What is Google Shopping?
aka Google Base
aka Google Product Feed
Google Shopping is the engine that powers the product results on the Google search engine. That’s the results that have a product image, price, name, and shop you can buy it from.
The content of Google Shopping is provided by each eCommerce business to Google via a feed (a web-based spreadsheet of the eCommerce site’s product inventory). Google then compile all the information and use it help people find the products they’re looking for. Right now this is a free service.
Why is Google Shopping Important?
For eCommerce businesses Google Shopping has been a fantastic way to get onto the first page of Google and drive some “free” sales.
Once set up (properly) the feed would run in the background keeping Google up to date, and bringing you hundreds or thousands of pounds in revenue each month. No linkbuilding, no bid management, nothing on your to-do list to keep it happening. Pretty cool!
But that’s all about to end (well the Free and easy bit anyway!).
What’s Happening to Google Shopping?
Last year in the USA Google changed Google Shopping from a free service, to a Google Adwords Extension option. That meant that instead of getting traffic for free, if you wanted your products to appear in the Google search results you needed to be willing to pay for each click they received.
This is now being rolled out internationally – to Australia, Japan, Brazil, Italy, Spain, France, UK, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. With the whole process completed by the end of Q2 2013. Full timetable (as so far published):
- 31/5/12 – Google announces the upcoming changes for the US
- 17/10/12 – US changes complete
- 15/11/12 – Google announces the international roll-out
- 13/2/13 – The international search results pages will change to have paid Shopping results, not the free ones
- March 13 (no date yet given) – Merchants will have to conform to the new feed specification
- 12/4/13 – Merchants must be signed up if they want the promotional incentives
- Q2 13 – completed
So what does that mean for eCommerce businesses?
Expectto see any free traffic you’re getting from your Google Shopping feed dry up in February.
If you choose to opt into the PPC model, then according to Google’s case studies you should see some impressive responses – site visits up 129% and bounce rate down by 9.8%; AOV up 15% and dormant products brought back to life.
So yes, you’re going to have to pay for traffic you get for free. But, overall your sales should increase:
- One of Google’s reasons for doing this is to get better quality data from merchants – better quality data means better search results, which should mean better conversion rates
- Many merchants will drop out, so you’ll get more visibility, which means more traffic
- As the data quality improves, and as they can make money from it, Google’s undoubtedly going to increase the visibility of the Product listings – thus generating more traffic for merchants
One of the good things about being in the roll out rather than in the US trial is that a lot of the feedback from US merchants has been taken on-board, so the rest of us are getting a much better product. For example, initially you couldn’t change the PPC bids at a product level! So if you were selling products that cost £10 and others that cost £10,000 you had to set a bid level that worked for both – watch your profits disappear.
So What Should I Do?
If you’re not willing to pay for traffic looking for your products – do nothing.
If you want to keep receiving traffic looking for your products there’s a few things you should do right now:
- Make sure your feed complies with the latest format requirements (needs to be done for March)
- Link your feed to your Google Adwords Account (set one up it you need to)
- Keep reading this blog, as I’ll be posting more updates over the coming weeks and months
- Sign up for my webinar where I’ll run step-by-step through exactly what you need to do: