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. In most cases, Google Shopping (also called Private Listing Ads or PLAs, for short) simply offers the most traffic at the best cost per conversion.
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. 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 feint 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.
Aside from how feeds are set up, the rest of the following information should be helpful to you, no matter which shopping cart you are using, and most shopping carts have their own knowledgebase articles that should aid you in setting up Google Shopping campaigns.
Two main Google components work together for Google Shopping - Google Merchant Center and Google Ads (you should have set those up already back in Chapter 6). The two together combine for four steps to getting your Google Shopping campaign up and running:
- Setting up your Google Merchant Center account
- Creating your product data feed
- Uploading your product data feed, and
- Setting up your product search listings in Google Ads
Google Merchant Center (GMC)
Google Merchant Center (GMC) is the interface (i.e. account) you use to manage your Google Shopping ads (which are officially called Product Listing Ads, or PLAs). Prior to October, 2012, inserting your products into Google Shopping was free. Consequently, everyone and their dog submitted their product feed file to Google Shopping. The end result? Google Shopping was so over-saturated that it resulted in very little traffic. Sure, the traffic you got was free (which is great), but all too often, that was only a handful of visitors per month! 🙁
When Google Shopping changed to a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model, everyone got all up in arms about how greedy Google was being. ”How dare they start charging for something that’s always been free!” But we were ecstatic about the change! Just as we expected, 95% of the stores who had used Google Shopping stopped which made it possible to actually get meaningful traffic from Google Shopping for the small percentage of us who were paying for it!
After the first couple of years, many of the disgruntled website owners realized that Google didn't care about their protests and Google Shopping was definitely never going to be free again, so they reluctantly came back. Although it's not quite as affordable as it originally was and definitely more competitive, it's still one of the most affordable types of advertising there is and one we recommend using for almost every type of website (assuming you followed our advice and are making at least $50 per sale).
Besides being relatively affordable compared to other forms of paid advertising, the traffic you get is extremely targeted (meaning 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 SEO/marketing efforts to start bringing in a constant flow of free, organic traffic. You certainly don’t have to do PLAs or any other form of paid advertising (now or ever), but we always do, and we highly recommend it.
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 20-50 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!
Step 1. Setting Up Your Google Merchant Center Account
NOTE: You should have already performed Step 1 back in Chapter 6. In case you didn't, we are including it here again. For those of you that followed our instructions and have your basic Merchant Account set up already, you can skip ahead to Step 2.
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 for more information about how to do that.
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.
If, for some reason, you have managed to get this far into the training and did not heed my important advice about doing things in the exact order they are laid out, you're going to need to backtrack to Chapter 6 and get the Google Analytics account set up first, followed by the Search Console account. A Google Search Console account is essential for verifying and claiming your URL, which is one of the mandatory steps for setting up your Merchant Center account so that it can use a product feed (outlined below).
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' in the sidebar 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, doghousecentral.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 http:// or 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. 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 http:// or https:// but without the www (i.e. https://doghousecentral.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 doghousecentral.com was really located in a directory on petstoresusa.com, the path to the main URL would be http://petstoresusa.com/doghousecentral.com, for instance).
Next, in a separate tab, sign into your Google Search Console account. If you have not already added the website in Search Console, click the 'Add a Site' button and type in the URL of the website you will be adding, including the http://.
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 on the Business Information link on the left, then click Website on the inner-left.
- 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. Creating Your Google Product Search 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 the Google Shopping App
- Login to your Shopify admin panel and then click on Apps in the left column. At the top-right, click on the Visit Shopify App Store button.
- In the Search box, type "Google Shopping" and hit ENTER (or click the magnifying glass).
- Install a Google Shopping app. It's up to you which one you choose. We recommend going with either the free one we highlighted with the GREEN box or the more advanced app (highlighted with a RED box), which will cost somewhere from $2.90-$8.99 per month, all depending how many products you have.
EVEN BETTER: If you don't mind trading in a few extra bucks per month for a whole lot of time saved, we highly recommend bypassing both of the Google Shopping apps mentioned above and, instead, downloading the DataFeedWatch app to your Shopify store (if you're not using Shopify, the DataFeedWatch app is available for pretty much every shopping cart in existence). Why? 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! Later, when you decide to set up Bing Shopping, you'll be glad you have the DataFeedWatch app instead of having to manually create a data feed in a spreadsheet and keep it up to date every time you change anything with your products!
Below, are the instructions for using Shopify's free Google Shopping app but it is pretty similar to most apps. Some of the configuration headaches we discuss at the end may not be necessary with a paid app but most of them are. You'll definitely need to pay attention to the Data Feed Required Fields section, no matter what app you are using (or even if you are creating a manual data feed file):
- After installing the Google Shopping app, the next screen will tell you all of the things the app has access to in your store. Click the blue Update app button.
- The next screen tells you that Google requires that all stores running Google Shopping campaigns show 2 out of 3 of the following on their website: mailing address, email address, phone number. Make sure your website has 2 of the 3 showing somewhere or your Shopping campaign will be rejected.
- After confirming you have the required contact information, the next screen tells you to connect to your Google Account. Click the Blue button and sign into the Google account associated with this website.
- The ensuing page asks for permission to access your Google account. Click the blue Allow button. After watching a spinner for a brief time, it stops and all of your basic settings are done for you automatically within Shopify.
- Scroll down the page and ensure that there are no glaring errors in your setup (like the wrong country or currency). Then, click the blue Configure account button at the bottom of the page.
NOTE: Leave the 'PRODUCT TITLE PREFERENCE' and 'PRODUCT DESCRIPTION PREFERENCE' radio buttons in their default "set for SEO" states. When we get into advanced Google Shopping setup, we can use those to manipulate Google a little. 😉
- The spinner will spin, updating your Merchant Center account and your product feed. Next, you will see a blue button at the top-right, labeled 'Set up Google Ads' . DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON!!! It will automatically set your ads to show up in regular Google Shopping as well as their display network and it will create a "smart Shopping campaign" for you. "Smart" campaigns are smart for Google but usually the dumbest thing you can ever do - at least at this stage.
Here is how Google describes them ...
"Simplify your campaign management, maximize your conversion value, and expand your reach with Smart Shopping campaigns. This campaign subtype combines standard Shopping and display remarketing campaigns, and uses automated bidding and ad placement to promote your products and business across networks."
Here is how I describe "smart" campaigns ...
"dumb, Dumb, DUMB! (slathered with a layer of STUPID)"
Google is a business and like most businesses, they are concerned with one thing and one thing only - making as much money as they possibly can. A "smart" campaign turns everything over to Google. You have no control over where your ads show or what your bid costs are. You are doing the equivalent of handing Google your wallet, sending them off to the mall and telling them to buy whatever they want. Except, it is even worse ... Google also owns the mall! How much do you think they will spend?
Bottom Line: DO NOT enable smart campaigns. You want to control your ad spend and campaign configuration. You have your OWN best interests to take care of!
NOTE: Somewhere down the line, we might set up a separate "smart" campaign for a well-established website that we have at least a few months of data already from ads that we have controlled. Then, we can split test Google's "smart" campaigns against ours, side by side, and see which is better (sometimes, it is both, as long as the cost per conversion is under our maximum cost per conversion).
Theoretically, you should be done, but that is never the case with any Google Shopping app. You will need to click on the "Edit Google Shopping Fields" link on the far right for each and every product, one at a time, and fill in the missing information. Google requires several fields to be filled out - fields that the Google Shopping app cannot possibly know because those fields don't exist in Product admin.
Note: If you want to come back and do this later, you can access your Google Shopping feed in your Shopify admin panel by clicking Apps in the left column and then Google Shopping from the apps list.
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 admin because the fields do not exist there:
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.
Click here to download the Google Taxonomy with ID #s CSV file. You can also access the taxonomy categories online without the ID #s by clicking here. The CSV file has both the long string names of categories on the right and their much shorter ID number on the left. You can either use the super long string for the Google category (remember to include all steps with right angle brackets between each one) or the much shorter 1-6 digit number they have assigned for different product categories.
A long string entry would look something like this: Animals & Pet Supplies > Pet Supplies > Bird Supplies > Bird Cage Accessories > Bird Cage Food & Water Dishes
The short ID number for that same Google Product Category is: 7386
(I think it's pretty obvious which one is easier to type) 🙂
2 Of The 3 Of These Unique Product Identifiers (UPIs):
Brand Name: Always Required (except for movies, books, and musical recording brands).
Manufacturer's Part Number: Optional if you have a GTIN entered for the product. Mandatory if you do not.
- 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.
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.
*** 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 - settings 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. Setting 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 three vertical dots in the upper-right hand corner and then click Account linking from the drop-down menu.
You should have already set up Google Ads during the Launch Tasks section of the training - Chapter 6. If you followed our instructions and already set up your Google Ads account, you can simply scroll down the page and click on LINK ACCOUNT. Then, enter your Google Ads customer ID, which you can find at the top-right corner of your Google Ads account (it should be a nine digit number in three-number groups, separated by dashes that looks something like this ... 123-456-789).
For the rest of you slackers, 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.
Step 5. A pop-up window will appear, asking you to Approve or Reject the request to link the Merchant Center account to your Google Ads account. Click Approve.
Congratulations; your Merchant Center account and Google Ads account are now linked! 🙂
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?). We cover Advanced Google Shopping Campaigns in another guide but you need to have a basic Google Shopping campaign set up before ever exploring that far more complex setup.
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 Shopping from the different Ad types. and then click Create a campaign without a goal. This allows you to set up custom campaign settings that you control instead of allowing Google to control your bids.
Step 4. If you've got more than one website set up in Merchant Center, select the correct one from the drop-down box at the bottom of the page (if you just have one account, it should already be pre-filled) and make sure that the country is correct (it should also be pre-filled with what you chose when you set up a Google Ads account). Then, make certain that the 'Standard Shopping campaign' radio button is selected (not the "Smart" campaign button) and click Continue, which will automatically take you to your campaign's settings page.
Shopping Campaign Settings
Every campaign, whether it is a Shopping campaign, a Text Ad campaign or a Remarketing campaign, has its own Settings page. Ignored by many, this is one of the most important pages of your entire ad setup. Here are the various sections and our initial recommended settings.
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").
Bid Settings: By default, 'Manual CPC' should be pre-selected in the Bidding section. If it isn't, make sure it is. Also, make sure that the "Help increase conversions with Enhanced CPC' is NOT CHECKED (this is another ploy by Google to take over your bidding). Sometime down the road you may want to set up a separate campaign using enhanced CPC to test it against your manual settings campaign, but now is not the time.
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), we usually put $5, $10 or $20 as our daily budget.
IMPORTANT: Also within the Budget section is a 'Delivery Method' expandable link. Click it and make sure that 'Standard' is selected instead of 'Accelerated'. Standard will spread your clicks out evenly over time, shutting down your ads from time to time when your budget might be exceeded whereas Accelerated will never shut your ads down. Because Google now says it can spend up to twice your daily budget on any day, Accelerated ad spend could theoretically dry up your monthly budget (which, again, is your daily times the number of days in the month) in just 15 days and leave you without ads running for the rest of the month.
Campaign Priority: Leave this where it is set, which probably is 'High". In our Advanced Google Shopping Campaigns Guide, we'll be using this setting, but with only one Shopping Campaign being set up here, it really doesn't matter if this campaign has a High, Medium or Low priority setting. It's the only Shopping campaign for this website.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT skip ahead and try to set up an advanced Google Shopping campaign before setting up a basic one. You're just going to wind up back on this page very quickly if you attempt to do that!
Targeting & Scheduling: By default, Google has your ads set up to show on not only the Google search network but on all of their other platforms and search partners. These include places like YouTube, Google Groups and Google Maps but also include internal search results on places like AOL, Amazon, Walmart and Target. We typically leave this checked but may set up a separate campaign sometime in the future without the search partners checked to see if it results in a better cost per conversion.
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.
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.
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 Continue to exit the campaign setting page.
Create an Ad Group
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 a 40 cent 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 its 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 that 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 .05% 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 $0.25 ($500 x .0005 = $.025).
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 10 cents 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.)
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.
Hopefully, you are selling products that have M.A.P. pricing, so this won't be a factor. That, or the websites that can afford to advertise are also the same ones that you used for your price analysis back in Chapter 3 and Chapter 5, so there are no websites low-balling prices.
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.
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 a conversion for that specific product). The profit on the sale of an individual product has nothing at all to do with its bid cost per average conversion on your website.
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).