Feed Optimization: How to Improve Google Shopping Advertisements
Shopping ads are not a highly controlled format. Ads collect most of its data from the feed. However, the aesthetic and content of your product advertisement are very important for the overall success of your campaign.
In this article, we will demonstrate which elements of your Google Shopping ads can be optimized, and how to do so best.
Elements of an Ad
First, let’s take a look at the elements which compose the results of a Google search for a product. Here, outdoor beach umbrellas are used as an example.
1. Ad Title
The title of an advertisement is one of its most crucial elements. Its keywords are pulled from the content of the user’s search feed entry, using the [title] attribute. This element is one that can and should be optimized. Later in the article, you will learn about how this can be done most effectively.
2. The Price of the Product
A product’s price value is pulled from the feed, with the [price] attribute.
3. Name of the Store or Brand
This must be entered in your Merchant Center account settings.
4. Product Rating
A rating of your product by customers can also be linked to your account through the Merchant Center. A detailed explanation of product ratings can be found here.
5. Additional Information
Merchant benefits from your Merchant Center account settings can be displayed in the “Additional Information” section. Most often, this includes the free shipping — if applied — and its delivery time estimation.
6. Product Image
The product image is pulled from the data feed, from the [image link] attribute.
A unique promotional offer such as a discount (in either a set amount or a percentage of the total), a gift, or free shipping. The link provided in the ad opens a window which provides details regarding the specific promotion, and a “promo code” that the customer can apply to their purchase in your store.
8. Discount or Price Reduction
This element of the ad is composed of several pieces, including a label above the image and an indication of the price in an extended format (original cost and updated cost).
We differentiate “Discount” and “Price Reduction” in the following way:
- For a discount, the “Sale” checkbox is marked in the upper corner of the image. This makes the original price crossed out, with the new price appearing next to it.
- When making a price reduction, the “Price drop” label is implemented, and the old price is indicated.
These are fully automatic extensions and are triggered by changes in the feed. If you use the attribute prices and discounted prices in the feed, such products will be displayed with the “Sale” box and the crossed out price.
If you choose to lower the prices and change the value for the attribute [price], then some time after the change the ad will display the “Price Drop” bar along with two prices – the old and new.
Optimization of the Title and Product Description
This is the most important and most malleable part of the ad.
In the previous section, the product title was shown. What follows is a break-down of the product description.
Please note that product description does not appear in Google Sponsored Shopping ads. It is available in the Shopping section and is displayed when you click on items that are listed for free under Shopping Ads.
Free ad impressions can be linked separately in the Google Merchant Center. We highly recommend setting them up. If you already have a feed for paid ads, the setup should not take much time, but it will allow your shop to show additional ads for free.
If you are just planning to implement paid ads, then displaying your products for free is a great opportunity for you to start selling products right now. To learn how to set up a free display of products, check out this article.
General recommendations for writing titles, regardless of the product category you are selling are:
- Use the most relevant keywords and phrases in the first 5 positions in the title.
- Capitalize — start each word with a capital letter. Brand names can also be written in full capital letters.
- Specify numerical values in numbers, not text.
- Use symbols “/” or “|” to separate the semantic parts of the title.
- Use the brand name. This recommendation is not relevant for all product categories. More details on this can be found below.
Depending on which products you advertise, different features and characteristics may be important to users.
Some recommendations are listed below for the order in which product data should be placed in the title, in accordance with the product category.
We recommend running regular title tests after launching your Shopping campaign. Try different key phrases, test the sequence of key features. If you know exactly what product characteristics are most important to your customers, try to bring them out to the most prominent places. But, in doing this, do not forget about the first rule: use the most relevant keywords and phrases in the first 5 positions in the title.
Since the product description does not appear in the ad itself, we won’t go into details here.
When working with a product description, stick to this rule of thumb: place the most important information about the product at the beginning of the description.
Another critical piece of your advertisement is the image displayed.
It is pulled from the data feed as well. In order to avoid rejection of items in the Merchant Center, it is necessary that your images meet the following requirements:
Requirements for size
- Non-clothing images: at least 100×100 pixels,
- Clothing related images: at least 250×250 pixels,
- Images no more than 64 megapixels,
- The file size must be no more than 16 MB.
Requirements for the type of file
- GIF (.gif) (without animation),
- JPEG (.jpg/.jpeg),
- PNG (.png),
- BMP (.bmp),
- TIFF (.tif /.tiff).
It is important to remember that Google scans images and their links using search engine crawlers and algorithms, so the accuracy of the URL is important.
URL requirements include:
- When using the [image_link] attribute in your feed, the URL must lead to the main product image.
- The URL must start with http or https.
- The URL must be RFC 2396 or RFC 1738 compliant.
- Space is a combination of %20 characters,
- The quote (“) is %22,
- The hash (#) is %23.
What to Avoid in Image Selection
Text on image
Because a clear product image is the primary reference point for an online shopper, displaying text on an image is to be avoided at all costs. Add text to the title and description feeds instead.
Google must be able to access the link. If it can’t, the link won’t be displayed. Avoid adding spaces or other unreadable symbols to your URL. Also, make sure you double check that the URL is still valid and has not been moved or deleted.
A watermark may seem like a great branding idea, but it prevents an image from being accepted by moderation. It is required for all products in Shopping that an image clearly displays the product and does not contain additional advertising elements.
Avoid “common images”. Sometimes users who, for some reason, do not have a product image, use some universal image instead, often a company logo. Do not do this, it is ineffective and even harmful. Better to postpone the launch of a campaign and prepare high-quality, clear and understandable images for all of your products first.
How to Optimize Images
1. Make sure your images match the product. If you sell products in different colors and configurations, make sure the images contain those products in the correct configurations and the product itself is clearly visible.
2. Use a high resolution, good quality photo. Do not spare your efforts and resources to prepare a high-quality photo. In an online shopping environment, where users cannot taste and touch the product, the image becomes is a crucial element which dramatically impacts consumer perception of your product.
3. Use photos that show exactly your product. Nothing in the photo should prevent the user from viewing it. If your photo has more than one item, make sure that the main item stands out against their background.
Google recommends that the product occupies at least 75%, but no more than 90% of the entire image.
4. Always use additional images. Use the attribute [additional_image_link] and add up to 10 additional images to your ad. Usually, additional images show the product from a different angle or with elements of product demonstration. The more visual information you provide to the customer, the more they might like your product.
5. Test images demonstrating the use of your product. Often, these ads are more attractive to buyers. But the effectiveness of such images versus conventional images showing a product on a white background can vary depending on the product category. Therefore, test both options and leave the most effective one for your business.
In this section, we are going to show you how you can get more ad engagement through price display, data feed, and settings in the Merchant Center.
Use the “Sale price” attribute
Google provides two attributes for the price, [price] and [sale_ price]. We recommend using both attributes. In this case, your current actual price is going to be displayed in the value of the [sale_ price] attribute. Then the ad displays two prices; the old one and the new one with a discount. This will make your ad stand out from the competition.
Optimizing the Invisible Parts of Ads
We have discussed how you can improve the visible content of both paid and free advertisements. But products also have other, no less important attributes. You won’t see their value in a Product Listing, but using these attributes properly will allow you to expand your reach, describe for Google more clearly what you are selling, and add additional product information. In this section, we’ll cover the feed attributes that could help achieve all of the above. These attributes include required ones that must be in your feed, and optional ones that you can use to enhance your ad. Also, some attributes may be required for some product categories and optional for others.
«GTIN Code » [gtin]
This attribute is required for all new products that have this code. But it is also recommended to add it for all other products. Also, make sure that the value of the attribute is correct, since this attribute will be used by Google to determine the type of your product.
Mandatory attribute for all products except movies, books and music. Make sure the brand name is correct and error-free.
Partially required attribute. Required for apparel in feeds targeting Brazil, UK, Germany, USA, France, and Japan, and other products that have different color options. This is optional for all other countries and categories.
If in your case this attribute is required, make sure the data in it is correct. If the attribute is optional for you, we recommend adding a color value anyway to expand the product information.
All products advertised through Google Shopping campaigns are automatically assigned a product category from the Google taxonomy. This list of products is constantly updated. In order to define the product category correctly, make sure that the name, description, price, brand and GTIN code of the goods are up-to-date and described with no errors.
The product category in which your product is assigned determines how and for what search terms your Shopping ad is displayed, and also determines which other similar products your ads will compete against in the auction.
Sometimes it happens that the automatically determined categorization of a product is performed incorrectly.
In this case, you can take action in two forms:
- Check that all basic product data (name, description, price, brand and GTIN code) are correct.
- If in the first paragraph everything is correct and there are no errors, and the category of Google products is still incorrect, then you can correct it manually.
To adjust the category, you can use the optional attribute [google_product_category].
But be careful and responsible when using it, because falsely specifying the attribute value can lead to a number of undesirable consequences, from the rejection of goods by moderation to the wrong tax rate assignment.
When Google recommends using the [google_product_category attribute]:
- Tax rate value mismatch (United States only). You can change the category if the item is for sale in the US and has been automatically assigned a category with a different tax rate.
- Incorrect attribute requirements. Some product categories, such as Apparel & Accessories, Mobile Phones, and Software, have additional required fields. If your product was mistakenly assigned to one of these categories, you can change it.
- Adjusting targeting for Google Ads. You can change the category for products if you want to assign it to a different ad group as part of a Shopping campaign.
- Invalid categorization for alcoholic beverages. In this case, you can specify the correct option using the attribute [google_product_category].
Before changing a product category using this attribute, carefully review the list of existing categories and determine the one that best suits your product.
An up-to-date list of product categories with names and numeric identifiers can be found in Google Help, for example, in this article:
It is important to choose the category that most precisely characterizes the product. It should reflect its main purpose. For example, the main function of an MP3 player is music playback, so it should be categorized as Electronics> Audio systems> Audio playback and recording devices> MP3 Players (233).
It is also important to assign categories as accurately as possible. For example, the charger for your MP3 player is listed under Electronics> Audio systems> Audio accessories> MP3 player accessories (232). It is not enough to simply indicate the topmost category Electronics (222).
The attribute data can be specified in two formats: numeric identifier or full product category. Don’t use both formats at the same time.
If you use the Shopify service and create a data feed using special applications, then you can set a value for the Google product category through the interface of the application itself, which is extremely convenient. This functionality is supported by most applications, in particular Feed for Google Shopping and Data Feed Watch. With its help, you can easily check and adjust if necessary the Google product category.
So now you know which elements of your Shopping ad to pay attention to and how to make your ad more informative, visible, and attractive to potential customers.
Finally, a few general recommendations regarding the ad as a whole:
1. Keep Testing.
Try different images, correct the sequence of words in the titles, refine the categories of Google products—try different variants and combinations, record the results, and apply options that work best for you.
2. Make use of all the additional features of your ads.
Use additional attributes for the price, evaluate promotional offers, add as many different product images in good quality as possible, be sure to show customers the product rating in your ad, if you have one. If there are no ratings yet, set up the capability of your store to collect reviews and ratings about products on the website and start collecting this data. Use all the available Shopping ad options to provide the fullest and most detailed information about your products to buyers.
We hope this article will help you with managing your ad campaigns! Also you can always order help setting up and supporting your advertisements in our bureau.
If you have any questions, write them below in the comments to the article or use the special form on our website to send a question in case it contains confidential information.