According to Merkle reporting, ad spend through Google Shopping has increased 38% year on year, while spend through pure Google Search decreased 12%. And with 56% of British shoppers using Google for discovery and recommendations, and US retailers now investing 76% of all retail search ad spend on Google Shopping, if you’re an eCommerce brand, you can’t afford not to be using Google Shopping.
More importantly, you can’t afford not to be using it well. Google Shopping is driven by intent and has a proven record of boosting eCommerce sales, particularly for generic searches.
That means having a correct setup and properly optimised Google Shopping Feed is essential and will help to hugely accelerate your growth in the retail space. If you’re ignoring your Product Feed then you’re already missing out on those all-important conversions.
What is a Google Shopping Product Feed?
Put simply, your feed is a structured piece of data that contains and organises your product catalogue into a format that Google can crawl and understand.
While Search campaigns rely on keywords and search queries to trigger results, Shopping campaigns don’t have keywords that trigger based on queries. Instead, shopping results are triggered based on a user’s search query. Google will then decide which of your products to show, if any, based on the data within the feed you’ve provided.
A fully optimised Shopping Feed is essential whether you’ve got only a few products or a catalogue of thousands. Without one, Google won’t show your products where you want them to be shown, making selling more difficult than it needs to be.
What Data Does my Product Feed Contain?
Your product feed should contain all the data you have access to for all the products in your catalogue. If you don’t provide enough info, not only will Google struggle to match your products to user queries, but your ads are also likely to be of poor quality.
There is no such thing as too much detail within your product feed! The more information you can provide and the richer it is, the better. You’ll benefit from both better ads and better (and more relevant) matching from Google, making you eligible for more impressions.
Your product feed will contain basic information around your product’s title, description, price, GTIN/unique product identifier, shipping and availability info, as well as images. There’s also attributes for information around size, gender, colour, material and pattern, for example.
How Regularly Should I Update my Product Feed?
Ideally, you will have a daily scheduled fetch to update your feed to ensure you avoid issues with changing availability and price but, at the bare minimum, your feed must be updated at least once every 30 days.
4 Tips for Google Shopping Feed Optimisation
There are a number of core attributes that you absolutely can’t ignore when setting up a properly optimised Google Shopping Feed. Tight on time? These are the attributes you want to focus on first (and with accuracy!).
Titles contribute massively to the overall quality of your feed and have two main purposes. Not only do they heavily weight search relevance but, as with imagery, they also make up part of your ad, directly influencing how users interact with your ad and impacting CTR.
You’ve got 150 characters to use so make sure to maximise the space available to you. Often only 70 characters will show, so ensure you front-weight your titles with the key info and attributes.
Avoid vague or duplicate titles, and pack as much detail into your titles as you can. Mining through search queries from other search or shopping campaigns will help inform what info is important to your customers and what should be included in your titles.
As a rule of thumb, add brand into your title where you know this is important to users and include other attributes (like colour, size, material, gender etc...) where available within your feed. The more detail the better!
Here are some best practice examples, straight from Google:
For Apparel: Brand + Gender +Product Type + Attributes (Colour, Size, Material etc...)
Hard Goods: Brand + Product + Attributes (Size, Weight, Quantity)
Electronics: Brand + Attribute (e.g. screen size) + Product Type + Model #
Seasonal: Occasion + Product Type + Attributes
Descriptions are often overlooked in favour of prioritising optimisations to titles and images but this is incorrect. In fact, Google has announced this year that they’re placing even more importance on product descriptions, now required for all products.
Products submitted without descriptions have significantly reduced reach and competitivity with similar products. Considered and optimised descriptions will boost the visibility of your products and provide users with the info they need to choose to click through to your site to purchase.
As with other attributes ensure you’re only describing the product itself and doing so with professional and grammatically correct language. Make sure you’re specific and accurate with descriptions and include your product’s most relevant features and attributes (size, material, features, technical specs, shapes, pattern, design, texture).
You’ve got 5000 characters available to you here so ensure you’re making use of this, where possible. As with titles, prioritise the most important details into the first 160-500 characters. Most results pages will shorten the descriptions down to 180 characters or fewer so, again, prioritise your key info at the start of your description.
Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs)
Do not ignore these! A GTIN uniquely identifies your product within Google’s product catalogue, ensuring product validity, as well as instantly making your product ads richer and easier for users to find, boosting impressions and potentially increasing click volumes and results.
In Europe, the GTIN may also be known as an EAN and is a 13-digit number. For books, this will be the ISBN number.
As Google puts it, a GTIN is a ‘strongly recommended’ attribute for all products that have been assigned one by the manufacturer. Alongside or instead of a GTIN, you may have other relevant unique product identifiers that should be included (e.g. brand and MPN – the Manufacturer’s Part Number).
One of the core benefits of Google Shopping ads versus Google Search is the ability to see a product before you click through. Like titles, images are a user-facing attribute that can help contribute to whether a user decides to click on your ad or not, directly impacting CTR. Selecting the correct image is, therefore, absolutely essential.
At the very least, use professional, high-quality images that match the size requirements and accurately depict the product you’re selling (exact variant, colour, size, material). Remove any borders, watermarks, promotional elements or logos overlaid on images to avoid disapproval.
Best practice is to use imagery that gives a clear view of the main product being sold, ideally on a solid white or transparent background. Aim to show a single unit of the product (unless it’s a multipack or bundle) and don’t include any other products within the image.
You’ve also got the option of adding lifestyle imagery or various angles/shots of the product as additional images using the additional_image_link attribute.
To be honest, Product Feed optimisation can get incredibly in-depth, and we’ve barely scratched the surface here. But hopefully, we’ve got you thinking and you’ll go away and begin the process of reviewing your own feed, starting with Product Titles, Product Descriptions, GTINs and Product Images.
For more information, Google has a comprehensive list of every single attribute you could ever want to use or learn more about. Perhaps a spot of bedtime reading?
Of course, if you have any further questions or would like help with your own Product Feed, or Google Shopping campaigns, you can fire us an email here...