Ah, Google Shopping, or Google Product Search as it was once known. In fact, it’s had a few names; back in the days of free product listings it used to be called Froogle – a play on words with ‘frugal’ and ‘Google’ coming together to make a pun-related title, but you probably didn’t need me to explain that one.
Anyway, despite the bad headlines Google got back in June 2017 when they had to pay that €2.7 billion fine – small change to Google, let’s face it – for giving their own results priority in searches, Google Shopping is and continues to be one of the most successful platforms for e-commerce retailers wanting to sell products online, but how exactly do you get Google Shopping to be a vital part of your AdWords expenditure? Well, I’m glad you asked, let me answer that for you…
How To Get Your Product Listings On The Main SERP’s
First, let’s start with your product titles
These carry the most weight with Google in order for them to judge relevancy, which means having an accurate product title is the bee’s knees, the cat’s pyjamas, the dog’s bol.… you get the picture. It’s crucial.
But it’s not quite as simple as just ‘this is what the thing is’, no, you’ve got to include the key product information that customers include in their searches; think like a customer. This means that the order of the title is therefore very important; you want the most applicable aspects of what your customers may be searching for at the front of your product title.
So let’s say you’re a sports retailer, selling Adidas football boots. In this instance you could prioritise the titles by brand (plus maybe model), gender, product, colour and size; which could look like this: Adidas Predator Men’s Football Boots, Black/White, Size 9. (These new ones aren’t anywhere near as nice as the original ones Beckham wore, circa 2003, but I digress!)
But, if the brands you sell aren’t quite as well-known as Adidas and you know your customers tend to search more around colour and/or style combinations, then again you’ll need to prioritise your titles accordingly.
Next up: product descriptions
Your product description is your big chance to reiterate and expand on the most relevant information to the product. So while your product title should only include the key item information about the product, your description allows you to include further details that the user will find useful and give them the confidence to know that this is exactly the product they are looking for.
Let’s stay with those Adidas football boots for a second; it’s here you could include the stud of the boot – so firm ground, soft ground or artificial etc. – and you also include the material the boots are made from. If you’re going to adhere to Google’s best practice, you’re going to want to keep your description length between 500 – 800 characters, and once again the most important extra information should be weighted to the front of your description.
This is an area Google has been cracking down on in recent times, right up to the point where even if your product images are approved, they may not actually meet the current Google requirements. The most typical problem users have here is the use of promotional text, watermarks or borders on their images. If your images contain any of those, get rid.
When it comes to the size of images, they need to be at least 100 x 100 pixels (250 x 250 for clothing). Something that’s also worth noting is that Google prefers the product on a white background. Adhere to these tips and you won’t go far wrong!
There are many other areas that you’ll need to keep nice and tidy, which include correct links, correct categorisation and product types and including MPNs and/or GTINs. While having correct links (URLs) might seem like a totally obvious thing to point out, we often encounter issues with redirects. It’s also key that you use the right security protocol, which means using ‘http’ and ‘https’ correctly for landing pages.
Correct Google Product Category and after that, correct Product Type, can massively help with both relevancy, structure of your Shopping campaign(s) and it means you can still show to anyone who filters products by category within Google Shopping. For more info on this, check out Google’s helpsheet here.
Finally, product identifiers – these need to be spot on. You have to include the brand and GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) providing they exist, however, if a product doesn’t have a GTIN, then you should include the MPN (Manufacturer Part Number), plus the brand. “Ah, but I don’t think either of these exist”, I hear you say. In that case, give up and get yourself down to your local market and flog your products there instead! Nah, just kidding, you can use the ‘identifier exists’ attribute within your feed to tell Google that certain products are an exception and don’t have the necessary information available. But, don’t try to play Google at this one; if a GTIN actually exists and you try to tell Google that it doesn’t, they will find you and they will kill you disapprove your products. Oh, and just to keep you on your toes, GTINs can be known as EAN or barcode numbers, just so you’re aware!