Google Product Search's transition to paid Google Shopping starts in July. Online merchants who aren’t ready for the switch will face some serious repercussions. Below we break it down and present all the latest and greatest updates ecommerce business owners need to know about Google and Ecommerce to stay ahead of the changes.
What should I know about Google Shopping?
1. Google Shopping is Google’s new paid option for merchants who wish to list products on Google’s product pages.
According to IgnitionOne, between 5 and 10 percent of search traffic for retailers comes from Google Product Search. Google Product Search, Google’s current free product listing program, will gradually be replaced by Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and ultimately Google Shopping.
2. Google Shopping is a comparison shopping engine.
How Google Shopping determines product ranking works exactly how comparison shopping engines (CSEs) do. Where products rank on Google Shopping will be determined by a combination of their relevancy as perceived by Google’s algorithm, and what the merchant is bidding for each cost per click (CPC).
3. Worried about spend?
Just like the paid CSE Pricegrabber, Google Shopping will have the utility for sellers to bid $.01 on products or categories. This is good news for merchants who are worried about spend on Google Shopping, and its impact on their marketing campaign.
Bidding $.01 on products or categories will allow those products to be visible in product search, but with less visibility than those which have higher bids. This is a great option for smaller merchants to maintain visibility on Google Shopping without increasing a marketing budget significantly.
4. Hang in there!
The paid shift for Google Shopping is daunting for many merchants. So much so that many merchants are choosing to pause their Google campaigns. If you get the jump on Google Shopping, you will automatically have less competition.
5. Get Going!
Although the full transition to Google Shopping won’t happen until October, it is important for sellers to get started now (You could lose 10 percent of your site traffic!).
If you’d like more information on the Google Shopping program be sure to check out this in-depth FAQ.
What Should I Know About AdWords and PLAs?
6. What will happen to Google Ads?
Google Product Search is evolving from a combination of AdWords, PLAs and free organic listings to Google Shopping. During the transition, AdWords will disappear on Google Shopping, and PLA listings will eventually become the main listings for Google Shopping.
The distinction between AdWords and PLAs is pivotal with the onset of Google Shopping, so it’s important to recognize the difference between the two forms of advertising.
Here is a look at AdWords and PLAs in Google Search (as influenced by Google Product Search):
- AdWords: Paid Google ad program, which is managed through the AdWords login, and appear above organic listings on Google search. AdWords ads lead directly to the merchant site (through an external link), and charge merchants a CPC each time they are clicked on.
- Product Extension ads: (NOT PLAs) are an extension of the AdWords program. These are ads which may show for certain searches (depending on the search query, and the settings enabled in AdWords), and are charged a CPC. Product Extension ads can easily be confused with PLAs as they also feature images, but the two programs are not the same.
- AdWords in Google Shopping: The AdWords program will continue to be something that merchants can manage in Google search, but it's unclear as to whether it will continue to appear in Google Shopping after the switch.
- Product Listing Ads (PLAs): Paid Google advertisements which feature images, and detailed product information. Google generates PLAs from the merchants Google Merchant Center data feed. These ads show up below search results or to the right of a search, and lead to external websites with a CPC cost.
7. How do PLAs and AdWords show up?
AdWords ads appear for keyword searches which merchants are bidding on. So your shirt product listing may appear for the search ‘t-shirt’ if you are bidding on that term (this is also influenced by how much you are bidding and the relevancy of your product).
Product Listing ads appear for searches when Google determines the ad is relevant, and pertinent to the product search, which is exactly how the new Google Shopping will function.
You can't bid on what search you’d like PLAs to show up for, but instead bid on specific products and categories you’d like to appear in search. Google pulls PLAs from the Google Merchant Center product information (from the feed you are sending there).
8. How should I manage AdWords and PLAs?
AdWords is a keyword bidding program. Merchants can bid on combinations of keywords which they would like their ads to appear for. Sellers can list and bid on search terms which they would like their products to show up for through the AdWords login.
PLAs are similar to CSEs where merchants can bid on products, categories, and modify bids based on product buckets and similar metrics. To manage PLAs, you will need access to your AdWords login and your Google Shopping product feed.
Sellers can bid on product type, brand, prices, SKUs, and a seemingly limitless list of product attributes and groups through the AdWords login. BUT to do this, merchants will need to identify and refine those lists through the Google Shopping feed (by adding terms in the AdWords group and label column and refining product type in the feed).
9. Should I use PLAs?
Google has offered an incentive to merchants who are not listing on PLAs, to encourage sellers to familiarize themselves with the bidding process, and PLA variables.
If the rebate doesn’t enthuse you, consider the advantage merchants who understand and actively manage PLAs now will have during the transition to Google Shopping, and later when Google Shopping fully changes over. Get started here.
What Should I Know About Google Trusted Stores?
10. Google Trusted Stores is a Google merchant program which recently became available to all merchants who qualify.
The program is designed to instill customer trust and confidence when buying on Google Shopping, and requires merchants to share shipping, customer service, and fulfillment information with Google. Learn more and sign up here.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!