Officially, Google started Google Shopping under the name Froogle. A pun using the term “frugal”, which means being prudent. In 2007, the name was changed to Google Product Search because Google had doubts about whether the global audience would enjoy the pun. Finally, the name was finally changed to Google Shopping in 2012.
At Seeders, we focus on the three main pillars that Google uses to place your products in the Google Shopping results: product feed, website, and Google Ads bidding. Previously, we thought the bids were the most important, but since mid-2020 new assessment factors have been added, that let products rank organically in Shopping. More on this later.
First, it is important that your product feed is in order. We start with evaluating your product feed. Here we mainly look at the structure and adjust the feed where necessary. The best part of it is that we can work efficiently with a feed management system. We are happy to partner with parties such as Channable or ESS in this regard. These platforms offer useful tools with which we can quickly make adjustments to your product feed. Moreover, they also offer ways to display your products on other platforms, such as Amazon, Bol.com, Marktplaats, Beslist.nl, and many more.
We will also enrich your product feed as much as possible with additional data. Think of product reviews on your website or enhancing their visibility when a product is on sale.
A good user experience on the website is highly crucial. Google will look at general things that are also important for your organic performance. Also, it is vital to keep your stocks full. In many web stores, things still go wrong despite the constant replenishing of stocks. In principle, products that are not in stock are excluded from the product feed, but if the data of the product feed is not ‘refreshed’ often enough, it is possible that people click on an ad and then immediately leave (bounced) because the product is not in stock.
The fact that Google Shopping in Google Ads does not use keywords does not mean that it is also easy to maintain. In fact, excluding keywords is even more important to Google Shopping than with regular text ads. After all, your ad for Nike shoes is also triggered when someone searches for “Latest release Nike Air Max shoes”. The terms “Nike Air Max” will appear in your product feed under the brand, category, and description. But you do not want to pay the highest cost per click for such a search term, since there is little chance that someone will order immediately. Due to the high comparison rate of these products, a potential customer will probably first want to understand the product further. It is therefore good to exclude the orienting keywords in a campaign that focuses only on people who are closer to a purchase intention. In this way, the campaign will mainly be triggered when people search with a search term with a higher intention to purchase, such as “Buy Nike Air Max 96′ blue”. Excluding these search terms must be done on a daily basis, we can do this with custom scripts or, if necessary, in collaboration with one of our data science partners such as Adchieve.
Our strategy is therefore to adjust the CPC to the purchasing phase in which the consumer is at that moment. We then get two to four campaigns with the same products, but these are only triggered on one of the shopping funnels Orientation, Interest, Consideration, and Conversion. This way, you never pay too much for your ads. This also means that we can work on the basis of a Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) agreement.
Finally, with Google Shopping, we often work together with the Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) partner Bigshopper. In Google Shopping, there are several comparison sites like Google. As a web store, you can therefore choose to have your shopping ads run directly via the Google comparator or via one of the other providers in the comparison site domain.
However, working with such a CSS partner has become even more important since September 2018. Since 2017, Google has received a series of fines for abuse of power. Google previously made the shopping ads only accessible to webshops, thus depriving comparison sites of the opportunity to compete fairly. Google took steps in this direction by decoupling its own shopping service from Google and establishing it as a separate company. That way, the comparison site Google can compete with other comparison sites in Google Shopping. In order to accommodate these so-called CSS partners even more, and probably also to show goodwill to the government bodies that imposed the fines on them, CSS partners have received all kinds of benefits, such as a 20% discount on the CPC and a refund of 30% of the expenses themselves. Some of these benefits have now been scaled back. But you will still receive a 20% discount on your click costs with a CSS partner. Bigshopper is one of the first comparison sites and has been active since 2007 and is also active in almost all countries in Europe.
What is Google Shopping?
The initial pun is justified, after all, Google Shopping offers consumers the opportunity to compare the same product among different providers. In this way, consumers no longer have to search endlessly for the best price/quality ratio for the product they want to buy. With Google Shopping, the Google Ads arsenal has expanded to include text and display campaigns, and now with shopping campaigns. These campaigns don’t work based on keywords, but based on a product feed. A product feed is a file that contains information about each product on your website. Based on this information, Google Merchant Center (GMC) creates an advertisement for each of your individual products.
Instead of Google looking at the search term set in Google Ads for your text ads, Google looks at the extent to which the search term used matches the information in your product feed. It is therefore advisable to match this information as much as possible with the search behavior. Think of appropriate titles and descriptions, but also ‘product identifiers’ such as an EAN or GTIN code.
That ‘product identifier’ is more important than you might expect. Such an ID is linked to one individual product. When you provide this, you make it very easy for Google to compare the products you offer to those of the competitor. The better Google can recognize and compare your products, the better chances of your products getting displayed.
Product feed information is increasingly important
It will become increasingly important to ensure that your product feed is provided with all the important information. The Verge recently announced that it will be free for companies to list their products on Google Shopping. As of April 27, 2020, it became free for US businesses and will roll out globally in the coming months. Google had had this plan for a while, but given the pandemic situation, Google decided to put this plan into practice earlier, in order to support smaller companies as well. Companies will still be able to continue making payments for top placements in the shopping overview. The organic results will then of course land under the “promoted listings”.