Knowledge |

How to optimise your Shopping feed data

Google Shopping is an increasingly valuable, if not an indispensable, tool for retailers.

In fact, Merkle’s Q1 report ‘18 found that Shopping made up 60% of retailers’ click volume, up from 55% in Q4 2017, with an increase in spend of 40% YoY. More businesses are pushing budget into Shopping, simply because it gets results.

So, let’s assume that you have your Google Shopping campaigns set up (if you don’t then you might want to think about it), so now all you have to do is the usual bid optimisation and you’ll be raking in the money, right?

Well, not quite. While bids and the structure of your campaigns will be the most influential factors that you can change, the feed itself can also be altered to improve Shopping performance.

So what can you do to make it better?

Use the data you have

Look at your search queries and see what qualifiers people are using. The majority of search volume will very likely be from simple terms such as ‘denim jacket’, but what you also need to consider are the long-tail searches.

Are people looking for particular colours, brands, model names, sizes, materials?

Some searches will be very specific, and these are likely to be from people who have done their research, know what they want, and are close to buying. Primarily, you’ll want to ensure the best chance of capturing the attention of these searchers. Here’s how to do this with your title:

  • Specific information about the product should be near the front of the title. Ideally, this needs to be within the first four words, as it will often be truncated after that point, depending on how many characters are being used.
  • Often there is an unnecessary word, or two, that can be removed to allow for the use of more fitting ones.
  • Your title should have as much relevant detail as possible, including any specifics about the product, such as size, that you think will be useful to a potential customer.
  • Word placement is also important – those that often appear next to each other in searches should also be next to each other in the title. For example, if ‘wool jumper’ appears in a lot of searches, then your title should include ‘wool jumper’, not ‘jumper made from wool’. A bit of a laboured example but you get the idea…
  • And the absolute key thing to remember when adjusting your titles, is that they should still read well. Don’t just stuff in a bunch of keywords, if you’re not careful your product titles can start to look spammy and could do more harm than good.

The description isn’t as important as the title in Google’s rankings, and it isn’t often read, but ensuring it contains all relevant keywords and information will certainly help your efforts. Again, make sure that it isn’t just a list of keywords and attributes, so that people can read it as a coherent sentence.

Split out your products

If you have products that have variants (such as size or colour) then separate them into individual products, unified under an item group id.

This will allow someone searching for a specific variant to be shown that particular product, making them more likely to click through.

We’d be surprised if you haven’t been in a situation where you’re searching for a product in a certain size on Google, see a good price on the Shopping carousel and click through to the website, only to find out that they don’t have your size in stock.

Avoid doing the same to your potential customers by using the above technique.

Check your images

Your product images need to be as visually pleasing as possible, while still meeting Google’s guidelines of course. Ensure that you have high-quality images of your products on a white background.

If possible, show off features that people may be looking for or interested in, and use crafted photography to do so. This could be the first time people are seeing your brand, so it’s worth pulling out all the stops to make a good impression.

Also, it’s worth using the often overlooked ‘additional image links’ attribute. You can include up to 10 extra images for each product and, most importantly, “the image can include product staging and show the product in use” and “graphics or illustrations can be included”. Using these additional images lets you truly show off your product, and can be particularly useful if your product has a USP as you can provide an image that highlights it perfectly, through a zoomed in or action shot.

These additional images won’t be seen on the Shopping carousel on the search results page, but can be seen when clicking on products within the Shopping tab.

Update your optional attributes

While the other attributes mentioned are more influential when changed, it’s also beneficial to keep the optional attributes updated.

For instance ‘colour’, while required for ‘Clothing & Accessories’, is optional for all other types of product, so it might be neglected in your competitors’ feeds. Populate this attribute for all products in your feed, then when people are looking for a product that you offer and include colour as a qualifier in their search, your feed will help Google to clarify that your product is relevant. It could make the difference between your product being shown instead of one of your competitors.

We could (and will!) write a whole other blog post about the optional attributes of ‘product type’ and ‘custom label’, as these can be used to structure your campaigns and ad groups to allow more efficient bidding and budgeting. However, implementing them won’t improve your feed from a relevance standpoint, so we won’t cover them here.

As well as improving your Shopping campaign performance, improving your feed can help boost other areas of your account. Shopping Showcase ads are now available for most accounts and look likely to gain more and more impressions in the future. You can also use your feed for dynamic prospecting and remarketing display ads, so investing the time to optimise your feed now will pay off in the future.