Google Shopping Campaigns are a great way to get more eCommerce sales. Putting a product image and a price in front of potential customers you know are searching for products is a great way of enticing people in. However if you don’t understand how product listing ads work on the back end you are going to have trouble setting them up, whatever you are selling.
This blog aims at helping you understand the fundamentals of the Google product feed, which is what makes the product listing ads work.
1: What is the Google Product Feed?
The product feed is essentially a big spreadsheet that has all your products in it with Google relevant attributes. Although the spreadsheet that is uploaded to your merchant centre will be in a different format you can design your feed in Excel and thinking of it as a big spreadsheet is the easiest way to conceptualise the feed. When you think about it like this you have a series of columns for the attributes and the different products in the rows. Google then use the information in the feed to present relevant ads to people who are searching for products online.
One of the differences between Google Shopping Campaigns and other forms of Adwords is in the way that the ads are triggered. Rather than adding in keywords it’s the feed attributes that are scanned for matches to what the user has searched.
This means that if you don’t have the right information in the feed then people will not be able to find your products accurately and Google hates inaccuracy.
This means that you need to know what the attributes mean and what types of information you need in them. For example making sure that your description is factual but keyword heavy is an important balance to strike. Without relevant keywords in the title and description how are people going to see your ads?
However if you even get close to keyword stuffing Google will notice and will not allow that product to be shown. The example description that Google gives is a keyword rich description that fits nicely within all of their guidelines:
“Solid red, king-sized bed sheets made from 100% woven polyester 300-thread count fabric. Set includes one fitted sheet, one flat sheet and two standard pillowcases. Machine washable; extra-deep fitted pockets.”
Most of the feeds that we have helped build use product descriptions from the company’s website as these have usually had similar considerations in their design.
2: Custom Fields
A major difference between GSC’s and other Adwords campaigns is how they are optimised. Rather than optimising keywords and search terms, with GSC you have the ability to split products out into ever decreasing groups up to the point where you are able to specify the bid for individual products. To split out products you use certain attributes.
One of which is the Custom Fields (confusingly numbered 0 through 4). These allow you to specify pretty much whatever you want about a product and then use it to optimise the ads. Custom fields that we have used in the past range from replicating other attributes like “colour” to more business level attributes like “best seller”. If you have good custom labels in place it will let you bid up on a whole group of products that you might otherwise have to bid up individually.
Imagine that you were a big sports shoe retailer. If you know that red shoes sell better than yellow ones you would be able to set up a custom label with the shoes dominant colour as the value. This would mean that you could use this custom label to bid higher for any red shoes compared to the bid for yellow shoes. Using custom labels also means that if you added new red shoes you would not have to go in and add their product id to that adgroup with the higher bid, it would automatically bid up everything that has “red” as the value for that custom label.
3: The Brand Attribute
Another interesting optimisation tool is the “brand” attribute. This attribute is especially useful for businesses that sell a diverse list of products from different brands. To continue the shoe shop example it might be that you know that Nike shoes sell much better than Asics. Making sure that you have got the brand attribute right in your feed will mean that you can separate out the Nike shoes into an adgroup that has a different bid to one that is just about Asics.
Using custom labels and the other optimisation attributes (category, brand, id, condition and product type) gives you a very easy way to optimise and test different product groupings without having to constantly go through and find a list of product ids that fit into that group. This means that you need to take some time beforehand to design the feed. When we are designing a feed the first thing we do is think about how we would want to optimise the products once they are in the campaigns then we can work out what custom labels we want to use and how we want to structure the feed as a whole.
4: Required Attributes
When you are going through the design process for the feed you need to be aware of what is a required attribute for your products. For example anything that falls into the “clothing and accessories” category in the “google product category” attribute needs to have the “gender”, “age group” and “colour” attributes while other types of items will not need these attributes at all. There is a long list of possible attributes in a google product feed and you need to take time to work out which attributes are required for your product set.
Getting your product feed right first time does take a lot of work but it is worth it. Having a well set up feed will let you do a lot of optimisation allowing you to get more from your click budget.