How To Optimize the Google Merchant Feed to Supercharge Your Shopping Ads Performance

Published: 26 October 2022

Updated: 29 January 2024

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Nikita is a digital advertising expert @Viden with diverse marketing experience, focused on driving results for brands across Facebook Ads, Google Ads & more.
How To Optimize the Google Merchant Feed to Supercharge Your Shopping Ads Performance

When Smart Shopping campaigns were introduced (now Performance Max), shopping feed optimizations became one of the most important things to improve your shopping ads performance.

What is a Shopping campaign? A Shopping campaign is a campaign type that helps you promote your products by giving users detailed product information before they click on your ad. Most advertisers ignore Google Shopping feed optimization, but in vain. Neglecting your feed means leaving money on the table for other guys.

If you run Smart Shopping (or, now, Performance Max), feed optimization is one of the best ways to boost your Shopping ads’ performance. Even if you’re happy with your current performance, these tips can help push your results to the next level.

Take Advantage of Google Shopping Feed

There’re two top reasons to start working with the Google Shopping feed:

    • Increased reach If you serve Google with more data, it’ll thank you by ranking your products higher, which creates an increased reach. The bid is also essential regarding the number of impressions you get. However, you shouldn’t forget that the Google algorithm is always looking at the “quality score” of your account. To get the highest mark, it’s better to use all the features provided.

 

  • Better campaigns structureThe rule is simple here: your feed is your campaign structure. You can’t build an optimal campaign structure if you don’t use product types, brands, and custom labels in your feed. Those are the parameters you have to keep an eye on.Below you can see the Shopping feed in a Merchant store. You can see all parameters and variables (product title, image link, price, color, GTIN, etc.) added to each product when you click on the product title.

Now, let’s briefly look through the feed data and review the core parameters in the feed.

    1. ID: SKU you use internally
    2. Title: The product name; this is the most powerful area you can optimize because the algorithm uses keywords in your product title to match the search terms. Try to include:
      • Brand
      • Category
      • Gender (if applicable)
      • Collection
      • Color
      • Size
      • Material (if applicable)

      You can see the examples of a good product title below, in our case — bikes:

      Example 1

      Example 2

      Example 3

      You can also utilize titles to highlight the unique selling points (USPs) that make your products more appealing to shoppers. Using strong descriptive language and mentioning any proof of quality, if eligible, can boost the click-through rate (CTR), increasing the traffic volume to your product page. We recommend testing various titles focusing on different USPs to determine the best option that suits your product and your target audience.

    3. Description: The algorithm also uses product description to match the product with the search terms
    4. Link Image: Image used on the product page
    5. Product Link: Link to the product page
    6. Price: Product price
    7. Availability: It could be in stock, out of stock, preorder, or backorder; note that products with preorder and backorder statuses can be served as shopping ads, while out of stock can’t
    8. Brand: The product brand
    9. GTIN: Unique product identifier can immediately boost your clicks across shopping ads and free listings; for example, the screenshot below shows how adding the correct the GTIN parameter can bring more than 700 clicks in a week

  1. Condition: New or used

Further reading: Top 7 Advanced Google Shopping Strategies to Test in 2022

Additional Attributes

Now let’s head forward to additional attributes we recommend adding (if applicable). They are:

    • Sale price: Don’t update a price attribute when you run a sale; it’s better to send the original price in the price attribute and the updated sale price in the sale price attribute; this way, your shopping ad will show the user that you have a discount on your website.The screenshot below illustrates the shopping campaign’s performance after adding this attribute. You can see that CVR increased by ~25% and revenue by ~48%.

  • Google product category: Choose one from the Google predefined list
  • Custom label: It would be easier to manage and update shopping campaigns if the custom label is applied
  • Age group
  • Size
  • Color
  • Gender
  • Additional image link

Adding as many elements as possible can make a big difference to your shopping ads performance. With the introduction of the Performance Max campaign type, Google makes it clear that automation will do everything to optimize the campaigns. The more relevant information you provide to the Google algorithm, the better your campaigns will be optimized, resulting in more search terms that match your product and clicks.

Manually Update Your Products in Merchant Store

Recently Google released a great feature that allows you to manually edit your products in an imported or automatically uploaded Merchant feed. You can easily test editing or adding any of the parameters and variables. What’s more important, automatic updates of the feed won’t override your changes.

If you decide to proceed with manual editing of items, we suggest updating the following things:

  1. Primary image. While most advertisers use product photos on a white background, we recommend testing changing the background color or scene. More and more brands switch to colorful, gradient backgrounds or model and lifestyle photoshoot images in their Shopping ad campaigns to attract the attention of their target audiences and stand out against the competition. We’ve seen an increase in CTR and CVR after experimenting with different background and product image variations across shopping feed for a range of eCommerce.
  2. Titles/Descriptions. Improving your description can also immediately improve your CTR and search volume. Try to include more keywords in descriptions to let the algorithm match your products with more search terms. Also, we noticed that Performance Max campaigns could create ads for you based on the product title and description.
  3. Sale price. Add a sale price attribute instead of updating the price attribute when you run a sale. In this case, your product will be shown on sale on the shopping network.

Benefit From Google Merchant Center Programs

    1. User ReviewsLeverage the social proof and increase sales for your products by enabling “Customer Reviews” and “Product Ratings” programs for your Merchant Center account. Having a visible product rating and a good amount of positive user reviews just a click away can greatly impact the CTR and CVR across both paid and organic shopping listings
    2. PromotionsWhenever you’re running a sale on the website, you can make it visible by adding a sale price to your products and launching a promotion to all of the specific product listings in your Merchant Center account. Whenever you add promotions to products that you sell on Google, shoppers will see a “special offer” link (e.g., 15% off, promo code, free shipping, etc.), which can effectively uplift your clicks and sales.

  1. Trusted Store badgeRecently, Google has rolled out a new feature, allowing eCommerce to gain a “Trusted Store” badge. According to Google, the badge is awarded to stores that provide an excellent customer experience, including fast shipping, good return policies on their websites, high-quality websites, and good user ratings. The badge will be displayed along with your free product listings on the shopping tab:

    Further reading: Learn with Google: The Best Practices to Follow Now to Feel Closer to Your Customers

    The trusted store badge can be a useful feature to bolster user engagement, generating more clicks across paid ads and for your organic listings.
    You can check your eligibility and progress in the Merchant Center under the Growth > Shopping experience scorecard tab.

Ensure, however, that delivery time data, shipping costs, and return policies are available and uploaded to your Merchant Center account.

Don’t kick your Merchant feed optimization into the long grass because soon it can be the most important leverage in the shopping ads performance. If you need additional assistance with your Merchant Center feed optimization, get in touch with our team and get a free consultation with our experts.

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