A Complete Beginner’s Guide To Google Merchant Center

What is Google Merchant Center?

Designed and developed by Google, the Google Merchant Center is a single online dashboard where merchants can manage their digital profile across all Google eCommerce platforms, and reach the millions of shoppers actively searching online every day.

Technically speaking, the platform is where merchants and retailers upload and optimise the feed which contains the data about their products (including the product title, the product description, image and price), and which powers Google’s Product Listing Ads – or as they are now known, Google Shopping Ads.

Majority of the time the ads will be presented in a carousel type of format that is displayed directly below the search bar and above any text ads in the SERP (Search Result Page). Alternatively, the ads may also be listed in a column on the right hand side of the page.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping, or formerly known as Product Listing Ads, is a service that allows consumers to see and compare the multitude of products online from various different brands. For example, if you’re searching for blue yoga mats, the Google search results will then display a series of the most relevant products at the top of the page (as seen below).

If you were to click on the Shopping tab, the results will then take you to an additional page where you can compare and multiple products based on a number of factors like the brand or price.

Why should you use Google Shopping?

Bottom line is: if you’re not already using Google Shopping, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to reach prospective customers and grow your business online.

Google Shopping allows merchants and retailers to reach potential buyers in real-time when they’re actively searching for related products and (most likely) ready to buy, whilst allowing them to have the ability to choose who to show their products to and when to show them.

By showing their ads to the right users at the right time, merchants and retailers can also save money on ad spend, and help them achieve a better return on investment (ROI).

How does Google Shopping Work?

When using Google Shopping, Google allows you to see all available products across both free and paid listings. When deciding on what listings to showcase, Google will gather data from relevant retailers and select the listings that’re most relevant to the user’s search query.

If a sponsored title is present alongside the listing offer, then it is a paid advertisement. Google earns its revenue when paid listings are clicked, charging advertisers on a pay-per-click basis.

Users can also block certain advertisements or adverts based on their own personal preferences.

What do you need before setting up your Google Merchant Center Account?

  1. You will need (or create) a Google Account for your business.
  2. Your business website must be verified and must adhere to all of Google’s policies.
  3. You will need the information about your products and services, such as high quality images of your products, pricing, availability, shipping options. You can also use a feed of the product data in TXT or XML format, including Excel or Google Sheets.
  4. Alternatively you can use the data straight from your eCommerce platform, if that offers a native integration to sync the data (i.e. if your website and products are hosted on a platform like Shopify).

How to setup Google Merchant Center

Now that you have what you need, it is time to get started and set up your Google Merchant Center account.

  1. First off, you need to link your Google Account.

It is very easy to connect your Google Merchant Account to your Google Account. If you don’t have one, you can easily set up a free Google Account online.

2. Create and set up a free Google Merchant Center account.

Make sure to follow all the steps Google Merchant requires you to do and provide the needed information.

3. Provide Product Information.

If you have completed setting up your Google Merchant Center account, you can then provide your product information. Make sure that the information provided is correct and adheres to Google’s requirements and policies.

4. You are nearly done and ready to run your Shopping Ads!

Now that you have done the necessary steps, it is time to run your ads. To get your ads up and running, make sure to link your Google Ads Account to your Google Merchant Center account.

In order to link the two accounts make sure that you use a login that has admin access on both the platforms. This is required to be able to successfully create the link.

Pro tip: Google also gives free courses on digital marketing and how to run ad campaigns on Google so you should definitely check it out before you start running your own digital marketing campaign, or you can rely on the expertise of an agency in the Google Partners program and hire them to setup and run Shopping Ads for you.

How to optimise Google Shopping Campaigns

After setting up your Google Merchant Center account and linking it to your business’ Google Ads account, you should now be running Google Shopping Campaigns.

Here we have a few tips for you to optimise the campaigns and maximise their performance:

  1. Use High Quality Images

Make sure to use high quality images. Google doesn’t want people to see pixelated or blurry images of your products, that would do more harm than good. If possible, add a number of images of your products that are at different angles so that users have a more well-rounded picture of your offering.

Also, make sure that you own the copyrights of the images you will use.

Pro tip: Make sure that the product covers at least 70-85% of the whole image so that if users are using a small screen, they can still see them clearly.

2. Add Concise and Correct Data Feed

Making sure that you are putting in the exact description of your products is one of the most important things to do in ensuring the success of your campaign.

With the data feed you should always provide the following information:

  • Brand: the product’s brand name.
  • ID: the product’s unique identifier.
  • Title: the product’s title. It should also match the product landing page. Add any specifics that shoppers may search for, such as size, color, or style. You could also add keywords to try rank higher in SEO.
  • Description: an accurate description of your product which must match the product landing page. Only include the necessary information about the product.
  • Availability: the product’s availability, and make sure to match the availability from the product landing page.
  • Price: the product’s price. Match the price from the product landing page and the currency from the country in which the product is sold.
  • Link: the URL of your product’s landing page. It should start with http or https.
  • Image link: the URL of your product’s main image and it should start with http or https.
  • Google Product Category: the Google-defined product category for your product. Include the single most relevant category.

To wrap things up

Being able to create and run a Google Shopping Ads campaign that converts and it’s profitable should be your top priority. You should also be able to understand the basic ins and outs of running successful ad campaigns so that you won’t waste any money and time as these are highly valuable, especially if you are a startup or a small-medium sized business.

Running Your Own Ad Campaigns

If you are planning to run your own Ad Campaigns, there are a lot of free videos on YouTube you could watch and learn from. There are also free courses from Google Digital Garage where you can learn how to run successful online marketing campaigns, know the do’s and don’ts, and the terms used in the industry.

Hiring Professionals to Run Your Ad Campaigns

If you simply don’t have time or resources to run the ads yourself, you can hire professionals. But you should choose your agency partner carefully. Here are 4 things to consider before hiring an Ad’s Specialist:

  1. Experience

The Ad’s Specialist you are about to hire should have ample experience to run the ads for you. You should ask for their recent campaigns and know whether they were successful or not. You should check how much the costs were and the return on investment (ROI).

2. Look at Their Profile Reviews

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. To avoid hiring the wrong partner, take a look at their reviews on their recent work. You should be able to gauge whether they are a right fit for you.

3. Ability to Communicate Clearly

Next thing you don’t want to happen is a breakdown in communication. You should ensure that the experts you are about to hire can communicate clearly and frequently.

4. Can Answer Your Queries

The right Ads Specialist should be able to answer all of your questions leaving you satisfied. Trust your gut too!

Next steps

Now that you have ample knowledge on what Google Merchant, Google Shopping, and Ad Campaigns are, it is time to put your theories to test. Make sure to only spend what you are willing to lose. There is no such thing as risk-free investments.

TBN Editor

Time Business News Editor Team