The Only Google Shopping Strategy Guide You’ll Ever Need

Get Your Google Shopping Campaigns Right From the Beginning

According to a study by Merkle, Google Shopping ads now account for 46% of clicks to retailers! Ecommerce business owners can no longer afford to ignore Google Shopping as a viable advertising channel for promoting their products.

But mastering Google Shopping for your business is hard work.

It’s volatile and can be excruciatingly frustrating.

However, with a solid Google Shopping Strategy in place you’ll fall in love with it.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Google Shopping Strategy

Successful Google Shopping Strategies seem to have several things in common:

  1. Proper setup using Google Merchant Center
  2. Excellent optimization of their Google Shopping feed
  3. Well-defined ad groups
  4. Effective bid strategy
  5. Continuous experimentation and testing

The success of your Google Shopping Strategy boils down to how effectively you do the above.

And that’s the premise of this guide.

To teach you how to navigate the uncharted territory of Google Shopping and make your campaigns work harder, so you don’t have to.

From lower costs per conversions to higher click-through rates and ROAS, you’ll learn how to make your Google Shopping campaigns run on steroids.

So let’s get started!

1. Proper Setup and Nomenclature

Manage your account using the Google Merchant Center

Why can’t I just link Google Merchant Center to my Adwords account?

You can, but there are 2 main benefits for managing your Google Shopping account via Google Merchant Center rather than within Adwords.

  1. Adwords simply doesn’t show all the product fields within its interface. If you want true at-a-glance data you can act on, you need to manage your Google Shopping ad campaigns from within the GMC.
  1. Adwords doesn’t present you with the Google Shopping feed, which is a treasure-trove of time-saving information you can see without having to go on a hunt.

2. Product Feed Optimization Tips

Your product feed is essentially the gateway between your products and potential customers, so making sure it’s properly optimized will go a long way.

To start with, ensure your data feed is not missing any attributes. Products with missing attributes may not be advertised, so ensure your titles, descriptions and key data are all included.

Speaking of titles...

Add Your Keywords to Product Titles

It’s your store’s job to help Google put you in front of your audience.

Many brands omit including keywords in their product titles due to neglect.

Don’t be one of them.

Your product titles are one of the most important product feed elements to optimise.

Impressions and clicks skyrocket when you add keywords at the beginning of your product titles.

This is essentially basic SEO, as you’re optimizing the on-page elements of your product ad to be more relevant to potential visitors.

Your product title is the last place in the world to use salesy language.

Don’t describe how your product makes your customer look or what it can do for them.

Do detail what your product specifically is, emphasizing key features such as color, size etc.

Here’s a working example:

Title Before: Louis Vuitton World Tour Mule - Black

Title After: Evening Shoes Black World Tour Mule 8” - Louis Vuitton

Don’t ignore semantic title optimization either.

If your store sells evening shoes and you notice you get higher performance when the word “formal” is used by searchers, consider including it in your product titles too.

Title with semantic optimization: Formal Evening Shoes Black World Tour Mule 8”.

Optimize Product Descriptions in Your Google Shopping Feed

It’s no different to reading a long-form blog post or a high-converting landing page.

What you say first, determines whether a visitor will stay or leave.

You’ve probably noticed that product descriptions appear truncated after a set number of characters, which only show in full if the visitor desires so.

Combat this by writing your prioritizing the most essential information first (size, color, space, dimensions), with the least relevant details (descriptive language) at the bottom.

This doesn’t just help increase click-through rates, but also has a direct positive correlation with your Google Shopping Quality Score.

Here’s an example of a good product description:

Here’s an example of a great product description:

What does this one do better? It tells potential customers the size of the hard drive.

This is important because size and color are key sales objections for customers.

3. Use Ad Groups Religiously Over Product Groups

Proper ad group and Google Shopping campaign setup and management is often neglected by ad campaign managers.

Why? Because they don’t see why it’s important or how it translates into lost sales.

Everyone has seen or managed a Google Shopping account which looks like this:

1 Campaign

2 Ad groups

75 Product groups

Imagine trying to sift through all those product groups to get your key data. You’ll be clicking “expand” for days before you see anything valuable.

Time is money.

If your Google Shopping account is setup  to take 45 minutes to see valuable data for a particular product, valuable time is being wasted.

Initially take the time to name your ad groups and campaigns properly so you know what’s there.

Doing this alone will prevent you from wasting time interacting with the interface, so you can spend more time doing what’s important - writing better ads and optimizing them for conversions.

More importantly, by using ad groups over product groups, you can use negative keywords to further funnel traffic in your ideal ad group. (We’ll go into this later)

4. Setting up an Effective Bid Strategy with Query-Level Bidding

At its core, query-level bidding is an advanced Google Shopping strategy that gives you finite control over which products searchers see.

The problem with Google Shopping is you can’t bid on keywords. Google does the keyword matching for you.

This leaves you in a sticky situation. If you bid $3.00/click on a product, you’ll be bidding on everything between “trousers” to “hello, I like green trousers.”

After all, the last thing you want, is to pay money for an ‘exact match’ search term as ridiculous as “hello, I like green trousers.” (We go into why this happens in more detail and how to limit it)

This actually happens on Google Shopping, regularly.

Query-level bidding can be boiled down to four main components

A) Campaign Priorities

B) Negative Keywords

C) Shared Budgets

D) Product Bids

Let’s delve deeper into each.

A) Take Advantage of the ‘Campaign Priority’ Setting

If you’re advertising the same product, in the same country in multiple Google Shopping campaigns, wouldn’t it be useful if you could choose which campaign to give priority in the auction?

Well, now you can.

Using this setting, you can give priority to a campaign with lower bids over a campaign with high bids.

Once the higher priority campaign runs out of budget, Google will then use the bids from the lower priority campaign.

This is incredibly useful if you want your bids to be used for a particular campaign.

Let’s say you’re starting a campaign for Christmas, and you want to promote a hat.

These hats are also part of your headwear campaign. To give your Christmas campaign bids priority over your headwear campaign simply change the priority from “low” to “mid” or “high”.

B) Segment campaigns based on intention using negative keywords

Much like search ads, branded terms perform wildly differently to non-branded terms.

Create two different campaigns to maximise the performance of each and add the branded terms as negative (so your ads don’t appear for these terms) in your non-branded search campaign.

For example, imagine you sell designer footwear for women. Your goal here is to segment/filter your traffic by designer terms and generic terms as follows:

Branded query: “World tour mule” (Specific product you sell)

Non-branded query: “Women’s shoes” (Category your product(s) fall into)

By adding your branded keywords as negative terms (for the non-branded campaign), you can allocate more traffic towards better performing keywords. This prevents you from wasting money haphazardly.

C) Shared Budgets

Setting up a shared budget for your Google Shopping campaigns is very easy. Simply select the “Shared library” tab on the left of Adwords’ interface. Give your shared budget a name, choose a campaign, set the budget and click “save”.

The main benefit of setting up shared budgets is having finite control over your campaigns. Take advantage of shared budgets by splitting your campaign into several tiers:

  1. High-performing campaigns
  2. Average performing campaigns
  3. Low-performing campaigns

Typically you’d give the bulk of the budget to your best campaigns, whilst your average and low performing ones get less.

Be sure not to completely ignore them however.

Overtime as you run your account, you’ll find product ads that perform really well in your low-performing campaigns.

This is when it makes sense to move them up a tier or two, so they have the budget they need to really perform.

D) Your Bidding Strategy

Segment Your Google Shopping Feed by Product ID

Many brands make the schoolboy error of setting the same maximum cost per click across all their products or product types.

That’s the fastest way to blow through your entire advertising budget.  

Here’s what you should do instead; segment your google shopping feed by Product ID.

Why? Because each product you sell is priced differently and (hopefully) is marketed for a different user in mind.

For example, if you run a video games e-commerce store which sells games, consoles and accessories; your approach might be to set a different maximum bid for each as shown below.

Accessories - $0.75

Games - $1.50

Consoles - $5.00

This is a poor Google Shopping strategy to implement, because your customers don’t value all accessories, games and consoles the same.

Hence why the products are priced differently.

The perceived value of a PS4 to the end user, is very different to the perceived value of a PS4 Pro. Your campaign should be segmented at product level to reflect this.

When segmented by product ID, your Google Shopping campaign should look something like this:

PS4 - $3.00/click - 2.4% conversion - $299 (Product cost)

PS4 Pro - $5.00/click - 1.8% conversion - $450 (Product cost)

Setting up your Google Shopping strategy like this, prevents you from overspending, resulting in lower cost per actions, higher conversions and much higher returns on advertising spending.

Use DayParting

To run a successful Google Shopping strategy, you must be meticulous and flexible with your bidding strategy.

Fact: The performance of your Google Shopping Ads varies wildly depending on the hour in the day, and the day in the week.

For example, you may find that your ads perform consistently better on Wednesday and Friday mornings opposed to every other time during the week.

Knowing this you’ll want to increase your bids during these times of high performance and lower your bids during times of low performance.

Many PPC specialists and agencies recommend changing your bids between 1-3 times every day.

This is good advice.

But to get the best performance during every hour of every day, you’ll need something much more robust.

Use a bidding script like Optmyzr to automatically adjust your bids up to 24 times a day (for every hour) for increased performance from your Google Shopping campaigns.

Bonus Tips to Make Google Shopping do the Heavy-Lifting for You

How to Ensure Your Products Don’t Appear For Loosely-Related Terms

Many ad managers spend countless hours creating a Google Shopping strategy.

They have well named ad-groups, they’ve optimized their Google Shopping product feeds, segmented their campaigns into “branded” and “generic” etc.

Everything's perfect right!?

However, one day they find their “blue jumpers for men” showing up as an ad for “black jumpers for women”!

This can’t be right, why is this happening?

In Google Shopping, the “Everything else in ‘All products’” product runs on auto-pilot without you knowing.

This enables your product ads to show up for search terms very loosely-related to what your product is.  

Here’s how to disable this annoying setting in two easy steps.

Step 1: Navigate through your targeted product groups and look for the group labelled “Everything else in ‘All products’” above.

Step 2: Click on the “Max. CPC” number and select “excluded”.

Problem solved.

Add RLSA to Your Google Shopping Campaigns

Remarketing should be a huge part of your Google Shopping strategy to capture past website visitors and convert them into customers.

Research shows that on average, people need to be exposed to your product or service 7 times on average, before fully committing to making a purchase.

By using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), you can increase your bids and show your Google Shopping ads more often.

Research also shows that visitors you’ve had past engagements with are much more likely to convert into paying customers, opposed to visitors who’ve discovered you for the very first time.

This is because they’re further down the sales funnel compared to a fresh lead and thus will be more receptive to your next product offering.

Price Your Products Competitively

Brands that fail to price their products competitively get brushed aside quickly. According to research published by Clicteq, products that are priced competitively receive up to 134% more impressions and clicks, 61% more click-throughs and 280% more conversions!

Test Bids Extensively

Bidding on Google Shopping is renowned for being more volatile compared to Google Search. With Google Search, there’s a positive correlation between how much you spend and how much revenue your e-commerce store generates.

The same doesn’t apply when bidding on Google Shopping.

There’s a much smaller margin for finding your “perfect bid”. That is, the bid which generates consistent traffic without breaking the bank.

We hope this guide has given you everything you need to make a real success of your e-commerce store using Google Shopping.

David Oragui
About the Author
David is the Founder of Grow Hack Scale, a growth marketing company that teaches and implements fast-growth product marketing strategies across the entire funnel for organisations with products that make the world a better place.