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Set and Forget the Google Shopping Feed at Your Own Risk, Warns Feedonomics Co-Founder

Ellen Harvey

One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of Google Shopping is the retailer’s product feed. It is the foundation on which a successful Google Shopping strategy is built. If the feed is accurate, and products are appropriately segmented, retail marketers can develop more sophisticated and effective bid strategies. Developing product titles that align with how shoppers browse for particular products is also key. But with massive catalogs and thousands of data points, it can often seem overwhelming to get the product feed right.

Brian RoizenIt’s worth the effort, says Feedonomics Co-founder and Chief Architect Brian Roizen. Feedonomics is a leading feed platform provider and Sidecar partner. We recently spoke with Brian to learn how retailers can ensure their feeds are performing at the highest levels and set themselves up for success in 2019.

Brian’s biggest piece of advice for retailers is to regularly review and update their feeds with the most current information and to create product titles that reflect how shoppers browse. Prices and availability shift regularly, and retailers need to remain nimble in updating their feeds with the most accurate data. Read on for more tips from Brian and learn how to build a better feed strategy for the year ahead.

Ellen Harvey: What are the pitfalls retailers need to avoid when managing their Google Shopping feeds in 2019?

Brian Roizen: One major pitfall that a lot of retailers fall prey to is using a “set it and forget it” approach. Just about every digital marketer would agree that setting and forgetting doesn’t work for campaign and bid management, but why do so many marketers utilize that kind of approach when it comes to feeds for channels like Google Shopping? It may be the easy route, but we see that feeds are a critical part of search engine relevance.

Another pitfall is not checking your Google Merchant Center often enough. The danger of that is a certain percentage of your products can accrue disapprovals and errors. Of course, it can be incredibly time-consuming to keep checking your Google Merchant Center multiple times a day which is why we’ve created FeedAlerts, which automatically checks and alerts you based on customizable error thresholds.

EH: What advice do you have for improving retailers’ Google Shopping feeds in the year ahead?

BR: Constantly look at your product feed and try to optimize every component of it. Start with titles, descriptions, and fields like brand, color, and size. Some fields like “product_type” might seem insignificant, but actually, have some search relevancy. Make sure that the way that users search for products is the same way you have structured your product titles. That means include brand, color, size, material, part numbers, and more in your actual product title; assuming that people are searching for those attributes.

EH: What type of information is most important to include in Google Shopping product data?

BR: The attributes that are most important to include are the ones that people are actually searching for on Google. In some verticals like electronics parts, users might be searching for very specific part numbers, like “k45b flat beater replacement”. That means it’s critical to have these in your product data, especially your product titles.

In other verticals like apparel, users might be searching for combinations of colors, sizes, brand, and other descriptive nouns and adjectives. A searcher might specify a specific type of dress or cut, like “v-neck” and “leather.” That means you should be including these not only in your product titles but also using the “material” field.

EH: How can retailers stay on top of price changes within their Google Shopping feeds and make sure shoppers see the most accurate information?

BR: The best way to stay on top of changing prices and inventory is to have a very high rate of sending updates to Google Shopping. Exporting feeds once per day is simply not enough around the holidays, especially when your prices and inventory might be changing very rapidly. You could incur a lot of wasted ad spend if you continue to advertise out-of-stock products. At Feedonomics, we process billions of products every day and can set any kind of frequency to imports and exports, which is critical to staying on top of any kind of price and inventory changes.

EH: What’s the biggest opportunity you see for online retailers in 2019?

BR: The biggest opportunity I see for retailers is in trying new marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, or Google Shopping Actions. We’ve had a few dozen retailers try Google Shopping Actions this holiday season, and some have seen positive results. It is a different approach than Google Shopping because it is a commission-based model instead of a cost per click model. While that may be less risky for some retailers–they only pay Google when a sale is made–it also may incur higher costs than typical CPCs.

Marketplaces, in general, are a great way to expand your omnichannel reach and be in places where consumers are shopping. Over 50% of product searches originate on Amazon, so if you’re not there, you’re seriously missing out.

For more insight on Google Shopping feed optimization, be sure to check out these five tips for improving the product feed and learn how to craft better product titles in this episode of E-Commerce Marketing Minutes.