches your site. Additionally, keeping prices up to date can unlock features like the Price Drop label which is identified by Google when certain criteria is met.
Make sure your images are amazing! With the largest part of a PLA being the image, it is important to have an image that meets Google guidelines while showcasing the product so that you can stand out from the crowd.
Take advantage of all attributes. This helps Google and searchers categorize your products. In the example below the search “broncos sweatshirt” brings up many filters based on available attributes.
Select which products to include in PLAs. It might not make sense to include all of your products based on competition, price, reseller agreements, ROI goals, and more in your product feeds. Before listing all of your products, take a look at your business goals to determine if including smaller ticket items is worth the cost of including them.
Quick Tip: Do SERP research ahead of time to understand what feed attributes will help your brand stand out from the crowd. Moz’s Search Landscape tool will show what features, including Shopping Results, are shown for each of your tracked keywords. Additionally, this may be a good time to get your paid media and SEO team together to discuss SERP optimization and domination for ecommerce websites.
3. Take Advantage of All of the Features
Running Google Shopping Ads isn’t about setting up a feed and forgetting it, you also need ensure that you are setting up your campaign properly and taking advantage of all of the features available to you.
Product Ratings. If you meet Google Product Rating criteria then ratings can show under your PLA. This feature does require submitting a form to Google however, we know that ratings can heavily influence a purchase decision so it is worth looking over the criteria. If you don’t meet the requirements, it might be good to take them into consideration when you are getting your site ready to run Shopping Ads
Promotions. Another feature that requires retailers to go through an approval process is the Promotions Feature. Promotions allow retailers to enter details and a promo code directly into their ad to help influence a buyer’s decision.
Local Inventory Ads. Not only can you show your online inventory using Google Shopping Ads, you can also show your in-store inventory (true story!). Utilizing the Local Inventory Ads, also available by meeting specific eligibility requirements, you can show searchers who want to buy right now that your product is available in a store. Additionally, using AdWords in-store conversion metric you can estimate the number of people who visited your store after interacting with an AdWords or Local Inventory Ad.
Quick Tip: Don’t have a dedicated Google rep or an agency to keep you up to speed on the latest Google Shopping features? The Interstellar team is always here to help, naturally! But you can also follow the Inside Adwords blog for updates on product features and tune into the Think with Google portal for case studies, consumer trends, and more.