Google Shopping is a service offered by Google that allows users to search for products on online shopping websites and compare prices between different vendors.

It's a powerful platform for merchants and advertisers to showcase their products directly in Google's search results and on the Google Shopping tab. Here's a beginner's guide to understanding Google Shopping:

1. How it Works for Users:

  1. Search for a Product: When users search for a product on Google, if there are relevant products from Google Shopping, they might appear in a special box on the search results page or in the dedicated 'Shopping' tab.
  2. See Product Listings: These listings include a product image, price, store name, and sometimes additional information like reviews.
  3. Compare Prices: Users can easily compare prices and products from different retailers to make an informed decision.
  4. Click to Buy: Clicking on a product will typically redirect the user to the retailer's website where they can make a purchase.

2. How it Works for Merchants:

  1. Merchant Center Account: To get started, merchants need to set up a Google Merchant Center account. This is where they upload product data and manage their Google Shopping feed.
  2. Upload Product Feed: Merchants provide a detailed list of their products in a specific format (product feed). This feed includes data like product ID, title, description, price, image URL, and more.
  3. Google Ads Account: Google Shopping campaigns are managed via Google Ads. Merchants need to link their Google Ads account to the Merchant Center.
  4. Setting Up Campaigns: Advertisers can set up Shopping campaigns in Google Ads, setting budgets, bidding strategies, and targeting options.
  5. Pay-per-click Model: Just like other Google Ads services, Google Shopping operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) model. This means merchants pay a certain amount each time a user clicks on their product listing.

3. Key Features:

  1. Product Listing Ads (PLAs): These are the visual ads that appear on Google Search, showcasing a product's image, price, and retailer.
  2. Local Inventory Ads: If a merchant has a physical store, they can use Local Inventory Ads to show users that a product is available nearby.
  3. Showcase Shopping Ads: These are a collection of related products that appear when a user searches for broader terms (like "summer dresses").

4. Benefits of Using Google Shopping:

  1. Highly Visual: Product images can immediately attract users.
  2. Targeted Reach: Products appear when users specifically search for related items, increasing the chance of a purchase.
  3. Broad Exposure: Products can appear in Google Search, the Shopping tab, and even on YouTube and Google Images.

5. Best Practices:

  1. Optimized Product Data: Ensure product titles, descriptions, and images are clear and high-quality. The more accurate and enticing your data, the better your listings will perform.
  2. Competitive Pricing: Regularly check competitors' prices and adjust accordingly.
  3. Use Promotions: Highlight sales and discounts to make your listings more attractive.
  4. Regularly Update Your Feed: This ensures that your product information is always up-to-date.

To make the most out of Google Shopping, it's important for merchants to continuously optimize their product listings and campaigns, monitor their performance, and adapt based on the data and insights they gather.

Photo by Clay Banks / Unsplash

Understand product data for Google Shopping

The basic product data for Google Shopping feed refers to the essential information that every product submitted to Google Merchant Center should have for it to be displayed correctly in Google Shopping results. The specific requirements may vary based on the product and country of sale, but generally, the following attributes are considered as the basic product data:

  1. ID (id): A unique identifier for each product. This should remain consistent for each product to avoid confusing Google's system.
  2. Title (title): The name of the product. It should be clear and descriptive, matching the product page.
  3. Description (description): A detailed description of the product. It should be accurate and provide relevant details, without any promotional text.
  4. Link (link): The direct URL to the product's page on your website. It should be a working, canonical link.
  5. Image Link (image_link): The URL of the product's main image. High-quality images increase the likelihood of clicks.
  6. Availability (availability): Indicates if the product is in stock, out of stock, or on preorder. Google is able to determinate if an item is out of stock from a push to another. This means that if a product is present in a feed today but not tomorrow, they will assume that this specific item is out of stock. That being said, you can only push products in stock. Note that Preorder [preorder] and Backorder [backorder] are also available if applicable for your industry. Provide the availability date [availability_date] attribute (with a value up to 1 year in the future) if the availability is set to preorder.
  7. Price (price): The price of the product. It should match the price on the product page and include the currency. If you want to display promotion prices, Google provides Sale price [sale_price] also called Effective price. You can also pass the sale price effective date [sale_price_effective_date] to let Google adjusts the price based on when your add is running / ending.
  8. Google Product Category (google_product_category): This is a category from Google's taxonomy that best describes your product. Some products may require this attribute to provide clearer information about the type of product being sold. Note that Google provides a specific product taxonomy with codes that you will have to match whatever is your product category structure on your shop.
  9. Product Type [product_type] : Use the product type [product_type] attribute to include your own product categorization system in your product data. Unlike the Google product category [google_product_category] attribute, which uses a collection of predefined categories, you choose which value to include for product type. It is used for reports purposes and can follow your internal taxonomy with no problem.
  10. Brand (brand): The brand or manufacturer of the product. This is especially essential for products where the brand is a significant factor in the purchasing decision.
  11. Identifier exists [identifier_exists] attribute to indicate that unique product identifiers (UPIs) aren’t available for your product. Unique product identifiers are submitted using the GTIN [gtin], MPN [mpn], and brand [brand] attributes. Depending on the type of product you submit, you'll submit different identifiers. Products without GTIN, MPN and Brand can be added with Identifier exists set to 'No' as follow.
  12. GTIN (gtin): The Global Trade Item Number, which is a globally unique identifier for products. It's often required for products with a GTIN assigned, like books (ISBN) or electronics.
  13. MPN (mpn): Manufacturer Part Number, used to identify a specific product when a GTIN isn't available.
  14. Shipping [shipping]: The shipping [shipping] attribute lets you provide shipping speed and cost for a product. It is allowed to display the highest amount for regular shipping/delivery. There is also an option to configure regions and fees accordingly.
  15. Unit pricing measure [unit_pricing_measure]: If customers might be interested in the price per unit for your product and it falls into one of the following categories, then we recommend that you submit the unit pricing measure [unit_pricing_measure] attribute.

You know (almost) everything about product data for Google Shopping. The next step is to set up your Merchant Center Account and test an initial manual upload to see how Google interprets your data. We'll come back to the different ways of submitting your feed to Google in another article.

Share this post