Whether you have an online store or a bricks and mortar shop, Google Shopping Ads can help you reach new customers and make sales. In order to get the best results, though, you need to make sure that your ads are optimised so that they follow best practices.
In the most basic terms, Google Shopping Ad optimisation comes down to providing the information that your customer wants in the most appealing and easy-to-understand way. Fortunately, Google knows a lot about what users want, and their systems are set up to cater for this. You just need to make sure you give the search platform everything it needs to create a great ad.
If you’re completely new to Google Shopping Ads, make sure you first take a look at my other blog, Getting Started With Google Shopping Ads, which will take you through the basics of setting up. Then come back here for a deeper dive into how to optimise your Google Shopping Ads for the best results.
Optimise The Google Product Feed
Unlike most of Google’s other ad types, Shopping Ads don’t allow you to select which keywords your adverts show up for. Instead, Google searches your Product Feed in Merchant Centre and decides which items best match a particular search phrase. This means that, to optimise your Google Shopping Ads, you really need to optimise your Google Product Feed.
The most effective way to set up a Product Feed is to integrate directly with your website. If you’ve done that, when you optimise the products on your website, you’ll be optimising your Product Feed at the same time. That’s two birds with one stone!
If, instead, you add information to your Product Feed manually, then you will need to optimise via your upload method (often a spreadsheet).
Include Plenty of Information
In general, the more information you provide about your products, the better Google can match them to relevant searches. Including plenty of details also means that you can reach those users who are looking for something very specific.
Remember, a more detailed search usually indicates that a user is ready to buy (rather than browsing or conducting initial research).
There are a number of elements that make up your product ad and the more of these you can complete, the better. Some of the main categories include:
This is what Google will look at first so make sure it’s to-the-point, relevant and descriptive. It’s best to pick a target keyword to focus on, but don’t keyword stuff in an effort to get better results. The main descriptors of your product are also useful to include here to help users looking for something more specific. Think about including colour, size, style, brand, model and/or standout features.
One of the best things about Shopping Ads is that they include an image, making them more eye-catching and attention-grabbing.
The product image should be a professional photo that shows your product clearly. The most effective tend to have plain backgrounds. There are also a number of rules and best practices to follow: you shouldn’t overlay text, don’t use placeholders, and follow the minimum size requirements.
Shoppers definitely want to know what they’ll be paying for an item, so make sure you include a price in the listing. If you are price competitive, all the better, as shopping ads are often used for comparison shopping.
Though customers won’t see the product category, it’s still an important element to your listing. Google will use this to match your product with the right search terms.
You’ll pick the product category from a set list of over 5,500 categories and sub-categories. The more precise you can be, the better. So using the specific sub-category of Cat Toys is much better than selecting the general category of Animals & Pet Supplies.
The product description is your chance to expand on the title with more keywords and secondary keywords. Again, you shouldn’t keyword stuff by throwing in as many mentions of the same or similar phrases as possible, but choose the most important to focus on. Recognise the difference between detailed and spammy.
When writing the description, consider whether you’re creating something that’s useful to a real person looking for information, or if they’re just going to be hit with repetitive and uninformative text.
Special promotions can really help you stand out from your competitors and Google will help you promote these by using overlays highlighting offers.
There are several promotional options:
Discounts: Money off, ‘2-for-1’ type deals and cash back all count as discounts. When these are active, your ad will show with an overlay highlighting the offer. Discounts must be genuine – don’t falsely inflate the usual price in order to add a discount.
Free gifts: Offer a gift card or an additional item to customers who buy your product
Shipping: If you provide discounted or free shipping, make sure you include this information in the Merchant Centre so Google can display that in your ad.
Ratings and reviews are one of the most influencing factors on buying decisions. If you take ratings for your products (and I recommend that you do), then you can share these on your Shopping Ads.
If you have at least 50 reviews across all your products in Merchant Centre, then you will be eligible for Product Ratings. You can add these to your account either manually (at least once a month), via a third-party aggregator, or by collecting reviews directly via Google.
Google matches products and reviews based on industry-standard information such as GTINs and SKU, so you should include these in your product listing to ensure ratings can be assigned.
There are numerous other details you can include, some of which are specific to certain categories of product (such as apparel). Some are required in order to list your item, and others are optional, but you should fill in as many optional items as you can. Remember, the more information you provide, the more data Google has to ensure it shares your products with the right customers.
Though you can’t pick keywords for Shopping Ads, keyword research is still a useful way of optimising your listings. You can find the phrases and descriptors users most search for. This, in turn, can help you write effective titles and descriptions that are most relevant to your users. Google Search Console is a great place to start for free keyword research.
Review and Adjust
For any kind of advertising or SEO, it’s important to monitor performance and make adjustments depending on the results. Because it’s not an exact art, keeping an eye on performance helps you find the best actions for your particular products. User behaviour also changes as time goes by, so you want to be able to adapt for this.
Compare and adapt
If one particular product is doing much better than others, analyse the listing and decide what about it is performing better. Is it just a more popular product, or is there something about the image, description, or title that makes it more appealing? Use this to influence your other products and see if you see the same change in results.
Experiment with changes
Don’t be afraid to try different things. If something doesn’t seem to be working, update the image, change the text, or focus on different keywords and see if there are any improvements in your results.
Even if a product is doing okay, changing things around will help you get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, which will improve your listings in the future. It’s a good idea to keep track of previous iterations of a listing so, if your experimentation doesn’t yield better results, you can go back to the original setup.
When making changes, it’s best to go small. Think of it as nudging an ad in the right direction, rather than shoving it. By using small changes you can fine-tune – big changes will often mean it’s harder to identify exactly what’s working and what’s not.
Use negative keywords
Although you can’t use keywords in Shopping Ads, you can use negative keywords, those keywords you don’t want your ads to show for. By using them, you can refine your audience and target kinds of people who are more likely to purchase. Negative keywords can be added via the Google Ads campaign interface.
You can also use negative keywords to stop your ad showing for low-performing phrases. Even if a search phrase is relevant, if you aren’t seeing a return on investment from it, you may want to consider adding it as a negative keyword.
Make use of Campaigns and Ad Groups
Though there are a number of ways you can use Campaigns and Ad Groups to structure your advertising, one way to optimise is to use them to group products with similar returns on ad spend. This will allow you to tell Google to aim for a certain ad spend target that will suit those particular products.
The real key to optimising your Google Shopping Ads is in optimising your Product Feed. By providing helpful, relevant and detailed information about each of your products, you give Google more information to match with suitable buyers. Focus on creating a good product listing and you will see improved results from your ads.