How to Win The Battle on Google’s Product Listing Ads Field

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How to Win The Battle on Google’s Product Listing Ads Field

There’s a battle going on right now and no online store is spared from it. The prize is high: Clicks and conversions and competition fierce.

The battleground: Google’s real estate. And now with the merge of Product Listing Ads into Shopping Campaigns, e-commerce stores have even more ammo to fire at you.

How to Win Battle on Google Product Listing Ads Field

Yes, your competitors might be out doing you in product listing ads. Luckily, you can fight back.

But first, you need to find out what they are doing better.

How Your Competitors Might Be Winning

1. Showing Google Product Ratings

Reviews from previous customers can help purchasers make that final buying decision. Consider this: in their 2007 study, Ae Kim Young and Jaideep Srivastava proved that online shoppers give more trust to information in customer ratings than most other sources. That means you need to focus on those reviews.

Your competitors might be showing Google product ratings, which not only make their ads stand out but also carry more authenticity. Why? Because, according to Ni Yegang, “consumers have more trust on the product on which comments are allowed …”

2. Featuring Better Quality Images

People are nervous about buying products sight unseen. They want to touch and feel a product before the purchase, but of course that’s impossible online. To compensate, you should be offering them high quality product photography. Make it easy for users to zoom in, zoom out, and see your product from all angles.

Images can boost your conversion rates. At the same time, remember that poor product photography can prevent users from clicking on your ads.

In their 2011 study on the effect of images on search listings CTR, Goswami, Chittar and Sung from eBay Search discovered that:

  • Product image features have impact on users search behavior.
  • The lightness of the background is the most correlated feature to CTR (with white background generating the most positive impact on click-through rate).
  • Image features have the power to predict CTR.

3. Offering a Lower Price

How to Win Battle on Google Product Listing Ads Field

Online retailers compete largely on price. Together with convenience and trust, price is considered the main motivator when buying online. It comes as no surprise that we’ve become price hunters always looking for a good deal.

If your competitor offers lower prices, their ads might naturally draw larger interest from potential buyers.

4. Dominating SERPs with Both Adwords and PLAs

Lastly, your competitors may be using PLAs in conjunction with Adwords, further dominating the search real estate. This data from the most recent SEMRush report shows top brands using both PPC and PLAs ads to promote products are beating out brands who focus on PLAs alone.

How to Win Battle on Google Product Listing Ads Field

How You Can Fight Back

1. Find Out Exactly Who Your Competition Is

Start by finding out who exactly to wage war against first. I am going to use my company SEMRush’s new Product Listing Ads Analytics and Reports tool to analyse PLA competition.

There are two ways to go about this task:

A. By Your Own Domain

If you are promoting products with PLAs already, type your domain into the search box and go to PLA research/PLA Competitors.

How to Win Battle on Google Product Listing Ads Field

The report will show you all companies you compete against in PLAs (please note, for now we only show US data) along with additional metrics you might be interested in, including:

Common keywords between your and competitor’s domain to help you better establish how deep the competition goes.

No. of Adwords keywords to help assess how deeply they use Adwords and PLAs.

And more.

B. By Your Competitor Domain

If you’re only planning to use PLAs and want to assess potential competition, follow the same process as above but use your closest competitor’s domain instead.

PLA competitors Report will help you assess other domains they compete against (and ultimately ones you will probably have to compete against as well).

2. Research Their Tactics

First, click the PLA Copies report to see your competitor’s ads. Pay particular attention to:

  • Quality of their images
  • Price
  • Number of keywords they position the ad for.

How to Win Battle on Google Product Listing Ads Field

Next, check out PLA Positions report that offers a deeper insight into your competitors’ strategies:

  • Keywords they target
  • Ad position
  • Keyword search volume
  • SERP source. Clicking on this button will show you how the ad looks on the SERPs page.

How to Win Battle on Google Product Listing Ads Field

Make Changes to Your Feed

Highlight Seasonal Products Using Custom Labels

Google has introduced some changes to Shopping Campaigns recently. One of them is changing Adwords labels into Custom Labels. You are limited to having only five though, so make good use of them. One idea is to use them to highlight seasonal products in your feed.

Update Product Information

PLAs are displayed based on information you specify about a product, not keywords. Therefore update your information to achieve the greatest exposure for your products. You should specifically pay attention to:

  • Product Title. According to research by CPC Strategy, Google weights terms from left to right with those farthest to the left being more relevant than those closer to the end of the title. Update your titles to include the most relevant keywords at the start of the product title.
  • Description. Similar to product titles, you should format your descriptions from left to right. When writing your descriptions, make sure to keep search filters, user intent, and long-tail searches in mind.
  • Custom Labels. With only five labels, try to use them to highlight those products you really want to push in search.

Implement Star Ratings

We’ve already discussed the importance of recommendations; ratings and reviews in building trust and motivating users to buy. So, ensure that star ratings show for your products as well. Google explains:

“These star ratings represent aggregated rating and review data for the product, compiled from multiple sources including merchants, third-party aggregators, editorial sites, and users. A product must have at least 3 reviews in order for product ratings to be eligible to show.“

To have your product reviews appear in PLAs you have to share all your product reviews directly or through third-party websites such as Ekomi or Baazarvoice (full list is here.)

Key Takeaway

Online advertising isn’t easy anymore. Retailers have to constantly fight for clicks and conversions. Gaining an insight into their strategies can help you improve your campaigns and gain a competitive advantage.

All provided data (on screenshots and graphs) are accurate on November 10, 2014  
Fernando Angulo

Fernando Angulo

Head of international partnerships at SEMrush
Fernando Angulo is the head of international partnerships at SEMrush, an online service that provides competitive intelligence including keyword research, paid research and backlink analysis.
Fernando Angulo
Fernando Angulo
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