Google Shopping – What is it and how does it work?
Everyone has heard of Google Shopping. Anyone who googles a specific product sees the conspicuous little boxes with images, prices and vendors of this very product, similar to an online shop, next to or above the regular search results list. However Google Shopping itself is not an online shop, but an advertising opportunity provided by the market-dominating search engine. And it goes without saying that ambitious shop owners take advantage of this offering to achieve higher click rates.
What’s Behind Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is part of AdWords, except no specific image or text ads are placed here. Instead store operators share standardized data from their online shop with Google. This data is the basis for the product boxes, in which the product image, price, shipping costs and the retailer’s name are displayed. The layout of the box is defined by Google.
Payment takes place in a CPC (cost per click) auction process. That means the shop owner himself can stipulate how valuable a click for a certain search query is to him. The principle is very simple: the higher the bid, the better the chance his offer will be placed in a prominent position, i.e. as close to the top as possible.
What are the Advantages to Google Shopping?
The most important benefit of this system is of course that Google Shopping is from Google. No one who is active in e-commerce can avoid the largest search engine. Most potential customers performing a product search go to Google first and enter a keyword into the search field. Many of them already use the shopping tab, directly under the search field, which over time has become just as important as the tabs for images, maps and videos. Anyone who does not pay attention to the habits of online shoppers does not have good survival chances in the highly competitive e-commerce market regarding the long run.
With Google Shopping, Google is offering a marketplace, and shop owners are taking advantage of this opportunity. One of the benefits is Google’s reputation as an unerring search engine. Users trust Google. Whatever appears at the very top of any search query results list immediately appears to be reputable, just based on its position. Google’s reputation brings about higher click and conversion rates.
For all those active in a highly competitive market, Google Shopping is absolutely vital today. The story is a little different for niche products. If there are too few competitors the advertisements are often not of much benefit. For specialized products, website optimization remains a more helpful alternative.
How does Google Shopping Work?
If a product from your online store receives placement on a search results list, this costs you nothing initially. Payment is only due when the user actually clicks on the link. This click takes the potential buyer directly to the online shop. Google then has nothing more to do with the rest of the process.
The costs associated with Google Shopping depend on the competition. You can expect it to be 10 to 15 percent of the cost per sale however. To reach this value or even improve upon it, naturally depends on the presentation of the product in the shop itself. Users do not ultimately base their purchase decision solely on price, but on the entire impression they get from an online store.
How Do You Set Up Google Shopping?
To register with the Merchant Center, you only require a Google account as well as an AdWords account. Merchant Center registration takes place at merchants.google.com.
Further steps are:
- The website URL must be confirmed and claimed. Google provides various options for doing this.
- Merchant Center has to be linked to your AdWords account.
- Then the product data is delivered and made available for Google Shopping as well as other services. This takes place through feeds which include all the required information about the product. The feeds must be initially be created and subsequently uploaded.
- After generation and upload of the feeds, advertising campaigns can be created at will in AdWords.
For beginners it is recommended that you first try out some test feeds. The Merchant Center also provides a function for doing this, and test feeds are not published.
How Do You Optimize Google Shopping?
To get the most out of Google Shopping and to achieve high conversion rates, you have to develop a feeling for the CPC process. This should be familiar from AdWords. In the fight for the best placement in the SERPs, the CPC commandments are not the only things that count. Among other things Google also rates the quality and completeness of the individual data, for example product images. Those who use Google Shopping should therefore strive for optimization of all details. That includes for example:
- Title (recommended that you avail yourself of all 70 characters)
- Image format (preferably JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG or TIF)
- Product currentness (a correct price, for example)
- Alignment of feed and product URL
Tip: In the Google Merchant Center at Support Page all requirements are clearly listed. If you follow all of Google’s guidelines, you really cannot go wrong.
Any shop owner with tough competitors will not get around Google Shopping. In highly competitive sectors you cannot ignore the top dog among search engines. Because getting set up in Merchant Center itself is free, there is really no reason not to give the system a try. Those who are familiar with online shopping systems are unlikely to have any issues creating Google Shopping feeds.