23 July 2019
By Jon Akass
Jon is a Product Owner at Volo, and writes about how retailers and brands can improve their ecommerce performance.
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Google Shopping is a dominant force in ecommerce. Shopping ads now drive 79% of device ad spend and account for 87.9% of the clicks.
If you want to compete online, you need to be on Google Shopping. Especially in the fast-paced world of fashion and retail brands.
But beating the competition and delivering a high ROI on your product listings is far more complex than creating a Google Merchant Centre account. You need high-quality product listings to help maximise your visibility, clicks and conversions.
Here, we are going to explain what it takes to optimise your Google Shopping product listings and succeed in the competitive world of ecommerce. But first, some context.
Everything you see on Google Shopping is an ad. But which ads you see is not as simple as ‘pay for placement’. Instead, you have to bid on your Google Shopping campaigns, and how much you bid will impact where you appear in results. However, unlike Google Ads, you don’t choose keywords, based on the data you supply, Google Shopping decides when and where your ads appear. The key to success on Google Shopping is creating high-quality product listings with rich product data.
What’s more, Google Shopping ads operate on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. That means you pay based on interactions, not impressions. This can be effective, however it means you need to consider the goal of your product listings and may need to optimise for conversions and profit, rather than for impressions and clicks.
Your overarching Google Shopping campaign is important (your bid strategy, product segregation and more) but it all starts with product listing data.
This is your checklist to giving your Google Shopping campaign the best chance at success. Let’s get started!
Titles are arguably the most important component to get right in a Google Shopping product listing. This is because they’re one of the first things that the shopper will see and they are heavily weighted by the Google Shopping algorithm for relevance. They need to be informative, detailed and optimised for Google to identify keywords.
Google Shopping product titles are often shortened to fit on smaller pages, such as when they’re part of a regular Google search. You get 150 characters for your title, but only 70 are normally displayed in a thumbnail. Combined with how shoppers scan titles, that means you need to put a priority on the order in which you list information in your title.
In most cases, the best title optimisation for apparel is brand, gender, product type and attributes such as colour, size and material. This is slightly different to products like electronics, where titles favour a slightly different order: brand, attributes, product type and model number. However, depending on the category, priorities can vary. You should also be checking which keywords you should include in your titles by assessing which perform best and convert most customers. You can do this more easily with a tool such as an ecommerce platform, which assesses how your product data is performing.
Keep your titles as short as possible whilst also including relevant content — make sure they make sense to read and include as much detail as will fit.
An image is worth a thousand words. Make sure to pay attention to the images you use to promote your products. Although titles are key for ranking and are important for capturing the attention of shoppers, your product image (particularly the lead thumbnail) is the most critical element to grabbing clicks from passing shoppers.
Having multiple high-quality pictures within your listing is as important as your product description in terms of driving conversions. Here are a couple of things to look out for when adding images to your product listing:
Without images, your product listings will look bland, boring and also fail to convert customers, so make sure you’re at least using a stock image. Fundamentally, they don't know what your product looks like. Ensuring you have clear and high-quality images will help you stand out from the competition.
With the number of products listed online, filtered search has become a very popular way for shoppers to limit their search results and find only the things that they want. These shoppers know what they want and getting your product in front of them is critical to your success online. However, to do that, you need to understand the specific filter criteria for different products.
For example, if you’re selling clothing then filters can include size categories, colours or even materials. But they aren’t all the same. Even different search terms for similar products will deliver different results.
For example, the search term ‘trousers’ provides 9 colour categories: black, white, grey, brown, red, orange, green, blue and pink. The American term ‘pants’ introduced beige for a total of 10. The search term ‘jeans’ drops your colour filters to only black, brown, and blue.
To make matters worse, these product filters change over time and can be different for different people based on their past search history.
Accurately colour matching can be extremely time-consuming, especially when you have thousands of products to go through. This is one of the reasons retailers turn to ecommerce platforms — AI-enabled software can cross-reference Google Shopping filters with on-site product data and Google Shopping feeds. The added aid from an ecommerce platform makes Google Shopping filters much easier to set up, turning filters into a cost-effective way to convert into more sales.
Google requires that your listing data matches the data on the product pages that you’re linking to. This is to ensure that your products are up to date, accurate and in stock. If they differ from the listings on your product page, then your ad could be taken down. If you repeatedly break this rule, then your campaign could be suspended. This is why it’s incredibly important to double check all of your ads and ensure that the information is accurate.
Ecommerce platforms can actually make this process easier when you’re getting started with Google Shopping, as there is less to set up, making it managing this much more efficient given that all of the data is automatically managed.
You'll want to review your product listing performance regularly and look at key metrics such as conversion rates, basket size and order frequency. This will ensure the changes you're making will be of benefit to your product listings and maximise conversions. Analysing performance metrics is an essential part of iterating your product listings and improving them, hence why an ecommerce platform that offers reporting and actionable insights is such an important addition to your Google shopping management.
Again, ecommerce platforms that provide analytics capabilities will improve the results of your analysis while making the process far more efficient. However, Google Ads has a number of analytics features that you can use by default to understand how different Shopping ads are performing and see trends across your entire campaign.
As time goes on, you can use the data to refine your product listings. Whether it’s replacing images of products that convert poorly or swapping the priority of keywords in your titles, there’s a lot that can change over the course of your campaign.
It’s wise to ensure that your Google Shopping strategy aligns with your entire ecommerce campaign. This is to ensure that you bid correctly and convert your leads into effective sales. This is where it’s useful to categorise your products and ad groups to ensure your bids aren’t going to waste and also to ensure that your business goals are being reached.
A Google Shopping strategy requires a lot of time and resources, but there are other ecommerce platforms that could be beneficial to your needs. You need to be on Amazon, eBay, Instagram Shopping and Facebook — along with maintaining your own website’s product listings. That means making sure that all of your time is not spent on Google Shopping and you are coordinating the products you are pushing on Google Shopping with broader strategies that encompass all of these channels.
When used together with your Google Shopping product listings, ecommerce platforms can be a powerful tool to synchronize all of the data and information across multiple platforms, and automation gives you more free time to focus on your campaign. What is critical, however, is building a central data repository from which you can coordinate and synchronize all elements of your campaign.
Once your data needs are under control, you will have the chance to be more creative with your marketing campaigns, such as focusing on creating compelling titles and product descriptions or investing more money into ad spend. Getting all of this right on a business-wide level is crucial to your success online. However, making sure that your Google Shopping products listings are optimised is a vital step in that process and strategy. Make sure you do it right!
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