A guide to Google Shopping for small online shops

 guide to google shopping for ecommerce businesses

Published in Paid advertising

Search for any product on Google and at the top of the search results will be a preview of Google Shopping with a link to shop for the product. We explain the benefits of Google Shopping, whether it’s right for your online shop, and how to get started.

how to use google shopping

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping consolidates products related to a particular search into one place, making it easier for shoppers to view items, compare prices and see where they can purchase them from. However, it doesn’t pull products from shop websites, you have to sign up, input the product information, and pay every time someone clicks through to your website.

Why should you use Google Shopping?

Although you’re paying for someone to find you through Google Shopping, those that do click on your website are much more likely to purchase - they’ve intentionally searched for the product, and have been able to compare prices to decide which is the most competitive, and then chosen your website. These shoppers are much closer to making their final purchase decision than someone that comes across your shop’s homepage and browses through your products.

Google Shopping works on a Cost Per Click basis (you don’t pay until someone clicks through to your website) and should be seen as an advertising channel. While the return on investment can be quite high, you do need to have a budget specifically for marketing and advertising that you’re prepared to spend.

There aren’t a lot of small retailers taking advantage of Google Shopping, so if you can invest some money and time into it, your products could appear right up there with some of the biggest online retailers. 

How to use Google Shopping

To start listing your products you need an AdWords account and a Merchant Centre account.

how to sign up to google merchant center

Adding product information

Next, you need to upload all your products as a data feed, this will contain all the information about each product as ‘attributes’. A data feed can be submitted either as a text file (.txt) or XML (.xml), Google recommends text files for smaller businesses as they require less technical knowledge. The simplest way is to use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to create a spreadsheet, and then convert it into a text file.

Google Shopping requires certain information and recommends that you include other bits of information depending on what type of item it is. You should include basic information such as a product identifier, product title and description, a link to the product and a link to the product image. You also need to specify the price and availability.

This should be seen as an advertising channel, and while the return on investment can be quite high, you do need to have some money set aside specifically for marketing and advertising that you can use 

Google requires unique product identifiers for items that are being sold ‘as new’, and that have a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) assigned by the manufacturer - you have to include the GTIN and product brand name, and it’s recommended that you include the Manufacturer Part Number (MPN). Without product identifiers, your products may not appear in search results properly.

You can find out where to upload your data feed here.  

Once your product data feed is accepted you need to link it to your AdWords account .

Create a shopping campaign

You can create your shopping campaign through your AdWords account by clicking the ‘Campaigns’ tab, clicking ‘+Campaign’ and selecting ‘Shopping’. You then need to name your campaign name and select your Merchant ID. Find out more about setting up your shopping campaign here.

creating a shopping campaign for google shopping

When you create a campaign by default all the products in the data feed you uploaded will be included, you can change this by using ‘inventory filter’ to limit the products by attributes.

inventory filter for google shopping

How much does Google Shopping cost?

There’s no minimum spend for Google Shopping, you choose your Cost Per Click (CPC) ‘bid’, and you set your daily budget. Products are displayed according to Cost Per Click (CPC) bids and how well the product information from the data feed matches the shoppers search terms. This means that it’s not just how much you pay that it’s important, you have to make sure that your product titles and descriptions reflect what your potential customers might type into Google.

Once you reach your daily budget your products will no longer appear in search results. It’s also worth noting that the more products you upload, the quicker you’ll reach your daily budget - so if you’re starting off with a low budget it’s probably best to test out a small range of your products and see which ones do well.

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About the author

Verity is a journalist and content producer at Zenstores.

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