There is probably no better place to advertise for most websites than Google Shopping. It's certainly the very first place that we place ads for every large ticket eCommerce store we create. It's the second place we test ads for Private Label products. In most cases, Google Shopping (also called Private Listing Ads or PLAs, for short) simply offers the best cost per conversion of all paid ad sources (while Facebook offers the best potential for traffic).
The reason Google Shopping works so well is pretty simple. Customers are shown a picture of a product and its price before they even click. If someone clicks your ad, they are pretty much telling you that they have no problem with your price for that product. Because of that, conversion rates are usually significantly higher for Google Shopping ads vs. plain text ads.
There is one major downside to Shopping ads ... you do not have much control over where they appear or to whom. Unlike Google Text Ads, which let you bid on specific keyword phrases, there is no way to bid for exactly the searches you want to appear for with Google Shopping ads. There are ways to tweak things a little to help steer your ads in the right direction but all in all, you have very little control over what search phrases they will appear for.
As great as Google Shopping Ads are, setting them up is not for the faint of heart. In this guide, we'll show you how to set up a basic product listing campaign using the Shopify shopping cart. Unfortunately, every shopping cart platform is so different when it comes to setting up product feeds, we simply can't cover them all here.
Before we get into how to set up Google Shopping, you need to have some Prerequisites in place - a Google Analytics and a Google Search Console account. If you already have Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) set up, you can skip ahead to the Google Merchant Center Setup section.
Set Up Google Analytics (GA)
Since Shopify has its own article on setting up Google Analytics within Shopify, there's no need for us to get into it. Just follow their Setting Up Google Analytics tutorial step-by step.
Here are a couple of other useful links to Google's tutorials ...
- Overview of the 3 steps to sign up & set up your account
- Setting up the tracking code
- Overview of the GA interface
- Setting up GOALS inside Google Analytics
- Exclude Internal Traffic
Set Up Google Search Console (GSC)
NOTE: We recommend setting up your Google Analytics account BEFORE setting up Google Search Console since it will make it much easier for you to verify ownership of your domain name when setting up Google Search Console.
As much as we love Google, one thing that drives us nuts about it is how often they change their interface! We've written probably a dozen step-by-step guides that walk you through the process of setting up & configuring your Google Search Console account, but they always become outdated within a few months. 🙁
So, instead of providing a (most likely outdated) guide, we're going to provide a handful of the most important of which are adding your site and verifying your ownership of it with Google:
- Google Search Console HELP index page
- About Search Console
- Adding your site
- Verifying site ownership (select the 'Google Analytics' option if you've already set up your GA account & installed the tracking code)
How to Set Up Google Shopping Ads
Now that you have Google Search Console and Analytics set up, you can set up your Google Shopping ads.
Two main Google components work together for Google Shopping - Google Merchant Center and Google Ads. The two together combine for four steps to getting your Google Shopping campaign up and running:
- Set up your Google Merchant Center account
- Create and upload your product data feed
- Tweak your product data feed
- Set Up Your Product Listing Ads in Google Ads
Step 1. Set up your Google Merchant Center account
Google Merchant Center (GMC) is the interface you use to manage your Google Shopping ads (also called Product Listing Ads, or PLAs). Besides being relatively affordable compared to other forms of paid advertising, the traffic you get is extremely targeted so it converts really well. We typically start PLAs immediately after completing our store build-out. PLAs are the perfect way to bring targeted traffic to your site while you’re waiting for your other SEO/marketing efforts to start bringing in a constant flow of traffic.
The nice thing about PLAs (and other PPC campaigns) is that you can quickly tell whether they’re profitable or not. It’s nothing like a big marketing campaign you’d do in "the real world" for a brick and mortar store. You’re not going to have to spend thousands of dollars for a radio/TV/magazine ad and then "cross your fingers" that it pays off. PLAs are pay-as-you-go, so there’s very little risk. You just set up the ads and then watch them for a couple/few days to see how they do.
You’ll only be paying maybe 2-50 cents per click (i.e. per person who clicks on one of the ads and comes to your store), so you’ll be able to tell very quickly (without risking more than $40-50 total) whether the ads are paying for themselves (i.e. whether they’re generating enough sales/profit to cover what you’re paying for the ads).
Even better, usually you only pay for your campaigns once a month - AFTER they have been running for a whole month. This means that you should already have profitable sales coming in before you have to pay for the ads!
If you don't have a Google Merchant account yet, the first step is to get one. If you do have one already, you can skip to the next step – Verify & Claim Your URL.
Everyone should have two Google accounts by now – a Google Analytics account and a Google Search Console account. Go to http://google.com/merchants/ and sign in with the same account you use for your other Google accounts.
When you sign into Google Merchant Center for the first time, you will be prompted to complete the following:
- Select a location
- Agree to the Terms of Service
- Configure your account
After you have set up a Merchant Center account, you will need to provide specific information about the website you will be listing products for. You do this by clicking on 'Business Information', which you can access by clicking the gear icon near the top-right and then completing each drop-down section in the middle of the page.
- For "Business Display Name' put the name of your website (not the URL or domain name). For example, doghouseworld.com would have a store name “Dog House World.” Please note that Google automatically truncates store names that are longer than 20 characters.
- For the 'Website" drop-down, you will need to provide the full URL for your website (including the https://)
- Fill out all of the information requested in the 'Business Address' drop-down. A phone number is optional but Google trusts sites more that have them, so enter it if you have one.
- Provide a link for customer service inquiries (normally this is the link to your 'Contact Us' page).
- In the 'Customer Service Contact' drop-down, provide the URL to your Contact Us page, the email address for customer service (if applicable) and, if you have one, a phone number. This information is not made public, but Google uses it if they need to contact you for some reason, such as policy violations.
IMPORTANT: If you don't include customer service contact information, Google will not approve your ads!
Important Note: If you have more than one website, you will need to set up a multi-client account. More information about requesting and setting up a multi-client account can be found here. It can take a week or more to get approved for a multi-client account so the sooner you do this, the better.
Verify & Claim Your Website URL
Before you can upload and publish product data, you need to verify and claim your URL. First you will need to enter the exact website URL that you wish to verify and claim. This means entering your main domain name with the https:// but without the www (i.e. https://doghouseworld.com). If, for some reason, your website is located in a directory instead of on the main URL, you will need to enter the full path to that directory (if doghouseworld.com was really located in a directory on petstoresusa.com, the path to the main URL would be http://petstoresusa.com/doghouseworld.com, for instance).
Next, in a separate tab, sign into your Google Search Console account. There are several different methods of verifying site ownership. Google's recommended method is uploading an HTML file to your public_html directory via cPanel, but there are far easier ways to do this. Click on the 'Alternate Methods' tab and you will be offered these additional methods:
Google Analytics (Recommended): If you have already set up the code for Google Analytics on your website, just select the Google Analytics radio button and click 'Verify' at the bottom of the Google Search Console page. That's it; you're done! 🙂
HTML Tag: You can copy the code Google supplies and enter it into your website's home page <head> section. Again, every shopping cart has a tutorial for how to do this so just do a search and find out how to do it with your cart.
- Domain Name Provider: There are dozens of domain name providers that Google has set up easy verification methods with. Select yours from the list and follow the instructions. If you followed our advice and obtained your domain name through NameCheap, it will definitely be one of the selections available.
Now that you have verified your ownership of the URL, you will need to "claim" it. To claim your URL, both your Merchant Center account and your Search Console account MUST have the same login e-mail. Sign into your Google Merchant Center account (if it is not already open in another tab) and do the following:
- Click the gear icon. Next, click on the Business Information link and then click Website on the upper tab.
- Click Claim this URL to claim the website.
- Click Save Changes to confirm your changes. You should see 'Verified and Claimed' displayed under your URL.
Okay, your account is now set up & ready to go. Now it's time to create and upload your product feed file.
Step 2. Create and upload your product data feed
For most people, setting up Google Product Search ads is a real hassle. Not only do they have to manually create a product feed using Google's specifications, but they have to maintain those feeds, resubmitting them on a regular basis.
If you're not using Shopify, you're on your own as far as Step 2 goes. Hopefully the shopping cart you chose has a detailed, easy to follow guide in their Knowledgebase articles.
For those of you who followed our advice and are using Shopify, they have made the entire process much easier. We'll show you where to get the information on setting up your Google Product Search feed in Shopify and explain some of the parts that may be confusing.
Install a Google Shopping App
Like most things in Shopify, there are a whole lot of apps you can choose from that will make creating a Google Shopping feed much easier. Shopify has a free one you can use that has some problems and is not very easy to use so we don't recommend using that one.
The best Shopping Feed app of all is the DataFeedWatch app because it is super easy to use and it works for every type of feed you'll ever want to create - Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, Amazon and more. It's also probably the most expensive app to use so you might want to switch to it after your website is making good money.
For now, we recommend using the Feed For Google Shopping app from Simprosys. It does everything you need it to do, allows you to perform bulk edits on products and it updates automatically if you change things like prices or product images. Best of all, it only costs $4.99/month (plus your cost per click advertising expenses) for most stores. Here's how to install it ...
- Click on Apps in the left sidebar of your Shopify Admin panel. Then, click the blue Visit the Shopify App Store at the top-right.
- Type "Google Shopping" (without the quotes) into the search box near the top-left and hit ENTER on your keyboard (or click the magnifying glass). Then, click on the Feed For Google Shopping app (it has a shopping cart icon).
- The next screen shows you that the app is free for the first 21 days and then it costs "from $4.99/month". Really, unless you are creating a ridiculously large website with more than 500 products, your cost really will be just $4.99/month. Click the blue Add app button.
- The next screen tells you that the app will need to access several different parts of your Shopify store. Click the blue Install app button in the lower-right.
- Next, the app needs to sync with your Google Merchant Center account in order to upload your store's product feed to Google. Click the blue Login with Google button so that the app can communicate with your Google account. If you are not already signed into your Google account, you will be asked to do so.
- The ensuing page asks for permission to access your Google account. Click the blue Allow button.
- Select your Google Merchant ID from the drop-down box on the next page. Chances are, you only have one for this website but if you have a multi-client Merchant Center account, please select the ID that applies to the new website you are setting up a feed for. Then, click the blue CONFIRM YOUR ACCOUNT button.
- The next screen will have a video for you to watch, which goes over the different types of Google Ad campaigns that can be managed from within the Simprosys app and how to enable them in Merchant Center. Only the first ⅓ - ½ of the video applies to what we need to do - enable the "Google Shopping" and "Surfaces Across Google" ad programs. Once you have enabled both of those programs within Merchant Center, click the blue YES, I HAVE ENABLED PROGRAM(S) button in the lower-right.
- At this stage, the only thing you need to do is select your product ID format. If you have products with option variants (e.g. red/blue/green or small/medium/large or brass/gold/silver), select the third radio button. If none of your products has options, choose the first radio button. Then, click the blue SYNC button at the bottom-left of the page.
NOTE: Later on, you may want to change some of the settings in here, such as the "Product Title Preference" and the "Product Description Preference" but for now, leave them as they are.
You should have been returned to a screen that tells you that your feed has been uploaded to Google and that you are going to have to wait a little while until Google manually processes and approves your feed. It can take anywhere from a day to a week for Google to approve a feed. This screen also tells you of any immediate errors that caused your products to be immediately rejected by Google, before one of their representatives does a manual review.
Step 3. Tweak your product data feed
Theoretically, you should be done, but that is never the case with any Google Shopping app. Google requires several fields to be filled out - fields that the Feed for Google Shopping app cannot possibly know because those fields don't exist in the Shopify Product Admin.
You can access your Google Shopping feed in your Shopify admin panel by clicking Apps in the left column and then Feed for Google Shopping from the apps list.
If your products are all very different from one another, you may need to click on each product, one at a time, and fill in the missing fields' information. If your products are very similar, you might be able to edit a bunch (or all) of them in bulk by selecting the check boxes to the left of each similar product, clicking the blue Do Edits in Bulk button near the top-left and then selecting the Google Shopping field you want to edit from the drop-down menu. Keep in mind that you may need to edit several fields, one at a time, for each product grouping.
Data Feed Required Fields
I'm not going to get into all of the fields that Google requires because most of them have already been filled in - things like your product name, URL, images and prices are easily grabbed by the Shopping app from your product pages. Some of these other ones might already be filled in because you were very detailed when you added the products in Admin. Others, are things that the Shopping app could not possibly pull from your Shopify admin because the fields do not exist there.
No matter what you are selling, the following fields are absolutely required:
Google Product Category: You have product categories on your website (Shopify calls them "Collections") but Google also has categories that it assigns products to - something they call their Product Taxonomy. All products in your data feed must have the Google Product Taxonomy classification in the Google Product Category field or they will get rejected.
In the Feed for Google Shopping app you can click the drop-down arrow and slowly search through hundreds of Google product categories or you can do it the easy way by typing in a general term for what you are selling and then selecting the appropriate specific taxonomy for that product or group of products you have selected. (e.g. for a website that sells necklaces, I would type in "jewelry" and then find the most specific Google Shopping category for those products which would be Apparel & Accessories > Jewelry > Necklaces).
TIP: In the above example, I could have also typed in "necklaces" and found the appropriate taxonomy very quickly but I might have missed one that might have been even more specific or that I could use for other products on my website, which is why I like to search a little more generically at the beginning.
2 Of The 3 Of These Unique Product Identifiers (UPIs):
If you don't have AT LEAST two out of the following three fields filled out in Shopify for each product, Google will reject your ad for that particular product. In many cases, you will need all three.
GTIN: Always required if a product has a GTIN (Global Trade Identification Number) assigned by the manufacturer. In the U.S. we call these UPCs and they are 12 digit numbers. Elsewhere in the world, they call them EANs, which are 13 digit numbers. Missing GTINs for products that have them is the #1 reason individual products get rejected by Google.
NOTE: Not providing a GTIN for a product that actually has one is the #1 reason for products getting rejected by Google. Unfortunately, many manufacturers do not provide you with them, so you do not find out until after you are rejected that there are GTINs for your products.
NOTE #2: Not providing a GTIN will never be a problem for a private label store, since you are, in essence, the manufacturer, and you have never assigned one to any product that Google knows about.
- Condition: Supported values are new, refurbished or used. This is also a field that many people forget to include, which will always result in a rejected product.
Special Products Requiring Even More Google Shopping Fields
If your product is in the Apparel niche, the following fields are also required. Keep in mind that "apparel" includes accessories like jewelry, watches, shoes, belts, gloves, scarves, purses and even wallets. If the Google Taxonomy sheet starts with the words "Clothing & Accessories", these are required fields:
Age Group: Supported values are newborn, infant, toddler, kids, or adult.
Color: Must be an actual color name (i.e. red or blue). If there is more than one color, separate them with a forward slash (i.e. red/green/yellow). Do not use the word "multicolor".
Gender: Supported values are male, female or unisex.
- Size: Only required if your product is in the Clothing & Accessories > Clothing category or the Clothing & Accessories > Shoes category.
(For more information on Google Data Feed Requirements, you can view Google's Product Data Specification page.)
Whew! I imagine that took awhile to set up - especially if you have a whole lot of products! There's only one step left but this is the one that can make or break you - setting your bids up properly in Google Ads. You can't really quite do that yet, though ...
When you use an app, your feed file is automatically submitted to Google and updated daily. Every time you make changes to your existing products, those changes are automatically updated by the app in your feed file. Keep in mind, however, that when you add new products, you're going to have to open the Google Shopping app and update the required fields for those new products; otherwise, they'll be disapproved for missing required attributes.
Before you can really set up Google Ads, you have to wait for your feed and products to be approved by Google. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a week (it's usually within two days). If it is more than a week and you are still waiting for approval, it doesn't hurt to give Google Ads a call at 844-245-2553.
The feed, itself, is checked by an algorithm, so you should see pretty quickly if there are things you need to fix. You can see if there are errors right there in the Google Shopping app. You can get a much better idea of what problems are and how to fix them by logging into Google Merchant Center, clicking Products in the left column and then Diagnostics in the inner-left column.
In addition to checking the feed with an algorithm, Google also manually checks all new products in Shopping campaigns to make sure they comply with their Google Shopping Ads Policies. Unfortunately, this involves an actual human being looking at your products, one by one, in addition to your website as a whole, which is why it can take up to a week for new Shopping campaigns to get approved.
It's time for a little patience. There are always things to do for a website like re-writing the product descriptions with your own unique, detailed copy, if you haven't already done that, writing a great new blog article or you can start setting up other ad properties while you wait.
Step 4. Set Up Your Product Listing Ads in Google Ads
Once your products have been approved, it's finally time to set up your actual bids, budget and general settings so that your campaign can go "live" and start generating some traffic to your pages. That is done in a separate Google property - Google Ads.
Google Ads is the interface where all Google Advertising programs are controlled (Google Shopping Ads, Google Text Ads, Google Display Ads and Google Remarketing Ads). In it, you set up campaigns, set budgets, set bid prices, monitor your ad performance and many other things.
Linking Merchant Center with Google Ads
Before you can start using Google Ads to set up and launch your Google Shopping ads, you need to Link the data feed you set up in Merchant Center with your Google Ads account. From within Google Merchant Center, click on the gear icon and then click Account linking from the drop-down menu.
Merchant Center has made the setup pretty easy for you. Click the blue CREATE ACCOUNT link at the top of the page and complete each step (it's pretty straightforward stuff).
After you have linked to your Google Ads Account from your Merchant Center account, you will need to approve the pending link request within your Google Ads account:
Step 1. Login to your Google Ads account.
Step 2. Click the Tools icon near the top-right and then select Linked Accounts from the drop-down menu.
Step 3. In the ensuing window, scroll down until you see 'Merchant Center' and click on Details within that Merchant Center box.
Step 4. In the next window, it should say that you have a pending link request (because you initiated it in Merchant Center earlier). Click View Details.
Congratulations; your Merchant Center account and Google Ads account are now linked! 🙂
PLEASE NOTE: At some point in time, Google will inevitably alter the above steps a little bit - they just can't stop tinkering with things. If that happens and you are having trouble, their guide to linking Merchant Center with AdWords can be found here.
Creating Your Google Shopping Campaign in Google Ads
Here, we're only going to show you how to set up a single, basic campaign for all of your products. You can set up several different Google Shopping campaigns - all for the same website - as well as different Ad Groups within each campaign, but we're keeping things basic right now (isn't it already complicated enough?).
I'll take you step-by-step through the setup process and explain best practices for each step:
Step 1. From the your main account overview page, click on Campaigns in the left sidebar.
Step 2. To create a new Campaign, click the blue + button and then click New campaign from the menu.
Step 3. Select Sales from the different goal types.
Step 4. Select Shopping from the various campaign types.
Step 5. Select the Merchant Center account that you want to use with this ad campaign (you may or may not be offered this, depending on your other Google advertising).
Step 6. Select the country where your "store" is located.
Step 7. Select your campaign type. Here, we ALWAYS select "Standard Shopping Campaign" from the two choices. Google pre-selects "Smart Shopping Campaign" by default because they make more money with those. You may want to set up a Smart Campaign later and split test it against your standard campaign but at this stage, you want to be in total control of your campaign and ad spend. Click the blue CONTINUE button.
Step 8. Enter a campaign name. It's usually best to use initials of your website or your website name along with something that describes the type of campaign this is. Remember, Google Ads is the interface where ALL Google Ad campaigns are run from - text ads, remarketing ads, shopping ads - and you may have more than one website and more than one campaign running for each website. For a site named Dog House Central running a generic, all products Google Shopping campaign, we might name the campaign "DHC-Shopping").
Step 9. In Bidding & Budget, select "Manual CPC" (which should be the default) and, for now, uncheck "Help increase conversions with Enhanced CPC".
Important Note: There are a number of settings in this section that could greatly increase your ad spend and they may or may not lead to more sales and a better cost per conversion. The settings I have suggested are simply the initial ones to set up. You definitely will want to split test all of the various permutations available in this section sometime in the future. These include:
Target ROAS: Rather than manually setting bids, selecting this is supposed to help get as much conversion value as possible at the target return on ad spend (ROAS) you set.
Maximize Clicks: You'll probably never use this - we want the maximum conversions for an eCommerce site - not just clicks.
Help increase conversions with Enhanced CPC: There are two options here - Optimize for conversions and Optimize for conversion value. You might want to split test both sometime down the road.
Step 10 - Budget. Pretty basic stuff here ... this is the maximum amount that you want to spend per day. Keep in mind that this is just an average. Google may allow more than your daily budget on some days as long as the AVERAGE per day in a month is not higher than your daily budget (e.g. $5,00 per day will not exceed $150 per month in a 30 day month). Depending on the site and the price of products ($1,000 products generally have higher bids than $400 products which have higher bids than $50 products), we usually put $5, $10 or $20 as our daily budget.
Step 11. Remove the check in the box for Search Network and for YouTube, Gmail and Discover. Again, you may want to expand your advertising to these other Google-related networks sometime in the future, but not right now when we are trying to keep ad costs low while we are testing Google Shopping as a viable marketing option. (Once again, Google has these checked by default because they are more concerned with how much money THEY make, not you.)
Devices: For some reason, when you are first setting up a campaign, Google will not let you change the bidding by device type. This is an extremely important setting and we will definitely be coming back to it at the end of the setup process, below.
Step 12 - Locations: This is where you include or exclude countries, regions, states and even cities that can see your ads. By default, it is usually only set up for the United States. There are a few other radio buttons you can select with normal setups, as well. This pretty much comes down to the areas you sell to. For example, if you sell only to the U.S. but do not want to advertise to Alaska and Hawaii because you do not ship there, you would select the default United States radio button but exclude those two states, one at a time by typing their name into the search box:
As you type, a drop-down menu will appear that allows you to 'target' or 'exclude' places. In this case, we want to exclude Alaska, After doing that, we would repeat the process and type in "Hawaii" to also exclude that state from U.S. states that we want to advertise to.
TIP: If you are charging sales tax in your state and your margins aren't great, you may want to exclude your home state from showing ads!
IMPORTANT: Also within the Locations section is a 'Location options' expandable link. Click that and make sure to change both the 'Target' and 'Exclude' radio buttons from the default to the People in your targeted locations and people in your excluded locations. If you don't do that, people who live in some country where you aren't selling things will be shown ads simply because they were interested in a certain country/region/state but don't actually live there.
Step 13 - Start and End Dates: We've never touched this but if you wanted to only show an ad campaign between certain dates (perhaps just during certain holidays) this is where you would assign those dates. If you don't do anything, your ads will start immediately and will run forever until you manually stop them.
Click SAVE AND CONTINUE
At this point, you should be on the Ad Groups page. Within any campaign, you can create groups of products. Many people create separate groups so that they can organize things and see how that group of products is performing.
Most people, however, create separate Ad Groups within a campaign so that they can bid a certain amount on one group and a different amount on another group. If that's your goal, there's a better way of doing things, which will be how we set things up here.
In this basic campaign setup, we're just going to use one All Products Ad Group:
Ad Group Type: You have two options here to select from - Product Shopping and a brand new type of group Google created called "Showcase Shopping". Showcase Shopping is pretty advanced, so we're just going to leave things set at the default, which is "Product Shopping".
Ad Group Name: When there is only one ad group, we usually name it the same thing as our campaign. We named our Dog House Central basic shopping campaign "DHC-Shopping" so we'll name our Google Group within the campaign the same thing.
Bid: This is the part that most people get wrong. They make a guess at what a good bid would be for all of their products and they enter it as their bid amount. This creates problems later when we want to lower our bid price on some products because Google always takes whatever makes them the most money as the bid price. If a product with a 10 cent bid price is within a group that has a 40 cent bid price, Google is going to ignore the 10 cent bid for that product and assign the 40 cent group bid price.
Because of that, we set up our groups with a 2 cent bid price and then we enter a higher bid for the individual products. This lets us lower an individual product's bid down to as little as 2 cents if we want to and the group bid price is not going to override it. We'll raise the bids for all of our products here in a moment.
Why 2 cents? Because we'll gladly pay 2 cents for ANYONE who wants to visit our website, regardless of their intention to buy. If they're not necessarily looking to purchase something right now, maybe they know someone who is! Besides, it's not super likely that Google is going to show too many ads for just a 2 cent bid anyway. 😀
With the exception of the Ad Group Name (which you named after your own website), your Google Group page should now look like this. Click SAVE when you are done:
Subdivide Your Product Group By Product ID
Now, we're going to set up our real initial bids for individual products ...
Step 1. Hover your mouse over the words "All products" and a plus sign (+) will appear to the right of it. Click the plus sign, which will allow you to subdivide your All Products group.
Step 2. On the ensuing page, click the drop-down arrow next to "Product Type" at the top of the page. From the drop-down menu, click Item ID.
Step 3. The next page allows you to select which products you want to subdivide into their own subset of your product group. In this case, we want every single product, so we are going to click the box next to the words "Product group" at the top-left, which will select all of the products and put them into the "selected" box on the right. Click the blue CONTINUE TO EDIT BIDS button at the bottom of the page.
Step 4. The next page is where you would normally edit bid prices for each individual product by clicking the bid price on the far right and changing it. For some odd reason, Google does not let you bulk edit all of your individual product bids on this page. We're not going to waste time clicking on each product, one at a time, and changing its bid. Just leave them where they are temporarily and click the SAVE button at the bottom of the page.
Step 5. You should now be back at the Product Groups page and can now see that all of your products have been individually broken out with individual bids next to them. Admittedly, it's pretty much impossible to tell what each product is by the item ID. Fortunately, you can hover your mouse over each one individually and a pop-up window will appear, showing you what the actual product name is at the bottom.
That's not important at the moment. All we want to do is set our real maximum bid prices for all of our products and we can finally do them all in bulk here. You do that by clicking the top checkbox on the left (next to the words "product group"). Then, click the drop-down arrow next to the word "Edit" and select "Change max. CPC Bids ...".
Step 6. Finally, it is time to enter the max bid price for all of your products. You can also use this section to increase or decrease your max bids by a percentage or set dollar amount. In this case, we just want to set the bids for all products, so we are going to make sure that the radio button is set at its default 'Set new max. CPC bids' position, enter the bid we want for all products and then click Apply.
Step 7. Exclude Products (optional) - Most websites have a handful of products that they don't really make much money on that are merely accessories of the main products that they sell.
If you have those type of products on your website, it really doesn't make any sense advertising them. The cost per conversion is likely going to be far higher than the profit you make on them. Additionally, the people buying them are very unlikely to need the main products you are selling - they are looking to buy accessories for those main products, after all.
You'll probably want to exclude those products from your ad campaigns (or, at the very least, set them to the super low default 2 cent group bid). If you would like to exclude them altogether, it's pretty easy to do.
From your expanded Product ID list, simply check the boxes next to the products that you would like to exclude from your Ad group bids. Then, click the 'Edit' arrow at the top of the screen, which will reveal a drop-down box. From it, click Exclude and then those products will be removed from the group and no ads will show for them.
What Should I Bid?
There is no question we get asked more about setting up Google Shopping ads than what to set bid prices at. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer and your first crack at this is just a guess.
As a general rule of thumb, I like to start out at .03% of the average price of my products. If my average product costs $500, I'll set the max bid prices for all of my products at $0.15 ($500 x .0003 = $.015).
Now, the problem with this method of guessing is that it works very well for high ticket purchase websites but doesn't work so well for products that only cost $40-$50-$60 or so. With small ticket websites we usually leave the bid set at 2 cents and might eventually end up as high as even 5 or 10 cents - especially for well-converting products or ones with a higher profit than the others.
Remember, this is just a guess. We are kind of low-balling a bit here because we don't want to overbid right off the bat. Our goal is to get into the first set of displayed results for at least our specific product names, so we are going to check Google in a day and see where we are at by doing a search for a few of our individual product names and see if we show up in a Google shopping ad.
If your ad is not showing up for any of your specific products, you are going to need to raise your bid prices. Raise the max bid price for ALL of your products up a little by doing a bulk bid edit (as described in Step 6 & 7, above) and check back a day later. Keep doing this until you start seeing your ads in the very first group of displayed products for at least a few of your products.
Now that you have at least some of your products showing up on page one, you know you are getting close to locking down the right bid price for your products and can start looking at each product individually.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you excluded your own state from showing ads for sales tax and profit loss reasons, you are going to need to remove that exclusion when you check Google for your ads or you will NEVER see your ads!
That's it (finally). Your Google Shopping campaign is officially set up ... or is it? I think we forgot something ...
Fix Your Bid By Device Type!
Remember during the initial campaign setup process that I said we were going to have to come back and change the settings in the Devices section? That's what we are going to do now!
Generally speaking, people do not buy very often from mobile phones, but they do a ton of research from them (likely because they are somewhere where they are bored and have nothing better to do). We don't want to pay a ton of money for clicks from someone who is unlikely to buy anything.
NOTE: Whether people buy from mobile devices or not is niche-dependent and there are certainly some niches that buy more from mobile phones than others (music downloads, for instance). More and more people are using their phones to make purchases but at this point in time - especially for large ticket purchases - very few people are using phones to make those purchases.
Step 1. In the inner sidebar, click Devices. Here, you can adjust the bid according to the type of device someone is searching from. We typically don't change anything for the Computers or Tablets bid adjustments. People tend to purchase equally from both of those device types.
Step 2. Hover your mouse over the 'Bid adj.' column on the 'Mobile phones' row and an Edit pencil icon will appear. Click on the Edit icon.
Step 3. A pop-up will appear where you can increase your bid or decrease your bid for the selected device type by a percentage. Click the drop-down arrow next to the word 'Increase' and select Decrease from the drop-down menu. Then, enter either 70% or 80% (you might have to tweak this number later).
Doing that will decrease your bid by that percentage. (e.g. If you were bidding 40 cents for a product, and decreased the bid by 70% for mobile phones, it will be a 40 cent bid for people using computers and tablets but will only be a 12 cent bid for people using mobile phones.)
Again, for websites that sell low ticket items ($50ish), you'll probably want to lower your mobile bid by less, lowering bids by 50%, instead.
NOW, you're finally done. Congratulations; you just set up your first Google Shopping campaign and lived to tell about it! 🙂
Set Up Conversion Tracking
I know what you'r thinking ... "I thought you said I was done!" Yeah, technically you are, but you probably are going to want to know if your ads are paying for themselves and how much profit they are hopefully generating.
You do that by setting up conversion tracking. Although it is done within Google Ads, it requires code to be inserted into your website template and that is definitely a different process with every shopping cart.
Rather than re-write an already existing guide that explains the process very well, you can check out Shopify's Google Ads tracking Setup Guide here.
If you are using a different Shopping cart, they likely have a guide of their own. Just do a search for the name of your shopping cart along with "set up google conversion tracking".
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have already set up conversion tracking in Google Ads for another advertising platform (i.e. Text Ads or Remarketing Ads), you DO NOT have to set up tracking again. The same tracking code works for all Google properties.
Google Shopping Rules of the Road
There aren't a whole lot of rules for Google Shopping but there are four that you should be mindful of ...
Rule #1 - Price Is Everything!
Remember how I told you that trying to compete on price is not something that you want to do for organic search? You just want to be at the same prices that the major players are at.
Well, Google Shopping is 100% about price. When you think about it, it makes sense. Someone searches for a specific product model and is shown a series of pictures and prices side by side. It's not likely that someone is going to click on your ad if there is another ad (or two or three) that have the same product at a lower price. And, even if they do, chances are very good that they will return to the search results after checking out your page and see what's up with the website(s) that has/have a lower price for that same product.
If there are some websites that are undercutting you, you're either going to have to lower your prices or you can pretty much count on your Google Shopping ads being ineffective. That, or you better have an immediate and amazingly good way of letting people know why your products are so much better than everybody else's!
Rule #2 - Images Matter
Obviously you want to use beautiful, high resolution images for your ads - something that should already be in place for your products. What we really want to do is distinguish our ads from all of the other ones showing for a product.
The human eye tends to be dawn to things that look different from other things, which is why we tell people to put super important things on their website (like Free Shipping) in a totally contrasting color so that people notice it.
If at all possible, you should do the same thing with the images that you show for Shopping ads. Do a product search and see what picture all or most other websites are using for that product in their Google Shopping ads. Then, select a different product image for your own product listing.
Apps that create shopping feeds generally grab the main product image from your site. The free Shopify app for Google Shopping won't let you select a different image, so you would need to change the main image on your website in order to have a contrasting image appear in your Google Shopping ads. Usually, the paid apps let you choose whatever image you want, which is another reason it might be worth investing a little in a paid app.
Rule #3 - People Rarely Buy What They Clicked On
Many studies have been done that analyze click behavior and online shopping habits. One thing that all of them tend to show is that when people click on an ad and purchase from that website, they only buy the product that they clicked on 20% of the time.
Most of the time, they buy something totally different from what they might have thought they were going to buy when they clicked your ad. This is one reason that we suggest having a great buyer's guide that is prominently linked to so that you can steer people toward better (and more profitable) products.
The reason I bring this up is that quite often, the low end products on your site are the ones that are driving ad clicks but resulting in purchases of higher end products. This is why adjusting your bid to mirror your profit on products rarely works. You'll lose out on sales because other sites will outbid you for those lower priced products and you'll never get an opportunity to up-sell them on your website.
Remember, what you see as a conversion in Google Ads may be completely different from what you see as a Conversion in Google Analytics. Google Ads is going to show you the product that someone clicked on that ultimately led to a conversion which may not at all be the same thing as what they bought. Google Analytics is always going to show you what people bought.
Just keep in mind the King of All Rules ... when you are evaluating whether or not to raise or lower the bid for any given product. You need to spend less per conversion than you make on your AVERAGE CONVERSION (not necessarily a conversion for that specific product). You can't make money if the average cost of a conversion is more than your average profit per sale!
Rule #4 - Your Product Name is Everything!
Despite the fact that Google asks for all kinds of information about brands, MPNs, GTINs, product categories, etc,, the ONLY thing they appear to use in determining what search terms to show a product for is the name of the product.
Because of that, it's a good idea to get everything you can into your product names - model number, color, material, brand name, and even a keyword phrase if there is room. In other words, the words people use when they search.
Now, that's probably going to make for a pretty bloated, ridiculous-looking product name on your website and we've told you over and over again to build your websites for actual people first and foremost - not Google. So, how do you do both?
Admittedly, it's pretty difficult to straddle that line but remember back at the beginning when we told you to set up the Google Shopping Feed app to use SEO titles instead of your real Product names? Your SEO title is your product's title tag and you may be able to manipulate it a little more so that it is more friendly for search terms. The person shopping on your website doesn't really see that product name (unless they hover over a tab), so you CAN sort of have your cake and eat it too!
Ongoing Shopping Campaign Maintenance
Adjust Your Bids
I talked a bit about adjusting your bid prices until you show up in the first set of results on page one, first for some of your products and later, for all of your products. If you're not in the first group of products, ads don't tend to do well.
You also need to check on an individual product basis whether or not you are overspending. If there is a product that got 500 clicks but it has never led to a conversion, you might want to lower the bid price for that product and if you keep lowering it and it never converts, you'll want to take its price down to the base group price of 2 cents (or select it for exclusion).
On the other hand, if a product has a lot of conversions, you might want to increase its bid price. Remember, you just want conversions here and that what someone clicked on is probably not even what they bought. If one product is bringing people in and they are buying something, you want to make sure that product ad gets seen often!
Keep in mind, however, that Shopping ad positions are not like Google text ads. Google text ads are shown vertically in search, so appearing 1st vs. 2nd vs. 4th is a very big deal. Shopping ads, on the other hand, are shown side by side. There really is no advantage or disadvantage in being the first one on the left or the last one on the right. As long as your ad is showing up in that initial group, it's not worth paying a penny more to slide another position to the left.
Bottom Line: If your ad is already in the middle of the first group of Shopping ads, it doesn't make any sense to spend any more money for a click. If is showing up in the very first position on the left, you should probably lower your bid a little so that you are not overspending to be listed first where it really doesn't matter.
TIP: If you see a ton of impressions and a very low percentage of clicks (under 1%, for sure), I can almost guarantee you that the bid is too low. That product's ad is likely buried in a sea of ads on a page with ALL product ads and not showing up in the first group of ads that get clicked on far more often. Of course, if it is a product that you already lowered the bid price on because it was not converting, don't touch it. If not, definitely search for that product and see if it is in the first set of ads and raise its bid price if it is not.
Check Your Cost Per Conversion By Device Type
Remember how I told you to set up your mobile phone bid adjustment at either 70% or 80% less than your normal bid? It doesn't hurt to check out how many clicks you're getting and what you are spending for each type of device from time to time. Conversions, are especially important.
You may need to tweak your bid adjustments for mobile phones and maybe even tablets from time to time, decreasing the bid adjustment dollar figure or increasing it to get the best balance of cost, clicks and conversions possible.
Check Your Keyword Phrases
Wait ... what? I thought you said that I can't specify keywords with Google Shopping ads. Well no, you can't tell Google what phrases you want to show up for, but you CAN tell them what you DON'T want to show up for.
If I have a site that sells dog houses, I certainly don't want to pay for clicks from people who are searching for things like "free dog house", "how to build a dog house" or "doghouse plans". I don't want my ads showing up for those searches at all because some knucklehead is inevitably going to click on my ad when he has no intention at all of buying a dog house. I want to tell Google not to show my ad for any of those search phrases!
One of the greatest things about running Google ads of any sort is that you now have access to an unbelievable pool of data that tells you exactly what people are searching for, how often your ads showed up for those search terms, how often they got clicked, etc.
Not only is this incredibly invaluable information for discovering some search phrases you may have never thought about optimizing pages around, but it is also shows you phrases that you may be wasting money on.
To see all of the phrases that people are searching for that trigger ads, simply click Keywords in the inner-left sidebar from your campaign and then click the SEARCH TERMS tab at the top of the page.
Obviously, there isn't going to be anything there at the beginning, but the longer your ads run, more and more search phrases will accumulate in this tab. Once a month, we recommend scrolling through all of the search phrases, looking for ones that might be good ones to optimize pages around, but more importantly, looking for ones that you DON'T want ads for showing for.
When you find phrases that you want to eliminate from ever showing ads, all you need to do is click the check box next to them and then click Add as negative keyword at the top of the page.
Next. select the Campaign radio button and click SAVE.
Add Your Own Negative Keyword Phrases
There are some things that you know will always be things you do not want to rank for. You don't need to wait around for Google to tell you that people searched for them and that your ads showed up (or worse, they clicked on them after seeing your ad). 🙁
Simply click Keywords in the inner-left sidebar from your campaign and by default, the Negative Keyword tab is already open. Next, click the blue plus sign (+) near the top-left to add new negative keywords
Next, click the 'Select a campaign' link.
Select the campaign that you want to add negative keywords for (you probably only have one campaign at this point unless you have a text ads or remarketing campaign also set up)., Then, simply add the words you want as negative keyword phrases, one per line. When you are done, click the blue SAVE button at the bottom of the screen.
You're officially done with setting up a basic Google Shopping ad campaign, but like all things "website", your work is never really finished. You'll need to monitor your ads and adjust your bidding as well as doing the other things I mentioned, above.
How often you have to do that is pretty much tied to how often your ads are getting impressions and clicks. You can't really say that an individual product's ad is not working if it has only been clicked a few times. It usually takes a bare minimum of 300 clicks for you to start deciding whether or not an ad is effective (more is better).
Try The Things We Didn't Do During Setup
During setup, we did the most basic of campaigns that gave you absolute control over your ad campaign. You'll probably want to set up other campaigns to split test that employ some of the things Google tried to force on you during setup - things like enhanced bidding, smart campaigns, displaying ads on related Google properties and partners.
For many sites, these make Google more money but hurt the site owners. For some sites, though, both Google and you make more money, so everything is worth a test!
What About Bing Shopping?
We may very well put together a tutorial for setting up Bing Shopping sometime in the future. The fact is, though, Bing copies everything Google does, so may not be necessary.
The setup process for Bing Shopping is almost identical to Google. To automate the feed, you can use an identical Shopify app from Simprosys made specifically for Bing.
In fact, Bing is so married to what Google does, part of their feed setup process asks if you just want to have them use your Google Shopping feed. Results are not always perfect but they are usually pretty good, so you might want to save yourself another monthly app fee and just have them use your Google feed.