What did we ever do before online shopping? The ease of browsing your favourite stores and easily sourcing specific products from the comfort of your own home. Ecommerce has truly transformed purchasing behaviour and retailers have had to adapt, innovate and optimise their online presence to ensure they meet customer demands.
If you’re not yet advertising your products on Google Shopping or currently wasting money on an unoptimised feed, I’m afraid you're losing out on sales. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you better understand Google shopping, it’s benefits, and how to set up an effective Google shopping feed.
What is a Google Shopping feed?
Google Shopping is a service that enables shoppers to search, compare and shop products from various retailers who pay to advertise their products on the search engine.
Google draws information directly from your website via a feed, and identifies which products are the most relevant to show for a searchers query. What is a shopping feed I hear you ask…Your feed is the direct link from your website’s product inventory into Google. For smaller merchants, it can be in spreadsheet or XML format. However if you plan to upload a large number of feeds or make frequent changes to your product data, it is strongly recommended that you use the Content API (instead of feeds) to directly upload your product data.
The more information you contain in your feed, the greater the performance in the shopping channel. Your feed is controlled within a Google Merchant Centre account, which you will need to setup prior to launching on Google Shopping. This account is free and straight forward to get up and running.
Step by step optimisation of your Google Shopping feed
There are over 55 attributes that makeup Google's product data specification, however you can breathe a sigh of relief because they aren't all compulsory. Next we’ll outline the ones that you do need and how to ensure each attribute is optimised.
Let’s get started…
First and foremost, you need to have a unique product ID for each of your products. This can be whatever you choose, but it's recommended to use the SKU where possible.
When Google is looking for relevant website results, the first thing considered is your product title. It’s important to use as much relevant info here as you can. Not only should you use the products name, but include keywords if you can. E.g. If you’re selling a Black and Decker drill, don’t just include ‘Black & Decker BCK25S2S’ as the title. Although this may be the name, you should also include relevant keywords, such as ‘Black & Decker Hammer Drill BCK25S2S’. Users might be searching for specific items, but they might be searching general keywords too, such as “hammer drill”. If you don’t have relevant content in your product title, Google won’t know which searches you want to show for.
Product image plays a huge part in attracting searchers to click on your shopping ads. Your image choice holds importance in appealing to searchers more so than showcasing ad relevance to Google itself. Treat your image choice like a first impression, it’s the first thing people will notice when they see your ad. Make it professional, eye catching and free from distractions.
A backend feature, Google uses your product category to populate shopping search results for users. Product category is a required field in your Google shopping feed and the more accurate you are with your subcategory choice, the more relevant your products and ads will be to searchers.
Be specific, for example, if you sell hairbands, categorise as follows:
Apparel & Accessories > Accessories> Hair accessories > Hairbands
Back to the customer facing features, the product description appears below your product title and to the right of the product image. Your product description should be optimised for search and written with customers in mind. Make sure your description reads well and makes sense; don’t keyword stuff in the hope of appearing higher in search results, instead it may hurt your ranking. Provide value for searchers and clarity for Google using accurate keywords.
Unique Product Identifier
A Unique Product Identifier (UPI) is assigned to products by the manufacturer, so if you’re selling the same product as another retailer, the UPIs will be identical. There are 3 UPIs you can use; brand, GTIN (barcode) and MPN. However, some products, such as custom-made items won’t have a barcode. If this is the case, make sure to tell Google in your product feed.
Tell searchers and Google how much you’re charging for your product. Make sure that the price in your product feed matches the landing page you’re directing users to; a price mismatch not only confuses users but also tells Google that something isn’t right, risking your ad not showing. The currency in your product feed should also match the landing page and use currency conversion to target a different country using a different currency.
The availability attribute tells users whether or not the product is in stock. Choose from ‘in stock’, ‘out of stock’ or ‘preorder’ (for new items that will soon be available) in your product feed. As with the price feature, make sure the stock availability in your product feed matches the product landing page. To ensure efficiency, it’s a good idea to set up automatic item updates, which pulls stock status from your landing page.
When users click on your ad, they’re sent to a landing page to view the advertised product. Make sure to add the correct URL for the product page to your shopping feed.