Why Use Google Shopping Ads (and How to Use Them!)

Why Use Google Shopping Ads (and How to Use Them!)

June 09, 2017

More consumers are turning to Google for their online shopping needs. In this post, we're giving you the facts on Google shopping ads and how to use them.

If you're using regular PPC ads to get clicks to your online store (or any other ads) your next step should be Google Shopping ads.

Utilizing these paid ad positions guarantees a higher click-through-rate (CTR) and higher conversion ratio than PPC alone or most other online advertising.

These ads also lead to better, more qualified leads since they clicked directly on a product. These PPC text ads and Google Shopping Ads can even appear in the same search query. We all know that means broader presence and more opportunity for clicks.

What are Google Shopping Ads?

Searching on Google will pop up a number of different types of results.

In addition to traditional text results, you will also receive video, Q&A responses, and Google Shopping ads.

The shopping ads appear first in the results if you are searching for a specific product. For instance, a query for "organic baby food" in Google will give you five shopping ads as the first results before moving on to PPC text ads and then to organic search results.

These pretty product images and price info at the very top of the results are the Google shopping ads. If I own an online store, I want my products in those listings.

The product feed for these ads lives in the Google Merchant Center and you'll build your campaigns in Google Adwords.

Are These Ads Worth the Added Time and Expense?

So, really, my products can be placed in the top rung of Google, above even the very first paid ad?

That's powerful stuff. As a user, why would I bother scrolling to any of the other results when what I need is available to buy with one click on the top of the page?

In a word? Yes, these ads are absolutely worth it if you have an online store and want to sell your products.

Now you see what these ads are and how powerful they can be. However, Google does not give away these prizes easily.

These campaigns are labor intensive. Firstly, loading all the products you'd like featured in a Google Shopping Ad into their Google Merchant Center can mean hours, if not days, of work. 

To ensure all this work is worth it, make sure to perform quality keyword research on your product base to see what people want and are searching for. This way you can strategically add products into the Merchant Center knowledgeably.

The good news? After doing that initial keyword research on what you're selling you no longer have to worry about keywords. 

Google Shopping Ads do NOT use keywords to rank. They rank on product titles ONLY. Pick your chin up off the desk. You can cry a little, it's ok. 

Granted, while you won't have to be an expert at keyword dropping you will need to make sure your product titles and descriptions are specific and detailed. This will give you the most opportunity to appear in that coveted 5 pack at the top of the page.

Properly Loading Your Products into the Google Merchant Center

This is truly key when attempting a Google Shopping Ads campaign. 

Luckily, depending on the type of store you're running, there are plugins who will pull the data for you. Here are some tips to find the best e-commerce platform for your online store.  If you're on Shopify, this app works pretty well.

You can also choose to enter it manually.

Here are the most important things you'll want to remember when loading your products: 

  • Use those great keywords you found in your research of the product title.  Users searching for "organic baby food" won't get targeted with ads for "pureed bananas". 
    • A good example would be "Organic Baby Food - Baby's Best - Bananas & Apples" not "Baby's Best - Bananas & Apples". The second example will be missing the traffic from "organic baby food".
  • Use the Most Commonly Used Name for Your Product.  If you sell riding lawn mowers then you wouldn't call them automatic grass clipper. Most people will search for lawn mowers. Make sure you are using the most commonly searched for terms for your products.
  • Differentiate Products by Color, Brand, Size, Flavor, Etc. - Online sales depend on the details. The customer wants to know exactly what they are buying and want exactly what they are looking for. 
    • Say you sell pool toys. What would be the better online product title, "Inflatable Giraffe Pool Toy" or "Inflatable Giraffe Pool Toy - Brown and White - 7'5" Fully Inflated". The second example gives the customer the information they need to make an informed purchase. If my pool is only 8'x10',  I don't want a 7' Giraffe toy for my 6-year-old. I'll purchase something smaller.
  • Put the Highest Volume Keywords at the Beginning - If your highest volume keyword is "vintage signed baseballs" you wouldn't want to name your product "Used Baseballs - 35 Years Old - Signed" you would name it "Vintage Signed Baseballs - Circa 1947 - Jackie Robinson". Search volume drives rankings. 
  • Be As Specific As Possible - Include model numbers, serial numbers, model years, etc. When buying online people like details. So does Google.
  • The 150 Character Limit, Use It - While you don't have to use the whole space it can help. Add more details and use up all those characters. 

How Do I Pay for These Ad Campaigns?

Once you've loaded your products into the merchant center you will move into Adwords to create your Google shopping ads campaign. The process changes from text ads when you choose your campaign type. Turn to Google for a thorough and detailed process. Here are the simplified steps to creating your campaign:

  1. Once you've clicked "+Campaign" choose "Shopping".
  2. Give your campaign a name.
  3. Provide a Merchant Identifier: this should be the merchant ID associated with your Google Merchant Center Account.
  4. Select your country of sale.
  5. Choose the geographical locations where you want your ads to appear.
  6. Enter your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid next to "Default Bid". Don't worry you can adjust this later.
  7. Choose your budget type and enter the amount.
  8. Click Save and Continue.

There are also a number of additional/advanced settings you can choose but that's the basic process. Simple enough right?

    Where Will My Ads Appear

    Your ads will appear in a couple different places. The 5 Pack at the top of the results is one. Your products will also appear in the shopping tab (in some countries) and in Google Search Partner sites like YouTube and Image Search (if you set the ads to appear in search partners).

    Google Shopping Ads are currently available and shown in:

    • United States
    • United Kingdom
    • Germany 
    • France
    • Japan
    • Italy
    • Spain
    • Netherlands
    • Brazil
    • Australia
    • Switzerland
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Denmark
    • Mexico
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Sweden
    • Turkey
    • Czech Republic
    • Canada
    • India
    • Russia

    Got the Hang of it? Add an Ad Extension

    Now that you have your products loaded with superior descriptions, it's time to take advantage of ad extensions. 

    Google offers ad extensions to make your products even more attractive to consumers. There are a few different types:

    • Google Merchant Promotions - Think of these like a coupon attached to your ad. These give you the opportunity to give an incentive for choosing your product over others. Could be Free Shipping for example.
    • Local Inventory Ads - These are cool because they give real-time inventory updates to customers in your local area. This creates urgency as they see your supply creep towards zero.
    • Product Ratings - New and awesome. This extension combines your reviews and ratings from all over the internet. It then displays the products star rating underneath your ad. If four merchants have that last copy of the latest NY Times bestseller but you have 5 stars, you win the click.

    Keep in mind that Google is still in control over when and how these are displayed. Google Merchant Promotions and Local Inventory take precedence over ratings for the time being. 

    Google picks the products it shows using its algorithm. You always have to remember who you're paying after all.

    Things to Avoid When Using Shopping Ads

    Similar to PPC text and organic search, Google uses an algorithm to determine the placement of their shopping ads. 

    You don't want to shoot yourself in the foot by making simple mistakes.

    • Becoming Your Own Competition
      • Make sure you don't end up competing with yourself by placing the same product in multiple categories. While this may seem like a great idea to add visibility it will actually just confuse Google's algorithm and make you look spammy.
    • Quality Rules the Day
      • Focus on the quality of your product listings. Similar to other content on Google, they favor the good stuff. Be intriguing, write good descriptions, use descriptive and detailed product titles. This will get you pushed up faster than simplistic info.

    If this all seems a little too overwhelming for you, you don't have the time to devote to it, but you still know it would greatly benefit your business...hire a professional

    All too often, the best answer to all of this is to hire someone who knows their stuff and won't lead you astray.