It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s… Froogle?! Yep, just like that, Google has made it free to add products to the Shopping tab in Google search. Yes, free Google Shopping listings! While this does bring back memories of the good old’ times when there was a simple and straightforward search bar and results, it also brings questions.
In this article, we’ll go over five things that every modern marketer needs to know about Google’s latest change, free Shopping listings.
What’s in it for Google?
The ecommerce sphere is becoming increasingly competitive - even for huge players like Google. In the search engine behemoths latest bid to compete against marketplace giant, Amazon, it’s setting out to deliver a better product search experience. To do this, the company needed more merchants listing more products across its ecommerce platform. And what better way to attract marketers than to make advertising free of charge! Here’s the announcement from Google’s side.
"Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship but are less discoverable online."
Well, now it’s official! Google Merchant Center is allowing marketers of all kinds to showcase products on its platform completely free of charge. Now that we’ve covered the background story, here are four things you need to know about free Google Shopping listings.
Five things you need to know
Shopping listings are free and you’re ready to get started. Here’s what you need to know.
#1 Keywords are so important
With free ads comes more competition. This makes keywords and how they’re used more important than ever. Take the time to conduct reliable keyword research to ensure your organic listings are competitive and rank high enough among the SERP to be seen by your audience on Google. Include relevant terms in your product titles and descriptions. This can be done easily and in bulk with the help of a feed management system, like Productsup. Moreover, now’s the time to develop and strengthen your SEO strategy and organic results.
Pro tip: If your product has both a high margin and high competition, it may still be to your benefit to optimizing your bidding strategy for higher placement.
#2 Ad placements aren’t changing, but competition is
The format, placement, and general functionality of Google product listings stay the same. Google Shopping listings will still be on top of the results and PLA carousel ads will not change. What is changing? The amount of competition there will be for those same placements. With limited entry barriers, marketers of all types are eligible to push their products onto Google.
Paid ads will appear at the top and bottom of the results just as they do on the main results tab.
Pro tip: While competition does bring its challenges, it also brings more data which means more insights. This could be your chance to better understand your audience and individual product performance.
#3 Be prepared to act fast
More merchant listing products means more buying options for the consumer (which is great for us as consumers!). This means merchants will need to have a closer eye on all their current listings as well as those of their competitors. Like on Amazon, prices can fluctuate throughout the day, so it’s hyper-critical for marketers to be able to adjust pricing fast.
Pro tip: Make sure your tracking parameters are in place and everything can be automatically served to Google and updated in a fraction of the time.
#4 Integration with PayPal is key
If you haven't done this yet, now’s the time! Thanks to Google's integration with PayPal, merchants can verify their trustworthiness faster than ever before. The integration also allows Google to fetch seller details much more efficiently.
#5 Be prepared to still pay for premium listings
Google still wants to make money with PLAs. This is why premium listings will still come at a cost for SEA Marketers. It's likely that Google will place these new non-paid listings in searches with low competition. So look out for these opportunities.
Pro tip: Keep tabs on your competition for certain product listings to determine the potential of your unpaid listings.
Already paying for Google shopping listings? You don’t have to do anything. Here’s what Google has to say here.
”For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings. If you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don't have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings, and for new users of Merchant Center, we'll continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months."
For those of you who aren’t already leveraging Google, here’s a quick video walkthrough to get you started.
To get started, you’ll need to open a Google Merchant Center account and upload a product feed. Your feed should contain all the products you want to make discoverable with these free listings.
During the initial account setup phase, sellers must opt-in to “surfaces across Google” to be eligible for organic visibility, as noted in Google’s updated help center article.
To opt-in, select “Growth” and then “Manage programs” in the left navigation menu and select the “surfaces across Google” program card.
Pro tip: The easiest way to get started from scratch is by leveraging a feed management solution like Productsup. If you’re looking for tips, advice, or support in getting your free Google ads live, we can help with a free demo.
Not feeling up to human interaction but still want help creating a Shopping feed from the ground up?Check out our complete guide to setting up your Google Shopping feeds!