With the amount of news we read each day about Google, the words “Google” and “secret” are rarely thought of together. Yet, one of the best-kept “secrets” for creating incremental traffic to online retail sites is actually Google Shopping. Not only is this traffic “free,” but the conversion rates are often higher than the more widely used channels.
So why is it a “secret”?
Historically, it has been quite difficult to get Google Shopping set up, and it was almost certain that you’d need to hire a company that specializes in running shopping feed programs. While I still highly recommend seeking out experts with specialized experience here, it is actually quite possible to begin this process on your own. Here’s how:
First, you will need to open a Google Merchant account within Google. If you already have a company Google Adwords account you use, I would use the same login credentials to open the Google Merchant Account to keep your accounts and management process streamlined.
Once you set up your account, you will need to verify and claim your url, create your product data automated feed and launch the store.
Here is some in-depth information on how you can set up your Google Merchant Store.
Once you are running a Google Shopping program on your own or through a provider, there are some great opportunities available for advertisers that are on Google Adwords and are also running Google Shopping.
Google Product Extensions
Product Extensions are an excellent way to enhance your existing AdWords ads. It’s a great tool to increase click through rates and drive more sales.
Product Extensions are based on your product feed. They will show in a plus box under your regular text ad on the search results when the search query typed in by the user is related to one or more products on your Google Merchant Center account.
This is a core reason to keep your product feed updated with as much information as possible about your products. The more complete and updated your feed is, the higher the chances your Product Extensions will display with your text ad.
Just like a normal text ad, your Product Extensions ads are also charged on a CPC basis, which means you will pay the same price per click regardless if the user clicks on your text ad or on one of your Product Extensions.
You can track Product Extension metrics on a campaign level through your AdWords interface. Here, you can view impressions, clicks, CTR, cost, AVG position, conversions etc. You can also track Product Extensions revenue using Google Analytics, but you will need to add a unique tracking code to your destination URL on the product feed. This way, you can identify revenue that came from clicks to your Product Extensions versus your text ads.
Setting up Product Extensions on your AdWords account is quite simple. Once you have your product feed uploaded to your Google Merchant Account center, just click on a campaign and click on the “Ad Extensions” tab. Once there, just select the “New Extension” button and choose your product feed.
Keep in mind that if you are running Site-Link Extensions simultaneously for the same campaign, your Site-Link Extensions are more likely to show than your Product Extensions as they have a higher priority in terms of extensions rankings. Sometimes both extensions will display at the same time but it doesn’t occur very often.
So, if you really plan on gathering accurate data from testing Product Extensions, make sure you disable all other extensions for that campaign.
PLA’s – Product Listing Ads
Product Listing Ads campaigns are fairly easy to set up, and you can manage them through your Adwords interface or Adwords Editor just like any other campaign. PLA campaigns, unlike your normal text ad campaigns, are not keyword-based. Google will choose to show your ads based on the quality and relevance of your product feed.
This means you want to make sure your product feed includes as many details as possible about your products, such as product name, description, color, size, images, price, etc. Make sure that your destination URLs are updated constantly and are taking your customers to the correct product page.
Even though your PLA campaigns are not keyword-based, it’s important to understand how different products and categories are performing. The best way to do this is to split your campaign into Ad Groups. One best practice to employ when creating Ad Groups to your PLA campaign is to separate them according to the product labels column on your product feed. This will allow you to easily manage your bids and ads.
To set up the Ad Groups with the product labels, just click on one of the Ad Groups and go to your “Auto targets” tab on AdWords. Once you’re there, you will want to click on the “Add product target” button and select “Add a group of products.”
From the combo box below, you will choose “adwords label” and on the input box just type the name of the label. Click on validate, and a green check sign should appear. That means your label is set correctly.
Now, just repeat the process for all of your Ad Groups. If you get an error message saying that your label is not validating, it could be that you have your product label name typed incorrectly or that you have too recently uploaded your product feed. It often takes up to 48 hours for a new feed to be available to validate your labels.
Now that you have your campaign set up and ad groups in place and validated, you must also create Ads for your PLA campaigns. PLA ads are a bit different from your regular text ad copy.
A PLA ad consists of a single line and only allows up to 45 characters. So you want to make sure you create a very concise and direct message. If you offer free shipping or some type of discount, make sure you state that on your ad. You can also run multiple ads per ad group.
Here is an example of PLA ads for “adidas shoes”
As you employ these tactics, continually test messaging and visuals to determine what works best for your brand and products within the Google Shopping arena. I hope to have demystified this rather easy-to-deploy channel, as it is a prime opportunity for incremental traffic and competitive leadership in the search space.
Do you have any Google Shopping “secrets” of your own? Please do reach out and let me know what is working for you, or where you’d like to see guidance in future columns.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.