Enhancing Google Shopping Performance: 5 Key Strategies

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a service by Google that allows users to search for and compare products from various online retailers, featuring product listings within Google's search results for convenient shopping. It provides merchants with an advertising platform to showcase their products to potential customers actively searching for them.

In discussions with e-commerce merchants, Google Shopping consistently emerges as a highly lucrative advertising avenue. Throughout our agency, we frequently witness returns exceeding 600% from this platform for our clients. This translates to $6 or more in sales for every dollar invested in Google Shopping (also known as Product Listing Ads or PLAs).

Even a haphazard or suboptimally managed Google Shopping or PLA campaign is likely to yield some level of results and sales. However, settling for mediocre outcomes seems unnecessary when much greater potential is readily attainable.

Though optimization demands ongoing dedication, here are five essential strategies to position yourself for success. Adhering to all five will place you well ahead of the majority of your competitors.

Ultimately, your objectives should encompass two main facets:

  1. Capture the right impressions: Ensure your ad reaches the intended audience of potential shoppers.
  2. Garner the right clicks: Attract engaged buyers to click on your product listing ads.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a platform featuring product listing ads that are prominently displayed at the top center or top right of Google search result pages when users search for specific products.

Imagine you specialize in licensed NFL apparel, particularly Chiefs hoodies. If a potential customer searches for “Kansas City Chiefs Hoodie” on Google, what factors will influence their decision to click on your listing?

To maximize your chances of getting clicks on Google Shopping, securing a spot among the initial eight listings is crucial (although Google may display fewer listings at times). Even if you’re not among the first eight, you can still attract traffic when users click on the “Shop for…” link above the ads. Several elements need to align effectively for this to happen: your data feed, bids, campaign structure, images, prices, and other factors. It’s essential to ensure your listings appear for relevant searches and ultimately convince users to click on them.

How Do You Run Google Shopping Ads?

Running Google Shopping Ads requires two integrated accounts: Google AdWords and Google Merchant Center. The latter hosts your data feed, containing essential details about your product inventory such as titles, descriptions, prices, and images, formatted to Google’s specifications. Google utilizes this feed to generate your product ads and determine when to display them. Additionally, in Google Merchant Center, you establish rules regarding shipping, taxes, target countries, and verify site ownership.

In Google AdWords, your Shopping Campaigns are managed, where you set daily budgets, bids, ad groups, and product groups. It serves as a primary hub for monitoring and optimizing performance, with Google Analytics providing detailed insights.

Managing and optimizing Google Shopping closely parallels effective SEO. Unlike conventional text ads, you can’t explicitly select keywords for your product listings; Google relies on crawling your feed to ascertain relevance to user queries. Hence, providing Google with accurate and comprehensive data is paramount.

Utilizing SEMrush can offer a competitive advantage in Google Shopping management and optimization. This isn’t mere endorsement; it’s a tool utilized consistently in our operations. The following discussion will categorize the five keys into three distinct categories for clarity.

Speak to Your Customers

1. Find Buyer Keywords

While you can’t dictate specific keywords for Google’s product listing ads, having a strategic approach to keywords remains crucial. Granted, data feeds may not excite everyone; however, viewing them as a means of communication with both customers and Google can help. To kickstart your journey towards exceptional Shopping ads, focus on uncovering buyer keywords.

Let’s revisit the scenario of selling licensed NFL apparel, with a particular interest in Chief’s hoodies. Rather than delving into generic terms like “hoodie” or “red hoodie,” or even “NFL hoodie,” prioritize keywords such as “Kansas City Chiefs Hoodie” or “Chiefs Nike Hoodie.” Typically, buyer-intent keywords are longer (three words or more) and incorporate specifics like color, brand, size, and model number.

Begin by inputting your buyer keywords into SEMrush and explore lists of phrase match and related keywords. Identify those indicating strong buyer intent and boasting respectable search volumes for your strategy.

Trump Your Competition

2. Title Benchmarking

The product title serves dual purposes: optimizing for rankings and enticing clicks.

Initially, you need Google to index your product titles for top buyer keywords, ensuring relevance for potential searches. Subsequently, your aim is to entice potential buyers to choose your listing over competitors. Product titles play a pivotal role in determining the keywords your Product Listing Ads (PLAs) display for, thereby impacting long-term impressions and clicks. While the title isn’t the sole driver of clicks (product image and price carry significant weight), the initial words of your title are visible and can influence user engagement.

Think Keywords

Now that you’ve identified your key keywords, integrate them seamlessly into your product title. However, prioritize accuracy and descriptiveness above all else. Avoid leaning towards spammy tactics; refrain from excessively repeating keywords or providing variations of the same keyword. Instead, aim for a natural incorporation of your target keywords while ensuring your title remains informative and genuine.

Think Order

The words at the beginning of your product title hold the most significance. When determining the order of elements in your title, consider what matters most to buyers. In categories like apparel, automotive, and many others, brand holds considerable importance. Therefore, it’s advisable to prioritize the brand at the forefront of your title. For instance, in our previous example, you might structure your title as “Nike Kansas City Chiefs Hoodie Red XL.”

However, in product categories where brand holds less significance, such as walkers, prioritize other factors like application and style. In this case, you could lead with “Walker” followed by relevant descriptors.

Think Key Attributes

The importance of attributes varies depending on the product and category. Factors such as pattern, size, application, compatibility, materials used, and country of origin can all hold significance. Incorporating the most relevant attributes into the product title is crucial for optimization.

Let’s take the example of a Chicago Blackhawks Hoodie title from Fanatics. Compared to a generic “Blackhawks Hoodie,” Fanatics’ title, “Reebok Chicago Blackhawks CCM Pullover Hoodie – Black, male, Size: XL,” stands out as superior. By including brand (Reebok), team (Chicago Blackhawks), style (CCM Pullover Hoodie), color (Black), gender (male), and size (XL), Fanatics maximizes visibility and relevance. This comprehensive approach contributes to the listing appearing for numerous high-volume keywords and potentially even more long-tail variations.

3. Image Comparison

Google imposes strict guidelines on product images to maintain consistency and enhance user experience. The image must accurately represent the product, featuring a white background and excluding logos, watermarks, or promotional text unless they are naturally part of the product. The image should be easily visible even in thumbnail size, with the primary goal of enticing clicks.

Given that the image is often the initial attention-grabber for shoppers, it’s crucial to ensure it showcases the product from the best angle with appropriate lighting. Shoppers should be able to easily discern key details. Utilizing tools like SEMrush to analyze competitors’ images can provide insights into how your own images compare and help identify areas for improvement. Ultimately, the goal is to optimize your images to maximize click-through rates.

4. Description Hacking

Product descriptions don’t require extensive length or persuasive language since they’re primarily for Google’s use. Simply continue describing the product, following the structure of your title and adding additional attributes that couldn’t fit in the title. Analyze descriptions from top competitors to understand their order and composition.

In SEMrush, examine PLA copies and explore keywords to identify additional attributes that competitors include in their descriptions. While words like “cheap,” “discount,” or “wholesale” wouldn’t be appropriate for a title, they could potentially be included in the description to capture relevant search queries.


Grow Profitably

5. Smart Bidding

Consider price, profits, and potential when strategizing your bidding approach for Google Shopping. Your bidding strategy plays a pivotal role in determining both your sales volume and profitability, alongside feed quality and makeup. Remember that bidding directly impacts the keywords you’ll appear for. Keep the following factors in mind as you set your bids:

Price

Consider the sales price of your product. If it retails for $6, starting with a bid of $3 won’t be effective. Calculate how many clicks you’ll need before making a sale. If it’s more than 2 (which is highly likely), reassess your bidding strategy.

Profit

Consider your margin across a group of products. Bidding the same amount on a $50 product as you would on a $100 product might not seem intuitive unless you understand the margins. For instance, if the $50 product has a 50% margin and the $100 product has a 25% margin, you’d have the same available profit to advertise either item.

Potential

You might have strategic reasons to bid more aggressively on certain products, beyond their price and profit margins. For instance, if you’re launching a new product and aim to capture broad category search terms, or if a product generates regular orders or has customers with high lifetime value, it might justify higher bidding.

To streamline bidding, structure your campaign effectively. Start by segmenting your products into logical groups that facilitate monitoring and optimization. Just as a coach monitors each player’s performance and adjusts strategies accordingly, you need clear insights into product performance. Without proper product grouping, effective bidding becomes nearly impossible.

Brand

While grouping products by brand is a good starting point, it may not suffice. Consider this scenario: if you have products from the same brand with prices ranging from $10 to $250, bidding the same amount for both wouldn’t be optimal.

Category

Grouping products by category is a good starting point, but it’s often too broad. Consider enhancing this approach by adding custom labels based on price point, seasonality, top sellers, and other relevant factors.

Ideally, aim for a product grouping strategy that allows you to create unique bids on a SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) level. You might begin with brand or category, then segment further by custom labels such as price range, before examining individual SKUs within those groups.

Analyzing performance by SKU and setting unique bids for each SKU provides maximum control over your account. At the very least, ensure your product groups are tightly formed, containing products that warrant similar bids.

In the realm of Google Shopping (and much of digital marketing), success hinges on the accumulation of small optimizations. While it’s easy to get lost in the details, always keep the potential payoff in mind. Remember, refining your data, campaign structure, and bids is ultimately about positioning your products in front of the right audience and empowering you with control. Few ad platforms consistently deliver returns as impressive as Google Shopping, making time spent optimizing here a valuable investment.