If you work in ecommerce, you probably remember the news
this year about Google opening up Shopping to offer free listings for
merchants in the US – a move that took many by surprise because it is such a
fundamental part of any retail PPC campaign these days, but one that was
spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic and a way to help retailers gain free
exposure through the crisis.
Now, those listings are coming to the UK (as well as Europe,
Asia, and Latin America) from mid-October,
giving you a couple of weeks to get your listings set up and ready to take
advantage of the “new” feature.
What do you need to do?
Upload your product feeds to Google Merchant
Center – if you’re already running Paid Shopping campaigns, this should already
be set up!
Opt-in to “Surfaces across Google” – either when
you sign up, or by navigating to the Growth tab in your Merchant Center account
and heading to “Manage programs”
Monitor your feed health (either through a feed
provider, or manual checks) to make sure your products are eligible to show
Monitor your performance – there is a new report
coming to Merchant Center soon where you’ll be able to see unpaid clicks!
And that’s it! The biggest part of this is going to be the
same as with Paid Shopping campaigns – making sure your feed is eligible and in
good health to get the maximum performance out of it.
Why do we care about free Google Shopping listings?
This is another step towards Google blurring the lines
between paid-for advertising and organic listings – it’s the same feature, but
it will be reported on differently. That means, for SEO teams, you’ll need to
up your reporting and make sure you have visibility on how user behaviour is
Have users started clicking on shopping listings
more – paid or organic – because there is more choice/the feature is more
Have you seen fewer organic clicks through to
category pages because users can more easily be served a variety of related
products, see the images, prices etc. without clicking through to a landing
But as integrated teams, you’ll also need to work much
closer together to understand how product information needs to be structured,
both in the feeds and on the pages, and then go a step further and understand
which products or product types are driving the best performance to focus in on
your individual strategies and adapt as necessary.
You’ll also (or at least should) find yourselves working
much closer with Product and Merchandising teams – training them on the
information that’s needed when new products get uploaded to the site, when new
ranges are brought in, and when sales run or products go out of stock. These
things were primarily associated with the Paid Search and Business teams, but
now they span into SEO as well.
Then you need to think about how this changes the setup of
the results page. Currently in the US, the Shopping tab is mimicking the main
results tab – ads top and bottom and organic listings in the middle, so we can
assume a similar setup for the UK to begin with but that doesn’t mean it will
stay that way forever, as we well know with how much the main result tab has
changed over recent years. It is likely, however, that the PLAs seen at the top
of main results page will remain ad-only space, but whether tests come out in
the future to expand these listings, add more products, or blend them further
with Organic results remains to be seen.
This move also makes things like structured data much more
important to some people than it was before – if the feeds are powered by
product data, the likelihood is the more you can mark the product up with
relevant information, the richer the listing is going to be.
5 top tips to prepare:
Get your feed in order – run a health check,
make sure it is configured properly, and make sure your products are eligible
for display against Google’s criteria
Opt-in to Surfaces for Google – this is
essential for the free listing eligibility
Set up your reporting – understand what you want
to report on and how, and which teams it applies to
Get training sessions in with your teams – knowledge
sharing is going to be so important as this rolls out to the UK
Run a structured data audit to assess Product
markup on the pages and resolve any errors
If you need some help getting your feed set up, or want a
second pair of eyes to make sure you’ve got everything you need ready to go, get in touch for an audit or a
consultancy and training package to make sure you’re ready to take advantage of
this exciting new feature.