Last Updated: Feb. 7, 2017
What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to Google Shopping, quite a lot. After setting the correct bid for a product, optimizing your Google Shopping product titles is the next most important step along the way to a shopper discovering that product in his or her SERP.
Because product titles can seem simple, e-commerce marketers might overlook them when setting up their Google Shopping campaigns.
But honing Google Shopping product titles is a tad more complicated than tagging each product with an immediately obvious description. Here’s why — and a few actions you can take to improve your titles.
Before we dive into the fun stuff, let’s get one thing out of the way: THE single most important element of a product’s feed information is its unique product identifier (UPI), such as its GTIN or MPN.
These numbers tell Google exactly what a product is, and lets it match products from different retailers. So make sure your feed includes all the necessary UPIs — especially since Google will begin enforcing its updated GTIN requirements (and disqualifying products without accurate GTIN information) on May 16th.
After setting the correct bid for a product, optimizing its title in the Google Shopping feed is the next most important step along the way to a shopper discovering that product in his or her SERP.
The second most important thing in your feed (assuming your feed is clean) is product title.
Title is critical to Google’s matching algorithm. Take a look at this example of three nearly identical searches — all with the same intent — with very minor differences between them, such as an apostrophe or using the singular versus a plural form.
Google returns three different sets of product results. Some products show up twice, while others appear only once. That has a lot to do with the title.
Think Like Your Shoppers
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to optimizing product titles. Every business is a little bit different. The key is understanding your searchers’ intentions, where you’re getting good impression share, where you’re converting — and where you’re not.
Sound like a tall order? There’s a trick you can use to see where you stand …
In the AdWords dashboard, click into the Dimensions tab for one of your Google Shopping campaign’s Ad groups. In the Dimensions tab, select the option “View: Search terms” to see your campaign’s search query report. (Again, be sure to do this at the Ad group level.)
Here’s the trick: Modify your view’s columns by adding the Keyword attribute. Once you apply these settings and return to your Dimensions tab, you’ll notice that your new column is suspiciously lacking in actionable data — instead of an actual keyword, you’ll find blank space or hashes there.
BUT export that report as an Excel file, and you’ll see that in Excel, the product or partition for each keyword magically appears.
In this report, you can actually see which query matched to which group of products. And while it’s not easy to take action on it, there’s a lot of really valuable information here.
Win the Google Shopping Product Titles
Once you’ve exported your search query report, you can use it to begin optimizing your products’ titles.
By “optimize,” I mean make minor adjustments to titles that could cause products to surface for more relevant search queries, more often. As in the example above, this could be as simple as adding an apostrophe or using a plural form instead of the singular (or vice versa).
To get you started, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Use your search query performance data to inform your changes. Explore your search query report, starting with queries that are converting well and those that aren’t. Look for consistencies and commonalities across your report.
For example, if you find that shoppers consistently use descriptive adjectives like “summer” to find (and buy!) a pair of shoes from your Google Shopping ads, or “flat brim” to find a top-selling baseball cap, consider adding these words to their product titles, too. You might also want to add these descriptors to similar items that are not converting as well.
And for your top performing items within a given brand or category, consider adding the brand or category to those products’ titles in your feed. This will tell Google that you’d like to show these items for a generic search for that brand. Small changes like this can go a long way towards delivering more of the right impressions.
2. Don’t stop testing. Remember there’s not one correct answer to the question of product title. Every retailer is a little bit different; different types of consumers search differently. Some shoppers are educated, committed hobbyists searching for a specific item, while others could be looking to Google Shopping to inspire their next purchase.
So start small and test your new titles. Keep an eye on your results and refine your approach over time. But be sure to …
3. Keep calm and trust statistics. Don’t base your title tests on time elapsed. If you decide to wait, say, 14 days, and not enough clicks occur during this period, you could end up making decisions too quickly. And rash decision-making seldom yields good results.
Instead, stay the course, and hold yourself to receiving a statistically significant number of impressions and click-throughs before making any adjustments.
Because Google guards its algorithms fiercely, there will always be an element of mystery shrouding product titles. But don’t get discouraged. Tackling product title optimization is a big undertaking — and one that many retailers using Google Shopping ignore.
By diving in, you’re already one step ahead of the competition. To really outsmart and outrank competitors, join Sidecar statisticians for a free Shopping performance analysis to uncover hidden opportunities for growth in your Google Shopping campaigns.