The Definitive Guide To Google Shopping Ads (Product Listing Ads)

Google Shopping Ads, or as they were formally known, Product Listing Ads are part of Googles paid shopping ads program.

The chances are you will already have seen them when you have been searching online, they look like this.


In this incredibly detailed guide to Google Shopping ads we will be revealing some of the most effective strategies that are working right now.

That you or your PPC agency can implement right away an see immediate results.

We will be teaching you how to build  next level of Google Shopping campaigns that generate the maximum possible ROI.

We are going to take you past the basics of adding new negative keywords and tweaking bids and teaching you how to segment your Google Shopping campaigns right down to SKU level to give you maximum possible control over your Google Shopping Ads.

We will even be showing you some advanced technology that will allow you to automatically add new negative keywords and effectively add keywords back into Google Shopping Campaigns.

Optimising Your Google Shopping ads.

1. Determine the right level of segmentation for your account.

There are several different ways to segment your product feed for the best performance.

There are two options that we have found to be particularly useful, segmenting products by category and segmenting products by product ID.

Segmenting products into smaller groups is important as otherwise all of the products in the campaign would have the same CPC bid which is not good for optimisation.

To generate the maximum return on investment you will need to set bids that are proportional to the amount of revenue that you will generate.

For example if you sell kitchens and you have two types of products, kitchen cabinets and kitchen appliances there is going to a big difference in the amount of revenue that these two items will generate, so bidding the same for each product would not make sense.

So it is important that you segment them into different product groups so you can bid much higher on kitchen appliances where there will be a much greater revenue per product sold.

Segment by Category. This is one of the best options for most advertisers and it allows you to segment your campings by the product category attribution within your product feed.

This generally works well because products in a category are likely to have a similar price and margin and therefore sharing bids would make sense.

Furthermore they are likely to be able share the same group of negative keywords which will make optimisation straightforwards.


Image credit: Hallam Internet

Segment by product ID. This is the most granular option and we have generally found this to provide the best ROI, however this is not necessarily viable if you have a very large product inventory of tens of thousands of products.

Another draw back is that some products will only have a very small amount of data so you will have to rely on aggregate data to optimise these.


Image credit: Hallam Internet

When implementing this strategy PPC Hero found that the conversion rate was 230% higher than using an all product category and the CPA was 85% lower with the CPA for the top seller segmented by product Id campaign as opposed to the all products campaign.


Image source: Search Engine Land

If you would like to learn more about the other segmentation methods then I would suggest reading “how to divide Google shopping campings” by Jonathan Ellins that covers how to segment products based on custom labels and product groups.

Another good article to read is “Your ideal shopping campaign, The critical segmentation decision” by Carrie Albright which discussed the pros and cons of the different segmentation methods.


2. Add new negative keywords periodically from the search query report

Adding new negative keywords to your shopping campings is a very important task to avoid wasted spend and should be done periodically.

For high volume traffic campings this might be once a week and for lower volume traffic campings once or twice per month.

Your search query reports are a goldmine for finding new negative keyword opportunities.

The search query report shows you all of the searchers that users have typed into Google that have triggered your adverts to appear.

Your search query report can be found by going into your keywords tab and then navigating to your search terms sub tab. (shown below)


There are several types of search query that will make good candidates for negative keywords.

The first and most obvious one are search queries that are completely irrelevant that have been caused by using broad match or phrase match keywords.

There are lots of other candidates that might make good negative keywords, for example:

  • Ssearch queries have high impressions but no clicks
  • Search queries have resulted in a conversion but have a large amount of spend
  • Search queries have a below average CTR for the ad-group
  • Search queries have an above average Cost/Conv

Chad Summerhill wrote a brilliant 4 part series for Wordstream that teaches you exactly how you can find these types of search query using excel and a few simple functions. You can read his articles here – Advanced search query mining part 1: The power of search queries.

For more advanced users you will want to use something called n-gram analysis to find new negative keyword opportunities.

This allows you to analyse the performance of individual words within the search query.

So for example you may find that all of the searches that contain the word free convert very poorly so you may want to add this as a negative keyword.

Here is a script that can run this analysis on your Adwords account for you and then will create a report within Google Sheets. You can then analyse this report to find new negative keyword opportunities.

If you would like to automate adding negative keywords  then you can use this script that Brainlabs wrote that references a keyword list that you have created in a Google doc and if the search the user types in does not match the keyword list within the Google Doc then it will be added as a negative keyword.


3. Apply dayparting to your Google Shopping Campings

Most guides online will suggest that you segment your day in to 6 portions (as this is the maximum amount of bid modifiers Google allows per day) however if you want maximum ROI then this just won’t cut it as we have found that CPA can vary largely hour to hour.

By changing hourly as opposed to 6 times per day this Dominos was able to achieve a 11% increase in conversion rate.

If you want to create campaigns that generate the maximum possible amount of profit, and that is our vision as a company, then you need to use a script to get around this so you can change the bids hourly.

Brainlabs have recently created on and open sourced version which you can download here.


Image Credit: Search Engine Land

I will not cover how to implement departing here as it has been covered before.

If you need help setting up departing and determining your bids modifiers I would suggest reading “how to determine your hourly bid modifiers in Adwords” by Vigneron.

His article even includes a tool that will calculate the bid modifiers for you.


4. Apply bid modifiers at location level

Location based bidding is another way to refine your Google Shopping campaigns and improve your ROI.

This strategy allows you to distribute more of your budget to locations that are converting well and generating a large amount of profit and take budget away from locations that are not converting as well with smaller margins.

This will allow you to maximise your return on investment.

To implement location based bid modifiers follow these steps:

STEP 1. Within your Adwords campaign settings go to the locations tab as shown below.


STEP 2. Set the loopback window to 30-90 days. If you have a very seasonal account then you will want to set your loopback window fairly short so that you don’t incorrectly optimise your account going forwards based on past seasonal trends.


STEP 3. Make are that you have included the conversions column. If not click “columns” and then add this column to your report.

STEP 4. Download your location report into excel as shown below by clicking the download button.


STEP 5. You now need to calculate your bid modifiers in excel. The calculation that you will need to do to do this to maximise conversions is as follows.

This can be done in excel by using the following formula =sum((location conv. rate column/average campaign conv. rate)-1*100).


For example if the location London has a conversion rate of 5.65% and the campaign on average is 4.98% then the bid modifier that would need to be applied would be 13% rounded to the nearest whole number.

STEP 6. The next step is then implement your bid modifiers into your campaign.

This can be done by going to the locations tab as shown in step 1 and then clicking on the two lines in the bid modifier column.

Once you have done this you should see a box appear like the one below that will allow you to enter your bid modifier.

If you have a negative bid modifier then this means that you want to decrease the bids and you should select the decrease bids option as shown below.

There is also the option to add bid modifiers in the location settings within Adwords Editor for more advanced users.


You will have to do this process for all of your campaigns and it should be repeated once per month for most advertisers to make sure that your bid modifiers are up to date.


5. segment your shopping campaigns by device

In Googles 2016 updates Google released the option to segment campaigns by device.

You will now want to segment your Google shopping campings into the 3 different devices to give you maximum control over bidding.

You will want to segment each of your shopping campings into three campings like this.

  • Shopping campaign | Desktop
  • Shopping campaign | Tablet
  • Shopping campaign | Mobile

You can do this by coping and pasting your campings. To pause a device you will need to set the bid modifier to -100% in the settings > devices tab as shown below.


To only run adverts on desktop devices you will want to set the bid modifiers for both tablet and mobile to -100% as shown in the example below.

To run your ads on tablet devices only you will want to set beth desktop and tablet bids to -100% and so on.


If you have a poorly optimised mobile website then it may well be worth setting your mobile bid modifiers to -100% which will effectively turn off your shopping ads for this device.

However this would not be recommended if it is producing a positive return on investment.


6. Apply RLSA to your shopping campaigns

Since October 2015 Google have allowed advertisers to Apply RLSA to your Google shopping campaigns.

Wordstream have recently published their research to show the performance increase of applying the new RLSA to shopping campings and the results are impressive.


Image Credit: Wordstream

When it comes to deciding if you should be using “target and bid” or “bid only” Wordstream also did some research into this.

They found that the reach of “target and bid” was very poor and “bid only” accounted for 98% of their impressions so we would suggest just using the bid only option with several list segments based on the position of the buyer within the buying cycle.


Image Credit: Wordstream

For a detailed guide to installing RLSA for your Google Shopping campaigns plus information on best practices when it comes to creating the highest performing lists and bidding we would suggest reading “The Ultimate Guide To Remarking Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)“.


7. Make sure that you have seller rating extensions setup

Seller rating extensions are the small stars that appear next to your ads like in the example below from Topman.

Product reviews are very powerful way to increase the performance of your Google shopping Ads.

A study by Econsultancy showed that 88% of users consult reviews before making a purchasing decision.

A study by Google also indicated that seller ratings extensions increased CTR by 17% on average.


To be eligible to show seller ratings you must have at least 50 reviews across your whole store and a product must have at least 3 reviews for seller rating extensions to be shown.

We have recently published a detailed guide that will teach you how to setup seller rating extensions and gather reviews which you can read here.


8. Setup Promotions and special offers

Promotional feeds / Special offers

Promotional feeds display a small “special offer” tag alongside your product listing. when a user clicks on the special offer icon it expands and gives them a coupon code that they can enter when they reach your checkout.

For example Burton offer the code DEL30 that provides free shipping for orders over £30.


When Wordstream implemented this strategy within their Adwords accounts they saw a 35% increase in conversions and their CPA drop by 25%.


Image credit: Wordstream

To implement promotional feeds within your account you need to create a promotional feed. To do this you must first register using the Google Merchant Promotions Interest From and become whitelisted for this service.

To implement them into your campings you need to use the promotional tool within Adwords.

To learn more about how to setup promotional feeds I would suggest reading Googles guide to setting up promotions.


9. Optimise your product feed

1. Include a keyword rich, descriptive product title in the merchant feed.

The product title should be “keyword rich, descriptive and under 70 characters” according to former Googler .

They should avoid descriptive language such as “high quality” and will work best when they use simple product based language. This is arguably the most important element of your feed.

You will want to include things such as different sizes or products, colours, brands etc within the product description.

For example “Mens medium blue jumper”. With longer descriptions you should look to add the keywords at the beginning so if the description line does become truncated then this will still be visible.

2. Product description

Although not as important as the product title Google will still look to your product description when determining what searchers will trigger your Google Shopping Ads.

The optimal description length according to sources from Google is 500 characters which is considerably shorter than the physical size limit of the field.

Similarly to your product title your product description should be keyword rich (but not stuffed) and have the keywords towards the beginning of the description.

Your aim is to write an accurate but concise description of the item containing information the buyer would need to make a purchasing decision.

3. Select the right Google product category

Although you can add your products to general categories and they will be approved, for the best results you will want to add them to the most specific category so that Google can group your product will other Similar products.

We would suggest that you download Google Product Taxonomy and make sure that every product has been given the most specific product category available.

Googles taxonomy is updated once every three months so it is always a good idea to check back periodically to make sure that there have not been any new categories added that would be a better fit for your products.

4. Use the correct product identifiers

Product modifiers are another very important attribute as Google. There are three types of UPIs: GTIN, MPN, and Brand of which you will have to submit 2 for most products.

It is important that you submit accurate product modifiers as these are universal and standardised across all products and Google will use these to group products together.

You will want to ensure that you are entering the same UPI for your products are your competitors are, otherwise Google will not be able to group products effectively and you will loose out on impressions.

The Identifier Exists attribute should be used for custom-made goods only. For non custom made products you will want to make sure that you have the correct UPI from the manufacturer.


A Few more Google Shopping Strategies…

How To Setup Google Shopping Ads

There are 4 steps that you will need to take to setup a Google shopping Campaign

  1. Create a product feed within Google Merchant Centre. The product feed is fundamental to your Google Shopping Ads success as this is where Google gets their information from to determine which searchers your products should be displayed within as there are no keywords for shopping ads.
  2. Link your Google Merchant Centre Account with Adwords. This will allow you to import your product data from your product feed into Adwords.
  3. Creating your Google Shopping Campaign. This is the basis of every Google shopping campaign and will allow you to start creating ads based on your product feed.
  4. Creating ad groups to segment your feed. Once you have a campaign you want to segment your feed into groups of products. For example you may want to group all of the mens brown shoes together as they will have a similar price and therefore have a similar bid. They  will also have a similar set of negative keywords that you would want to apply to all of the products.

1. Create your Product Feed and upload it to Google Merchant Centre

As I mentioned above the product feed is fundamental to your Google Shopping ads success so it is fundamental that it is properly optimised for Google Shopping Ads.

Your data feed is simply information about the products that you offer on your website formatted in a certain way that Google can read it and create ads based on it.

Google reads the product feed to determine if your product is relevant to the search that a user has entered, similarly to the SEO algorithm that determines if a page on your website is relevant.

While you can use the AdWords interface to set bids, structure campaigns and set up product groups, you will need to work with your product feed if you want to have ads appear for different keywords.

How to manipulate the feed depends on its size and how it is generated.

The product feed can be created in 2 different ways:

  1. You can manually enter your product data into a spreadsheet and upload it into Google’s merchant centre
  2. By adding a plugin or application to your website that will allow you to automatically generate a feed in the correct format for Google to use (recommended).

As there are no keywords within Google shopping much of the optimisation must be done within the merchant feed and through negative keywords.

There are three main steps setting up the product feed. Firstly setting up the feed which is a document that contains details about your products such as their name, description and product image that will be importing into Google Merchant Centre.

Secondly you must set your tax setting for your products and finally you must set up your shipping options.

You first need to choose if you are going to set up your feed manually or using an an application or piece of software.

Generally if your inventory changes frequently or you stock over 100 products then using software will be the way to go.

Feed Setup

STEP 1. Within the Google merchant centre select products down the left hand side and then select feeds from the sub menu and shown below.


STEP 2. Now click the Blue + feed button, when promoted select standard mode unless you are running a test, select the target country and make sure that the language and currency are correct. Finally name your product feed and then click continue.


STEP 3. At this point you will need to choose how you will import your feed. There are there options here, you can create a feed in Google Sheets, you can set up an automatic fetch from your website or finally you can upload a file from your computer.


We would suggest that if you have a large frequently changing product feed that you use the second option that allows you to automatically fetch your feed.

Or if you have a smaller feed then you may want to use the first option and create your product feed within Google Sheets that I will walk you through in a moment, but generally if there is the option automatically fetching the feed will be the best option.

STEP 4. I’ve broken this step down into two different options deepening on which route you have chosen in step 3.

Automatically Feed Creation

If you have chosen to create an automatic feed then you will want to follow these instructions.

Almost all of the big shopping cart providers such as Magento, Shopify, Woocommerce and many more will have their own plugins that will allow you to automatically create product feeds and add the additional information that Google requires.

You should look for the appropriate documentation from your cart provider.

Once you have your product feed URL then you can move on to these next steps.

You will want to enter the file name (The name you enter here must exactly match the file name you submit to Google Merchant Cente) and select the frequency that you would like to fetch the feed.

If you have a very frequently changing feed then you will want to set this to daily, however if you only update your feed once a week or once a month then you will want to set the frequency the the most appropriate settings then select a fetch time.

Select the time zone for your feed and then enter the file URL from your website that your plugin will create.

If your feed is password protected then provide your login details at the bottom of the page. Once you have done this click save.


Manually fetch feed

If you have a small static product range under 100 products then you may want to use manual uploads instead, although if there is an application that allows you to automatically sync your feed use this instead.

This is where you add your product details to a Google Sheet and Google will then import this information into the Google Merchant Centre.

You have two options at this point, if you already have a Google Sheet setup with your product data in then you should select “Select an existing Google spreadsheet”.

If you don’t have a spreadsheet in place at the moment then you will want to select the first option “Generate a new Google spreadsheet from a template” which will allow you to create one.

Finally you will want to create an upload schedule. This tells Google how often to check your Google Sheet for updates. This will depend on how often your product feed will change.

If it changes regally then you may want to set the fetch frequency to daily or weekly. Or if it is rarely updated then monthly will be sufficient.


To edit your spreadsheet and create your product feed manually then click on the feed name and then select “edit spreadsheet” as shown below.


Once you are viewing your spreadsheet in Google docs you will want to enter the information for each product into the template.

You will want to add a new product per row, to learn how to add products and who each field should be filled correctly please refer to Google’s documentation.

Tax Options Setup

STEP 5. The next step is to fill out your tax options. This can be done by going to the tax settings under products in the right hand side menu.


Once here you will want to select “specific tax options for individual states” At this point you can either allow Google to determine the rate from their records or enter in manually.

You will also have the option to specify if there will be tax on shipping by checking or unchecking the tax on shipping box.


Once you have done this select save.

Shipping Options Setup

STEP 6. The final step is to set up the shipping options, these can be found in the right hand menu below the tax options. Once in the shipping setting click the large blue button that allows you to add a new shipping option.

In the first stage select your target country, select the transit time (the estimated time for delivery) and then give your shipping method an appropriate name.


You will then need to select which products that you want your new shipping method to apply to.

By default it will apply to all of the products in your feed. If you only want your shipping method to only apply to a certain number of products you can do by selecting the “Filter products by shipping label (advanced)” option.

This will allow you to apply the shipping method to products that have a certain shipping label that can be set within your product feed.

Finally you need to set the cost of the shipping method. At this point you can either set a single rate for all orders or create rules based on the price, destination, weight, or number of items.

For example if you want to offer free next day delivery for orders over $100 and $2.99 for orders under £100 then you would need to click the +Order price button and then use the following settings as shown below.


You can even use combinations up to two options, so for example you could set shipping rates based on order value and weight.

You should now have created and imported your shopping feed into the Google Merchant centre and set your shipping and tax options.

Once you have done this you need to move to linking your Adwords and Google Merchant centre accounts so that you can use this data within Adwords to build shopping ads campings.

2. Linking Google Merchant Centre With Adwords

To link your Adwords account with your Google Merchant Centre account take the following steps.

STEP 1. Within the Google merchant centre click the three small dots in the top right hand corner of your account. From the dropdown then select “account linking”.


STEP 2. Add the Adwords Customer ID of the Adwords account that you want to link with your Google Merchant Center as shown in the screenshot below and then click “send link request”


STEP 3. Now click the little cog in the top right hand corner of your Adwords account and then from the dropdown click “linked accounts”


STEP 4. On the next page click the Google Merchant centre option in the bottom right hand corner as shown in the screenshot below.


STEP 5. You should then see a request within your Google merchant centre area that will look something like this.


To approve it click “review request” and then click “approve” as show below


Once you have done this it should now say approved and you will have linked your Google Merchant Centre with Adwords, you are now ready to move on to adding the dynamic remarketing code to your website so you can track visitors once they have left your website.

3. Creating a Google Shopping Campaign

STEP 1. Click the new campaign option and then form the dropdown select “shopping” as shown below.


STEP 2. Give your shopping campaign an appropriate name, this will make your life easier when it comes to managing the campaigns.


STEP 3. Now select your merchant account identifier and the location that your Google Shopping Ads will be targeted. In this cases i have selected the UK.


STEP 4. There are several advanced settings that can be used. The first allows you to set priorities for the campaign.

By setting priorities you tell Google in which order you want your Google Shopping campaigns to have preference. The one with the highest priority settings will be shown first.


The inventory filer settings allow you to only display certain products in certain buckets. You can segment your feed by the following conditions.

This can be useful for some of the advanced strategies that I have covered in the optimisation section of this guide.


Finally the local settings allows you to display products that are sold within physical stores to be included in your Google Shopping campaigns.

To submit local products you must use a local products feed within Google Merchant Centre.

STEP 5. Set the location that your Google Shopping Ads campaign will target and then setup the budget and bidding model that you want to use.

STEP 6. Set your delivery model to accelerated. If you set it to standard you will not achieve maximum ROI as your ads will be shown evenly throughout the day, which is not optimal as you want to display your ads more at times of the day that conversion rates are high and show them less when conversion rates are low to maximise profit.

You should do this through dayparting which you can read about in the optimisation section of this guide.


4. Creating a New Ad Group For Your Google Shopping Campaign

Once you have created your Google Shopping campaign you need to create new ad groups within that campaign.

Ad groups will help you segment your product feed up and change bids based on what products the ad group is targeting.

To create a new ad group take the following steps.

STEP 1. Click on the large red +ad group button when viewing your Google Shopping Ads campaign.


STEP 2. You now need to segment your feed into smaller segments. The smallest segment that you can create is to split up your feed into individual products. Here you would have one product per ad group.

If you have a very large product inventory then you may want to use a tool called optmyzr that will create a new ad group for each of your products automatically which will save you a huge amount of time.

If you have a very extensive product catalog then segmenting by SKU may not be the best option, in which case you may want to segment your products by category so you have an ad group for each category.

For full information on how granular you should create your Google shopping campings refer to the “Determine the right level of segmentation for your account” section of the guide.

STEP 3. To add a product category to a ad group or a single product for instance you need to first go to the product groups tab within the ad group as shown below.


STEP 4. Click on the all products tab and then select sub divide all products by either category, brand, item ID etc depending on how you would like to segment your campaigns.


STEP 5. Once you have done this select the category that you would like to target for example and then select them by clicking the two small arrows next to them, they should then appear in the selected box. Once you have done this click save.


STEP 6. Ads should be automatically created within your ad group so you will not need to take any action here, your Google Shopping campaign should now be live.


Using Google Shopping ads is a highly effective tactic for advertising your product catalogue alongside your paid search listings.

In his guide we have covered 9 killer strategies for optimising your Google Shopping campaign that will take you from an above average Google Shopping campaign to all star level.

If you are not utilising any of these 9 strategies then take some time today and implement them into your campaigns.

If you are completely new to Google Shopping campaigns then our 4 part guide to setting up a new campaign will guide you through all of the steps that you need to take to setup a successful Google Shopping campaign from scratch.

Make sure that you pay attention to detail and having a well optimised product feed as this is critical to success.

If you have any questions about this guide please ask them below and I will do my best to get back to you!

wesley parker
About wesley parker

Wesley is Founder and CEO at Clicteq. He currently manages a £6 Mil Adwords portfolio across a range of different sectors. He regulally features in leading search publications such as Econsultancy, Campaign Magazine and Search Engine Land. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin

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