What are Google Merchant Center and Google Shopping?
Google offers several formats of contextual advertising. All of them help to capture the maximum attention of users and maximize traffic to the site.
You can see one of the types of advertising in Google on the screen above. Product announcements are advertisements with a photo, product name, price, seller’s information, and a link to go to the online store from Google.
These ads appear in several places:
- in Google search results;
- on Youtube;
- on partner sites.
Also, products are displayed for free in the Google Shopping search results tab.
What other opportunities does Google offer for advertising products and how to use them? Let’s figure it out further.
Advantages and features of product advertising and the Google Shopping service
Using product advertising and the Google Shopping service to attract buyers has several serious advantages.
- Relevance of the request. Ads are shown to users who are searching or have searched for such products. Product advertising is perceived more kindly and loyally by potential buyers. She attracts more attention.
- Visual presentation of the product. Advertising through Google Shopping shows products and their prices more vividly. The buyer can immediately decide whether he is interested in the product, even before going to the site.
- Cost per click. The cost per conversion from such an ad will be lower than from regular text ads.
- Quick start of sales. If you set up your advertising campaign correctly, you will be able to start selling the very next day after its launch.
There are also a few things to consider when launching, setting up, and running ad campaigns.
- More careful work with negative keywords is required to optimize the CTR of your ad, achieve a favorable price per click, and get really high-quality traffic to the site.
- Before launching an ad, the Google merchant account, the site, and the ads themselves must meet strict requirements. Next, we will tell you how to set up Google Merchant and connect it with other tools.
Those who will be involved in the launch and management of product advertising for e-commerce need to understand several tools from Google at once, understand why they are needed and how they work.
Google Shopping: what is it and how does it work?
Google Shopping is a marketplace where ads are placed. This is where information for product advertising is collected as it is displayed to users.
Google Merchant: What is it and how does it work?
Google Merchant is a tool that you need to download information about the store, product brands in the catalog, and data for each individual product.
Only after uploading to the Merchant Center and correctly configuring the products will be displayed in Google Shopping and other Google services.
You can fully work with the merchant center only after filling in the data, creating a product feed, and checking the account by moderators.
Information is uploaded to the account from the online store through the product feed for Google Merchant.
Now, from the basics, let’s move on to the step-by-step setup of Google Merchant and the launch of product advertising.
In addition to the article, we recommend watching the webinar of mnews.agency CEO Mykhailo Klyachko on product advertising, setting up and launching advertising campaigns for online stores.
Setting up Google Shopping ads
Where do you start and what tools do you need?
To run ads through the Google Shopping service, you will need:
- An active Gmail account. It is important to use a separate email address for this.
- An active Google Ads account.
- A properly configured Google Merchant account.
- A feed with data about your store’s products.
There are usually no problems with setting up Gmail. A Google Ads account also requires minimal setup. Much more attention should be paid to setting up Google Merchant and creating a product feed for your store. We will talk about this in detail.
Create a Google Merchant Center account
Before setting up and starting work, study the prescribed Google merchant requirements. For their violation, they can block the display of individual products or even block the account.
The first thing to pay attention to is the security of the personal and payment data of users. HTTPS connections have been a ranking factor for several years. Google calls security one of its priorities. Therefore, site security ranks first among the requirements for sellers on Google Shopping. The online store must have an SSL certificate and an HTTPS connection.
Failure to comply with this requirement will result in your account being suspended until corrected.
Other important requirements:
- The seller’s website should have a separate page with up-to-date contacts. It can be one or more phones, e-mail, or messengers. It is also desirable to specify a physical address.
- Mandatory section with detailed terms of payment and delivery of goods. Buyers need to understand what payment methods are available, and when and how they will receive the product.
- Reliable and stable ordering functionality.
- All products must have current prices, high-quality photos, and complete and up-to-date information about their characteristics. Learn more about ad landing page requirements here.
- Products added to the FID must also be present on your website. All characteristics must match in the product feed and on the pages of the online store.
Now we’ll show you how to set up an account and run product ads with maximum results.
The first step in working with an account is to register. You can do this by following the link.
First, select the email address to which you want to link the account. Then we fill in the company data.
To get started, all you need is the name of the company, the country in which your business operates, and the time zone.
A few things to keep in mind:
- In the field under the name of the company, do not indicate the legal name, but the brand by which customers know you. This name will appear in your ads. It is important that buyers associate the ad with the seller’s specific brand.
- If your store sells products marked for adults, be sure to put a checkmark next to The site has products for adults. Google moderators check the products on the site again, and if they find such products, and there is no mark, the account will be blocked completely.
- The data specified in the account during registration will be editable.
To launch an ad, select the Product ads option in the tools tab.
Then we go to account settings. In the Tools tab, we find a section with data on the delivery and return of goods.
Be sure to fill in the name, country, and currency fields. After that, specify the time of receiving orders, the duration of delivery of goods, and the time for processing orders. A separate column is the days of shipment of goods.
Then we will go to the advanced settings. There are many options here. For example, the ability to specify a minimum order value that will be delivered free of charge.
The next step will be setting the tariffs. If shipping is free or costs the same for different services and regions, choose the option Ask the same price for all orders.
The single shipping cost is usually fixed or calculated according to a certain formula. It should be implemented in the next step. The terms you specify will apply to all products by default.
It is possible to select certain positions in the catalog for which different delivery conditions will apply.
Separate tariffs will need to be applied if you send goods to different countries.
After that, we specify detailed information about the company. Be sure to specify the website address and e-mail.
It is important that this is the email you used when registering the domain for the site.
Then fill in the Branding tab. Here you need to put:
- main and secondary colors of the store;
- logo in square and rectangular formats.
On the adjacent Site tab, enter the address of the online store again and select the account confirmation method. Choose one of the three proposed confirmation options.
Confirmation of the site in Google Merchant
Now let’s figure out how to confirm that you are the owner of the site for further work in Google Merchant.
The easiest way to do this is when the online store is connected to Google Analytics or Tag Manager. You can choose either of the two verification options. Note that this requires higher-level access to Google services accounts.
In addition, for further analytics and optimization of results, you need to integrate the site with Google Analytics in any case. Otherwise, you simply will not be able to adequately evaluate the results of your marketing activity.
If the site is not connected to services (and it is better to do it faster), in such cases it is better to choose confirmation through access to the FTP server where the site data is stored.
There are two ways to do this.
- Add a tag from Merchant using the code from the WordPress CMS built into the basic editor
If your site is on CMS WordPress, solving many technical tasks for e-commerce becomes easier. This applies to work with the integration of the store. To insert a validation tag, go to the Appearance section and find the Editor tab there. There, select the header.php file and place the code inside the head tag.
Save the changes, then return to Merchant Center and confirm the URL.
- Add the Merchant Center code via FTP
On FTP, find index.php or header.php. Copy the code suggested by the system to the part of the file that is marked on the screenshot.
Re-upload the updated Google Merchant tag file to the server and verify the URL through your account.
An alternative method of confirmation is to add an HTML file generated by the service to the site. You can see the instructions in the screenshot below.
The downloaded document must be uploaded to the folder where Google Search Console verification files are stored. This is important for the integration to go well.
Integration of Google Merchant Center and Google Ads accounts
Now you need to add the next element to the chain – a Google Ads account. How to properly integrate it with Google Merchant for further work?
In the settings menu, select Communication with other services. Then search for Google Adwords. It will look like the screenshot below.
In the window, enter your Google Adwords account ID and request to create a connection.
The connection will be established automatically if the Google Adwords and Google Merchant accounts are registered to the same mail.
The connection must be confirmed in the Google Adwords interface.
Creating and configuring a product feed for Google Shopping
When all integrations are completed, and the accounts have been moderated, we proceed to the creation of a product feed. But first, let’s figure out what it is and what role this tool plays in launching advertising campaigns.
It is from the feed that the Google Merchant service takes the main information for creating ads and displaying ads. The feed data stores:
- title of all products;
- type and category;
- materials from which the goods are made (especially important for clothes, shoes, and furniture);
- colors and sizes;
- brief description and other data.
Feeds are processed in your Google Merchant Center account. Before the launch of the campaign, each feed is moderated. All content must comply with Google’s policies and service rules. The correctness of the registration is also checked. It usually takes from one to three days.
Basic data about each product is recorded in its attributes:
- product item name [title];
- description of the promoted product [description];
- availability [availability].
Other mandatory attributes:
- field with product identifier;
- a link to the product page (to the card itself, not the category);
- link to product photo;
- the cost of the commodity item;
- condition (condition) for secondary goods;
- GTIN – international format identifier (applies to all goods, except for handmade items);
- MPN code of the manufacturer (as an alternative to the previous attribute, it is not filled in for handmade goods);
- delivery details.
There are several dozen attributes in total. Most of them are optional. But we recommend filling them in whenever possible. A complete list of feed attributes is available in Google Help.
The connection will be established automatically if the Google Adwords and Google Merchant accounts are registered to the same mail.
The connection must be confirmed in the Google Adwords interface.
Importantly! The more attributes are filled in, the more relevant the ad will be. If, for example, the user is not just looking for women’s shoes, but red women’s shoes. More detailed information allows you to configure advertising campaigns more.
There are several ways to create a feed for Google Shopping and product ads:
- using manual or partially automated filling of Google Sheets;
- via API;
- from a file in XML format;
- using the site’s CMS functionality and available extensions.
Filling in the main attributes
Briefly about how to fill in the main attributes of goods.
The product ID is a unique number used to identify a specific item in the site’s catalog. The most convenient and easiest option is to take the number generated by the site’s CMS.
If the product is sold in the same country and displayed in several languages, one identifier will be sufficient.
Product name – this attribute, according to Google’s recommendations, can contain up to 150 characters. But it is better for the title to be up to 100 characters. It is recommended to place the main keywords at the beginning of the attribute.
This is also due to the fact that the ads only show the first 35 characters. In Google Shopping, visitors are shown the first 75-100. But the attendance of this service is still less than the visibility of product ads.
The name in the feed should match the title on the website.
Description – should contain all information about the product important for the user. This attribute will only appear in Google Shopping.
You can enter up to 5000 characters here, but most of them will not be visible to users.
Product image – choose the highest quality photo. Files with a resolution of 800 by 800 pixels and more are optimal. But they definitely should not be smaller than 250 by 250.
It is best if the picture is on a white background without watermarks and text. It is important to choose images that will make your products stand out from similar ads of competitors.
Product condition – even if the product is new, we advise you to register this attribute. Sometimes the system gives an error when working with goods that do not specify conditions.
Availability – everything is simple here. The product can be available, unavailable, and available to order. The information, as in other attributes, must match the data on the site.
Price is one of the main attributes. Make sure that the price is written on all products. Be sure to specify the currency that corresponds to the country in which the product will be sold.
VAT should already be included in the price. This does not apply to sales in the US, India, and Canada markets.
Brand. Another mandatory attribute. It is specified, among other things, to cover more searches for which the ad can be displayed.
MPN (Manufacturer Part Number) is a code to identify the product by the manufacturer. Instead, for handmade goods, an option with the identifier_exists field is allowed. If product identifiers are NOT marked, the identifier_exists field should be false.
Product_type is an optional attribute. But it makes it easier to work with an advertising company. Simplifies the grouping and classification of products in the feed.
Tax – an attribute with information about taxation. Required only if you are selling in the US.
How to generate a product file from your store to upload to Merchant?
There are four ways to create a feed:
- enter information manually (or partially manually) and save it in Google Sheets;
- generate a feed using a plugin for the CMS on which your site is running;
- generate an XML file;
- create it with API content.
Which option to use? It all depends on the size of your directory.
If you have a small number of products (conditionally up to 50 items), it is better to write down all the attributes for each product manually through a Google spreadsheet. But after any changes, the feed will need to be edited and uploaded again.
For sites on popular CMS, plugins will be an excellent solution. Such components are available for WordPress, Opencart, Magento, PrestaShop, etc.
The disadvantage of this option will be that some plugins for feed generation are paid. Also, these tools can be difficult to set up. Getting it right requires the work of a certified Google Shopping setup specialist.
If you have many products, and information about which changes often, it is better to create a feed via XML. This will save time but will require the work of a programmer.
Creating a feed by manually filling in a Google table
First, go to the Products category in the Google Merchant menu. Click the Add main feed button.
Fill in all the empty fields, and choose the option with a Google table.
Then fill in and save the table, and choose a feed template.
Advice! You can speed up data collection and feed generation using programs with a parser function. This could be the Screaming Frog tool.
Using plugins for CMS when generating a feed
An excellent alternative to manually creating a feed. The only downside of this method is that not all plugins with the download function are free. Here is a list of the most popular solutions for such a task.
- Woocommerce for online stores on WordPress;
- ManyFeedGenerator for Opencart;
- Free Google Shopping – a free solution for PrestaShop;
- Virtuemart is a WooCommerce analog developed for Joomla.
There are similar components for:
- Magento, etc.
Feed in XML
This is an XML markup file. Most plugins generate files in this format.
When generating a feed without plugins, you need to prepare a detailed technical task for a specialist. In the document, you need to specify the frequency of automatic updates, the attributes that must be filled, and those that can be left blank.
When adding an XML feed to Merchant, select the Scheduled option (see screenshot below).
After that, we indicate the update frequency every day, and the time zone. It is advisable to update the data at night.
Then select the default currency in the settings. We keep In the Processing tab, put three marks and click the Download button. In a few days, the products will appear in the List section.
Setting up and running a Google Shopping advertising campaign
To create a product advertising campaign, select the Create campaign option without specifying a goal in Google Adwords. Sometimes the goal of the Sale is also chosen.
The optimal campaign type for the e-commerce Shopping, subcategory is a Simple shopping campaign.
At this stage, if properly configured, your Merchant account should be up and running. You need to select one of the feeds that you created and downloaded in advance. Products from it will appear in the campaign you create.
The next stage is to choose the country of sale. It’s best to choose one country for one campaign, even if you’re selling in multiple markets.
You also need to specify a spending limit per day.
After that, it’s time to choose a bidding strategy. The Maximum conversion value option is often used. In this case, the ROAS target is set. What it should be will be shown only by analyzing competitors and testing hypotheses for advertising strategy.
A popular strategy is to set a target ROAS of around 200% for the first 2 weeks and gradually increase.
The second option of the strategy is to set the price per click manually. This allows you to independently set a price for different ads. To switch to such a strategy, uncheck the box with an increase in the number of conversions.
When using this strategy, you also need to specify the average amount of expenses per day. Rely on the price per click at which you will receive the desired profit from the sale of one product.
If you want the ad to appear on Youtube as well, leave a checkmark next to it.
It is possible to choose the types of devices on which ads will be displayed, and the start and end date of the campaign. When all parameters are set, click Save.
Adding negative words
We have already said that the effectiveness of the campaign depends on the correct processing of negative keywords. Ads should not be shown for queries with these words and phrases.
To add negative keywords, go to the Keywords section and click on the plus sign.
For faster work and convenience, it is better to prepare a file with a list of negative words in advance and simply copy it into the service window. The list of negative words can be changed.
Product grouping in the Google Shopping campaign
Creating product groups simplifies work with the campaign and allows you to optimize results. But for grouping, you need to set the attributes in the feed:
- price category;
- color, size, etc.
That is, you need to start working with the feed already having an idea about the advertising strategy.
Groups are created through the Product groups section.
We add subgroups to the All products group, as shown in the screenshot. We divide the group by parameter (see the screenshot below).
Immediately after that, you can assign and change bids for each group. For example, if the goods of a certain brand are bought worse, you can assign a lower bid.
From this moment, bid management and the implementation of the advertising strategy begin.
Product advertising through the Google Shopping and Google AdWords services allows you to increase the profitability of online stores and quickly launch sales.
This marketing tool shows ads specifically to people who are looking for the products you sell. Due to the relevance of the request, users perceive advertising more loyally and benevolently.
The peculiarity of the format of product ads is also that the potential buyer immediately understands whether he should go to the site or look for another similar product at a lower price.
The difficulty of product advertising is that it requires a lot of preparatory work. We described all these actions above in the article.
You will need the following accounts to get started.
- Gmail to integrate all tools;
- Google AdWords, through which bids and other ad display parameters will be adjusted;
- Google Merchant, through which product information is collected and transmitted.
You will also need to create a FID (special technical file) with the goods and synchronize it with all services.
After setting up and launching, constant monitoring of the parameters and effectiveness of the advertising campaign is required. It is important to pay attention to the effectiveness of ads and optimize them in time.
All this is a serious amount of work. It is better to entrust it to certified advertising specialists from mnews.agency. We successfully conduct many projects related to product advertising. And the CEO of the agency, Mykhailo Klyachko, conducts webinars on the topic of Google Shopping for E-commerce Club Ukraine and other platforms.
Trust the work to professionals. Contact mnews.agency to order launch and product advertising services.