You have probably used standard Google web search every time you come online, but there is another Google search feature which can be useful when shopping online – Google Shopping.
Google Shopping (aka Google product search) allows you to search for a product and only see results which are for products you can buy. This can be very useful because your search results don’t get filled with results which aren’t relevant or pages where you can’t actually buy products from. If you are a user, this is great. What if you are an online retailer and want to showcase your products using Google Shopping search? Google Shopping optimisation is very important to you and you should try to do whatever you can to get your products showing up as high as possible in search results. So what factors are important?
1. An accurate and up to date product feed
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In order to stand a chance of showing up in Google product search, the first step is to export your database of products into a feed which can be uploaded to Google. This feed can be in several formats but will usually be an XML or a TXT file.
There may be some tweaks that are needed because Google ask for a few required product attributes. Depending on the type of products you sell, the required attributes may vary. The best thing to do is to check with the official Google guidelines to see which attributes you need to include for your products.
2. Clear, quality images
You should always be including good quality product images if you want to get people to buy. But for Google products optimisation, you especially need to make sure that your product images are high quality, clear and accurately reflect the product itself.
This can also help in terms of getting people to click on your products, if the picture of the product looks high quality, it is more likely yo be clicked on. Depending on the products you sell, you may also want to choose images which show the product being used. For example if you sell leather sofas, you should show the leather sofa within the typical living room with other furniture. This will look much better than the sofa against a plain white background.
3. Accurate prices
Google are pretty good at spotting if you put different prices in your feed compared to the prices on your website. Some retailers will try and deliberately make prices cheaper to try and get people to their website and to stand out, but Google can spot this quite easily so you should avoid trying to game the system in this way.
Having said that, there will be times when your prices naturally change. For example if you have a seasonal sale or a special offer, your prices may change quite quickly. If this happens, you should make sure that you update your Google product feed as soon as possible. The last thing you want is Google thinking you are trying to game the system and banning you from their search results.
Ideally, you should think about how often your product prices are likely to change and create a schedule which makes your product feed update. So if you update you product prices once a day, try to automate submission of your product feed so that it updates once a day.
4. Feed freshness
In relation to the previous point, the freshness of your product feed matters a lot. In fact, if you do not update your product feed after 30 days, Google will suspend your product feed and you will not show up in search results. This does make sense because Google want their users to see up to date product details and prices. If you do not update the feed very often, then Google will assume that some of your details are out of date.
The best way of making sure you feed always stays fresh is to automate the uploading of it. Most retailers will upload their feed manually which is fine, but if someone forgets or the person responsible isn’t around, it can be forgot about. A good alternative is to use the scheduling feature within your Google Merchant account and tell Google how often to come back and check your feed.
5. Product reviews
If you run an online store, you should always be trying to collect reviews from your customers. There are loads of benefits of getting product reviews for both search engine optimisation and conversion rate optimisation. Not only can you get loads of unique content onto your product pages, you can also increase the chances of someone buying your product if there are reviews for it. Studies have shown that even having negative reviews of a product can help with conversion rate.
In terms of Google product optimisation, these reviews can also show up on your shopping results and Google will naturally favour products which have lots of reviews because they know that their users like to read product reviews. So if you do have a system for gathering product reviews, make sure you are connecting these to your Google Shopping feed.