Last updated: Dec. 14, 2016
It’s not easy to make your products display to the right consumer at the right moment on channels like Google Shopping. To make your impressions count, you need an optimized product feed, the right bid for every product, and a data-driven approach that considers relevant sources to inform grouping and bidding.
There is no silver bullet to ensure that a given product matches a particular search query in Google Shopping. But you can influence search query matching and increase your chance of displaying the right product at the right time. Start by shoring up these three areas:
1) Product Feed Optimization: Title Is King
After unique product identifiers (UPIs), product titles matter the most. So the first rule of feed optimization? Use data about how shoppers search to craft your product titles. User experience is paramount to Google, so you have to think like a shopper and evaluate search query reports to gain concrete data around the way shoppers search.
Also bear in mind various iterations of a search. Someone looking for “women’s tshirts” has the same intent as someone searching “womens t-shirts,” but if your title caters toward only one version, you might lose out on impressions for the other query.
The second rule of feed optimization: Don’t give every product the same treatment. A common practice is to insert the brand or category into every single title to optimize the content. Instead, evaluate performance data to determine which subset of products in each brand and category converts well. Insert the brand/category into those titles as a way of alerting Google that you’d prefer that generic searches within a brand or category to match to those products.
2) Bid Management: It Matters to You and the Channel
Shopping channels such as Google and Bing want to do two things well: 1) offer an outstanding user experience and 2) make money. Bidding up high-performing products — i.e., products that generate the most clicks and conversions — accomplishes both goals.
If you’re willing to pay more for certain products, you’re indicating to the channel that those products are items consumers want to see and buy. Good user experience? Check. Oh, and you paid more for the click and helped the channel make money? Check. In return, bidding appropriately on product ads means more impressions, clicks, and conversions for you.
The challenge is how to implement this. Most e-commerce marketers group products by brand or category, and then bid on that group. But that approach is limiting because performance varies among products within the same brand or category. So let’s flip things around.
Throw out those taxonomies and instead group products by an entirely different metric — performance. Imagine how much more accurately you could set bids if your product groupings were based on performance metrics. Similarly performing products would be together in one group, where they can receive the same calculated bid. There’s a lot more to talk about with this idea. Stay tuned to our blog because I’m planning to unfold some practical steps to execute this in an upcoming post.
3) Segment Search Queries for Greater Control
You probably know that Google lets you set negative keywords at the ad group (or campaign) level, and not at the product group level. So negative keywords are applied to every product within that ad group or campaign. The problem with this approach is that you could have some products within your ad group that you don’t want to associate with certain negative keywords.
So how do you go beyond negative keywords and increase the sophistication of search query matching? You have to segment your campaign into ad groups based on search query performance.
For instance, you might want to bid more on stronger performing queries, a little less on mediocre queries, and even less on the low performers. By creating ad group buckets based on search query performance, you can have your entire catalog available to show for all targeted queries, but you gain the control to bid more on higher performing queries.
These are a few crucial steps to avoid paying for clicks for queries that are irrelevant to your products, and instead ensure your ad spend is working hard for you. Moral of the story: search query matching will only become more competitive in the future, and implementing e-commerce best practices now will help you stay ahead of the game.