One of the most overlooked areas of Google Shopping optimisation is improving the product feed itself.
It is fundamentally important as Google uses the information within your product feed to determine within which searches your adverts will show.
Apart from improving relevance, optimising your feed will allow you to better segment your products as the structure of your Google Shopping campaigns will generally be created based on data within the feed.
If you’re missing the brand attribute then you won’t be able to segment your campaigns into different brands.
If you don’t have variations then you can’t bid based on the different variations of your products.
By ensuring that each product has the full set of data, you will be able to create complex granular campaign structures that will be easier to manage and provide the best performance.
Google recommends you include the brand, product name and basic product characteristics like model, color, and size
Google Shopping Feed Software
To optimise your feed, you will in most cases need some form of feed optimisation software.
Feed optimisation software effectively sits between your website and your Google merchant center account.
The software will pull the feed from your website, you can then make changes to the feed using rules as well as filling in missing attributes without making changes to the content on your websites.
The feed is then pushed into the Google merchant center ready to go.
There are dozens of different providers of Google Shopping feed optimisation software on the market however the two that we have found to be the best are Shoptimsied and Feedonomics.
Shoptimised. Shoptimised is a low cost solution for everybody that wants to get started with feed optimisation. It has a good range of different rules that you can setup to optimise your feed.
Feedonomics. Feedonomics is probably the market leader when it comes to product feed optimisation. It is however towards the more expensive end of the market but it runs very quickly which makes up for the added cost.
1) Add search terms to your products headline.
Optimising your product titles is of fundamental importance because it has the biggest effect over which searches you will appear for.
For example when Crealytics tested adding the term “party dress” to the title of Lipsy London’s party dress products they saw that the number of searches these products appeared for increased by 16.3%.
In fact Crealytics data would suggest that it is the only part of your Feed that really has any effect on getting more impressions/clicks per product.
Not only will it increase relevance but it will also entice shoppers to click on your product.
There are two types of search queries that you should look for to improve your product titles.
- Low share of voice: Terms that are not included in product titles, however get a large volume of searchers. You can use the guide here to find them.
- Text ad queries: Search queries that have high volume and appear in your search ads but don’t appear within your product titles. You can use the guide here to find them.
Once you have created a list of high volume search queries you then need to add them to the product titles of your products.
Data from Crealytics suggests that the most important part of the product title is the first few words so you will want to in most cases append the search query to the front of the product title to get the best results.
If there is no major specific search query for the product then you can simply just append the most searched for product category term to the beginning of your product titles.
2) Add brand to your product titles
One of the easiest ways to improve your product title is to include the brand of your products within the product title.
Most feed optimisation software will allow you to create a rule that searchers for the brand within the product title and if it does not exist then add it to the beginning or end of the product title.
This would convert
Grey Zoom Pegasus Turbo
Nike Grey Zoom Pegasus Turbo
3) Add product specific info to your product titles
As well as the brand you can add other product specific attributes to your product titles.
To do this you will need a well optimised feed that contains all of these attributes.
You may want to consider adding the following:
- Size of the product
- The colour of the product
- The material of the product
- Gender of the product (if it is gender specific)
One thing to be careful of when you are adding attributes using rule specific software is to ensure that it still makes sense, after all you should be writing your product titles for humans as well as Google’s search bots.
As you go through, manually review your product titles to ensure that they still make good sense and have not become completely incomprehensible.
4) Manually re-write titles of the highest performing products.
This is a great tactic that I stole from Andrew Lolk. As with most things in life 80% of the outcome comes from 20% of the input.
We would therefore suggest that you segment your top performing products that are driving the vast majority of your conversions and write manual titles for them to ensure the best possible results.
5) Use Correct Product Identifiers
Unique Product Identifiers are one of the most important attributes within your feed. There are three types of product identifiers UPIs: GTIN, MPN, and Brand. For most products, you’ll need to submit two of the three types of UPIs.
Google use product identifiers to group products together and are expecting that the product identifiers that you submit will be the same as the product identifiers that your competitors will submit too.
If the identifier that you submit is incorrect Google will not be able to group your products correctly which will likely results in lost impressions and conversions.
The Identifier Exists attribute should be used for custom-made goods only. If your goods are not custom made, you must get the proper UPI from the product manufacturer
6) Use The Correct Google Product Category
Using the correct product category is another way to tell Google which product when your ad should show.
The Google Product Categories are similar to UPIs in that you and your competitors should be submitting the same values for each product — giving Google another way of grouping your product with other competing products.
You will be able to get your products approved with general categorisations such as Apparel & Accessories > Clothing however for the best results you will want to put products into the most specific category
You can download Google’s product Taxonomy here that contains all of the different product categories.
Andrew Lolk also offers a quick way to make sure your product categories are correct by creating bulk rules for matching product_types with Google Product Categories.
He suggests taking the following steps:
- Download your Feed to Excel.
- Create a pivot table with Product types in each row.
- Add a column with COUNTA, so you can see how many products are in each product type.
- Start mapping them one by one
7) Use custom labels
Custom labels are a great way to improve your Google Shopping structure and internal reporting but won’t have any effect on the performance of your Google Shopping campaigns.
We generally suggest using labels to create segments that you can use to structure your campaigns or bid on such as:
- Price bands
- Profit margin bands
- Top performers
- Any other value that you don’t have anywhere else.
You can then for example create separate campaigns for top performers compared to your average ads.
You can also use the labels for bidding. For example if you have products that have a margin of £50 you may want to bid more aggressively than if your products have a margin of £5.
8) Write detailed descriptions
Google allows you to use up to 10,000 characters for your product descriptions.
We would suggest that you aim for the following:
- 500 to 1000 character descriptions
- Containing all the most relevant attributes including size, features and technical specifications.
- Information around visual details such as patten, material and design. This will help Google return more accurate searches for the shopper.
- Avoid listing the specifics of any variant products — simply state the product comes in other colors, materials, etc. This prevents the wrong product from showing.
- Focus on using good grammar and punctuation throughout your description, while limiting the use of special characters such as exclamation marks
9) Make sure product images are high quality.
Despite Google’s minimum requirements being that the image should be at least 100 x 100 pixels larger higher quality images will perform better in Google Shopping.
- We would suggest that you submit images that are at least 800 x 800 pixels. Here is an example of how much more visually appealing a larger higher quality image can be compared to Google’s standard 100 x 100 requirements.
- You want to make your image clear and easy to see. We would suggest that you use a plain white background. Avoid having other products in the image so you can clearly see which one is being advertised.
- For the best finish get your images retouched If you are taking them yourselves.
- Make sure that you have the right image for the product. If you have several different colour variations of a product (green, red, blue) for example you will want to ensure that the blue product has the blue product image and so on.
- Make sure that you don’t include watermarked images as Google will disprove these.
10) Clean the existing feed data for spelling and grammatical errors
This is another idea that I borrowed from Andrew Lolk, but it is powerful and often overlooked.
When you receive a product feed from an ecommerce platform you will often find that it is riddled with errors, some due to the platform and others due to human error of the person submitting the data in the first place.
Common errors that you will want to watch out for are:
- Wrong capitalisation
- Use of the wrong language.
11) Populate fields that don’t contain data
If there are a number of products that don’t have product data then you will want to go through and add this data to help Google group your products.
You may want to segment your campaigns by category or colour or size for example or make bidding decisions based on these attributes.
To do so you will of course require that these attributes are included within your product feed. We would suggest that you have at least got the following attributes within your feed:
If you have a large number of products that don’t have data then going through and manually finding the data will take a huge amount of time and won’t be an efficient use of your time.
Andrew Lolk suggests that instead of doing it manually you use rules to find different attributes.
He suggests using lookups within the description to find colour, size and material. For example, he would use the following rules to find out if the product was green and set the colour to green.
If description contains the word “green”, then add “Green” to the field “Color.”
For age and gender he suggests that these can be typically applied using rules based on your product type or brand. In most cases he suggests the gender can be found within the product type.
Although optimising your product feed may seem daunting, with the right strategy you can see strong improvements in your paid search campaigns.
We would first suggest making sure that you have the right tools for the job and find a feed optimisation tool that offers you the functionality you need.
You should then start by optimising your product title as this is the most important attribute before going on to focus on other areas such as the description and images.