Google has upped its eCommerce game recently, becoming a sales channel in its own right.
Google Shopping is changing the ways shoppers search, discover, and buy products online, which means you need to change the way you reach, target, and convert them.
In this A-Z guide of Google Shopping, we’re covering everything you need to know about the service, including what is Google Shopping and why it’s important, and how to get set up with the main features, including:
- Google Shopping ads
- Google Shopping reviews
- Google Shopping fast shipping tags
- Buy on Google
Read it, print it, and bookmark it for future reference.
What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is a Google service that enables users to search for items, find sellers, compare results, and buy products.
The feature has changed drastically since its early days, when it was just indexed product data. In 2012, Google Shopping became a ‘pay to play’ model, with merchants paying to display Google Shopping results. In 2020, Google moved towards a marketplace model, offering merchants free and paid-for space and shoppers an easy way to find, compare and buy products on the platform.
Fun fact: Google Shopping was originally known as Froogle
There are four main features of Google Shopping:
- Google Shopping tab: a tab on the Google search results page, where users can browse, search, and filter for free and paid-for listings from different merchants.
- Google Shopping ads: PPC (pay per click) ads that appear at the top of the Google search results and on the Google Shopping tab.
- Google Shopping reviews: customer reviews about products and sellers that appear alongside Google Shopping listings and product comparisons.
- Buy on Google: a feature that allows shoppers to buy products without leaving Google (formerly Google Shopping Actions).
Why use Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is an essential part of any eCommerce business’ tool kit for five primary reasons:
1) To reach your audience
48% of shoppers start their product search on a search engine, and we expect this figure to increase following the recent improvements to Google Shopping. Google Shopping ensures your products are where the majority of your potential customers are – allowing you to reach them before your competitors can.
2) To target shopper intent
Google Shopping targets people who are actively searching for products to buy – they have a huge purchase intent. This audience is much easier to engage, and targeting them results in more qualified leads visiting your website (reducing that all-important bounce rate).
3) To rank at the top of the Google
Paid Google Shopping ads receive prime real estate on the search results and Google Shopping tab. Your products appear above both the Search Ads and organic results, making customers more likely to see and click your listings.
4) To show shoppers your products and relevant information
Google Shopping listings are visually more appealing than text-based Search Ads. They contain the product image, price, description, review, and even fast shipping tags. This helps your ad stand out and gives shoppers an overview of your products before they click through, helping reduce cart abandonment, too.
5) To maximize impressions
Google Shopping listings enable you to appear multiple times on the SERP (search engine results page), as a Google Shopping ad, Search Ad, and organic result. This maximizes impressions which creates brand awareness and familiarity.
But enough about the benefits of Google Shopping, let’s delve into the main Google Shopping features and set you up to start increasing conversions.
Google Shopping ads
What are Google Shopping ads?
Google Shopping ads are PPC ads that appear at the top of the Google search results and Google Shopping tab.
Google Shopping ads differ visually from Search Ads because they include a product image, title, price, and retailer name, alongside optional information such as shipping speed and product reviews. This makes them hugely attractive, engaging, and useful for online shoppers, resulting in 30% higher conversion rates than text ads.
There are two types of Shopping ads:
- Standard Shopping: these ads are limited to the Search Network but are completely customizable, giving you control over campaigns, optimization, and bidding strategies.
- Smart Shopping: these ads appear across the Search Network, Display Network, Search Partners, YouTube, and Gmail but have limited customization options and only allow automated bidding strategies.
And there are two types of Shopping ad groups:
- Product Shopping ads: ads that display a single product matching a specific search term, for example, “vitamin C cleanser.”
- Showcase Shopping ads: ads that display multiple products matching a general search term, for example, “cleansers.” Note that Google stopped servicing Showcase Shopping ads from April 1st 2021.
How do Google Shopping ads work?
Google Shopping connects to a product feed containing details of your products and uses this information to match products with relevant search queries and automatically populate the ad contents. This differs from Search Ads, where you create the ad copy yourself.
A simple example of a Google Shopping ad in action is:
- A shopper searches for “curly hair shampoo” in Google
- Google’s algorithm finds a curly hair shampoo in your product data
- Google uses your product data to create an ad
- The ad appears alongside competitor ads
- The shopper clicks your ad and is taken to the relevant product page
The Google algorithm’s decision to choose your ad over a competitor’s ad comes down to your Ad Rank.
Ad Rank is a value that determines whether Google shows your ad, where it’s shown relative to other ads, and how much you’re charged per click. In calculating your Ad Rank, Google considers:
- Bid amount
- Ad quality (expected click-through and conversion rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience)
- Auction competitiveness
- Context of the person’s search (e.g., location, device, time, search terms)
- Other ads and search results displayed
How much do Google Shopping ads cost?
Google Shopping ads are charged per click, meaning you only pay when a shopper clicks your ad and lands on your website.
The average CPC (cost per click) for Google Shopping ads is $0.66, but this figure fluctuates depending on the products you sell, the time of year, and the competitive landscape. Current category averages are:
- Health and beauty = $0.87
- Child and infant care = $0.82
- Pet care = $0.36
- Clothing and apparel = $0.69
- Home and garden – $0.58
How to add products to Google Shopping
To run Google Shopping ads (or free listings), you must first link your products with the Google Merchant Center (GMC):
1. Create a Google Merchant Center account
Sign up for a Google Merchant Center account and follow the instructions to verify your store domain using Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, or a meta tag on your website.
2. Optimize your product imagery and descriptions
Google pulls product information directly from your website, to optimize your product listings and ensure:
- They meet Google’s guidelines
- They’re accurate
- They’re attractive to customers
3. Create your product data feed
Your product feed is a file containing your product information in a format compatible with Google Shopping’s requirements. It includes data such as product ID, title, description, link, image link, category, availability, and price.
You can create your own product data feed using a spreadsheet, but this is time-consuming, complicated, and often error-prone (which prevents your products from being listed).
Alternatively, you can use a Google Shopping app to create a direct feed between your eCommerce platform and GMC. Recommended product feed apps include:
- Shopify: use the Google Shopping app and follow the setup wizard.
- BigCommerce: use Sales & Orders (a BigCommerce partner) or other popular apps, including DataFeedWatch and GoDataFeed.
These apps have the added benefit of syncing future product updates to GMC automatically.
4. Add your product data feed to GMC
A product data app will automatically send your product feed to GMC. If you’re manually creating a feed, then simply head to Products > Feed in GMC, and click the blue plus icon to upload.
Tip: GMC checks the health of your product feed and highlights errors under Products > Diagnostics. Clear urgent errors (the red ones) immediately by following the on-screen instructions.
5. Configure shipping and tax settings
Google Shopping considers shipping costs and taxes when displaying prices and making price comparisons with other retailers. Therefore, you must add the relevant shipping and tax information to GMC to ensure advertised prices are accurate.
To add shipping information, click the wrench icon and head to Shipping and Returns. Create a shipping service to choose your delivery coverage (either all products nationwide or a subset of products and zip codes) and set the relevant shipping rate. You’ll also be prompted to add an order cut-off time, handling time, and transit time
To add tax information, click the wrench icon and head to Tax. Create and define the tax rates, depending on your location and the locations you send to.
6. Link your Google AdWords account
Finally, link GMC with your Google AdWords account. Click the three dots in the top right of GMC and then Account linking. Add your Google Ads account by entering your 10-digit Google Ads customer ID.
How to create a Google Shopping campaign
Once Google has approved your products, you can create a Google Shopping campaign.
1. Create a new campaign
From your Google Ads account, click Campaigns and the plus button to start a New Campaign.
Configure your campaign
Configure your campaign by completing the following information:
- Campaign goal: Sales
- Campaign type: Shopping
- Merchant Center: the one you just created
- Campaign subtype: Smart Shopping campaign or Standard Shopping
- Campaign name: an easily understandable name
- Budget: the average amount of money you want to spend per day
3. Choose your bid strategy.
Bidding works a little differently on Google Shopping ads since you don’t bid on keywords. Instead, you bid on the product group, which is essential to keep in mind when choosing your bid strategy and budget.
There are two main types of bidding strategy:
- Manual CPC: you have complete control over bids and can bid at the product level
- Automatic bidding: Google’s algorithms and machine learning tools adjust your bids based on your goals and data
The three automatic bidding goals are:
- Enhanced cost per click (eCPC): increasing conversions
- Maximize clicks: as many clicks as possible
- Target Return on Ad Spend (Target ROAS): maximizing conversion value while reaching target ROAS
Tip: a good place to start is a budget of $10 per day and $0.50 per click.
4. Target your Shopping campaign
While you can’t bid on specific keywords with a Shopping campaign, there are other ways to target ads towards people more likely to convert. These include:
- Location targeting: selecting the locations you want your ad shown (or excluded) and modifying your bid percentage
- Devices: only showing your ad to specific devices
- Time: specifying certain hours or days of the week you want your ad shown
You can also use Google Shopping to re-target shoppers who previously visited your website but didn’t convert. This is a great way to recover revenue lost through cart abandonment. Just click the remarketing list when specifying your audience.
5. Create ad groups
Choose what ad group you want to create (Product Shopping ad or Showcast Shopping ad) and enter the ad group name and bid.
Finally, click Save to complete.
Google Shopping reviews
What are Google Shopping reviews?
Google Shopping reviews are customer reviews added to your Google Shopping listings, ads, and comparisons. They appear as a 1 to 5-star rating aggregated over a total review count, pulled directly from customer feedback.
There are two types of Google Shopping reviews:
- Product ratings: reviews of your products that appear on relevant ads and listings
- Seller ratings: reviews of your store that appear in Google seller comparisons
The benefits of Google Shopping reviews
Adding reviews to your Google Shopping listings and ads is a smart move for four reasons:
1) Draws more attention
Bright yellow stars are visually appealing and draw attention immediately to your ads and away from your competitors.
2) Establishes social proof
Reviews show your products’ social proof, which creates credibility, builds FOMO, and establishes trust strongly linked to generating more sales.
3) Reduces cart abandonment
When you display reviews alongside your ads, you do your customer’s research for them. This makes them less likely to abandon their cart later to seek recommendations.
4) Improves your Ad Rank
Reviews create a positive feedback loop that improves your Ad Rank. Social proof increases CTR and conversions > CTR, and conversions increase Ad Rank > Ad Rank leads to better positioning and lower CPC > you generate more sales that increase your reviews.
How to add reviews to your Google Shopping ads
There are three ways to add customer reviews and UGC to your Google Shopping ads and listings:
- Manually: sign up for Google Product Ratings and submit reviews manually through GMC (you must do this at least once per month)
- Reviews aggregator: use a supported reviews aggregator (such as Feefo, Okendo, or TrustPilot) to submit product reviews to Google for you
- Google Customer Reviews: sign up for Google Customer Reviews to allow Google to collect and display reviews for you
Google will automatically analyze reviews before they go live, removing any suspected spam, false reviews, or inappropriate language.
Note that you need a minimum of 50 reviews across all products before you can add reviews to your Google Shopping account.
How to generate better Google Shopping reviews
Positive reviews are crucial for improving your Google Shopping CTR and conversions. Three proven ways to generate better product reviews are:
1) Provide an outstanding post-purchase experience
Dazzle customers with a seamless and enjoyable experience beyond the buy button, using:
- Post-purchase thank you and marketing emails
- Fast shipping speeds and accurate delivery updates
- Proactive customer service
2) Ask customers for reviews and UGC
Proactively ask customers for feedback and reviews about your products and services, and don’t be afraid to send a reminder or two. Importantly, make it easy for customers to leave reviews, whether that’s via email, SMS, telephone, or social media.
3) Respond to Google product reviews
No one likes a negative product review, but it’s your chance to identify a problem and showcase outstanding customer service. Therefore, it’s good practice to respond to negative or mediocre Google reviews by thanking the customer for their feedback and offering to make the situation right. At worst, this shows you care about customer feedback, and at best, the customer could amend their review (i.e., there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain).
Google Shopping free and fast delivery tags
What are Google Shopping free and fast tags?
Google Shopping free and fast tags are annotations added to your Google Shopping ads and Buy on Google listings, showcasing your free and fast shipping depending on the customer’s location.
They work by using real-time inventory positioning and the customer’s zip code to calculate the fastest shipping speed available and add the relevant shipping tag.
The benefits of Google Shopping fast shipping tags
Adding Google Shopping fast shipping tags brings more benefits to your Google Shopping campaigns.
1) Your ads stand out
Fast shipping tags make your ads visually “pop” against your competitors, drawing attention and providing a visual benefit of choosing your product over others.
2) You personalize the customer experience
Tailored shipping tags offer customers the best possible shopping experience, depending on their location. There are also no nasty surprises at the checkout, which can reduce cart abandonment.
3) You meet the needs of different shoppers
2-day and next-day delivery tags meet the needs of urgent, impatient, or generous shoppers – making them more likely to click your ad than others.
4) You set customer expectations
Free and fast Google Shopping tags give customers a sneak preview of what it’s like shopping with you. It set out your high level of customer service at the very beginning.
How to add fast shipping tags to Google Shopping ads
If you’re a Deliverr customer, you can use the Google Shopping Free 2-Day Delivery program to add fast shipping tags to Shopping ads automatically.
After creating a GMC account and uploading products via a feed, simply:
1. Select the channel you use to fulfill Google Shopping
Go to the Channel dashboard on Deliverr and select the relevant sales channel.
2. Select Google 2-Day Delivery
Find and select “Google 2-Day Delivery,” under “Available for this Channel” and activate.
3. Select your fast tags
Choose between fast tags on your website listings, Buy on Google listings, or both.
4. Link Deliverr with GMC
Follow the on-screen instructions to link Deliverr with Google.
5. Create a supplemental feed in GMC
Add a new supplemental feed in GMC named “Deliverr” and select Content API as the input method. Copy the feed ID and paste it into Deliverr.
Your Google Shopping fast tags will start appearing on website listings in up to three business days.
Alternatively, you can add free and fast tags to your Google Shopping tags and listings manually. To do this, ensure your shipping settings meet the fast and free annotation requirements. Then complete an interest form to be verified.
Buy on Google
What is Buy on Google?
Buy on Google is a checkout experience that enables shoppers to buy Google Shopping products without leaving Google. It’s a native checkout, similar to Instagram Shopping.
The benefits of Buy on Google
Buy on Google turns Google Shopping into a fully-fledged sales channel, with benefits including:
1) Commission-free selling
When using the Buy on Google checkout experience, you don’t pay a commission fee. This increases your profit margins.
2) Third-party providers
You can use your preferred third-party provider for payment processing, inventory, and order management. This enables you to sell via Buy on Google using your existing Shopify store and PayPal account, for example.
3) Captive audience
Buy on Google targets a captive audience already browsing products on the platform, and provides them with the choice of clicking through to your website or staying in familiar surroundings and paying on Google.
4) Upcoming features
To attract shoppers away from marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart, Buy on Google is releasing additional features, including a tool to help shoppers discover smaller merchants and local businesses.
Getting started with Buy on Google
Note that Buy on Google is currently invite-only. Express your interest by completing this form.
1. Set up a GMC account, including shipping service, taxes, and products
If you haven’t already, follow the above instructions to create a GMC account, and add shipping services, taxes, and product feeds.
2. Choose how to manage orders
Choose one of three options for managing Buy on Google orders:
- GMC: manage orders directly in GMC
- Order feeds: manage orders using Order Feeds to receive, process, and update orders
- Orders API: automatically integrate Buy on Google with your order management system
3. Add branding assets
Optimize your Buy on Google listings by uploading a round brand logo, favicon, and banner. This helps customers identify your brand and establish credibility.
4. Set up payments and billings
Integrate with a payment service provider by clicking Growth > Manage Programs > Get started > Link your PayPal Business account and following the on-screen prompts.
5 Set up your business information
Configure your business information in GMC settings, including:
- Business address
- Customer service contact
- Marketing settings
- Returns policy and address
You might also be required to verify your identity.
6. Review and publish your store
Preview your store and request final validation. Google will review your account and email you instructions on publishing your storefront.
Google Shopping best practices
That’s the basics of setting up Google Shopping for your online store, but there are a few additional things you can do to optimize performance and increase conversions.
1) Create campaign structures
Your first Google Shopping ad will have one campaign, one ad group, and one product group.
This means your bidding and targeting strategies are the same, regardless of the products advertised or the search terms used. If you sell a variety of products, this isn’t ideal.
Instead, you can create different product groups using Google’s default product attributes (such as brand, product type, and price) or create your own (such as sales volume or profit margin). Once you become more experienced with Google Shopping ads, you can experiment with different campaigns, such as branded search terms and non-branded search terms.
Tip: if you sell a small number of products, segment them by product ID. If you sell a large number of products, try using your website’s navigation to segment products in the same way.
2) Use negative keywords
Negative keywords prevent your ads from showing up in irrelevant or low-quality traffic search results. For example, if you sell dog shampoo, you can prevent your ads from appearing in search queries for “hair shampoo” or just “shampoo.”
Once your Google Shopping ads have been running a short while, comb through the Search Terms Report to identify any irrelevant, competitor, outdated, and generic terms and add them to your negative keywords list (in the campaign settings).
3) Optimize your listings
Google pulls Shopping information directly from your product listings to create an ad. Therefore, you must optimize these to attract attention, inform sellers, and bring them to your website.
In particular, focus on:
- Product title: a clear, informative, and engaging product title
- Product image: a high-quality image that clearly displays your product and attracts attention
- Price: a price that is comparative with your competitor ads (remember that Google takes shipping into account when displaying the price, so consider offering free shipping)
- Attributes: product details, variations, and information that give sellers a better understanding of your product while ensuring your ads return in relevant search queries
- Fast and free shipping: fast and free shipping options that meet the requirements for Google’s fast and free shipping tags
Tip: Think smart and differently. See how this Hoka One One running shoe stands out simply by adjusting the product angle:
4) Add promotions
Google Shopping allows you to add promotions to your listings and ads, which boosts CTR, increases conversions, and captures multi-screen traffic (they appear on both desktop and mobile results).
You can add the following product promotions directly through GMC:
- Discounts: such as cashback, percentage off, BOGOF
- Gifts: such as a free item or gift card
- Shipping: free or discounted shipping
Note that Google only accepts promotions that are usable by all audiences. So a gift to new customers or student discounts aren’t valid.
5) Create different bidding strategies
We could write an entire book on Google Shopping bidding strategies, but it would have one key message: don’t set and forget.
Whether you set custom bids for your best sellers, reduce bids for products with low ROAS, raise bids during a promotion, or tailor bids for past visitors, monitor the results to determine the best bidding strategies for your products and customers.
6) Monitor and optimize your Shopping campaigns
The best Google Shopping campaigns are the ones closely monitored for success. Google provides access to detailed information about ad and product performance, including impressions, CTR, conversions, CPC, and impression share.
You also have access to:
- Auction insights report: a report that lets you compare your performance against other advertisers participating in the same auctions
- Bid simulator: an interactive way to test how different product group bids could affect traffic and conversions, and to view how your ads would have performed differently
Use this information to test and optimize campaigns for the best results. A poorly performing Shopping ad isn’t a failure – it’s an opportunity to learn and improve.
7) Use Google Shopping in addition to your other marketing tools
Finally, while Google Shopping is undoubtedly an effective tool for boosting conversions, it’s not your only tool. Use Google Shopping in addition to Google Search ads, SEO, social media, marketplace ads, and other marketing activities to attract and convert customers wherever they head to or hang out online.
Google Shopping is not only here to stay; it’s setting itself up for enormous success. The platform’s amendments are making Google Shopping a sales channel in its own right, which is attracting shopper attention.
If you can master the A-Z of Google Shopping, you can dominate the search results, increase visibility, boost conversions, and drive significant ROI. Get stuck in and enjoy it!