[Google Shopping Tutorial] What it is, when to use it, and how to sell more with it

google-shopping-visuel

We have already mentioned several times that a new online shop’s main problem is getting traffic.

We explained some options such as SEO and Facebook Ads to generate this traffic but there is a much less known option that works quite well: Google Shopping .

If you still don’t know about this tool and you are looking for a way to raise the number of your online store’s sales through Google, keep reading and we can assure you that when you finish this article you will be registering yourself on Google Shopping.

What is Google Shopping and how does it work?

Have you ever used Google and searched with words such as “camera”,  “watches”, “sofas” or “mobile phones”?

If you have, surely you saw a section called “Google Shopping Results” in the upper or left side of the screen that is different, with images of products. Before it was surely you saw a section called “Google Shopping Results” and now it’s accompanied by the “sponsored” text.

In addition, there is a special tab just for “Shopping” where you can see all of the advertised products.

Google Shopping does a great work for price comparison.

But be careful, it doesn’t provide organic results. Before you can see your products shown there, you have to pay a fee. Let’s analyze it deeply from both the user’s point of view as well as that of a seller.

Google shopping as a buyer

You probably have the sensation that Shopping is not very well known for most users. However, the statistics tell a different story. According to a study, 76.4% of money spent on publicity by retailers was spent on Google Shopping.

That means that sellers are investing in it because buyers actually click and increase the conversion rate.

The people at Google realized that the Shopping Ads section had taken a more prominent role bit by bit.

The way that it tries to satisfy users is by offering information about the price of the product you search for in different online shops.

Google collects the information that sellers send it (we’ll see how to do that later) and offers that information to potential buyers.

As a seller and e-commerce shop owner, you need to know this tool. And if you invest in AdWords but you don’t in Shopping, you should give it a try.

We are now going to see the other side, the seller’s point of view.

How does Google Shopping work as a seller?

Do you invest money in Facebook Ads?

In AdWords?

We’ve seen many cases in which online shops invest a lot in those platforms without even considering Shopping.

These products ads are shown at the very top of the results page, even before the organic results themselves and before AdWords ads as well.

The transactional searches that trigger these ads follow the visual presentation of Google Shopping and the privileged position is click magnet that you should take advantage of.

This Google tool works in a similar way to Adwords since the seller can upload their products and bid to have them appear when someone looks for the keywords defined in their campaign. 

For example, if you have a camera shop, you can bid to appear when people look for keywords such as “cameras”, “Nikon cameras” or even specific long tails suchs as “Nikon D5200m camera”.

Once your products appear as Google Results the users will decide whether to click on your product or not.

Important

If they do, Google will charge you an amount of money that will depend on the Cost Per Click (CPC) and the bid made for that keyword in this campaign.

If your bid is too low, you will never appear and if it is too high you will end up paying too much and raising the cost per lead.

Differences and similarities between Google AdWords and Google Shopping

Do you have doubts about where to invest? We are going to shed some light on the SEM world.

Both tools show up on the Google results pages that you have to pay for. Advertisers pay in order to have their websites and products displayed to users.

The other side of it, the so called organic or SEO, is made up of results that are shown because of their quality—for free (if you are interested in improving the SEO for your online shop, read this post).

This is the layout of a results page (SERP) when users search with the intent of making a purchase.

Highlighted in purple and appearing first you can see the Google Shopping results. These results show:

  • A picture
  • A short description of the product
  • The most recent price
  • The shop selling it
  • Extra information, such as review stars
  • “By Google”: there is a long explanation, including legal proceedings, which you will find out later.

Highlighted in yellow you can see AdWords results. You also have to pay for them, but instead of highlighting any particular product, they show shops where you can buy that or other similar products.

Lastly, in green, you have the organic results that secured top positions thanks to good SEO.

Which is the best strategy?

A combination of the three. As always, the key is to measure over and over. If the ROI from one platform is better, you should put all your efforts into that one.

Google Shopping + Google AdWords + ROI analysis = SEM success

Advantages and disadvantages of using Google Shopping

After having seen a results page like that, it looks like a great opportunity, right? Let’s see if it’s true.

Advantages

We can’t hide the fact that there are some good things. :)

  • Visibility: The fact that Google Shopping results are the first to appear is a really good thing. People click just because of the location alone.
  • Images: Neither AdWords nor organic results show images. Shopping results show an image that, if well taken, will grab your attention immediately.
  • Purchase intent: Transactional searches have a high conversion rate. If someone is looking for a product, it is pretty clear that they have the intention of buying it.

Let’s take a look at the less desirable side of things.

Disadvantages

  • There is no guarantee that you will be shown: You can follow every step that Google told you to, check everything, and still see that it literally passes over your products.
  • Price competition: Shopping is a price comparison engine. This means that you will fight to see who sells the same product cheaper. In this battle you will face the giants like Amazon and eBay, to name some examples.
  • Mistrust: Users normally trust organic results better. After all, Shopping shows ads and they will always serve their own interests.
  • Need for updates: The way of telling Google about your prices and data about your products is through a spreadsheet that you have to update every time you modify the price on your website. It is another task to add the long to do list that you already have.

Well, and the following one is more of a requirement than a disadvantage.

In order to be part of it, your website has to have a SSL certificate—something that is 100% essential for any e-commerce shop.

How to insert your products into Google Shopping

To start using Google Shopping you need to follow these four steps:

  1. Register your online shop with Google Merchant : first click here and register your online shop’s URL with Google Merchant.
  2. Create an account with Google Adwords : use the Gmail account associated with Analytics or Google Search Console and create your Adwords account here .
  3. Create a Google Shopping campaign : in Adwords, click on “Campaigns”, then click on “+ CAMPAIGN” and then “Shopping”. You will need to fill in all the basic campaign details (budget, segments, location, and so on).
  4. Add your products : the information needed to upload your products is the item ID, name, description, link to the product, image, product status, price, category and availability. Sometimes other details are needed such as the ISBN for books, the commercial brand or the maker identification. You will do this through a Google Sheet that is then uploaded to Google Merchant Center, although you can also do it through plugins or extensions. Here you can see some for WooCommerce, for PrestaShop, and for Magento.

After following these four steps and once Adwords has approved them, your products will start appearing on Google.

However, remember that it is a bidding system, so you will never know 100% if your product will be shown.

Eight tips to success with Google Shopping

Creating a Google Shopping campaign is really easy, as you have just seen. However, succeeding and earning a profit is not that easy. Do you want to know the 5 main tricks to doing it? Keep on reading!

  1. Appealing images: nobody will click on poor quality images. You should use pictures with a neutral white background and in which your product can be clearly seen.
  2. Bid to appear in the 2nd or 3rd position: being the first on Google Shopping is expensive and unnecessary. Normally, users will open 3-4 results in different tabs, so being the second or third will save you hundreds on Adwords. You can optimise your bids weekly to stay in these first few positions.
  3. Work on the title: Use a short but eye-catching and description. Analyze those used by your competitors and improve on it.
  4. Stars: 1 to 5 stars can be shown. Google uses Schema markup with the reviews on your site, reviews aggregators, and consumers’ opinions. You can read more about that here.
  5. Divide your campaigns by hours: researchers says that people who buy online do it most often between Monday and Thursday in the mornings. However, it is better if you check which hours are better. Create campaigns for different time ranges and control the CPC of each of them.
  6. Prioritise the best products: you know perfectly well which products are the best-selling items in your online shop, don’t you? Select them on your campaign so the budget is mainly spent on them. If you choose otherwise, you may see how your money is spent promoting products with a low conversion rate. The best way of doing it is through negative keywords. This means telling Google which words you don’t want to trigger your ads.
  7. Use labels: Good stock classification system will help both Google and users. Have a look at the official information.
  8. Revise the prices: if you cannot compete with other sellers that appear side by side with your products, leave the platform. You will get few clicks and it will not be worth it, unless it is an specific niche in which it does not matter. If you choose to go on with it, keep the feed updated regarding your prices.

And, as you have read a million times in this blog: measure the conversion.

With that, let’s jump into a different topic. Last year there was breaking news about a polemic problem regarding Google Shopping.

Here’s what happened:

The polemic with Google Shopping and price comparison engines

There was a time in the late 2000s when prices comparisons became really popular. After almost every search you could see results from Ciao, Twenga, Kelkoo, and so on.

Google took note of the trend, and since it was in a privileged position, wanted to get in on the action.

Do you remember that Ciao was the king of SERPs? It belonged to Microsoft and it was stealing Google’s spotlight.

Its first price comparison was called Froggle, which evolved into Google Product Search and eventual the current Google Shopping.

And, just like that, Google positioned its own product comparison ahead of everyone else’s.

That didn’t seem to be illegal in the United States, but it was here in Spain and the European Commission started an investigation for “abusing a dominant position”.

The proceedings lasted 8 years and it wasn’t until 2017 when they came out with a decision.

According to that decision, placing its price comparison results in front of all the rest was detrimental to other comparison engines that had to fight for a top first position within the organic results.

What changed after this decision from the European Commission?

During the negotiations, Google had offered to “share” Shopping with the others while keeping the two first positions for itself—the best ones.

That option wasn’t accepted in Europe and the end result was that everyone could offer their products through Google Shopping.

Do you remember how mentioned that the “By Google” text had a long story behind it? Well, upon opening the doors to competitors, Google had to indicate from which comparison your results were coming.

As you can imagine, the large majority of the products you see are followed by that “By Google” text.

Summary and strategy

We have already read about the advantages and disadvantages. We know the history and the polemic. It’s time to make decisions.

When is it advisable to invest in these ads?

Although each sector and each e-commerce shop is different, we have tried to summarize the situations in which it would be beneficial to use Google Shopping to advertise your shop. If you are in one of these situations, don’t miss out:

  • Your website has a good conversion rate: If after trying different sources of traffic you have realized that your product card is a conversion machine, then try Shopping Ads.
  • Lots of transactional searches: If there are many people looking for a product with a clear intent to purchase. Have a look at keywords including “price”, “buy”, or “where to buy”.
  • Competitive price: Can you offer a price that competes well in the market? Remember that you will face giants who won’t hesitate to drastically lower some of their products’ prices.

If you meet these three requirements, our best advice is to try it out with your best products. You will gain experience, optimize your ads, and be ready for new opportunities.

Are you ready to start advertising your products with Google Shopping?

Carefully analyse everything you do with Google Shopping and improve bit by bit taking your own data into account.

When used properly, this tool could be even more effective than Google Adwords because the images and the prices grab the customer’s attention more effectively.

Let’s get started!