What Are Google Shopping Ads? Best Practices Guide (2024)

If you’re looking for a way to increase your online sales, Google Shopping ads could be the answer. However, running successful shopping ad campaigns requires more than just setting up Google accounts and launching ads. To ensure your shopping ad campaigns are successful, you need to be aware of the best practices for running Google Shopping ads.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the best practices that can help you get the most out of your Google Shopping campaigns and maximize your return on investment. From understanding the basics to optimizing your campaigns, learning and following these best practices will help you create effective Google Shopping ads campaigns.

Understanding the Basics of Google Shopping Ads

What are Google Shopping Ads?

Google Shopping ads are a type of pay-per-click advertising that displays products from your online store directly in Google search results. A Google Shopping ad is a type of paid search ad that appears at the very top of Google search results in the form of a product listing. It provides online shoppers with a visual representation of the goods you’re selling, including product image, price, description, etc. making it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for. A click on a Google Shopping ad will take the user to the product URL you provided, e.g. a product landing page on your store’s website.

How do Google Shopping Ads Work?

Google Shopping platform is free to use, you can showcase goods on it free of charge. But if you want to get more out of it you should consider running shopping ads.

To run Google Shopping ads, you’ll need to connect your online store’s product catalogue (uploaded in the form of a feed file to Google Merchant Center) to Google’s advertising platform—Google Ads. The basic steps include the following.

  1. Create a Google Merchant Center account.
  2. Create a Google Ads account.
  3. Upload a product feed—Google Merchant Center primary feed—with all the data about your products to Google Merchant Center.
  4. Configure shipping and tax settings (the latter is for the US only).
  5. Get your product feed approved.
  6. Set up a Google Ads campaign by choosing which products you want to promote and set a bid for each product group.

Each step above has its undertones and nuances that you should take into account—we’ll cover those in the best practices for running Google Shopping ads later in the article.

Why Use Google Shopping Ads?

Many shoppers start searching for products by looking them up on Google. They browse through search results, product offerings, and text visual ads while looking for the desired goods. That is why Google is literally the place to be for any online store because it allows reaching out to a vast audience of potential customers.

Out of all the results a user gets after hitting the Search button on Google, Shopping ads do stand out because they appear at the top of the SERP (search engine result page) above any other results on the page (and for some ad types, in videos) and provide the customers with all the essential information about your products in condensed form. This ability to catch the eye of shoppers right away may eventually result in the following benefits.

  • Increased visibility. As was mentioned, Google Shopping ads appear at the top of search results, increasing the visibility of a business’s products and attracting potential customers.
  • Targeted audiences. Google Shopping ads target people who are actively searching for products online. This increases the likelihood of reaching the right audience and making a sale.
  • Optimized ROI. Google Shopping ads are a cost-effective way of advertising because they use a pay-per-click (CPC) model. This means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Plus, you get more control over ad spend by setting a budget.
  • Data Insights. Google provides businesses with data insights about their Google Shopping ads performance, including the number of clicks, impressions, and conversions. This information can be used to make informed decisions about how to optimize the campaign for better results.
  • Mobile-friendliness. Google Shopping ads are designed to be mobile-friendly. This means that you can reach potential customers on the go, increasing the chances of making a sale.

What Are Google Shopping Ads Types?

Product Shopping ads are generated depending on the product data you provide in the Google Merchant Center. They contain a product image, title, and price, as well as the name of your store or business, directly in the ad. Merchant Center automatically generates Shopping ads depending on the data in your product feed.

A video action campaign allows you to add a product feed to your Video campaign. This way you can transform your YouTube video ads into a virtual store and display product images below your video ads, enticing customers to visit your website for more information or to buy your products.

Though Performance Max campaigns are not exclusive to shopping ads, they are versatile and can be used for various advertising objectives, such as increasing website traffic, driving conversions, or achieving other business goals. Google’s machine learning and automation optimize ad placements and bids across multiple networks to maximize your desired outcomes.

Get the Most Out Of Your Shopping Ads

Google Shopping Ads Best Practices

Optimize Your Product Feed

Make sure that your product feed is complete, accurate, and up-to-date. This does not include product images, descriptions, and prices only. To get the best results possible and avoid issues, make sure you do the following.

  • Provide all the products with unique product IDs. For duplicate products—e.g. a product is represented in multiple feeds—create a stand-alone ID each time.
  • Create coherent product titles and descriptions. Avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Provide all the possible attributes. This includes extra attributes, like GTIN, availability, custom labels, etc.
  • Use high-quality product images in compliance with Google’s rules and policies. 
  • Avoid data discrepancies. This means your shopping feed data must always be up-to-date fully mirroring the information on your landing pages in your store. E.g. if a product is unavailable and your shopping ad says the opposite, this can result in customers bouncing off and receiving warnings from Google.
  • Reupload your feeds regularly. Do it even if your feeds don’t get updated at all.
  • Be precise with product categorization. If done poorly, this can significantly affect the outcome of how your Shopping ads work. The best here approach would be to build up a coherent, detailed route to the product in question—from the top-level category to the most specific one possible. Check the example below.
❌Wrong Product Categorization✅Right Product Categorization
👎🏽Computer Components > Input Devices > Portable Scanners👍🏽Electronics > Electronics Accessories > Computer Components > Input Devices > Portable Scanners
How to categorize products in a shopping feed

For more tips on Google Shopping feed optimization, download this free guide.

Also, check these blog posts ⬇️

Optimize Your Bidding and Campaign Structure

One of the most important aspects of keeping everything streamlined with your Google Ads campaigns is to neatly sort the campaigns’ structure. Your Google Shopping ads campaign optimization should revolve around grouping products based on the attribute.

You could use any of the attributes for that and divide the products differently, for example, by

  • id
  • brand
  • custom labels
  • margin
  • bestsellers and losers, etc.

This way you’ll be able to divide products into goal-oriented groups, e.g. seasonal products would go into a stand-alone basket and, hence, would be used in seasonal campaigns.

Based on your product groups, you can create ad groups that will be used in your product ads campaigns. The structuring of ad groups is similar to product categorization when managing your product feeds (e.g. Electronics > Electronics Accessories > Computer Components > Input Devices > Keyboards or Beauty Products > Men > Electric Shavers), so it is important to group ads thoroughly.

Finally, you should make use of different bidding strategies. Rarely does a store use just one bidding approach because there are a lot of factors that impact the probability of a product group making its way to an actual purchase like

  • seasonal demand
  • fashion trends
  • psychological factors (e.g. BOGO)
  • location
  • device, etc.

Based on all that, you should define a bidding strategy for each ad/product group, plus also

  • set up a budget limit
  • choose between (or mix) automated and manual bidding
  • utilize the scheduling feature to meticulously tweak your campaigns on the go.

As a result, you can structure campaigns in the following ways based on your stock, industry, market context, and business goals:

  • one universal campaign for all products
  • one campaign for multiple products
  • multiple campaigns for one set of products
  • multiple campaigns for multiple products.

Use High-Quality Product Images

Creating high-quality product images is essential for Google Shopping Ads. Make sure you follow these best practices for Google Shopping product image:

  • use high-resolution images with a minimum resolution of 800×800 pixels
  • showcase your product from multiple angles to provide a comprehensive view
  • use a clean, white background to make the product stand out
  • ensure the product is the primary focus and avoid clutter or distractions
  • accurately represent the product’s color, design, and features without using filters or misrepresenting edits
  • avoid shadows to highlight product details—proper lighting is crucial for clear and well-lit images
  • do not add watermarks, promotional text, or logos to your images as it goes against Google’s policies
  • maintain a consistent style and look for all product images to create a professional appearance
  • whenever possible, use original images instead of stock photos
  • save images in the correct file format (JPEG or PNG) and maintain the correct aspect ratios to prevent distortion.
  • consider mobile users by ensuring your images are mobile-friendly and look good on small screens.
  • for clothing and apparel, show how the product fits or provide size charts
  • offer a high-quality zoom feature if possible
  • consistently position and make your brand logo or label visible on products if needed
  • optimize images for SEO by using descriptive file names and alt text
  • regularly update images and remove outdated or out-of-stock product images from your feed

Follow these tips to create visually appealing and informative product images that enhance the performance of your Google Shopping Ads and increase your chances of attracting and converting potential customers.

Use Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are a perfect way for online stores to avoid getting unwanted results. With negative keywords, you can do the following.

  • Save money and spend it on more profitable keywords that actually correlate with your products and push your ads to the right audience. 
  • Exclude keywords that are unrelated to your stock—those that seemingly fall into the same category as your products but spoil the whole SERP party for you because those keywords trigger your ads and show them to an irrelevant audience. For example, all sneakers are shoes but not all shoes are sneakers. If you’re selling sneakers you could make your ads more intent-oriented by excluding keywords from broader categories.
  • Improve the relevance of ad groups. Negative keywords can help boost the relevancy of your ad groups by making them appear to a more relevant audience and delivering a coherent message to consumers.

Use Audiences

Audiences (which can be found in the lower left part of Google Ads UI) are another great way to structure your Google Shopping campaigns. 

  • one-time customers
  • loyal shoppers
  • customers that bounced off, e.g. they abandoned their cart or just kept browsing your stock without any further action. etc.

The other option that you can use is similar audiences. It can help you reach new customers that Google’s algorithm considers converting based on your current customer database.

Make Use of Promotions

Add promotions to your regular Google shopping feed to entice customers who are looking for discounted products. Highlighting sales and merchant promotions has the potential to convert even reluctant buyers. Note that if using promotions is your regular method of selling, creating a feed under Google promotions instead of a free listing might be a better idea. You can use promotions to push

  • discounts
  • free shipping
  • free gifts.

Benchmark Against Competitors

Competitor benchmarking is a powerful feature that helps you evaluate the efficiency of your Google Shopping campaigns. This includes making use of a number of tools and metrics.

Leverage Customer Reviews and Ratings

Customer reviews and ratings are incredibly valuable, especially for Google Shopping Ads. They act as social proof, building trust and credibility among potential customers. Positive reviews validate the quality and authenticity of products, leading to higher click-through rates and increased confidence in choosing your product over others.

Customer reviews and ratings foster higher user engagement. They provide valuable insights into real-world experiences, helping shoppers make more informed purchasing decisions. By aligning with their needs and preferences, products with positive reviews are more likely to be clicked on.

Additionally, customer feedback is not only useful for attracting new customers but also for improving products and services. Actively encouraging and listening to customer reviews allows for a better understanding of what resonates positively with the audience and areas for improvement. This feedback loop leads to a better user experience, ultimately boosting click-through and conversion rates.

Use Automation

The need to incorporate automated solutions in marketing activities is becoming a bigger necessity every day. But this should be done wisely. If you’re still reluctant to try out complex automated solutions just think that a basic feature that was mentioned above for scheduling your ads is nothing but an automated solution. The same goes for automated bidding.

If done right, automation can help you save time, money, and effort, and even improve numbers, including revenue. For example, you can advantage of the following.

Get the Most Out Of Your Shopping Ads

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