The Click-By-Click Guide to Google Shopping for eCommerce Businesses
Google introduces a large portion of the world’s shoppers to new products and merchants that might have gone undiscovered every second. Every hour. Every day.
In fact, 36% of all product searches originate on the oft-cited search engine.
When it comes to product searches, Google comes in second only to Amazon, which now dominates the space with almost half of the market share. Yet, despite Amazon’s ascent, Shopping ads and listings remain an effective way to stand out—Google Shopping is available across ninety markets, while Amazon has recently just breached eleven.
Businesses that want to get in front of consumers as they shop online must first build a reliable online store. Merchants can do this seamlessly with a website builder equipped with advanced business features that offer a variety of online store templates. Once a store's set up, a strong eCommerce marketing strategy that highlights products across the entire buying journey, including where people most likely conduct initial product research, can help them grow their eCommerce business.
The following guide provides an overview of Google Shopping and contains step-by-step instructions for creating a Google Merchant Center and setting up campaigns so you can start selling on Google Shopping.
Sync and optimize your Google Shopping product feeds with the Wix App Market. Maximize your sales by connecting a Wix App to your eCommerce website.
What is Google Shopping?
Google Shopping is the tech giant’s dedicated product search engine that enables consumers to search for, compare, and even buy products pulled from the inventory of thousands of online retailers directly from Google.
Google Shopping ads are part of Google’s larger ad ecosystem that includes search, display, video, and app ads. As with Google Search, Google Shopping includes paid and free product listings, making them a valuable marketing and sales resource for businesses of all sizes.
You’ve most likely seen Google Shopping’s product image carousels—they sit at the top of search results for terms that indicate shopping intent, like “holiday gifts” or “sneakers for women.”
eCommerce businesses that list products on Google Shopping have the option to send Google users to their online store or sell directly from Google (if in the U.S.) through Google’s commission-free “Buy on Google” program. We’ll get to the details about this and other programs in a minute.
Why merchants should be selling on Google Shopping
In 2021, Google Shopping is a combination of all its former iterations. It’s a shopping comparison engine where consumers can research and compare products, but it’s also a shopping destination.
Google’s Buy on Google feature allows shoppers to purchase items from merchants without leaving Google.
For nearly a decade—from 2012 through April 2020—all products listed on Google Shopping were sponsored products, meaning businesses paid to list them in the shopping engine.
But in April 2020, Google announced that it would once again be free to list products. Thus, Google Shopping now includes both paid and free product listings across all relevant Google platforms.
This is one great reason for you to be selling on Google Shopping.
Another great reason? Trust.
A recent survey by The Verge revealed that Google gets the highest score when it comes to tech brands they trust the most—more than Amazon, more than Apple, and more than Microsoft.
The reason for this has to do with Google’s widespread ubiquity around all things search. Google is the default search engine for many people, owning about 92 percent of the global search market.
If 48 percent of people start their product research on a search engine, and 92 percent of people use Google to search, then it stands to reason you should be selling on Google Shopping. Lastly, if you run your own Wix online store, Google Shopping ads can uplevel your omnichannel retail strategy, offering an added acquisition channel to your mix. You can even use the Wix App Market to sync directly with your Google Shopping feed in a matter of minutes.
Below, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to sell on Google Shopping, starting with creating a Google Merchant Center account.
How to list your products with Google Merchant Center (GMC)
Google Merchant Center (GMC) is a Google product that enables eCommerce businesses to manage their product inventory across Google Shopping platforms and properties.
GMC integrates with other Google products like Google Ads, Google Search, Google Local, Google My Business and Google Analytics.
With a GMC account, vendors can manage their product listings either individually or by uploading datasheets which is what Google uses to display Shopping ads and free listings on Google Shopping.
Before you can create a GMC account, you need to do the following (note: links to more detailed instructions directly from Google have been included throughout):
Create a Google account: You must have at least one.
Verify your business and website with Google My Business (only relevant to businesses with a physical presence): To claim or create your profile on Google My Business, you’ll need a physical business address, contact number, tech support, and secure checkout. Once you’ve verified your business, you can customize your profile by adding photographs, hours, and other business information. Your My Business profile is what pops up on Google’s main search results when someone does a search for your business name or “type” (if it’s a local search).
Create your Google Merchant Center Account: Google walks you through the process of setting up your account, but keep in mind you’ll need two things—1) an online store that accepts payments with clearly priced products, offers returns, and has your contact information and 2) physical products (not services) in your store.
Verify your website: To start showing products in Google Shopping ads, you need to prove that you own your website. Google provides detailed information on what this means and how to do that. Follow the instructions for website verification once you’ve set up and logged into your GMC. Prior to this step, you’ll want to ensure that you have an active online store available. Wix makes the process of launching your own eCommerce store as easy as opening a new email account. Starting an online store can be completed in ten easy steps.
Input your business information: Add your business name, country and business time zone. Your business name is what appears on your product listing on Google. Google also uses your business name to create your Merchant Center Account name. You can also opt into Google Merchant emails (or not) and agree to Google’s terms of service.
Set up product information (including your free product listings) and add more detailed business information: This is where you can add tax, shipping, website address, business address/phone, and product data. Your product data can be uploaded to the GMC via a product feed or you can add products one at a time.
Follow with Buy on Google setup (this is optional): Buy on Google lets you sell products directly on Google (with no commission fees). This program is available in the US only. If you want to set this up, select “Growth” in the left navigation then “Manage Programs” and click “Get Started” in the Buy on Google box. To be eligible for this program, you must:
Provide a 30-day return policy for all products (starting from the delivery date)
Meet Google’s return policies for all products including: no used products, no vehicle parts, no digital goods/subscriptions, no goods requiring in-store activation, no products with age/ID requirements.
Connect to Google Ads: This is a necessary step if you want to show paid product ads in Google Shopping. You’ll need to connect your GMC to your Google Ads account (if you don’t already have a Google Ads account, you’ll need to set one up.) To connect to Google Ads from your GMC, click on “Growth” in the left navigation bar and select “Manage program” then select “Get started” beneath the Shopping ads (per the graphic below). You’ll need to complete your product and business information before you can connect your GMC to Google Ads. This step also requires you to review and accept the GMC policies.
Start things off with a test campaign: Once your GMC and Google Ads accounts are linked, you can create your first shopping campaign in Google ads. To do that, sign in to your Google Ads account and do the following:
Click “campaigns” on the left side navigation bar.
Click the “plus” sign, select “New” campaign, and select “Shopping” for campaign type.
Set up your campaign preferences which include campaign name, country of sale, inventory filter (to specify what products you want to promote), daily budget, and other campaign specifics. You’ll also specify the GMC you want to use for this campaign in this section.
Click “save and continue” and you’ll move on to creating your first shopping ad group.
Choose what kind of ad you want in your shopping ad group: You can choose a Product Shopping ad (recommended for new advertisers) which is your basic one-product-per-listing shopping ad. You can also create a Showcase Shopping ad that lets you advertise several products in a single ad.
Create your first ad group by adding the ad group name (e.g., “Mens Shoes” and entering a bid amount, then click “Save.”
Once your ad group is created, you’ll arrive at the product groups page. You’ll see the default product groups labeled as “all products” which means that all products you sell will be promoted in your campaign. You can refine what products show in your ads by creating product groups.
Tips for optimizing Google Shopping Campaigns
You’re not done yet. Once you’ve set up your Google Shopping campaign and turned them on, you’ll need to manage and optimize them.
The best way to optimize your Google Shopping ads is to make sure your product feed is optimized. Product data is what shapes how your ads (and free listings) perform on Google. High quality, accurate product data is essential for optimal Shopping ad performance.
To ensure an optimized product feed, do these things:
Include all the required data attributes under Google’s product data specification guidelines that are applicable to your products.
Create your feed immediately after updating your product database.
Submit your GMC data as soon as you update your website inventory. Google typically updates GMC information for existing products within minutes.
Enable automatic item updates. This helps avoid account-level suspension for price and availability issues/mismatches. Google notes that this feature is most appropriate for a small portion of your inventory and provides more guidance here.
Make sure the information in your Shopping ads matches what’s on your website. Google monitors this, so if your pricing or availability don’t match (for example), your ads will be disapproved.
Provide verifiable data on your website. Providing price and availability information directly in the HTTP response helps google verify data faster (and reduces traffic to your servers during verification). Google also recommends using structured data markup to list price and availability.
Display only the final price on your product pages. If your prices are being displayed dynamically, make sure you don’t display the price on the product page until it's fully loaded. You can use Google’s URL Inspection tool to confirm the price is being displayed accurately for your Shopping ads and free listings.
You should also plan to optimize the actual Shopping campaigns within Google Ads by creating an organized campaign and ad group structure. This enables you to bid separately for different product categories at either the campaign or ad group levels. Some products are more competitive than others, so bidding the same amount for every product is unnecessary (and can be expensive).
One way to manage product bidding is to group your products into separate ad groups and set a unique bid for each ad group. For example, if you sell shoes, you can create a shopping campaign for “Mens Shoes” and within that campaign, create ad groups for: Mens Sneakers, Mens Boots, Mens Dress Shoes, etc.
And, finally, it’s important to monitor key performance indicators like total sales, cost per conversion and ROI.
Google Ads has various bidding strategies that let you optimize the way your ads are served based on performance—for example, target cost per acquisition (CPA) automatically changes bid amounts based on a target CPA you specify. Familiarize yourself with the different bidding strategies so you can find the best one for your specific goals.
Google Shopping, a reliable way to reach consumers everywhere
Google Shopping remains a powerful outlet to reach shoppers online, especially when factoring for reach. Recently, Google reported that retail searches grew 200 percent in Q4 2020 versus the previous year.
This year, many customers who begin their shopping journey online on Google will end up in a physical business location to pick up their order thanks to the recent adoption of omnichannel retail fulfillment options like buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS). BOPIS adoption grew 28 percent by February 2020 compared with the previous year.
A platform like Wix eCommerce lets you reach your customers in person, on the web, on mobile, in online marketplaces, and on social media. By integrating your Google Shopping with your Wix store, you can gain an end-to-end view of your customer base, selling to them more effectively in the process.
Maximize your omnichannel retail by using the Wix App Market to connect your Google Shopping to your online store.
Head of Outbound Marketing, Wix eCommerce
Bogar leads thought leadership and outbound marketing for Wix eCommerce. He has an extremely soft spot for all things eCommerce, retail, tech, content, and marketing.