What is Google Shopping and how does it work?

In a saturated marketplace, it can be difficult to get your brand and products in front of the right people at the right time. Marketplaces such as Amazon and Etsy are a great way to increase your chances of success but they can be expensive. In addition, over the last few years, online shopping has changed, making it even more essential to get your products seen. 

This is where Google Shopping comes in. 

Google Shopping provides a way to display your products on Google Shopping whenever someone searches for a term that’s relevant to your products, making it easier for potential customers to find you. 

Knowing exactly what Google Shopping is, how it works and how it can benefit your business will allow you to take full advantage of the platform, so let’s have a look in more detail.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a paid advertising platform provided by Google as part of Google Ads (Paid Search). Formerly known as Product Listing Ads, Google Shopping campaigns allow potential customers to search for, view and compare products from different online retailers. 

The products are shown when customers use Google to search for a particular product. They usually know what product they’re looking for and want to find the best price or supplier  to buy it from. These results can appear in the main search engine results page or under the Shopping tab. 

google shopping results example

Whilst 63% of product searches start on Amazon, a further 48% of consumers start their product search on search engines. This means Google only comes second to Amazon when consumers are looking for a product and provides you with a great opportunity to maximise visibility of your products online. 

In short, Google Shopping provides another way for you to advertise your physical products on Google, helping to maximise exposure. Unlike text-based ads that are optimised and show based on chosen keywords, Google Shopping uses the product data you enter into your Google Merchant Center account. 

Google Shopping campaigns are particularly effective because they show a high quality product image, product price and features and allows searchers to read more about the product, as well as compare prices between different online retailers. 

How does Google Shopping work? 

While Google Shopping looks similar to marketplaces such as Etsy, Amazon or eBay, it is not an online shop. 

Google Shopping provides a way for online retailers to gain visibility and drive traffic and sales to their own websites.

To fully understand how Google Shopping really works, it’s also important to know that there are two different parts to it. 

A comparison shopping engine 

Within Google’s Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE), shoppers are able to search for products and compare the offering and prices of various sellers. From here, they can either click through to the retailers website and buy there, or they can check out if the product is eligible for Buy with Google

This part of Google Shopping acts as a product research and discovery hub, with tools and features available to make purchase easier for customers. 

An advertising platform

Google Shopping Ads show in the search results and display product details to customers, including:

  • Product Image
  • Star ratings 
  • Customer reviews 
  • Promotions 
  • Price 
  • Local availability 

These ads use a PPC model and allow you to drive traffic to your website. It will also provide you with control over when and where your ads appear to ensure that you keep control of your spend. 

For e-commerce, SEO can be a long process and can take time to build. Google Shopping provides and easier and more cost-effective method for reaching the right people, in the right place and driving sales for your business. 

Running Google Shopping ads 

In order to create a campaign, you will need two platforms:

  • Google Ads 
  • Google Merchant Centre 

Let’s have a look at both of these in more detail.

Google Ads 

Previously known as Adwords, Google Ads is an advertising tool which allows you to bid on keywords related to your products or business so that you will appear at the top of Google’s search results.

You can use this to save Shopping campaigns, set a budget, handle bids, analyse campaign data, and optimise your marketing efforts. 

Google Merchant Center 

This is where you will upload and update your product data feed (product information), including attributes such as EAN, price, colour and ISBN. 

Why use Google shopping?

Google Shopping makes the search experience more visual for searchers and provides them with the information they need to make a purchase decision in one place. This means they don’t have to scroll through text-heavy results or click on multiple websites to find the information they want. 

As a business, it means you’ll be seen in Google search results more than once. If you’re running Paid Search and SEO strategies alongside your Google Shopping efforts, you’ll be seen as a paid ad, an organic result and a paid result. 

According to Statista, in March 2020, around 40% of UK shoppers said they had been shopping online more. By February 2021, this had risen to 75%. 

As you can see, recent growth in online shopping has increased the need to be seen online and make sure that you’re driving customers to buy your products. 

Google describes Google Shopping as a platform that “makes the world your storefront”. By investing in this platform for your business, you have access to everyone searching in the search engine for your product which can help to drive traffic and increase your sales. 

The benefits of Google Shopping for your business

Knowing how Google Shopping works is the first step to implementing it for your business. The second, and most important step, is knowing how it will help you to grow your business. Here’s a run down of how Google Shopping can help you to increase sales and revenue: 

High search volumes 

Google controls 92% of search engine market share worldwide and serves up to 5.6 billion search queries every day. That makes it the biggest search engine in the world and, research shows, that around 48% of shoppers start their purchase journey on a search engine. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many shoppers have moved online so this figure is likely to increase as consumer behaviour shifts. 

Broader reach 

Google has expanded the areas in which Shopping Ads are shown so they do not just appear in the standard search results anymore. This provides you with a better chance of reaching potential customers. Results are now shown in:

  • Shopping tab on Google search 
  • Google images 
  • Google Search Partner websites 
  • On the Google Display network, including YouTube and Gmail 

More targeted traffic 

Driving more traffic to your website doesn’t always mean more sales. That’s why it’s important to use Google Shopping to target the people who want to buy your products. The platform allows you to find the people with the intent to purchase your products as you can be relatively sure the people who are typing search terms into the search engines for your product are ready to buy. In regular search, you need to be aware of the stage of the buyer’s journey searchers are in to help them find the right information. 

Perform better than text ads 

Searchers who find and click on a Google Shopping Ad show a higher purchase intent than those who look at PPC text ads. This means that Shopping ads have a higher conversion rate. Figures show that Google Shopping Ads generate 26% higher conversion rates and have a 23% lower cost-per-click than text ads. This means that you will get a better return on investment when using Google Shopping as a way to promote your products. 

Easy to manage 

Text ads require you to choose keywords you want to target and bid on them separately. However Google Shopping simplifies this process with no need to choose the keywords you want to bid on. These are automatically chosen by Google based on the product information in the Google Merchant Center account (product data feed). It uses this information to show your ads in searches that are relevant. 

A recent update to the Google Shopping platform means you can run Smart Shopping ads which are even easier to set up and manage. All you need to do is enter your campaign objective and budget and Smart Shopping uses machine learning for automated bidding and ad placements. 

Great reporting ability 

The platform allows you to check on the performance of your ads and see which ads are performing. This will allow you to track spend and make sure you’re getting the best return on investment. It also helps you to benchmark your performance and provide goals to work towards. 

If you’d like to know more about how Google Shopping works or would like help with managing your campaigns, please contact our team today

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