How to Optimize your Product Feed for Successful Google Shopping Campaigns: Tips & Best Practices

Bogdan Chertes
Google Shopping Campaigns

Setting up a great product feed is probably one of the most overlooked best practices in optimizing a Google shopping campaign. Here’s what you should take into consideration:

Build your feed based on business objectives

Your product feed is a file of data you’ll submit to Google Shopping. It includes all of the necessary information for your products. Providing a high quality, regularly updated feed with all of the right information is essential.

Construct a data feed of products that aligns with your business goals. To maximize your exposure on Google Shopping, you should load every product you have into your feed. This will make your line highly visible, but if any of those products are low converters, you’ll sacrifice sales. If you’re just starting out and don’t have any data to go by you have no choice but to test, either all products at once or several product categories at a time.

If your goal was to maximize the efficiency of your campaign, sometimes it’s wise to leave products out of your feed that don’t sell well. These poor converters will waste your ad spend and handicap your return on ad spend (ROAS).

But before going into feed optimizations tips, make sure your ads appear when you search for relevant queries.

If your ads don’t appear, check the quality score

With Shopping campaigns, a lot of the success depends on the quality of the Merchant Feed, which is managed outside of our usual set of tools.

If you find that your ads don’t appear for a relevant search, you need to evaluate the quality of the feed. It could be that Google doesn’t think your products match the search query so the ads never enter the auction, or if they do enter the auction but still get few queries it could be because the relevance or bid is too low. As with all other AdWords ads, these are two main factors that determine ad rank.

If your ads are getting few or no impressions, it’s time to optimize your feed for four key attributes: Title, Description, Unique Product Identifiers, and Google Product Category. Google needs all of these to determine when to show your ad, so learn how to make changes to the data feed so that you can test what works and what doesn’t.

Having accurate information for these attributes is essential to Google showing your products appropriately.

Check benchmark CTR and average CPC data

If you optimized the feed and your ads are still not showing enough, it could be because they rank too low, mainly because of their quality score.

You can find out if the ranking factors like bid or relevance are an issue by looking at the benchmark data Google shows next to each product group. Benchmark CTR and benchmark average CPC data are new columns you can enable in Shopping campaigns.

These benchmark columns give you an idea of how your products are faring compared to your competitors. The data is only available for groups of products and not for individual products, however it helps with spotting problems in quality score.

Constantly monitor the data quality of your feed

Google Merchant Center is where your data feed lives.

Your data feed is a collection of information about your product inventory including product title, description, price, image and several other data points formatted in a way that Google likes.

We’re first to say that data feeds aren’t glamorous. But they are the foundation of your Google Shopping campaign. This optimisation step can be difficult, but is well worth it in the long run. As stated earlier, Shopping campaigns don’t use keywords so Google pulls the most relevant product based upon the feed details.

Your product titles are one of the most important factors in determining the keywords your PLAs show for. Getting this right is critical for your long term impressions and clicks.

Learn more about how to set up & optimize your product data feed!

Google Shopping Product Titles Optimization

Product title optimization is an important part of scaling your Google Shopping campaigns. It can increase your impressions and help you grow shopping revenues.The best way to do this is through better product titles that match the user’s intent. This is a sure way to improve your Google shopping rankings and impressions.

Add keywords to your product titles

Google Shopping management and optimization share common points to SEO. Unlike traditional text ads, you can’t explicitly specify what keywords you want your product listing ads to show for. Instead, Google crawls your feed and chooses what queries or keywords your product listing ads are the most relevant for. That’s why it’s essential to give Google good data that it can put together.

Optimize the titles and descriptions of your products by putting the most important words early in each. If you think customers will search by brand name, use your brand first. But if your brand is largely unknown, use descriptive words first.

The title should be relevant and compelling so that it convinces shoppers to click your product listing ad instead of the one next to it. Moreover, the structure of the Google Shopping titles should be adapted to your vertical. DataFeedWatch recently published a best practice structure for optimizing titles in Google Shopping.

Include any modifiers (like color, size or dimensions) in your titles because shoppers often use these words to refine their searches.

Keep testing & optimising

As any good digital marketer knows, testing is the key to success. That’s why this is an ongoing process – if new profitable keywords and modifiers are emerging, you should be on top of optimizing the titles for them – a well-optimized product title can double or even triple your click-through rate.

It’s important to use brand and GTIN attributes to make your products easier to find. This is essential for sellers advertising top-brand products that are globally recognized and sold by other businesses as well. Also make sure you’re using custom labels. These are identifies for your reference only that let you divide products into campaigns and ad groups. For instance, you can designate certain products as “best sellers.” This would make it easy to create reports and adjust bidding of just this group.

Keep your data feed up to date

Finally, keep your data feed up to date by refreshing it on a regular basis.  If you’re giving Google outdated information about your products (wrong pictures, wrong categories) your ROAS will be affected. Most ecommerce platforms should automatically generate your feed on a schedule.

Benefits of Feed Title Optimization

Feed Title Optimisation is an important part of scaling your Google Shopping campaigns. It can increase your impressions, click throughs and help you grow your shopping revenue.

By optimizing the Feed Title you can not only influence which products appear for which query, but also increase traffic and conversion by displaying ads which are more likely to reflect the searcher’s needs. So simply speak your customers’ language, write more compelling product titles and you will see an uplift in CTR!

Show your Seller Ratings

Be sure your store takes advantage of Google Seller Ratings.

For this, you can apply to be a Google Trusted Store and use a review tool like Yotpo to drive reviews for your products.

Check Merchant Center for account & product disapprovals

Especially when you’re starting out with Google Shopping, right after you submit your feed, you might run into products being disapproved. Some product will simply be the bane of your existence.

This can also happen after you’ve run your campaign for a while because of different changes to your website, product availability or pricing. Google regularly checks your product information and crawls your product pages to ensure that the information you send in your feed is accurate.

Disapprovals not only keep an individual product from showing, but they can also trigger an account wide warning or even an account disapproval, which can cost you lost reach and lost revenue.

The best way to check your feed’s health is through the Diagnostic section of your Google Merchant account at least as often as you are uploading a feed.  The most common errors are:

  • Price mismatch – when the price in your feed does not match the one on your product page
  • Broken links – when your product links are going to a 404 error page – the actual message that you see in Merchant Center is “product pages cannot be accessed” Or “product pages cannot be accessed from a mobile device”

Check Merchant Center for account and product disapprovals - Broken links

  • Availability mismatch – when an item in your feed is in stock, but on the landing page it’s out of stock
  • Inaccurate shipping costs – when the shipping cost specified in your feed or Merchant Center account doesn’t match the one on your site’s checkout

There are many other issues related to individual products, data feeds or even account level suspension. This article from Google’s support docs gives more details on troubleshooting product issues.

Check Merchant Center for account and product disapprovalsCheck Merchant Center for account and product disapprovals 1

Make sure you add new items to your campaigns

If you’re segmenting your product groups by brand name, type or any other criteria, make sure that you’re updating your campaigns whenever you get new products on your store.

For example, if you’re selling sport shoes and you have a campaign for each brand, when you’re adding a new brand to your store those products will not show up in your campaigns. You have to build a new campaign and that will target that specific brand.

Double check for product group issues (everything else or non segmented product groups). Whenever you’re segmenting your product groups, Adwords will automatically create a subdivision for the other products. This is what it looks like:

how to segment your product groups in Google shopping campaign

If you don’t have this option checked, Google will display all your products in that specific add group even though you intended to only show a specific set of your inventory.

Automate optimization through APIs

Marketing automation platforms are not just a buzzword.  To come up with our new title suggestions, automate dynamic product title optimization. Feed management tools can then pull the optimized titles through an API to replace the old titles.

There you have it: product feed management optimization at its best.

>>> Go to the next chapter on setting Gooogle shopping campaign priorities!

You can also go back to chapter 3 and re-read about optimizing your Google shopping bid strategy for success.

Author: Bogdan Chertes

Bogdan has helped dozens of ecommerce businesses grow sales and acquire more customers by using data driven PPC marketing strategies.
At Adfix, he leads a team of top class PPC and Social Media experts that help clients maximize ROI from their campaigns.