Google Shopping: discover the best definitive guide

Google Shopping is a real search engine and price comparison site. It compares different online shopping websites and shows the user-related products to buy at the most competitive price available on a given site.

If you have an e-commerce or are considering starting an e-commerce business, you need to know that you can give your products more visibility on Google. Google Shopping can help you reach new customers.

One of the advantages of Google Shopping is the possibility of generating more effective leads, as you can include more complete information about the product in your ad. Therefore, whoever clicks on your ad will already have a clear idea of what you are offering and will be more inclined to buy.

Furthermore, in Google shopping, campaigns are set up on the attributes of the products you enter in the Google Merchant Center and not based on keywords. This allows you to show your ads only for searches relevant to the sponsored product.

If at this point you’re curious to learn more about how Google Shopping works, read on. The questions I will answer in this article are:

  • what is Google Shop and how to use it;
  • how to add products to Google shopping;
  • what are the costs of Google Shopping;
  • how to use Google shopping search.

Specializing in Web Advertising and in particular in creating Google Ads campaigns is the first step in acquiring vertical expertise in Google Shopping. To do this, I suggest our Google Ads course.

What is Google shopping

Google Shopping is an advertising system on Google in PPC (Pay Per Click) that allows you to view ads with product details in Google search results. The advertisements it hosts are those of the homonymous Google Shopping campaigns that e-commerce companies create within Google Ads.

The Google Shop represents an extremely effective form of web advertising, for several reasons. The main advantages of Google Shopping are:

  • the format in which the product is presented,
  • visibility in the main Google Search results and the appropriate Shopping tab.

Where do Shopping ads appear on the desktop? Google Shopping ads appear in:

  • Google Search: at the top of the first page of the SERP; above paid advertising results, appearing as a text snippet, and before organic results. The products are shown in boxes that immediately catch the eye thanks to the highlighting of the images;
  • Google Images;
  • Google search partner websites;
  • Google Display Network which includes YouTube, Gmail, and Google Discover;
  • price comparator Shopping.

For every advertiser, Google Shopping is therefore an extremely attractive form of advertising.

How google shopping works

Google Shopping: the story

Google Shopping arrived in 2011, taking the place of Google Product Search, a free product listing ad service. Then came the Shopping search engine which acts as a price comparison tool and where the data sheets of the products promoted by the advertisers appear. Google becomes a real marketplace like Amazon and the best Ebay shops.

Over the years, the number of member countries increase; to the 23 already present, another 14 will be added in 2017. Furthermore, changes and improvements are made to attributes and feeds every year. In 2017, Google expanded the MOV rule, i.e. the minimum cart value, which previously was valid only for food and beverages. The MOV must be entered in the shipping settings. Google also sets limits on weight and shipping costs: products that exceed a certain limit cannot be entered in the Google Merchant Center.

The news also concerns the Shopping feeds which are divided into:

  • Primary feeds, which are used to add or remove products from the feed;
  • Additional fees for promotions.

Also new for custom labels and value substitution. Finally, a new tool is Google Merchant Center opportunities, which are created to support sellers in improving campaigns.

In 2018 the rules for the attributes are updated, to simplify their insertion. In addition, Google Shopping Actions are launched, through which the user can, on an ongoing basis, browse through all Google tools, using a single shopping cart, both from mobile and desktop. At the moment this feature is only active in the USA.

Finally, to comply with the European directives, the search engine, Google also begins to show ads from competitors. The site of the origin of the advertisement is at the bottom of the advertisement.

What the ad looks like

Every year Google updates the platform dedicated to purchases, intervening above all on the part of the attributes. The goal is to have up-to-date, truthful, and complete listings. As I told you just now, the Google Shopping search engine can be compared to a real marketplace. When a user searches for a product in the Google search bar, a card created by Google appears in the results with some advertisements from different retailers relating to the same product: these are

The single ad appears as a featured image of the product with the most competitive price next to it, accompanied by the name of the retailer’s website. If you scroll the pointer over the ad, the ad stands out in relief and adds the call to action inviting you to compare related products from 50 other stores.

google shopping showcases

Screenshot from

Clicking on this link takes you to the Google Shopping tab. Here the user, first of all, sees the image of the products, the main features, such as available sizes, price, any promos, and, in some cases, even the evaluation through the stars. This type of ad, therefore, describes the product in depth before the user clicks. The advertisement creates a very engaging and reassuring User Experience thanks to the clarity of the information. This allows you to obtain highly profiled leads.

How much does it cost to sell on Google Shopping

As with a Google Ads campaign, Google Shopping campaigns also compete through Google Shopping paid searches. Here too, as in traditional text ads, you participate in the auction by entering a budget. However, the charge can take place in two ways:

  • Cost per Click (CPC): the charge occurs only when a user clicks on the link and accesses the product sales site;
  • Maximum CPE Bid, or Cost Per Engagement: You set a maximum price you’re willing to pay for an interaction.

In both cases, you decide how much to pay for your Google Shopping Campaign.

How to set up a Google Shopping campaign

After explaining what Google Shopping is, what shopping ads are, and what they look like, the time has come to tell you how to promote your business through this platform or marketplace.

Before you start creating your shopping campaigns you will need to register a Google Merchant Center account and create a good product feed. At this point, you can proceed to link the various accounts together and create your shopping campaigns.

Activate Google Shopping

So how to activate Google Shopping? To create Google Shopping campaigns, you need to meet some basic requirements:

  • own e-commerce of products;
  • have a feed with product information;
  • create Merchant Center accounts;
  • have Google Ads accounts.

A requirement to access Google Shopping is to link your Google Ads account to your Merchant Center account.

how to activate google shopping

What is Google Merchant Center? It is the fundamental tool for uploading the feed and linking it with Google Ads. It is a platform that allows you to upload the product catalog of e-commerce, to then be used through Google Ads. If you do not have a Google Merchant Center account, you will need to register and import your shop data.

The procedure for linking your account and creating a Google Shopping campaign in Google Ads is very simple. Simply click “Link Your Account” on the Shopping Ads setup page. The important thing is that you have administrative rights to the Google Ads account you want to link.

Multiple Google Ads accounts can be linked to your Merchant Center account. It can be useful if you want to outsource the creation of Google Shopping campaigns for your e-commerce. In this case, the Merchant Center account requests a connection to the Google Ads accounts which must accept it. At any time, accounts can be disconnected on the initiative of one or the other.

The Google Shopping feed

According to Google, the feed “is a file made up of a list of products using groupings of attributes, which define each of your products uniquely.”

The feed is the product catalog and is made up of product sheets. Each tab includes the product description, image, some mandatory data, and sometimes even feedback. When the user views the product, he immediately sees the image, the price, and the retailer. Then that you need to be highly competitive to be successful with this type of advertising.

The feed is extremely important because it contains the so-called ” attributes “: title, price, and image, but also the internal subdivision into categories. These factors are the ones that need to be optimized, to be as relevant as possible to the search query. These ads, therefore, contain much more information than standard text ads.

Google Shop is not a simple showcase but takes into account SEO positioning factors. The product feed is the main factor for success with a Google Shopping campaign and the products within the feed must be SEO optimized to ensure good indexing first and then good positioning on the search engine.

But how do you create a good Google Shopping feed? To do this, it is important to respect some characteristics:

  • compliance,
  • completeness,
  • relevance.

These features are also vital to get your e-commerce off the ground. Discover more useful tips in the Free guide

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Google Shopping Apps

The application is available to advertisers and is used to automatically create product feeds, based on the info in the Merchant Center. It is used to manage error diagnoses and edit feeds. Free in its basic version, to create Shopping campaigns directly from the app, however, you must upgrade to Easy Campaign Creator. At this level, you can also view reports.

Type of ads

For completeness of information, it is good to dwell on the various types of Google Shopping ads.

types of google shopping ads

Screenshot from

Although not available for all countries where Google Shopping is present, these are divided into:

  • Product Shopping Ads: Created based on product data in Merchant Center. When we talk about Shopping ads, we refer to this type. This format is available in all countries where Google Shopping is present.
  • Showcase Shopping Ads: These can be created in Google Ads by grouping related products.
  • Local catalog ads – Use feed data provided by locally available ads to engage users on the Google Display Network and drive visits to your local stores.

Automatic article updates

Google invites advertisers to take advantage of this tool which allows the price and availability of a product to be updated. To take advantage of this opportunity, it is essential that the landing pages contain valid structured data, and that the “markup” is present, i.e. a processable representation which, if added to the HTML of the site, helps Google, but also the other search engines, to process content reliably.

Therefore, if one of these two data is modified on the website, the ad on Google Shopping is automatically modified. When these requirements are missing, Google uses “extractors” to update the articles. If the advertiser turns off automatic updates, or the extractors fail to update the data, the article may be subject to temporary disapproval.

This is in line with Google’s values that the user’s interest prevails in conceiving the search engine as trustworthy and prevents that there are discrepancies between what is on the advertiser’s website, and the ad on the Shopping tab.

Country of sale

In a Shopping campaign, the country of sale is where the products are sold and will be bought. The articles must be in line with the requirements and rules of that country, including language and currency. You can even sell in multiple countries using a single feed. To take advantage of this possibility, you need to go to the feed section settings, choose the country, and add the settings for the new language.

The feed must comply with the rules of the new country, and the shipping settings must comply with your “area of interest”.

Google Shopping List: campaign indexing

In-text ads, when creating campaigns, ad sets, and the ads themselves, a strategy focused and focused on keywords are used. With Google Shopping, Google chooses when to list products and for which queries. What is decisive are the feed, the website, and the bids (offers). For this reason, strategy in setting up campaigns and ads has a lot to do with SEO.

Optimizing the feed means making the ad relevant to the search made by the user. Google uses the feed to create the ad. In traditional text advertising, the keywords for which the advertiser wishes to be listed are explicitly used. Instead, in Shopping campaigns, Google is the search algorithm itself that indexes the feed and establishes for which queries and keywords to list the product. For this reason, it is essential to include complete and correct data in the feed. Therefore the title and the description are very important.

SEO experts are very successful with Google Shopping campaigns. Take the test to find out more about this work

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Free Google Shopping

Helping retailers find more customers by introducing free product listings in the Shopping tab: this is Google’s intention for which, as announced in the Google Blog in September 2020, it has also extended to retailers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa the ability to access free product listings.

Ads will appear in the Google Shopping tab, just like paid listings. What changes does the new Google Shopping service bring to the advertising landscape? Firstly, even small online shops, which normally do not invest in advertising, now have the opportunity to find new customers. Secondly, users will have a greater variety of shops to choose from.

For advertisers, the use of free product listings can also be a driver for paid campaigns, as was the case in the United States, where Google Shopping for Free was introduced earlier than in the rest of the world.

Accessing the free product sheets is very simple and takes place automatically if you already have an account on the Merchant Center.

The new local service announcements

Another new feature introduced by Google is Local Services Ads. Google has announced the introduction of Local Services ads and other countries, after noting that “near me” searches on Google have increased significantly worldwide but also and particularly Europeans.

local service ads

The user now can reach the nearest professional. This type of service is particularly useful in the case of searches for electricians, plumbers, and gardeners. For each professional ad listing, Google accompanies the star rating as well as the ability to read the reviews of other users.

The advertiser doesn’t need to have a website to access Local Service Ads.

The cost of the service for the professional is not CPC, i.e. it does not pay when a user clicks on the ad. Pay only when contacted by the customer.

Comparison Shopping Services

These services are available within the European Economic Area and Switzerland and bid on Google Shopping advertisers to appear on the Google Search page.

The advertiser can choose to use only Google’s service as a service, or he can also use other SSC (Comparative Shopping Services) at the same time. So to appear on Google Search you need to avail these comparison shopping services. For those offered by Google, a Merchant Center is created for each merchant, and for feeds the same rules are followed as for Google Shopping.

Conclusions and Strategic Consulting

The Google Shopping tool has greatly improved over the years. Its potential was already evident when the ads of this type of campaign had a monopoly on the most used search engine in the world: Google Search. Obviously, in Google Search, Shopping ads stand out over classic text ads, because of their structure, in which the product image and all the essential information emerge, capturing attention. This was the first thing that attracted advertisers.

Over the years, the tool has become easier to use, enriched with the app, the comparative shopping services, and the tools for analyzing the trend of the advertisements. But above all, Shopping Actions will increase conversions: being able to manage purchases made on different tools with a single cart and moving from mobile to desktop, will ensure that there will be fewer and fewer abandoned carts and more and more retargeting opportunities. Without neglecting the fact that Google is conceived by the user as extremely reliable and secure.

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