Ever since Google Shopping transitioned into a monetized service last year, marketers have been looking for ways to get the most out of it. After all, the service is making quite a name for itself. In fact, in the fourth quarter of 2012, Google Shopping sent 96 percent more traffic to sellers compared to Amazon Product Ads.
For some marketers, the approach to Google Shopping is to treat it like any other comparison shopping engine (CSE). While Google Shopping is a CSE, it also acts a lot like paid search. This makes sense when you consider how seamlessly consumers can flip back and forth between search, shopping, and product listing ads within Google. It’s not uncommon to see clicks start in one of these channels and then lead to a conversion in another.
Because of this close interaction, you can be successful in Google Shopping by applying many of today’s proven paid search strategies, yet not all of them will work. With this in mind, here are three key points to know about Google Shopping as well as five ways marketers can improve their campaign results on Google Shopping.
Three Key Facts for Google Shopping Marketers
- You optimize for product targets, not keywords.
- You can’t see your Quality Score or average position on the page.
- Raising bids doesn’t necessarily boost search results.
Recognizing these key facts, here are five ways you can improve your marketing results within Google Shopping.
Five Ways to Improve Google Shopping Results
1. Understand product target bidding and feeding the feed. Search marketers are used to bidding on keywords in Google AdWords, but as cited above, Google Shopping is a bit different in that you bid on product targets that are specified within your feed.
More specifically, in Google Shopping, Google combs your feed with each query and determines which products are relevant based on the information you provide. Since keyword-specific bidding is not allowed, you tell Google Shopping the kinds of products, rather than the keywords, you are willing to pay more for.
You do this by labeling products in your feed and setting up ad groups to target each category with a specific bid in AdWords. It’s best to segment your products into groups that are similar in price, performance, and average order value.
This leads us to the importance of optimizing your feed since it’s directly tied to where your products appear on Google Shopping search engine results page. Making sure your product title, description, and image describe your product as closely as possible will create a greater likelihood of your offerings being shown in relevant searches.
Also, since Google also gives your feed a Quality Score that you’re unable to see, you want to check that your feed is properly labeled, error free and up to date in order to maintain a high score. Small errors can have a big impact on your brand and results. As you continually improve the feed, be sure you submit these changes regularly to Google so you can make the most of your presence on Google Shopping.
2. Be consistent in your pricing and offers. Since paid search ads and product listing ads can be seen in Google search, it’s important to highlight and be consistent about differentiators, including promotions, in each listing. This ensures each ad is competitive in its own right while also reinforcing your brand and products as the searcher sees your ads across the different channels.
3. Identify and apply negative search terms. While you have less power over where your ads appear and which search queries they align with, you can gain more control by identifying negative search terms and using them to your advantage.
A closer look at your search query reports will alert you to the terms that are making/losing money and where you should be blocking unnecessary impressions.
By calling out the terms that you don’t want to be associated with and adding them to your negative search term list, you can avoid unprofitable clicks and save money.
4. Spend time on product titles in your feed. Treat the writing of titles in your product feed like you would a headline for PPC. Including keywords and your brand in the headline are always a good strategy for boosting CTR. Watch the length, though. While Google will allow 70-characters to be entered in the title, it is often truncated after 20 characters in the Google Shopping results.
5. Budget and bid accordingly. Since Google Shopping doesn’t allow you to see your average position on the page or give you insight to the Quality Score of your feed, there may be a temptation to increase your bid with the assumption this will deliver improvements in both and, therefore, better results.
Be cautious about this knee-jerk approach in Google Shopping as it isn’t a sure fire formula. In many instances, raising a bid only increases the cost, but doesn’t necessarily drive more traffic. Instead, take a closer look at your negative terms and then test thoroughly before you commit to a sizable bump in your bids.
There’s no question that Google Shopping will continue to evolve as search marketers and Google drive greater awareness and adoption of it. Yet before you immerse yourself completely in Google Shopping, you may want to start by focusing on your top selling and most competitively priced products. From there, consider adopting the best practices outlined above and then expanding your program.