We get questions regularly from clients about Google Shopping campaigns, and so we wanted to write a quick blog post to clarify some of the most confusing aspects of Google Shopping. With that said, here are the twelve things you need to know about Google Shopping campaigns:

  1. First, they are intended for businesses that sell physical products on their websites — think about websites like Best Buy, or Walmart.
  2. Second, they are the only “ads” in Google search that include pictures. So, if you sell products that are well-represented in photographs, this could be a good option for you.
  3. Third, they are completely inaccessible to “professional services” companies.  For instance, an ad agency like the Will Marlow Agency can’t possibly use them, because we don’t sell products that you can take a picture of.
  4. Fourth, if you want to do Google Shopping ads, you have six website requirements that are non-negotiable before you can get started.  You need: (a) clear contact information, (b) a privacy policy, (c) a return policy, (d) a secure (SSL) checkout, (e) payment options listed on your website, and (f) the option for “guest checkout.” Google won’t allow you to advertise with Google Shopping Ads if you only allow payments from people who create accounts on your website.
  5. Fifth, you need a Google Merchant Center.  This is pretty straightforward, but it is a separate step that is not required for any other type of Google Ad campaign.  You will use the Google Merchant Center to essentially “run” the campaign.
  6. Sixth, you need to somehow create a “product feed.” The product feed is the central part of your Google Shopping campaign, and it is a bit complex.  Essentially, you need to figure out the most efficient way to create a product feed, which you can think of as a huge Excel file, that contains product and campaign data. You’ll connect this Excel feed full of product data to your Google Merchant Center, and through that to your AdWords campaigns, in order to run the ads themselves. You can use this super helpful Google shopping template powered by Google Sheets which will give you a better idea of what a feed will look like for you or your clients. If you use a tool like Shopify, however, you can skip this manual step and connect directly via the Google API, which makes your life a bit easier.
  7. Seventh, it is important to note that although everyone likes to say that you don’t pick keywords for Google Shopping campaigns, you do in fact pick keywords, because your product name, description, and other fields double as your keyword targeting. So, if you don’t have a good understanding of keywords, or if your product names are generic, you are likely going to have a very poorly optimized Google Shopping campaign.
  8. Finally, for the reason above, some people prefer the manual feed creation over the automated feed creation that is enabled by products like Shopify, because with manual feeds you have more control over keyword targeting.

There you have it: the top 8 things you need to know about Google Shopping campaigns. I hope this was helpful, and if you still have questions, I’d be happy to discuss whether Google Shopping is a good fit for your business and goals.

P.S. And as an added bonus, if you aren’t sure if you know what Google Shopping ads look like, here is an example of five Google Shopping ads below that are returned for the keyword “Apple iPad.”

Google Shopping Ads Example - PLAs

Will Marlow is a search engine marketing consultant who loves helping high growth companies optimize and improve their PPC results: and he holds seven certifications: Google AdWords Search, Display, Mobile, Shopping, and Video Certification, Google Analytics Certification, as well as certification as a Bing Ads Accredited Professional.

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