‘It’s now free to sell on Google’, this was the announcement made on April 21st, 2020 by Google’s President of Commerce, Bill Ready, marking a new measure taken by the world’s largest search engine to support ecommerce businesses that are struggling under the mounting strains that have resulted from the global coronavirus pandemic.
The retail sector as well as consumer sentiment and spending has been confronted with many challenges during recent years, which have only been aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As physical retail shops and businesses have been shuttered by the quarantine measures aimed at curbing the rapid spread of the coronavirus, online ecommerce has become a salvation for retail companies. With more consumers turning to online shopping during the coronavirus lockdown, searches are not limited to essential everyday necessities but other goods and services such as clothes, entertainment, Netflix accounts, and other home goods. Even though this may offer a chance for embattled businesses to reach their target audiences, many small and medium-sized businesses do not have the budget to reconnect with potential consumers on a large scale.
Mr. Ready announced the following decision by Google: “In light of these challenges, we’re advancing our plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google. 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.”
“For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. 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.”
As the Covid-19 restrictions continue to shut brick and mortar retail businesses, companies are forced to turn to the ecommerce markets to reach their audience and prospective clients. While certain sectors are reporting a surge in traffic during the coronavirus crisis, other industries are not and many businesses may not have enough funds to expand their online marketing campaigns.
The world’s largest search engine, Google, has paid attention to the needs of retail businesses especially during the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and announced measures to support businesses reach more potential customers online, without any costs. This month, Google is set to allow businesses to present their business offering and goods across Google Shopping, with the potential of reaching millions of consumers every day. Google will enable free listings on its Shopping tab, much like Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages).
However, this is not the first time that Google has given users the ability to list products for free. 8 years ago, Google first introduced free shopping listings for retail businesses before they switched these free listings to paid advertising space in the form of Google Shopping ads.
Listing goods on Google Shopping: How is it done?
First of all, you need to set up a free Google Merchant Center account, if you want your goods to display on Google Shopping listings. Then you will be required to create a product feed for each of your products that you wish to list on Google Shopping.
What is a product feed? To put it simply, a product feed is a spreadsheet of information regarding each of your products used by Google’s algorithms to set up your listings and pair it with relevant search terms. All products in your Google product feed will require the following information:
- A unique ID number for each product that you wish to list
- A title that users will be able to find your product through online search queries
- A unique description with a maximum limit of 5,000 characters, serving as a brief explanation of the design features and what it does.
- A link to your product’s landing page in order to funnel your leads
- A link to your product’s image
- The cost of your product as it appears on your landing page; therefore, your landing page must be the same as your product feed.
- Details of your product’s brand name.
- Each product’s GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) which is used by producers to pick out their products across different retail businesses.
For retail businesses with products already listed in the Google Merchant Center, there is an option to place these products in Google’s free Shopping listings by choosing Surfaces across Google under the Manage Programs tab. Businesses can monitor the performance of the free listings on Google Shopping through the Google Merchant Center’s Performance tab.
How to optimize listings on Google Shopping
Google’s algorithms will use all the data that you provide in your Google Shopping product feed. So, it is important to make sure that you optimize your product feed and all the information that you upload needs to be updated and relevant.
- Polish all product titles – the product title is usually the first thing that your customers will set eyes on, therefore you need to make sure that the title is engaging and is relevant to what your target audience will be searching for. Use trial and error, if you see that your product listing is not receiving the amount of quality leads, impressions and conversions that you were expecting, try other product titles and see if that brings better results.
- Trial various images – engaging images can make or break your online ad campaigns. Having high-quality images can set you apart from your competition.
- Details, details, and more details – while your product listings only require brief descriptions, giving Google more data will help its algorithms to pair your product listings with relevant user search queries. Provide as many details about your products as possible and watch your listings deliver great results.
By following Ben Givon’s simple tips you could take your product listings on Google Shopping, and ecommerce marketing campaigns to the next level despite the uncertainty and confusion brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.