How To Guide – Google Shopping Campaigns & Feeds

Shopping-CartGoogle Shopping campaigns make it possible to conduct highly targeted and profitable campaigns for just about any product. Although they are managed from the AdWords dashboard, they are far more flexible and sophisticated than traditional AdWords text ads. Shopping campaign ads now often show up at the top of search pages. If you have used Product Listing Ads in the past, you should know that Google has replaced these with a new interface under the name Google Shopping campaigns. The basic concept is the same, but certain features have changed, providing sellers with more options and flexibility.

Today’s internet users are very image-oriented, which naturally draws their eyes to the images displayed by Google Shopping listings. It’s often possible to get better conversions from these campaigns than from text ads. There are many factors that go into successful Google Shopping campaigns. Let’s look at some of the most important points to keep in mind when setting up your campaigns.
 

The Basics of Setting up Google Shopping Campaigns

Here are the basic steps you need to take to set up your campaigns.

  • Link your Google AdWords account to the Merchant Center.
  • Create product data feeds, where you’ll be filling in all the essential data for your products.
  • Set up Ad Groups and Product Groups. You need at least one ad group to start selling. If you sell several brands or categories of products, it may be more convenient for you to set up multiple ad groups.
  • Bid on your product ads. You’ll be bidding on the actual products you’re selling rather than on keywords.
  • Track and optimize your campaigns.

 

Your Product Data Feeds

Before listing any products, you should do research on what the same or similar products are typically selling for, both on Google and elsewhere. You should also make sure that all of your products comply with Google’s regulations. Some types of products are completely prohibited by Google. These include gaming currency or accessories, aids for passing drug tests, pharmaceuticals, alcohol and anything pertaining to gambling.

Certain products, especially in categories such as nutrition and cosmetics, may contain ingredients that are restricted or prohibited. This changes over time, so you’ll want to keep up with the latest trends in your industry. For example, if you sell nutritional supplements, certain herbs may be restricted in some states or countries.

Product Data Feeds, which can be found in the Google Merchant Center, are where all of the products you’re selling are listed. It’s crucial that you fill out this section properly. First of all, you must meet Google’s criteria in order for your ad to even be accepted. Secondly, you will want to optimize this section to get the maximum number of clicks and conversions for your ads. The most important information that you must include here are the ID you choose for the product, the product name, description, product category, product type, link to the item’s sales page and price.

In a way, product data feeds make the job of writing ads simple. Your task is to simply fill in each section with the required information. It is, however, crucial to be accurate with all of your data. Any inaccuracies here can be disastrous for your campaign. For example, if you have the wrong link in your data feed, your ad will not be displayed by Google. Dead links or error pages will also prevent your ads from being displayed. You should regularly test your links and update them if you make changes to your website. It’s also crucial that your pricing information is correct. You must keep this up to date when prices change.

Even though the relevancy of ads is not determined by keywords, it’s still essential to use optimal keywords in your product descriptions. You can also include negative keywords, in order to avoid getting unwanted clicks from people who are unlikely to purchase your product.

The quality of your product images is another crucial aspect of your ads. With Google Shopping Campaigns, people will be drawn to your ads mainly by your images. You should always use high quality images that clearly display your product. Avoid images that are fuzzy or that contain irrelevant or distracting information.

Images are easiest to see on white backgrounds with only the product itself on display. For example, if your product is a pair of running shoes, the image should simply be of the running shoes. An image of a person wearing the running shoes on a scenic mountain trail may be nice to look at, but it won’t properly highlight your product. Also keep in mind that all images must be family-friendly to be accepted by Google.
 

Optimizing Your Product Listing Ads

One of the biggest differences between AdWords text ads and product listing ads (or PLAs) is that the latter are triggered by searches rather than keywords. At the same time, keywords still play an important secondary role when it comes to bidding. The point, however, is that you are primarily targeting your ads based on the actual brand, name or model of the product.

bigberthaAds are shown when people are searching for a specific item, created by a certain brand. This is why these campaigns provide precise targeting. Your products will be shown to potential buyers who are looking for exactly what you’re selling, not simply something in that general category. Because of this, you are bidding on search queries rather than keywords. You must decide how much you’re willing to spend to put your products in front of buyers who are searching for them. Therefore, one of the most important decisions you have to make when bidding is which search queries to include and which to exclude. You will see this when you click on View, Dimensions and Search Terms. You can also find this under Keywords, Details and Search Terms.

You should keep a close watch on which of your search queries are performing well and which are not. Just as you would discard under-performing keywords on a text ad campaign, you will want to do the same for search queries that show poor conversions. Google provides tools that make it easy to track your results. Search Funnel Reports provide a detailed analysis of how your conversions work, from the initial click to the conversion.

One way to make your ads stand out is to include promotional text to accompany your images. This can be used to push certain products during a holiday promotion for Christmas, Black Friday or Valentine’s Day. You can, for example, add text such as “free shipping” or “20% sale.” Make sure that the prices and shipping options on your sales page match whatever offer you promise in your ads.
 

Setting Up Product Groups

The better organized you are, the easier it will be to set up profitable campaigns and to track your results. You will be bidding on what are called Product Groups. Your ability to effectively manage your campaigns depends a great deal on how you set up your product groups. If you’re just starting out with a small number of products, this won’t be too complicated. If you’re selling a large number of products, though, it can be challenging.

If you only have one product group, this means that you’re bidding on everything in this group at the same time. This only makes sense if you only have one product, or several products of the same value. You should therefore separate your product groups in a way that’s logical, based on their value and the return you expect to get from them. You can create product groups by any criteria that makes sense to you. This may be by brand name, model or type, condition or size. Many merchants find that they create more product groups over time, as they find more and more distinctions. You will refine this process based on your results.

Keep in mind that when you set up product groups, anything that doesn’t fit into one of your groups will be designated to a group called Everything Else. You should keep track of what’s in this group, as you may want to create additional product groups for some of these items.
 

Bidding Tips

The following are some tips to keep in mind when bidding.

  • In general, you will want to set your bids based on the cost per conversion of each item.
  • If you sell seasonal items, such as clothing, you can adjust your bidding based on the time of year. You’ll also want to make adjustments for big shopping holidays.
  • Your own cost of acquiring the product will be a major factor when it comes to bidding. For example, if you get an especially good deal on a certain type of merchandise, you may be able to set a higher than normal bid. If you have to pay more for these products in the future, though, you have to remember to adjust your bid accordingly.
  • Use geographical modifiers when bidding. You’ll probably find that certain products do better in certain regions. Winter coats and skiing gear, for example, will usually sell better in the Northeast and Midwest than in the South. With other products, there may be less obvious factors that make certain products more or less popular in certain regions.
  • Remember your mobile shoppers. Mobile commerce is growing quickly. You can make mobile bid adjustments for ad groups. As with all types of advertising, you’ll want to test and find out which of your products are most popular with mobile shoppers. Not all products do well with mobile, so you may not want to enable all of your ads for mobile clicks.
  • Use Bid Simulators. Google lets you use bid simulators to give you a good estimate of how setting or changing your bids can affect your ads’ performance. There are several different bid simulators which allow you to monitor different metrics. The regular bid simulators, for example, let you estimate how bid changes are likely to impact your clicks, impressions and conversions. The Mobile Bid Adjustment Simulator lets you estimate the impact of adjusting your mobile bids.

 

Getting the Most Out of Your Google Shopping Campaigns

Google Shopping campaigns provide merchants with an extremely flexible and sophisticated form of advertising. If you leverage all of the features provided by Google, you can continually fine-tune the performance of your ads. It’s up to you, of course, to choose items that are in demand and that offer good value to your customers. The main thing to keep in mind is that you should constantly track and test all of your metrics and adjust your bids accordingly.

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