Google Shopping is by far the most relevant service Google has to offer to eCommerce stores. It lets customers get a glimpse into your store in an accessible way, in the best position of the search engine.
If you set up your marketing activities correctly Shopping Ads can serve as a major profit channel for your store.
Launching and managing campaigns on Google Ads is more complex and challenging than other platforms because of the characteristics and position of consumers within the sales funnel, and of course due to the fierce competition for every relevant keyword.
In order to gain Google’s “sympathy” for your store as well as consumers’ “preference” for your products it’s important to plan and launch your campaigns in a way that takes advantage of and highlights your relative benefits.
We’ve gathered a selection of relevant tips to help you plan properly and make the most out of your Google Shopping campaigns:
1. Integrating your store with Google Merchant Center
In order for you to start advertising on Google Shopping, your products must be set up with another Google system called Merchant Center.
This system is responsible for cataloging your products on Google. Only Google-approved products can appear as shopping ads.
This is a critical step to start running your campaign, and it’s crucial that you pay attention to any comment Google has about your products. It’s important that you provide the information that Google asks for in order to maximize your campaign results.
After all your products are successfully listed in Merchant Center, it’s a great opportunity to make sure your product name and description are well written.
A few things to consider:
- Try to include keywords related to your product’s niche (in the next section we’ll talk about how Google decides on which search terms your product will appear). Each industry has its best practices for writing your product name and description, make sure to do your research in the product category you’re selling in.
- Check that your product name meets the standards set by your competitors.
2. Building a Google Campaign – Standard Shopping Campaign (Not Smart)
Before we get into building our shopping campaign, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between a shopping campaign and a regular search campaign.
In a regular search campaign, you decide which keywords you want your ads to appear on. In a Shopping campaign, Google is the one that decides which keywords match the product you sell.
You have no influence over which keywords your product will appear on, aside from controlling negative keywords. This is why it’s so important that your product name and description contain the right keywords that will help Google get you relevant traffic.
There are many different approaches for campaign building on Google Shopping, we won’t be able to get into all the methods in this article alone. But I do want to touch on some important things to consider when opening a shopping campaign:
The campaign hierarchy is the same as a search campaign (Campaign -> Ad Group).
The main difference is that under Ad Group, instead of ads, you have your Product Group which will include the products you would like to promote.
If after creating the campaign and Ad Group you make no changes to the product group, your Ad Group will send traffic to all approved products in the Merchant center.
If the store you’re advertising has a small amount of products, you may want to run a single ad group with all your products together to start with (there are several ways to approach this, so take this as a general note). When it comes to a store with a lot of products, you have to decide how you want to distribute your products in each campaign or Ad Group in order to gather information that allows you to test, optimize and manage your budget.
I’ll use this example to illustrate:
- Total products in the store: About 400 products
- Total Categories: 10 (suppose each category has the same number of products, meaning 40 products per category)
- After various calculations, or previous information I have from other campaigns, I know I can start with a $0.7 bid
- Average conversion rate per category: 2%
Let’s say I decide to focus on one product category. I would build a campaign that has about 40 products in its product group. In order to collect minimal information on each product in that category I need to give each product a minimum of 50 clicks per conversion (2% conversion rate). Calculating the general budget to reach this state: 0.7 * 50 * 40 (per click * number of clicks * number of products) totals to $1,400. This calculation is very general and does not take into account many variables, but its purpose is to illustrate the importance of choosing the quantity of products in your campaign relative to the budget you want to spend.
3. Analyzing Results
As with campaign building, Shopping campaign optimization has many approaches and methods. I want to put more focus on the aspects that are important to pay attention to and the key places where you can improve your campaign results.
The two main places where you can improve your campaign results are of course in the Google Ads platform, but also in the Merchant Center.
On Google Ads
You will probably spend most of your time here when analyzing the results of each campaign. I will touch on a few key points to note when reviewing your campaign results:
- Search lost IS (budget) – Google shows you on a scale from 0-100% how much potential traffic you ‘miss’ because of your daily budget (with a high percentage referring to more missed exposures).
- Search lost IS (rank) – This column is also related to exposures that you ‘miss’, but this time it’s because of the rank (also on a scale of 0-100%). This is a “score” that your ad receives from Google and involves many parameters (landing page, product relevance to the target audience, name/product description, speed of your website) combined with your bid.
- Analyzing product performance – I would divide the initial product performance scenarios as follows:
- Products that get traffic and don’t generate sales at all – Just before you take the product out of the campaign, try to investigate why it’s not generating sales. Is there a problem on the product page (long loading time, not mobile friendly, etc.)? Is there a general problem with the site’s purchase process? Is there a difference between what customers see in the shopping ad and what the product page actually shows? After all these tests, you will have to decide whether to remove the product from the campaign or make changes to your site.
- Products that generate sales but are not profitable – Do the same tests mentioned above, but also look into the search words that the product appeared on (I’ll elaborate on the issue of irrelevant keywords below).
- Products that generate sales and are profitable – Although it may be tempting, avoid making changes after a low number of sales, wait a few days to see if the product generates a consistent number of sales each day. If it generates sales consistently, you may want to add the product to a separate campaign to give you the freedom of increasing the budget and maximizing your results.
- Identifying Non-Profitable Keywords – At the Ad Group level you can go into search terms and investigate which keywords are generating sales and which are causing you to lose money. If you have decided that a search term is irrelevant to your products or is not profitable for you, simply add it as a negative keyword. Please note, if you run multiple products under the same ad group then decisions that you make on keywords will apply to all products under that ad group.
In the Merchant Center
Because Google categorizes your products and determines which search terms it will appear on, it’s important for all relevant keywords to appear in your product description.
- Photos, names, and product description – Make sure you are aligned with your competitors and best practices in your category. From time to time try changing the wording of your product names to include relevant keywords that your ad didn’t appear on. It’s important not to make too many changes in a short period of time in order to keep track of the changes you make, and whether they have had a positive or negative impact on your results.
- Adding Promotions to Shopping Ads – This is a great tool to highlight your products in search results. You can run various discounts for specific products or all products that run in the campaign that will be displayed on the shopping ad.
Google Shopping is an amazing tool for anyone working in eCommerce. It displays your products at the top of the search engine and appears when people are actively searching for what you’re selling. These are features that you don’t want to miss!