Google Shopping – Optimising your presence to maximise the opportunity

In the first guide of this series we introduced the changes to Google Shopping. We explored in detail the changes to Product Data Feeds and Policy Guidelines in guides two and three. In this fourth guide we will specifically focus on best practice optimisation of your Google Shopping activity.


Since February this year, Google has been gradually rolling out changes to Google Shopping. New features allow users to make easier product comparisons across multiple retailers.


Best practice optimisation will drive more revenue

The new Google Shopping portal is already driving increased levels of traffic to e-commerce websites. Encouragingly, the conversion rate of visitors from Google Shopping is proving to be more than double that of other traffic sources.


However, in order to achieve strong results, time and effort will be required to optimise your activity. Gaining strong visibility on the Google Search results page and Google Shopping results page is absolutely key to driving sales.


Once you have the Product Data Feed fully operational and are updating regularly, you will need to start thinking about budgets, bidding strategies, messaging, images and on-going optimisation.


Here are our top 7 strategies to help you optimise your Google Shopping presence:


1. Start large – create an ‘all products’ campaign

Data feeds can typically be large, and may update regularly based on changes to or additions of products to an advertiser’s catalogue. This means that keeping track of specific targeting on individual products can be challenging.


One certain way to gain a presence across all products is to set up a target option for ‘all products’. This will enable Google to match search queries to relevant products within a PLA campaign. To set up an ‘all products’ campaign, create a new ad group for all products and set the product target option to “Add All Products” and then link the entire data feed as the target. Doing this will allow all products to have a chance of being shown, even if you are not optimising them individually.


One of the most important parts of an ‘all products’ ad group is to ensure the bid is less than the other product targets. Keeping the bid lower will ensure that you don’t compete with your other product targets.


Tip: Performance insight gained from your ‘all products’ campaign can be used to refine targets and bids across more profitable products and product categories.


2. Refine your targeting and bidding approach

PLAs use product targets rather than keywords to determine which items appear for product related search queries.


This means, that you don’t bid on keywords when running PLA campaigns, but rather bid at the ad group or product target level. It is also important to note that the Adgroups with the highest bid will outrank the others. Therefore finding the right product target, or combination of product targets is key.


There are various types of product targets to choose from, including Brand, Product ID, Product Type, Condition, Adwords Labels, Adwords grouping. These product targets work by grouping certain products together so that you will appear on the right search queries. For example, you may use the target Product Type, for all ‘rucksacks’ in your data feed. This would group all rucksack products together and ensure that they appear in the relevant searches.


We recommend combining multiple target options to create more granular targeting on products from specific brands. Continuing the previous example, ‘rucksacks’ by ‘Karrimor’. This will also help to optimise the campaign in line with your business’ goals, and inform which bids will maximise revenue across products and categories.


Tip: The promotional line (or, ad copy description) is a point of differentiation. To make sure the promotional line is specific to the product, use the product target as the basis of its content. For example, ‘Free Delivery on all Karrimor Rucksacks over 45litres’.


3. Employ a multi-layered bidding strategy

Putting in place an effective bidding strategy is essential to optimising performance. We recommend that you use existing performance data to put in place a bidding strategy for each product or product category. Base your bidding strategy on a performance hierarchy (eg. high ROI through to low ROI) and employ a different bidding strategy for each.


It is important that you continually monitor and refine your bidding strategy. Without this you may end up paying too much for your traffic, or losing highly qualified traffic to competitors.


Tip: Use a ‘one ad group per product’ bid strategy for small inventories and a ‘one ad group per category’ bid strategy for larger inventories. Establish your max bid by dividing the average cost-of-sale by the average number of clicks that generate 1 sale. This will help inform how much you should pay for each click while still maintaining profitability.


4. Don’t always show up – add the appropriate negatives

An important part of optimising a campaign is to reduce traffic and spend from irrelevant searches. You can do this by properly funneling the right queries to the right targets. Implementing sufficient negative keywords, and setting product filters to define which products can appear will limit the searches that your ads will show on.


Tip: Google allows advertisers to easily view which search queries are being matched to specific targets. Use this information to assist in identifying negative keywords. For example, if an advertiser only uses product level targets and sees that queries contain specific irrelevant manufacturers or terms then it may make sense to add them as negatives.


5. Use product titles effectively

The title plays a key part in determining when you show against a relevant search term. A title is more beneficial than using just the product name as it catches the long tail queries that are often used in Google Shopping. Many visitors to Google Shopping will often already know exactly what they want, and will just be looking for the best deal.


It is worth noting that Google allows up to 70 characters for the product titles, so ensure you make the most of them!


Tip: To make sure your product stands out from the rest and increases the likelihood of showing, we would recommend you use this naming convention, Manufacturer/Brand + Product Name + Generic term + Colour / Type / Specifics. For example, “Karrimor Cargo Holdall Travel Rucksack Black 45 litres”


6. Optimise your product images

As important as the promotional text, if not more so, is the image used to represent the product. Google is clear on this point; it will not display PLAs for product queries if the product doesn’t have an image attached to it in the feed. It is therefore imperative, as a minimum, that all products in your data feed have at least one image.


To further improve performance of the PLAs we recommend that you have two or more images to properly showcase the product and its key features. We also suggest that an image is included for all product variants so that, for example, images of rucksacks can be shown in all available colours. This will help your PLAs to show for general, as well as specific, search queries.


Tip: To further optimise the performance of images, set up a schedule to upload different images over a period of time to A/B test images across your products. This will help to refine and optimise the high performing images.


7. Track performance during and after transition to Google Shopping

Continued tracking across entire product lines, specific product categories, or at the product level is incredibly important. This will enable you to understand how well the campaign is running and help identify areas for improvement.


While transitioning campaigns to the new commercial model, we recommend that you separately track traffic for both sources so that you can monitor your progression across to the new commercial model. If Google Analytics is being used for traffic source tracking then add a suffix to the URLs. We would recommend that you include parameters specifically to track the campaign, product category and the unique product name and code. By placing these tags in your destination URLs you will be able to gather more data across the whole campaign.


Tip: To monitor sources of traffic, use URLs in both the ‘Link’ and the ‘AdWords Redirect’ columns on the Campaign page. Once the transition is complete, ensure that traffic from other sources is differentiated. To do this, set the basic URL parameters you use to track Paid Search advertising to mimic Merchant Center traffic.


Other key optimisation points to consider:


  • Data really is king in Google Shopping, see our more detailed recommendations in our guide on optimising the Product Data Feed (
  • Keep an eye on your prices – remember this is a price comparison site and so shoppers will be constantly monitoring and comparing prices across products


In summary, we recommend that you:

1) Start large – create an ‘all products’ campaign

2) Refine your targeting and bidding approach

3) Employ a multi-layered bidding strategy

4) Don’t always show up – add the appropriate negatives

5) Use product titles effectively

6) Optimise your product images

7) Track performance during and after transition to Google Shopping


Next Steps:

The above gives some insight into the level of constant optimisation that a campaign requires in order to be effective on Google Shopping. We believe that Google Shopping will offer a uniquely profitable experience for online retailers. In carrying out the above, you will be able to drive more traffic to your website, leverage the highest performing products to increase revenue, and ensure that your consumers get the optimum experience.


We recommend that you carry out a full Product Data Feed audit as soon as possible. This will enable you to optimise your campaign effectively, and will in turn help you to make the most of the retail opportunity.


To arrange a full Product Data Feed audit, contact Digby Mothes on 0207 186 2111 or [email protected]