Since Google announced the launch of Product Search in April 2007 (also known as Google Base or Google Shopping), the product has come a long way and despite still being in the beta phase it has become a very important factor in search engine marketing strategy for many online retailers. Being listed in the ‘3-pack’ (first 3 Product results) or the ‘6-pack’ in Google’s universal (blended) search results can make or break hitting the targets for so many ecommerce businesses. Although anyone can submit the products feed to Google, it’s still relatively easier and quicker to get products ranking better in Google Product Search results than in the regular organic SERP.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 1
Include keywords in Google Base required attributes, especially in the title and description. Of course if your product names and copy is already well optimised, you can just copy these over. If not, rewrite both to include relevant, generic and popular terms. You may also want to make it quicker and join several Excel text cells into one – here is how. Just remember that title tag should not be longer than 70 characters and should not be stuffed with keywords – it should still read well, otherwise you’ll impede your click-through rates.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 2
Make use of Google Base recommended attributes. Getting these attributes right can be a game changer. It’s proven that Google Product Search algorithm favours product feeds which use those attributes. Having said that, you have to approach this with a common sense and implement as many as you or your CMS can generate without spending hundreds of hours of development or data entry time. Some recommended Google Base attributes that helped Pod1 ecommerce clients to rank their products higher include: brand, image_link, product_type (they feel like required attributes to me actually), shipping (also confirmed by Google Products team as one of very important factors), manufacturer, color, size, author.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 3
Make sure that the Google Base feed is up-to-date and ‘fresh’. Although it sounds like a no-brainer, Google really ranks freshly submitted and up-to-date products better. I personally noticed how recently uploaded and well optimised products pop up in Google’s universal search and then gradually drop further down the list. In an ideal world, your CMS would be configured to automatically upload new and remove old product every day or every hour. If that’s not the case then I’d recommend uploading your products feed to Google Base at least once a week.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 4
100% completeness of the business profile. Similarly to ranking factors Google uses for Google Maps/Places, the Product Search algorithm looks up company information saved in the Google Merchant Center account (this is where you submit your feed, formerly known as Google Base). Make sure you enter relevant information there. This tip isn’t about inserting keywords into the profile info, it’s more about having the profile 100% complete and readable.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 5
Use the Data quality report in Merchant Centre to improve your Google Shopping products feed. Although reporting is still very limited in Google Merchant Center, you can click on the Data Quality link from the menu and Google will tell you if your product feed destination URLs are blocked by robots.txt file, which product titles are too long and inform you about other warnings that can have an impact on how your products rank in the Product Search results.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 6
Monitor customer reviews and respond to negative comments. Google Product Search pulls reviews and product comments form a number of review websites, e.g. Ciao.co.uk, Dooyoo.co.uk, Kelkoo UK, PriceGrabber.co.uk, ReviewCentre.com, Shopsafe.co.uk and others. More positive reviews your product gets more stars the listing will earn and Google will rank it better. Although the influence of positive reviews on rankings is fairly small, nevertheless it’s a good way to keep an eye on what people say about your products and brand.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 7
Include Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) for your products. This is definitely an optional activity when optimising your Google Shopping feed (for now at least). However, if you want to be ahead of the game in (very) near future, you would want to implement the gtin [gtin] attribute as part of your products feed (more info here).
So what is GTIN? Google says that “these identifiers include UPC (in North America), EAN (in Europe), JAN (in Japan), and ISBN (for books). You can include any of these values within this attribute. If available, you should provide at least two of the ‘brand’, ‘mpn’ and ‘gtin’ attributes. Please read more about providing strong identifiers”.
Why do you need it? That’d be because the future of Google Products Search, as with so many other Google products, is localisation. This means that you will be able to check product availability in nearby stores on your mobile, based on your current location. Another reason to think about implementing the gtin [gtin] attribute is the fact that product scanning mobile apps are getting ever more popular. Even Google’s own ‘Google Shopper’ can accurately scan the ISBN or product bar code and display Google Product Search results.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 8
Link your Google AdWords and Merchant Center accounts. You can quite easily bith together in the Google Merchant Center account settings. “This allow you to use your existing Google Merchant Center account to highlight your products directly in your Google.com search ads (and Google Images ads when opted into the Search Network). AdWords campaigns that are linked to Google Merchant Center accounts will receive the benefit of richer, more specific product information in their creatives, including images and prices” – Google. This can significantly increase your AdWords ads click-through rates due to the image link availability. Just remember to update your PPC ads when you remove products from the Shopping feed.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 9
Track Google Shopping products in Google Analytics. This is a very simple task and will allow you to see traffic and ecommerce figures from the Google Shopping feed. You can either append each destination URL (link attribute) in your feed with something as generic as ‘?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=google_shopping’ or use Google URL Builder to generate customised Google Analytics tracking parameters. At the same time, remember to keep values of the ID attribute consistent in your feed and never re-use old ones.
Google Shopping Optimisation Tip No. 10
Automate Google Shopping feed generation and updates. Well, that’s another optional recommendation but wouldn’t it be great if your ecommerce platform or CMS did all of the above and you just specified parameters and patterns for attribute generation? Think about how much time you could save. If you’re lucky enough to be on Magento, you can easily configure the built-in Magento module, here is how: How To Successfully Set Up Magento Google Base Feed.You can read more about Pod1’s SEO Services London and general ecommerce web design offered by Pod1.