Best Practices for Google Shopping Campaigns
Google Shopping Campaigns work better with Good Site Organisation
Google Shopping campaigns have been growing in popularity for years now and it can be safely assumed will continue to capture more and more online commerce.
There are two ways one may go about building a Google Shopping campaign. You can manually build a feed and export into into Google Merchant centre. This approach requires building out a spreadsheet row by row for all your products you wish to advertise. This can be uploaded, or you can link Merchant Centre to Google Docs. Manually built feeds have advantages and disadvantages.
Disadvantages of Manual Feeds –
Will not update availability, price
You have full editorial control of descriptions and titles, and can experiment with changes
It’s quite quick if you only have a handful of products.
You can easily create custom columns to do various neat things.
Updating current prices and other details can be partly overcome by setting Merchant Centre to crawl your site and automatically udates some features of your feed, but your feed still needs to be reasonably accurate.
Automated Google Shopping Campaign Feeds
If you have many products, you would normally export this data in an automatically generated feed that is sent direct to the Merchant centre. This however does require propper set up. If you have a wordpress website, there are plugins that can help you, but they are severely limited.
The automatic generation of the feed on the other hand reflects the data on your website. And this is the missing variable. Having a well organised website in terms of grouping products together, having product pages which have relevant information, and good descriptive titles and images all helps greatly. All the things that helps the Shopping campaign also help your visitors find the right product, and should help with organic traffic volume. So we say that for large sites, start with your website content before generating your feed, and this will help you accross the board.
What description you have on the product page and page title is vital to help Google match search queries to your product. The only control you have over this is otherwise to deploy negative keywords.
So what we find is ideal is to include all the key relevant information in the description, but not be too generic. You could be more generic for your most popular items, because Google will easily be able to match your product to many search queries. This info is used to create larger feeds automatically.
When the feed is created the next step is to hop over to Google Ads (AdWords), and here is when you will really appreciate how your feed is organised. With large feeds of hundreds or thousands of products, you absolutely need to group related products together and build out into their own ad groups and campaigns. This theming helps greatly with things like negative keyword optimisation and targeting options.
To do this, a very good way is to have naturally related products grouped together on your website, and use these website categories to populate the ‘product_type’ column attribute.
This is definitely the ideal approach, because it means that the website is organised in an ideal way. If you have lots of products, you need top level category pages and menu options, and these need to be organised so that navigation is very easy for the customer. Even with shopping campaigns we see that many clicks will not land people on the correct product. This can’t always be avoided. For example you might sell Nike t-shirts in different styles, and the search query for your advert, was ‘buy Nike T-shirts’. When they land on your page, it is essential that they can find all other Nike T-shirts that you sell with as little effort as possible, and having them grouped together on your site with a considerate site structure and intuitive navigation helps with this sort of user flow.
This is the difference between Google Shopping campaigns and Search (text) Campaigns. Search campaigns using keywords allows you to land visitors at the category level where they can easily see the different products to navigate to, sor broad search terms they can land on a page that helps them narrow down, whereas a lot of Shopping ad clicks will bounce because it is hard for users to navigate to the right product, and these ads always land on a particular product page. The key thing here is that it is easy to find the parent category, whereas with normal search text campaigns, its often more about finding daughter categories. Whichever page you are landing visitors on, making it easy to see similar products, and the parent category, is vital. These links can be included on the page as well as the menu, and this creates inbound links that help with your Organic search rankings.
We see websites where similar products are buried all over the site and clicking on the category only shows half of their actual products, because they don’t even realise where they have put all their product pages.
Fixing these issues reduces bounce rates, increases conversion rates, and will benefit all your channels, be it Direct, Organic, Referal, Email or Paid.
Because Google Shopping is an efficient ‘comparison engine’ it is also important to note that you are competing either with the same products offered by other vendors, or unique products that get bundled with different products in the SERP. There is no avoiding the fact that consumers have expectations of price and that you will need to provide products that match or exceed those expectations, so it is worth reviewing which products you provide that are competitive and maybe exclude the ones that aren’t from your campaign.
Google shopping campaigns are less about selling a whole new concept, or brand awareness, but selling something to someone who is already looking to purchase soon. It can’t sell people on advanced concepts but it does match customers to solutions, so keep an eye on price point. Google does not yet have features that target income levels so you will be mixed in with budget solutions.