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The beginner’s guide on how to sell on Google

how to sell on Google

When it comes to growing your customer base, creating an eCommerce website opens up new dimensions. Because online shoppers don’t need to visit a physical store to buy your merchandise, your reach is potentially infinite—as long as your audience knows where to find you.

Thankfully, there’s a single destination most internet users rely on to find information. It all comes down to knowing how to sell on Google, the search engine that handles more than 90% of all internet searches, according to Similarweb.

Google even provides a specialized experience called Google Shopping that showcases individual products and promotional offers, with links to your online store. Search engines are the top way consumers discover new brands, so leveraging Google Shopping can be a worthwhile investment in growing your business.

How does Google Shopping work?

Google Shopping is a commerce-focused search tool. As with its traditional search engine, Google Shopping includes free—or “organic”—product listings, as well as paid placements.

Google Shopping listings that appear within the search environment include images, text, an aggregate product rating and links. They are displayed amidst the search results page for terms that indicate shopping intent, such as “Converse sneakers” or “Father’s Day gifts.” They’re also accessible via the “Shopping” tab or, the central hub for product listings on Google.

Additionally, Shopping listings are available across Google’s properties, such as within Gmail, YouTube and Google-owned apps. Shopping listings are available on all device types—not just mobile and desktop—and through voice search and the visual search tool, Google Lens.

Like other online marketplaces, shoppers can buy items from multiple merchants through a single payment mechanism, Buy on Google (currently only available in the United States). Or, they can purchase items directly from your site.

Who can sell on Google?

Technically, any retailer with a verified phone number and business address can sell products via Google Shopping. If you don’t have an online store and are based in the U.S., you can use the Buy on Google feature to receive orders and/or display in-store inventory online.

That said, merchants who do have robust eCommerce sites have a distinct advantage beyond just multichannel selling. Not only can you automate the creation of Google Shopping listings, but any and all paid Google Shopping ads require a verified website.

How to sell on Google

Learning how to set up and administer Google Shopping listings and ad campaigns is a worthwhile effort, since the potential boost in visibility and customer acquisition can be substantial. You’ll need to:

01. Set up a Google Merchant Center account

Google offers a one-stop hub for managing your business’ listings, the Google Merchant Center (GMC). Its features and reporting tools help keep track of listings and increasingly leverage artificial intelligence to streamline the process and suggest the right listing types for your goals.

In fact, a new version of the GMC, called Merchant Center Next, is now in testing mode, with full rollout predicted in 2024, according to Search Engine Land. Merchant Center Next will automate much of the labor surrounding setting up a product feed, so you can focus on customizing listings and targeting paid placements.

Create a Google Merchant Center account

If you don’t already have a Google account with a email address, set that up first, then head over to the Google Merchant Center setup wizard. Alternatively, if you have a Wix website, you can create a GMC account directly from your site’s dashboard, simplifying the process into a few simple steps. In setting up the account, you’ll provide basic information about your business, including:

  • Your name, location and phone number: You’ll also be asked for a preferred contact method. A verified phone number is required before proceeding further.

  • Where you conduct transactions: You can link to your online store, use Buy on Google, direct shoppers to buy in-store or a combination of the three.

  • Any third-party services or agencies you use to manage listings: In addition to ad agencies, you can sync order management and fulfillment tools such as ShipStation, which is available to Wix merchants through the Wix App Market.

Connect your website

Before you can begin syncing products and offers, Google needs to verify that you actually own your website.

  • If you already use another Google service, account verification may be automatic, or you can manually verify your site through your Google Tag Manager or Google Analytics accounts.

  • If you have a Wix website, Wix’s native integration with Google will verify and claim your site for you.

  • You can also complete verification by adding tags to your web page or a file to the host server.

  • Once verified, click the “Claim website” button in the GMC console to authorize connection to your online store.

Wix marketing integrations showing Google Merchant feed

Choose an upload method

You can choose to automate your product listings, or manually upload your offerings.

  • Take advantage of automation: Wix merchants can use the built-in Google Merchant Solutions connector to sync listings with their online store product information. Merchant Center offers this automated functionality for any online store. You can still manually edit Shopping listings via the Merchant Center once the feed has been established.

  • Manually upload your offerings: If you opt to create a manual list of products to upload to GMC, the format and product attributes must match Google’s criteria. Consult the guidelines for uploading a file or use Google’s Sheets template.

Finalize your product feed

Finalize your feed by making sure everything is good standing.

  • Provide the required policy information: Your website must list information on product returns before you can activate a feed, and you’ll need to configure shipping settings so shoppers can view options and costs from within the Shopping environment.

  • Double-check everything: Review your feed through the GMC and correct any errors. Google lists the status of each product in the feed and provides details about any rejected items.

02. Optimize your product listings for Google Shopping

You already know that robust product content can help convince visitors to your own online store to become paying customers. That same principle applies to Google Shopping. Comprehensive, effectively-optimized content can help boost visibility of your listings and encourage searchers to engage with your brand across all platforms, whether they choose to complete a transaction through Google, your website or a physical store. For the best results, incorporate the elements below.

Use structured data markup

Structured data markup helps Google parse feeds automatically from your online store catalog. Wix’s eCommerce tools can automatically incorporate structured markup tags to enable syncing with Google Shopping and other services. If you need to add markup manually, Google provides setup information within the GMC knowledge base.

Name with care

Google has a 150-character limit on the product “title” or name, so select words that are concise but compelling. Use the Google Keyword Planner within the Google Ads toolset to uncover the most popular terminology consumers are searching for. While Google Keyword Planner is used primarily for pay-per-click keyword research, you can still glean valuable insights from the tool on popular, relevant and high-volume SEO queries.

Spotlight unique attributes in the description

Your product is likely to be one listing among many, so the description should highlight unique characteristics.

  • Provide accurate details that map to Google’s list of product attributes, including availability, color, size and materials. If you have a Wix website, this process is automated; native integration will automatically align product attributes from your Wix catalog to your Google listings.

  • Use bullet points to facilitate quick skimming through a list of product features.

  • If you’re selling a brand-name product, highlight authenticity or your credentials as an authorized reseller.

Include high-quality images

With limited screen real estate available, especially on mobile devices, product images for Google Shopping need to convey a lot of information at a glance. Check that your files conform to Google’s size and dimension specifications, and invest in high-quality photography.

  • Show a single product on a plain white background. For bundles or kits, group items together so shoppers understand what exactly is included.

  • Don’t add promotional icons or keywords as part of the image.

  • Include secondary images that show product details or, for apparel, on-model shots.

Avoid policy violations

Google prohibits certain products, including anything counterfeit, graphic or discriminatory, so set up business rules to ensure that your feed excludes any problematic items. In addition, you must adhere to Google’s requirements surrounding pricing accuracy, customer data collection and advertising claims, the specifics of which are all outlined in the GMC knowledge base. Continuously monitor your feed and promptly correct or remove any problematic listings.

03. Enhance listings with Shopping Ad campaigns

To boost visibility of specific items or promotions, you can enhance your listing using Google’s Shopping Ads. Unlike other forms of search advertising, you don’t bid on individual keywords. Instead, Google leverages the assets in your GMC feed to match your listings with potential buyers. These paid product listings receive top billing on the search engine results page above organic results.

Because they’re triggered by relevant keyword terms, Shopping ads reach viewers who are actively researching products and predisposed to buy. Conversion rates for Shopping ads can be up to 30% higher than traditional text-only search ads, according to a report by Merkle. Follow the steps to set up paid campaigns.

Connect to Google Ads

Linking your GMC and Google Ads accounts enables syncing campaign content with your current product feed.

  • After clicking the gear-shaped Settings icon in GMC, follow the link for “Linked Accounts.” You’ll be asked to enter or generate a Google Ads customer ID as part of the process.

  • You’ll need administrator-level access to the Google Ads account to confirm that you want the two accounts to be linked.

  • Complete billing information to pay for your campaigns.

Alternatively, Wix users who create a GMC account directly from their Wix site can connect to the built-in Google Ads tool under the Marketing & SEO menu of their dashboard. Note this does not support an outside Google Ads account.

Choose a Google Shopping ad format

Google’s tools are continually evolving, and the platform currently offers two options for creating campaigns based on Merchant Center product feeds.

  • Standard Shopping ads: With Standard Shopping ads, you create campaigns specific to products and audiences you select, and pay on a cost-per-click basis. Ads run within search results.

  • Performance Max: Google’s cutting-edge Performance Max program automatically creates and places ads according to goals you set, and you pay based on performance related to those goals. While you set a budget and broad parameters for your campaign, Performance Max automates bidding and creation of ad content, which can appear across YouTube, Maps, Google’s display ad network and other properties in addition to Search and Shopping.

While Standard Shopping ads give you granular control, you need to manually set up and maintain campaigns, and ad formats are limited. With Performance Max, the algorithm determines where and how your budget is spent, giving you less control, but Google can target your optimal audience across its ecosystem without manual creation of separate ad types.

You can also take advantage of Google Ads with Wix and create campaigns directly from your site dashboard in a seamless, step-by-step process. Wix’s integrated tool also provides content and keyword suggestions, plus conversion tracking to see which campaigns are performing best.

Set your audience and product parameters

Define your campaign’s purpose and duration so you set parameters with specific goals in mind. Both Standard Shopping ads and Performance Max enable you to specify certain targets.

  • Geography: The regions and/or languages in which your ads will appear. Local inventory options enable you to target audiences near store locations.

  • Audience: Google can identify relevant audiences based on your own existing customer and shopper data, and you can specify audience targets based on demographics.

  • Products: You can set up campaigns for individual products or categories as well as create lists of items to exclude.

Define your budget and bidding strategy

While Standard Shopping ads still provide a manual cost-per-click bidding option for campaigns, all the other potential bidding strategies are automated, which means that Google determines the optimal bid based on your spending goal. You can direct Google to maximize clicks, maximize conversion or conversion value, set a target return on ad spending (ROAS) or direct Google to dynamically adjust cost-per-click bids based on likelihood of sales.

Setting an average daily budget controls the costs of automated bidding. While on any given day bids may go over or under the cap, over the course of each month, Google will even out spending so you don’t exceed your budget.

Monitor and adjust

Use Google’s extensive reporting tools to track Shopping Ad performance and marry in data from your eCommerce site, such as via Wix Analytics, to build a holistic picture of how your Shopping campaigns are impacting sales. You may need to adjust your bidding strategies, campaign parameters or budget to keep performance on track.

suede shoes in a Google Shopping listing

Best practices for selling on Google

Just as you would formulate a plan for launching a new store location and building foot traffic and sales, when starting a business, Google Shopping is a new outpost for your brand that requires patience and investment. To lay a strong foundation for growth, consider the following best practices. These best practices can often be applied when you're learning how to sell on Instagram or how to sell on eBay, too.

Start small with ads

Unless you’re already a whiz at Google Ads, you’ll learn as you go—but that education can be expensive. Plus, allocating a substantial budget right away can generate traffic without boosting sales, which can make it harder to pinpoint what’s working and what needs to change.

Instead, force yourself to focus on quality over quantity. Run and test just a few small ads until they behave as expected and you understand how to tweak settings to influence results.

Nurture your feed

Your product feed is the foundation of your Shopping experience, so regularly spot-check listings to make sure they’re accurate and comprehensive, and that images are displaying correctly. If you make changes to the substance or format of your eCommerce site product catalog, check the effect on your Shopping feed and correct any glitches.

Add promotional enhancements judiciously

Shopping Ads can display promotional offers such as a percentage discount or free shipping. These offers are highlighted within the listing, and can be effective sales drivers; Google reports that listings with promotions generate purchases 28% more often than regular listings. As with your Shopping feed overall, it’s wise to test promotions on a limited scale first to maintain your profit margin and understand the impact of offers on your order management and fulfillment operations.

Go negative and exclude

While you don’t target or bid on keywords for Shopping listings, you can specify search terms that should not trigger display of said listings. For example, if you sell jeans, you can exclude “slacks” to ensure your casual denim doesn’t show up in searches for office-friendly trousers. You can set these “negative keywords” to apply across all your ads or on a campaign-by-campaign basis. As with everything else related to Shopping, start with a small list and add incrementally, as eliminating too many terms will result in less visibility for your listings.

Similarly, you can exclude individual items in your product feed from campaigns. By creating a feed label, you can designate products you want to promote, excluding the rest. This option is helpful for seasonal items you may still carry but don’t want to highlight, such as parkas in summer.

Think beyond first-time clicks

While Google Shopping is a great way to introduce your brand to new audiences, it can also be a handy way to re-capture attention and remind prior visitors about your product offering. If you enable dynamic remarketing, you can target audiences with ad content that aligns with what they’ve previously browsed. By displaying items left in the cart, products browsed but not added to the cart, alternatives in the same category and relevant sale items, you can convince shoppers to take another look at your brand’s offerings and consider making a purchase.

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