When it comes to success in Google Shopping, it all begins with a lean, mean, optimized product feed. The more accurate and descriptive the information in your feed, the easier it is for Google to surface your products in relevant searches. An effective bidding strategy — the other key to achieving high performance — depends on your product feed having well-defined categories and granular segmentation.
If you’re new to feed optimization, or you could use a refresher, we’ve got you covered. Here are the essentials to optimize your product feed for Google Shopping.
Optimize Product Titles
While you can’t control exactly which keywords will surface your Shopping ads (no bidding on keywords in Google Shopping), modifying product titles with words that match the terms shoppers search helps your products appear in more relevant queries.
To find relevant words to include in your titles, you’ll need to conduct keyword research. Be sure to consult the AdWords Dimensions tab and drill down to search terms — this is where you can see exact queries searchers use to surface your products. Google’s Keyword Planner is another great tool.
You’ll also want to put on your shopper hat to think about which product attributes (color, brand, style) a shopper might include in a query. Then include those attributes in your product title.
Here are a few rules of thumb to optimize product titles:
- Add well-known brand names to the beginning of product titles. These are words consumers are likely to include in a search query. The closer a word is to the beginning of the title, the more importance it signals to Google.
- Include color, style, pattern, and size. These details make your title more descriptive. You also can include specialty sizing “plus size,” or “big & tall” if appropriate.
- Include gender (men’s, women’s, unisex). In a vertical like apparel, here’s what an optimized non-branded title might look like:
“Women’s black fit and flare dress size medium”
- Include MPN at the end of titles. Adding a very specific attribute like MPN (manufacturer part number) helps your product surface for shoppers with high intent to purchase, especially in a vertical like auto parts or hardware.
Generally, the more descriptive information you can include in your product titles, the better.
Two more points to remember: Make sure your title optimizations align with information on your product landing pages, and be careful not to keyword-stuff. Both can earn you a drop, rather than a boost, in search rankings.
Have a large catalog and not sure where to begin with title optimizations? Try starting with your top 20 products first, and go from there.
For more on how to optimize your product titles, check out this post.
Create Granular Product Categories
Well-defined product categories are important for structuring and segmenting your feed. The structure you use to segment your catalog can help you bid products optimally.
A common way to structure product feeds is by brand, and further by product type — meaning you group coats together, shoes together, and so on.
That said, the better defined your categories, the more precise your bidding can become. Let’s take shoes as an example product category:
Say you have one product category called “Shoes.” In this category you group all shoes together — men’s, women’s, girls’, boys’, and everything from loafers to running sneakers.
However, it’s highly unlikely all of these different shoes deserve the same bid. By adding more definition to the shoe category, it becomes easier to pinpoint product types and adjust their bids based on seasonality or product performance.
Shoes > Children’s Shoes > Boys’ Athletic Shoes
Shoes > Women’s Shoes > Casual Sandals
If you’re a looking for a place to start with structure, product categories are a good, safe place to begin. Once you’ve applied product categories to your feed, you’ll want to organize and segment your catalog further by applying custom labels.
Apply Custom Labels
Creating custom labels is a feed optimization technique that allows you to segment and organize your Google Shopping campaigns according to important values you define. Think of custom labels as priority flags you place on products that you want to treat differently than the rest of your catalog — based on product profitability, popularity, or seasonality. These labels help you assign appropriate bids on these items.
You can include a maximum of five custom labels for every feed in Google Shopping. They are visible only to you and not publicly in Shopping ads.
Some useful custom labels to consider:
- Price tiers
- Net margins
- Seasonal top sellers
- Sale items
Creating custom labels for products in the same price tier is especially helpful in aligning your bidding strategy to product price points. For example, you would assign higher bids to products in a high price tier (say, $100 – $150) that have higher AOV and higher margin than products in a low tier ($1 – $20).
Or for items labeled “clearance,” you can quickly spot and bid up on all products that have this custom label when it’s appropriate. Assigning custom labels for gender or age segments (girls’, boys’, men’s, and women’s, etc.) that perform particularly well could also be helpful.
Add GTINs and UPIs
GTINs (global trade identification numbers) are UPIs (unique product identifiers) that appear next to the barcode on products. Submitting GTINs helps Google classify your products and shoppers find your ads. As of May 2016, Google requires GTINS to be included in the feed for products that have them assigned.
If you sell brand-name products sold by other merchants, or any products with a GTIN assigned by the manufacturer, you need to include the GTIN attribute in your product feed — or risk disapprovals from Google.
If that’s not motivation enough to include GTINs, merchants who have added them correctly to their feed have seen conversion rates increase up to 20%.
When your products are sold only by you, or are otherwise used, custom, handmade, or vintage, you don’t need to worry about GTINs. However, you can and should still optimize your feed by adding available UPIs, like brand or MPN, whenever possible.
If you have questions about including GTINs and UPIs, visit Google Merchant Center Help.
Use Merchant Promotions
Online search shoppers love sales as much as any retail customers. That’s why you should take advantage of Google Merchant Promotions to display sales and free shipping offers right in your Shopping ads.
Merchant Promotions can drive a higher click-through rate, more conversions, and lower cost per click. You can set up promotions in bulk by setting up a promotions feed and uploading it to the Google Merchant Center. For a step-by-step walkthrough on setting up promotions, check out this post.
Stay Current on Google’s Feed Updates
Google regularly rolls out updates that can make a huge impact on the effectiveness of your feed. For example, one of Google’s most recent feed updates is a change to the color attribute. In the past, Google advised retailers to use general color descriptions within the feed like “red” and “blue” as opposed to more detailed descriptions like “maroon” or “turquoise.” In 2018, Google changed that policy, requiring retailers to have the color attribute match the exact color used on the product landing page.
This change affects apparel retailers in particular because they often have massive catalogs with a variety of color options for each product. Their feeds will need to be updated to reflect the colors listed on their product pages.
To optimize your product feed, the key is to provide Google with the most accurate and complete product information possible. Remember, your product feed is Google’s source of truth for how to define and categorize your products. Getting these essentials right in your feed can make a big difference when it comes to making bid decisions, and ultimately getting your products in front of the right customers in Google Shopping.