How to Spring Clean your Google Shopping Strategy

By Jim Dechow

When Google announced the transition to Google Shopping last year, it mitigated frustration about the paid model with promises to foster better shopping results for users and, in turn, higher quality traffic for merchants.


Jim Dechow

From a broad scope, Google has delivered on its promises, producing conversion rates 25.2% greater than last year*. As additional evidence, GMV among ChannelAdvisor clients using our platform to manage Google Shopping has doubled from one year ago, coming in at 105% last month**.

However, I hear occasionally from retailers who still feel they could be doing better. In our experience, disappointments in Google Shopping come from unrealistic expectations. A “set it up and let it run” approach may fail because there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Understand that your approach will be unique depending on business goals, vertical, prices, budget and other factors, and defining and optimizing it takes time.

Take an evaluative step back, and use these principles to home in on your unique Google Shopping strategy:

I. Data is Paramount

Your utmost goal with Google Shopping should be thorough data; it should meet Google’s requirements and recommendations. Failure to do the first could result in de-listed products; the second, decreased quality scores. A close second priority is data accuracy; PLAs should mirror product information on your website at all times to ensure a harmonious path to purchase. Send data frequently and check often for quality errors in Google Merchant Center.

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 2.58.17 PMII. Treat Titles & Descriptions like PPC Keywords

With this in mind, mine third-party analytics, online store search terms or AdWords search data to determine what queries consumers use to find your products, and insert best-performing terms into product titles and descriptions. Put yourself in shoppers’ shoes, especially when considering titles for unique and seasonal items, and holiday promotions. Increase the chances ads will show for long-tail searches with keyword-saturated titles and descriptions.

III. Optimize, Test and Refine Your Product Target Strategy

Adjust bids and product targets based on measures like traffic, conversions, high-performing days and times, best-selling products, seasonal promotions and more. The list of methods to optimize is endless, and the more time invested in analyzing what’s working and strategizing a specific plan to improve, the better. Test proactively and adjust according to results. Retailers who want to take insights, and performance to the next level and have sufficient resources should consider creating product targets using the Adwords Labels or Adwords Grouping attributes. These allow for the most flexibility for defining product groupings but require more hands-on management to succeed.

IV. Distinguish Yourself

If you’re in an especially competitive space, develop ways to make your ads stand out among the bunch. Including descriptive promotional text (e.g. “Save 50% with Coupon Code XYZ” or “Free Shipping”), using unique images rather than stock photos, and becoming a Google Trusted Store, are just a few tactics. These tips should give you a high-level view of what’s important. Remember that Google’s vision is to improve the shopping experience for customers. With that in mind, understand that Google will continue to make additional tweaks. Paying attention to updates and adjusting accordingly could earn you additional opportunities to increase Google Shopping revenue.

Be sure to bookmark our blogs and follow @ChannelAdvisor to stay on top of important news about Google Shopping, multichannel retail trends and tricks to help you master all things e-commerce. If you’re interested in how a solution might improve your Google Shopping ROI, check out this video from Belk, an apparel retailer.

* Google Data
** ChannelAdvisor Data: ChannelAdvisor calculates these trends based on the gross merchandise value (GMV) processed through the ChannelAdvisor platform by CSE customers that have been using ChannelAdvisor software for at least a year, removing any customer additions or attrition.

Jim Dechow is a Product Manager for ChannelAdvisor, an omnichannel e-commerce software solutions provider for companies that sell products online.