In my last blog, we spoke about the role of Shopping campaigns and how they can be your most versatile asset in an ads account. In case you missed it, all will be revealed by clicking on this link. For those of you who did read it, thank you, and if you didn’t – don’t feel like you have to read that first! I now want to talk about how you can get the best from your shopping campaigns, without even opening your ads account. The raw material of your shopping campaign is the feed. This is the lifeblood, the heart, the beef/salmon/mushroom in a wellington (all perfectly valid options, feel free to ask me for recipes). Without the feed you don’t have a shopping campaign, you’ve got a lump of collapsed, partially cooked pastry.
In more detail (that isn’t referencing food) your shopping feed gives Google all of the information about your products that it needs to create a shopping ad. The product title, the price, the image, the description etc. etc. When you see a shopping ad, Google has created that and shown it to you specifically, because of your search term and the information in the shopping feed. So what information is in the shopping feed is the key to having a good performing shopping campaign. Here are my top 3.5 tips for maintaining a healthy shopping feed:
1. Give me more, more, more… Information
There are dozens of fields that can be filled out when creating a shopping feed. Obviously, some are more valuable than others but there is no such thing as too much information when it comes to feeding Google everything it needs to know about your products. Fields like the product title, the product description will always carry the most weight when it comes to matching search terms to products, however there are fields that tend to be forgotten that can be really helpful in ensuring you find the right audience:
- Google Product Category – Google provides a list of all of their pre-defined categories and selecting the one most relevant to your product type can be key in ensuring Google truly understands what your product is.
- Product Type – This is similar to the above, but you can define your own category for the product, adding as many layers to this as you feel necessary. If you think of breadcrumb navigation on a website, you’re on the right track.
- Product Detail – This is where you can provide google the technical specifications of the product in question. These can then be used to match a user’s search even if it is not in the product title or description. Think of using this to detail the storage capacity of a memory stick for example.
- Product Highlight – This is where you can give short snippets highlighting features of your product that can be shown as bullet point lists on the shopping ad. Most websites will have bullet point highlights about a product on site, so wrap these in quotation marks and separate them with commas and that’s all you need for this field.
- Brand – This field can be key in matching searches to a product and is always recommended. If you stock own brand products, then use your own brand name in this field.
- Attributes (Colour, Size, Gender, Age, Material, Pattern, Energy Efficiency Class) – These are usually forgotten in the feed but it can be really key in making sure that Google knows as much about your product as possible and shows the ad to the most relevant searches.
- GTIN/MPAN Number – Google likes these. Not only does it help identify the product, it also helps on the rare occasion that someone may search for a specific identification number Google has been known to match searches to this field.
While not necessarily there to help Google identify a product, the including additional image links can really help boost the visibility and showcase your product more! An update from Google now means that if a user hovers over your ad on the carousel it will slide through all of the images you have listed in your feed. This is a great opportunity to showcase your product in situ with some lifestyle imagery that otherwise the user might not have seen.
2. Use Your Data
There are multiple formats that you can use for your shopping feed, whether it’s XML, Google Sheets, Excel, Content API integration or through a third-party shopping feed tool solution. However, there is one thing that is absolutely key to making sure that your shopping feed is in good shape and that is being data led in any decisions you make in regard to your product attributes.
The majority of companies will create their feed using product titles and descriptions exactly as they are on the website. But are these product titles relevant enough to what people are searching for? Have you conducted keyword research to see what terms real searchers are using? Are you missing out on clicks and sales because of this?
You should always conduct thorough keyword research on your products to be able to update product titles and descriptions. This can be done through the variety of third-party tools available, but it is also advisable to look through the search terms of existing ad campaigns. If you have shopping campaigns running then these search terms can give great insight. You should use the search term reports what users have searched that have triggered your ads and see if there are terms or words that can be incorporated into your product titles.
It’s vitally important that your titles and descriptions are completely unique from one another. If you have duplicate product titles they will tend to be variations of the same product. So make sure you list those variations in the product titles and descriptions. An easy way to do this is to include the Product Attributes (like size, colour, gender etc.) in the product titles, this will help make them unique and ensure that Google shows the right product for the right search.
Depending on your feed format any new product titles or descriptions can be either changed directly in the feed or will need to be uploaded via a supplemental feed. Supplemental feeds will overwrite a certain attribute of your main feed with an updated version based on the product ID, these can be really useful if your feed is in an XML format.
In a similar vein as discussed above, once you have conducted your keyword research and adjusted your product titles and descriptions to be more suited to users searches, this is not the end of the job. Maintaining a healthy feed involves regularly reviewing and updating these based on the latest data you have.
As we know Google rewards relevancy with higher relevancy with lower CPCs. One mistake here would be to change your titles and descriptions to try and match every keyword and search term available. You should be looking for search term themes and recurring search terms that have performed well by driving conversions. As we know there may be seasonal terms that will apply at certain times of the year rather than others, so therefore around Christmas time you may want to include gifting themes in your titles to attract those types of searches.
Product titles are seen as optimal if they are between 75-125 characters long, so make these characters count with the most relevant search terms you can. However, there is always weight given to the positioning of the words in the titles. For example, the start of your product title should describe exactly what your product is, on the shopping carousel Google will show around 20-25 characters of your title, so it is important that a user can see immediately what that product is.
While there is no set rule how often these types of reviews should be made, I would recommend reviewing these monthly, making any immediate changes if there is the data to validate the changes. I would also recommend making a “to review” list of search terms that seem promising. That way you have these to hand and see if there is any further development in future reviews that could warrant a change to product titles and descriptions.
3.5. Keep Your Feed Updated
This may seem obvious but if your feed isn’t directly linked to your site via an API or XML file and is uploaded via an Excel Spreadsheet or Google Sheet then you will need to keep your feed up to date. This will include any price changes, image changes, or more importantly with any new products. If you want your feed to continue to show your entire product set, then I would recommend adding a “Shopping Feed Update” to the new product listing process to ensure that this doesn’t get missed.
So, get in touch if you require any tailored solutions for your shopping feeds (or recipes) using the contact form below.