June 18, 2021
Google Smart Shopping: What Makes it Special and How to Make it Work for You
Google Shopping campaigns offer great advantages for ecommerce businesses, including showing information-rich ads to consumers, displaying multiple products to customers on increased real estate on the search results page, and higher CTRs than text ads. While driving fantastic ecommerce results might seem like magic, getting started and driving quality results on Google Shopping is a relatively simple process.
In order to start displaying ads on Google Shopping, you must complete three prerequisites:
1. Google Merchant Center
Getting started with Google Merchant Center is a quick process. Simply go to the merchants.google.com website and log in with the Google account you wish to use to start your Shopping campaign. The Google Merchant Center will be your dashboard resource for Product Overview, Performance and Data Feed Tools.
2. Data Feed (aka Product Feed)
The Merchant Center Data Feed is a descriptive spreadsheet of all products in your inventory, and you can segment your data feed by brand, product type, labels and even product IDs. It is extremely important to align each segment in a way that will best complement your Shopping campaign’s goals. Ultimately, your segmentation strategy should allow you to isolate your strongest performing categories so that you can direct additional budget to these areas.
A reseller with multiple products at a wide range of price points would typically segment by Category or Product Type, allowing the Shopping campaign to focus on the specific Categories or Product Types that drive the best results. A vendor with only a few items might be better served segmenting by Item ID number, so that each individual Item ID can be managed separately within the Shopping campaign.
3. Shopping Campaign
Now that the Merchant Center is up and running and the Data Feed is appropriately segmented, it is time to build and manage your Shopping campaign. Shopping campaigns are managed through Google AdWords, and can be linked to the Merchant Center via the Settings tab. Shopping campaigns contain Ad Groups and Product Groups which allow advertisers to group their products in a similar way that they group keywords in Search campaigns. (Bonus: Once your Shopping campaign is set up on Google, consider moving it over to Bing as well.)
Once your Shopping campaign is up and running, you should manage it similarly to your text ad campaigns, by emphasizing high-performing groups, reducing exposure to poor-performing categories and blocking irrelevant search terms.
The first step for Shopping success is recognizing and acting on strong performing Shopping categories. By clicking on the pencil icon in the Product Group tab of every Shopping campaign, you can view product performance based on the segmentation in your product feed.
Much as you would separate top-spend and top-converting keyword groups into unique Search campaigns, you should break top-spend and performing Categories or Product Types into their own campaigns, ad groups, or at least product groups. You can then adjust bids (and budgets and settings for individual campaigns) separately for your top-volume segments, allowing you the control necessary to bid these groups to your goal.
Savvy paid search wizards might point out that isolating new product groups might cause overlap between your existing All Products campaign and your new, more granular campaigns. This is another problem that you can easily fix with a rather unique feature of Shopping Campaigns: the Priority setting. Shopping campaigns allow you to set the priority of each campaign. By setting your higher-performing campaigns to High priority, and then leaving your more general campaigns at Medium or Low priority, you will direct the more specific traffic into the most specific campaigns.
Finally, don’t forget to add negative keywords to your Shopping campaigns. Since you’re not bidding on specific keywords, it’s likely that your new campaigns will show for some very general and short-tail terms. Adding negative keywords is the best way to sculpt your search traffic and exclude searches for irrelevant or unacceptably general terms.
It is important to remember that these are only the first steps to having a fully-fledged Shopping campaign. Check out more Metric Theory blog posts to get more advanced Google Shopping techniques and management advice.