Google Shopping is continuously growing in importance for online retailers and branded manufacturers. In fact, retailers spent 47% more on Google PLAs in 2015 compared with 2014. If you’ve decided to focus your energies (or part of them) on building or optimizing Google Shopping campaigns, then keep reading! We’ll share the main things you shouldn’t ignore, divided into four essential topics.
1. Optimize Your Data Feed
For every seller, Google Shopping begins with a product data feed sent to Google Merchant Center, which connects to Google AdWords. That’s where Shopping campaigns sit.
Product data is the main source of everything for Google Shopping: A good-quality feed will power an effective campaign and increase the chances of your products showing up on Google search results pages.
When sending a feed to your Google Merchant account, keep a close eye on the following key attributes:
- Title (and Description)
- Product Identifiers
- Google Shopping Category
Title and Description
One of the main differences between Google Shopping and paid search is that you don’t bid on keywords but straight on individual products/product groups. Accordingly, Google analyzes the data found in title and description fields to determine whether a product is relevant to a search query.
For Google to rank you as relevant, make sure that your titles are keyword-rich, descriptive and appealing to buyers. It’s also best practice to include the brand and the product reference for the item whenever possible, such as “Osprey Farpoint 70 Travel Pack”.
Be mindful: Only the first 70 characters of the title will be displayed, so place any key terms at the beginning of the string. To prevent truncation, ChannelAdvisor customers can use a business rule (such as LEFTWORD) within the ChannelAdvisor Feed Merchandiser.
The Google description character allowance is very generous, but don’t forget that the optimal length is around 500 characters.
Depending on the type of product and the country that you’re targeting, you’ll submit different identifiers. For all your items, we recommend submitting all three attributes (‘gtin’, ‘brand’ and ‘mpn’) to help boost ad performance and help users find your products. Google has recently changed its requirements on GTINs, so, take a read of our Expert Q&A blog post to make sure you’re up to speed with the latest changes.
Google Shopping Category
Each product you list needs a Google Shopping category. This field tells Google where to locate every item in its browse structure. You can be as generic or granular as you want to be.
Feed tip: An effective and time-saving practice when building a feed is making your MPN (or SKU) your Product ID. Consider that you can search only by Product ID in Google Merchant Center. Also know that the Product ID holds the Quality Score and all the historic data related to the item, so don’t change it unless you want to start fresh and wipe out old data.
2. Balance the Campaign Structure and Use Negative Keywords
A good campaign structure should look like the one below:
A balanced structure leans more on ad groups rather than product groups only. This has a double advantage. First, segmentation improves searches (whether in AdWords or using the ChannelAdvisor user interface) and budget allocation. Additionally, ad groups open doors to negative keywords, and that’s a significant optimisation opportunity.
Negative keywords can also be used to funnel traffic between ad groups and between different campaigns. They can filter out products not relevant to queries or that simply aren’t selling enough.
So if some products have a high marketing cost (and number of impressions/clicks) but low revenue (or no revenue at all), it might be a good idea to add negative keywords for their related queries.
3. Consider Campaign Priority
Google offers the chance to assign priority to one shopping campaign over another. This is a powerful tool if combined with a strong Shopping strategy, because it allows different queries to fall under different campaigns, which can obviously contain different bids.
Let’s say, for example, that we have two Shopping Campaigns as follows:
- Campaign 1: One campaign for branded items, tailored for branded queries
- Campaign 2: One campaign reserved for nonbranded queries, which are normally less powerful
You can build up your strategy as follows:
In the above scenario, Campaign 2 would normally prevail over Campaign 1 because it has higher priority, but in the case of a query containing reference to the brand of the item, then Campaign 1 would win because of the negative keywords in place for Campaign 2.
It’s clear, therefore, that combining the use of negative keywords and campaign priority allows you to bid strongly on queries that are most suited to the products you sell, and to bid more lightly on others, without having to exclude them at all.
4. Optimize Your Bids
Once a Shopping campaign is live, the final level is all about analyzing and optimizing bids.
ChannelAdvisor users can do it manually at the individual product group level or automatically by using the Automated Bidding tool in the platform. The idea is to slowly improve the cost/revenue ratio by bidding strong where products are performing well and reducing costs where products are performing poorly. For the bidding rule to be effective, it needs to be monitored constantly, and you’ll need to put in some work on a weekly basis at least.
Don’t forget that it’s really important to start from a solid base. If you’re at the beginning of your journey, focus your next steps on sections 1 and 2 of this post. Keep it simple at first, but as you grow your confidence and experience, experiment with the more advanced strategies.
Looking for more tips to help take your Shopping campaigns to the next level? Take a read of our eBook Google. Click. Buy. Advanced Strategies for Top-Performing PLAs.
Blog post by Davide Frattini, implementation consultant, ChannelAdvisor