Google Shopping Feeds – Best Practices to Squash Your Competition

Google Shopping has become more and more important for retailers in the eCommerce space since the pay-to-play model was introduced in 2013. Many retailers are allocating a significant amount of their budget to the channel, and according to Adobe’s Digital Index of online advertising, they spent 47% more on Google shopping in 2014 than 2013. However to truly compete, retailers need to provide a fully optimized data feed for a leg up on their competition. I find more often than not retailers aren’t always sure what this looks like, and end up providing the minimum data required. I hope my to-dos and tips below will help guide retailers to focus on what matters most when compiling a data feed for their Google Shopping campaigns.

Product Titles

This is where a little keyword research will go a long way. Take a look at your regular Search campaigns and ask yourself what would users query to find your products? Does the brand name drive a large amount of your Search conversions? Do users typically search for SKU numbers? Whatever they’re searching make sure you leverage the queries in your product titles. Google allows 150 characters, but generally only 70 characters are displayed, so make sure you include the most relevant information toward the beginning of your titles.

Custom Labels

Custom labels won’t necessarily add to the overall health of a data feed but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. Custom labels can and should be used to help group and manage your products. For example, if you have seasonal products you’d like to promote heavily for a given period of time, assign a custom label to those individual SKU’s so you can bid aggressively on custom product targets. Reversely, if you have several products with low margin you may want to separate out these products and bid on them differently than you would high-margin/high-volume products. Ultimately custom labels allow more flexibility and let retailers strategically target their products for improved efficiency.

Product ID’s

In Search a keyword is assigned a quality score based off several components such as bid, expected CTR, relevance and landing page experience. In Shopping, Product ID’s are assigned a quality score. Product ID’s are unique to each individual SKU and should never be changed. However, there is one exception to the rule. If for example, your top product is not performing well on Google Shopping no matter how much you bid up/optimize etc. then you may want to consider reassigning a new Product ID. Keep in mind that you will end up losing the history of the individual SKU so make sure this is a last ditch effort.

Promotions and Reviews

If you’re having a large sale and swapping in promotion specific ad copy for your Search Campaigns, make sure your sale is reflected in Google Shopping as well by submitting a promotion or promotion feed. Shopping can be a highly competitive environment so anything you can do to highlight your products and make them stand out, do it. This theory hold true with Product reviews as well. Product reviews are very powerful and users weight them heavily when making an online purchase. If you have solid reviews, make sure you have filled out the product ratings interest form.

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Image Quality

When users perform a Search on Google and their eyes wander to product listings ads on the right (or top) of the SERP, they’re really only looking at few things, image being one of them. Make sure yours stand out! Or at the very least, make them high quality. Also, if you have additional images (can submit up to ten) or a mobile optimized image link for the product make sure you include them in your feed.

Google Shopping feeds can be daunting, but they don’t need to be. The initial setup will likely take some elbow grease, but if you put if you focus on what’s important and put in the work up front it will pay off. For a full breakdown of the required and optional attributes make sure you check out the Product Feed Specification section in the Google Merchant Center Help section, here.

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