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Google is the gold standard for search. The release of Google Shopping in 2012 and Smart Shopping in 2018 opened the door for growing businesses everywhere to harness the power of Google.

Google Shopping sounds like an online marketplace, but it’s actually smart advertising.

This feature builds on the success of text-based Google Ads. Google Shopping ads are sometimes called PLAs (product listing ads) and they include images and product details.

Google places these listings directly on their wildly popular search engine. A click on your ad brings that customer directly to your ecommerce site.

How Does Google Shopping Work? The Ultimate Guide to Google Shopping

How Google Shopping Works in 4 Steps

Become a Google Merchant

How does Google Shopping Work with Google Ads?

What is Google Smart Shopping?

How does Google Shopping Work? By Helping You Make Data-Driven Business Decisions

How to Make Google Shopping Work for You

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So How Does Google Shopping Work?

Google Shopping listings put your products at the top of Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) letting you reach millions of viewers with your products. You can also include information like reviews, special discounts, and pricing.

These listings let you show targeted customers your products before they visit hit your website. The clicks they collect tend to be from visitors who are more likely to buy.

What does Google Shopping Cost?

If the Google AI places your product on a search results list, it offers great exposure with no expense. You only pay for your Google Shopping listings when a customer visits your store.

Bidding for the Google Shopping top spots happens through the same CPC (cost per click) auction process as Google Ads. It’s up to you to decide how valuable placement for a specific search is for your business.

Google Shopping and Selz

The Selz integration with Google Shopping directly connects your Selz account to the Google Merchant Center.

This simple and powerful integration lets you list all your products and product variants with Google Shopping at once. Your Google Shopping listings will automatically update as you add new products.

You can run campaigns directly from your Selz dashboard by connecting with Google Ads. Your Selz dashboard is also a hub where you can check out analytics and transparent reporting.

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Make Sure Your Business Has Everything You Need to Get Started

To use Google Shopping, your ecommerce website must meet the below requirements:

Google Shopping Ads policies

You must meet the Google Shopping requirements before you start your first campaign. Take a careful look at their policies for prohibited content and practices, restricted content, editorial standards, and technical quality.

Google My Business

Google My Business must verify your business and ecommerce website

Contact information

Your ecommerce website must display at least two of these three contact methods:

  • Telephone number
  • Email
  • Physical business address

Secure checkout process

Your ecommerce website must have a valid SSL certificate for payment processing.

Collection of personal data

Any sensitive or financial personal information from your customers also requires a valid SSL certificate for secure processing.

Return policy

Your ecommerce site must provide a clear and prominent return policy to your customers.

Billing terms and conditions

Your site must provide clear and prominent billing terms and conditions.

Complete checkout process

Customers from any location in the world must be able to complete the checkout process on your ecommerce site.

That being said, it’s best to write your website and product information in the official language of the country you want to advertise in.

Learn more about the full Merchant Center requirements here.

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How Google Shopping Works in 4 Steps

  1. Set up your Merchant Center account
  2. Create your feed by connecting your Selz Store to the Google Merchant Center
  3. Create a Google Shopping campaign to start advertising your products
  4. Measure the effectiveness of your campaigns with Google Analytics

You’ll need to set up these four accounts to get started:

  • Google account
  • Google Merchant Center account
  • Google Ads account
  • Google Analytics account

If you don’t already have a Selz account, signing up for this powerful platform is simple. You can use your Google account to sign up, so no additional passwords to remember when you log in. Sign up today for a free 14-day trial.

Now let’s get started.

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Become a Google Merchant

What is the Google Merchant Center?

The Google Merchant Center is an online dashboard where you can manage how the products in your online store appear in all Google ecommerce products like Google Shopping, Google My Business, and Google Commerce Search. You can also make changes to your online listings on this platform.

How to Set Up Your Google Merchant Center Account

Setting this up is straightforward. Head to the Merchant Center and click sign up. During this process you will claim your URL, proving to Google that you own the domain you want to advertise on.

You can use Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager to verify ownership if you already have those accounts set up. There are also a couple of other simple ways to verify.

Configure Your Shipping and Taxes

Google Shopping gives you the option to display shipping costs in your ads.

You’ve already set up this information in your Selz store, and all you need to do is confirm it in the Shipping section of Google Merchant Center.

Once your account is set up your product feed will automatically feed into the Google Merchant Center.

What is a Product Feed?

Your feed is your product data, presented in a format that Google can read and understand.

You can build your feed in a few different ways.

Manually

You may have heard some griping about the complexity of entering product information for Google Shopping.

This mostly comes from businesses who have opted to enter their product information into a spreadsheet according to Google’s specifications.

This process can be challenging and time-consuming. Building your own spreadsheet also leaves a lot of room for error, which can add more time to the approval process.

Plugins, Apps, Extensions

There is a range of extensions, plugins, and apps that can pull data from your ecommerce site and format your product data for Google.

These extras may not be your best bet because formatting is so vital to success with Google Shopping. Entry details that seem tiny, like extra white space or special characters, can dramatically affect your success as you build your feed.

Check out this comprehensive guide to learn the 8 most important factors for success with your feed.

Direct Integration

Native integration with Google Shopping through the Selz ecommerce platform allows you to add products to your Google Shopping feed and your Selz online store at the same time.

This direct integration not only saves you crucial time as you build your feed, but it also automatically updates as you add new products.

Integration is also valuable for a busy small business owner because it allows you to make edits and monitor your feed from your Selz dashboard.

You’ll spend less time moving between different programs and tools. This means more time optimizing the reach of your products.

What Comes Next

Once you’ve connected your Selz store to the Google Merchant Center Google will process your product feed. It will usually take 3 to 10 business days for Google to approve your pending product.

Google will let you know if they find any errors so you can start troubleshooting. You may see some errors and warnings. This usually means that there is some incorrect or missing information.

Some errors are an easy fix, but others may take more time. One common error to double check – make sure you have the correct product details for each of your products. You’ll also want to watch for item-level errors. If a product has even one error, you won’t be able to run ads with that product.

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How does Google Shopping Work with Google Ads?

Once the Google Merchant Center approves your feed, you can set up your first Google Shopping campaign. These are often called PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns.

Google Ads is where you set your ads budget, manage your bids, gain insights, and make optimizations based on performance. You can also do these things from your Selz dashboard.

You should already have a Google Ads account by now, if not, this article will walk you through the steps.

How Google Ads Works

In Google Ads, you bid on specific keywords in the hope that your clickable text ads appear in Google’s search results.

If your bid is successful, your ad rank decides your ad’s position on the page.

Google calculates ad rank by multiplying your top bid with your quality score.

How does Google determine your quality score for text ads? By combining:

  • Your click-through rate (CTR)
  • How applicable your keyword is to the ad
  • The quality and relevance of your landing page and copy
  • Historic Google Ads Performance

If you have a high quality score your business could pay less than your competitors and still get the top ad placement for your keyword.

For more details, check out this infographic.

If you’re an old hand at Google Ads, this is your reminder that setting up and managing Google Shopping isn’t the same as a traditional text ad. You can skip the next section.

For those who are new, there are a few things to set up before you launch your first Google Smart Shopping campaign.

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Google Ads: Who, What, and Where

Name Your Campaign

The name of your campaign is important if you plan to run more than one campaign at a time. Most businesses will, whether you’re running campaigns for holiday ecommerce or A/B testing.

Search Networks

Your Google Ads campaign will be bidding for placement on Google Search and Search Partners. You can also opt for placement on sites like AOL, YouTube, and Google Maps.

Some of these options, like Discover ads, will be added automatically when you start a campaign, so double check that your settings are right for the searches you want to target.

Location

Your ads will show up everywhere in the world, unless you name a specific location.

Priority

You can set your campaign with low, medium, or high priority. This is important when you have more than one campaign running at a time.

Google Ads will show products based on priority first and bid second.

If you include one of your products in multiple campaigns at the same priority level, the highest bid will win the ad.

If one of your products is in multiple campaigns and those campaigns are at different priority levels, Google will place your ad for the highest priority campaign.

Google Ads Default Bids and Budget

Budget

Your daily budget should be a number you’re comfortable with. You’ll want to set a small budget in the beginning and slowly increase based on results. You can change your budget whenever you want.

Still not sure where to start? Set your budget for no more than $5-10 per day. Campaigns with the best success rates usually budget about $300 per month.

Bids

Start with a modest bid and increase your bid over time, while carefully monitoring your results.

If you’re looking for a solid number, set your default bid somewhere between $.01-0.5 per click. Depending on how competitive your niche is, you may want to set your bid in the $.06-.85 range.

Your default bid only applies to products that you don’t set a specific bid for.

Bidding Strategy

There are many different bidding strategies, and the detail can be a bit mind-boggling.

While you are testing your first campaign, it’s a good idea to select Manual CPC as your bidding strategy. As you begin to see what works for your business, you may try another bidding strategy.

Delivery

This section determines how often your ad will show up in search and how quickly you go through your budget.

The default delivery is standard. You may want to consider accelerated delivery. This option lets you measure the effectiveness of your campaigns more quickly.

A Google Ads Tip

When you’re measuring performance and updating your bids you can group your products by brand, category or by custom label.

You don’t sell all your products at the same price, right? So, for the smartest use of your ad budget, use the custom labels you created for your feed to make separate product groups.

These product groups will let you set different bids based on important factors like product popularity or profitability.

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What is Google Smart Shopping?

You’ve set up Google Ads. You’ve set up your Google Merchant Center account. Now that you’ve set up a great shopping feed of your products, it’s time for Google Smart Shopping.

Smart Shopping is the easiest way to start advertising with Google’s vast network for any ecommerce site.

Google Smart Shopping campaigns use automated bidding and ad placement to advertise your products on Google’s networks.

Google Smart Shopping for Small Business

Google Smart Shopping is perfect for small businesses with limited budgets and time. Google built this feature with the 50% of small businesses without a website in mind.

It makes online advertising accessible for those who have found it hard to keep up in the shift to digital business.

Smart Shopping also works. In early testing, these campaigns showed 20% higher conversion than a traditional campaign run at a similar cost.

To try Google Smart Shopping, you’ll need an email list of at least 100 active users. Read here to make sure you meet all the remaining requirements for Smart Shopping campaigns.

Benefits of Smart Shopping

Google Smart Shopping will automatically match your product with the right search query and create your ad for you using the details from the product feed in your Selz store.

This smart feature will also use data to optimize the bidding process and to place your ads at the best time for your best customers.

Another benefit – the Google automation will test different image and text combinations from your product feed to create an ad with the best potential for conversion.

These are data-driven automated campaigns. This means that it doesn’t matter if your best customers are shopping on their mobile phones at 6 pm in New York or on a desktop during lunch in California.

Your Google Smart Shopping ads will be where your customers are.

What does a Google Smart Shopping campaign cost?

You set your own daily budget. The minimum recommended budget is $5 per day. Again, a budget of at least $300 a month tends to get the best results. You only pay if someone clicks on your ad.

Smart Shopping combines the qualities of standard Shopping campaigns and Display Remarketing campaigns. Because of this overlap, don’t forget to pause those campaigns if there are products you want to promote on Google Smart Shopping.

You might want to move your budget for those campaigns to your new Smart Shopping campaign. If you do, it makes it easy to compare your new campaign with the success of past campaigns.

Using this smart feature means that you won’t have some of the control that you’re used to. But the value of automated bidding, a bigger audience, and more great customers in your sales funnel are worth it.

Google recommends running your campaign for at least 30 consecutive days to reach top performance. It will be tough but be patient. The benefit of this feature is that it lets you focus on everything else that your business needs to do right now.

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How does Google Shopping Work? By Helping You Make Data-Driven Business Decisions

Google Shopping gives you the chance to see specific data and to optimize your feed based on conversions. One of your first steps in the process was to set up your Google Analytics account. Make sure you’ve linked your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account. Now you’re ready to make that account work for you.

Monitor your progress

Keep a careful eye on your data. Take note of what looks good, and make adjustments if things aren’t panning out. Shift your focus from winning for one page of search results to improving your bottom line.

How does Google Shopping Work? It Gives You Data to Better Understand Your Customer Journey

In Google Analytics you can see:

  • Where your customers are clicking
  • How much time they spend on your ecommerce site
  • How many pages they visit on your ecommerce site in session
  • Whether they click or “bounce” once they arrive on your landing page
  • Whether they’ve watched a video or filled out a form

You can use this data to create better lists for email outreach to your leads, write better newsletters, and to send more personalized information to your customers.

Reporting for your Google Smart Shopping Campaigns

You’ll want to review your Analytics reports on a regular basis. If you can’t weekly (or daily), review these on a monthly basis.

If your products aren’t getting impressions or clicks, it may mean that your feed doesn’t give Google enough information to show your products at their best.

Start by taking another look at your product titles and product descriptions. You may be showing up for the wrong keywords, so do a little research.

If your products show a high number of impressions but a low number of clicks it often means that your feed is in good shape, but the price of your product isn’t as attractive as your competitors in the search results.

If your prices are in the right spot, take a closer look at your product images.

You can also increase conversions by taking advantage of customer reviews.

If your competitors have strong product reviews and you don’t it will be hard to compete.

You can show product reviews with Google Shopping once you get Google approval. Google Shopping also integrates with Yotpo and Disqus if you are already using these apps for reviews on your Selz store.

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How to Make Google Shopping Work for You

I hope you are as excited as I am about Google Shopping ads after reading this article. It takes time, effort, and exacting attention to detail to make the most of this feature. There is intense competition.

It’s also a dream come true for many busy small businesses.

Most online shoppers are looking for new interesting products. Your potential customers want personalized attention and convenience.

Google Shopping will make it easier for those customers to find your products.

This feature is a simple and powerful way to connect new shoppers with your brand, product line, and Selz ecommerce site. It’s time to scale your business. Are you ready?

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana is Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is an active visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.

6 comments

  1. men Tooling pants match

    Hello! Quick question that’s completely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My website looks weird when browsing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that
    might be able to resolve this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share.
    Thank you!

    1. Jana Rumberger

      Hi Georgianna, the Selz platform is built so that it can work on any smartphone, mobile, or tablet. If you email [email protected] they can help address the specific issue you’re seeing. Thank you for your question!

  2. John Candy

    Great Article.
    Got a good knowledge of how goggle shopping works.
    Thanks for sharing this valuable information.
    Keep Blogging !! Looking forward to know more from you.

    1. Jana Rumberger

      Thanks for your generous comments John! if you’d like to learn more, you can subscribe to FounderU and get details on every new blog we publish.

  3. James

    Thanks for this detailed article. It’s a lot to take in but super helpful.

Comments are closed.