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How to Successfully Launch an Online Store

  Table of Contents

Chapter 6: Launch Tasks

Congratulations on completing Chapter 5 and getting your store built! All of your hard work to get to this point is about to start paying off! Here in Chapter 6, I’ll be walking you through a handful of must-do steps (which make up the "Store Launch Sequence") that will let Google — and the world — know that your store is "live" and open for business. By the end of Chapter 6, you'll have an open online store! Do you remember the phrase "If you build it, they will come" from the movie Field of Dreams? Launch Your StoreWell, I’m afraid it's NOT true for an online store (or anything in business, really)! Just because you built it does NOT mean people will come to it. You might have the most beautiful, amazing, well-built store on planet Earth… but if you don’t complete the steps in the Store Launch Sequence and continue on with the training, nobody will ever know it exists and you’ll never make any real money with it! If, by chance, you already had a store before discovering Store Coach, it’s well worth your time to review this chapter and make sure you’ve completed all the steps in the Store Launch Sequence. These are important steps every store owner (new or seasoned) should take to set themselves up for success. This isn’t an all-inclusive list of everything covered here in Chapter 6, but here’s a quick preview of some of the key steps in the Store Launch Sequence…

  • Set up your Google account and activate/configure several core Google products
  • Create your social profile accounts
  • Set up an on-site blog (which will be the primary place you post new content and which will serve as the "hub" for your social marketing)
  • Do expanded keyword research and implement additional keyword phrases on your site

All in all, Chapter 6 shouldn’t take you more than a couple hours to get through. Let’s get started!

Set Up Google Products

The first task in the Store Launch Sequence is to create a Google account for your business (if you don’t have one already) and activate/configure all of the various "Google products" you’ll want for your store, including:
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Google Publisher Tag
  • Google Merchant Center
  • Google AdWords
  • Google Mail (Gmail)
We prefer to use Google products for 3 main reasons…
  1. They’re 100% free and pretty darn amazing (especially considering that they’re free).
  2. A single Google account gives you access to the entire suite of Google products (very convenient).
  3. Google is the #1 search engine and should eventually become your #1 source for free, organic traffic, so it’s important to pay attention to what Google sees and recommends for your site.

Set Up Google Analytics (GA)

Google AnalyticsMost shopping cart platforms (including Shopify) have built-in tracking and reporting capabilities. But Google Analytics (GA) is much more powerful, flexible and comprehensive so we prefer to use GA for the vast majority of statistics and reports. Google Analytics tracks all kinds of useful statistical information about your site…
  • how many visitors came to your site
  • where they came from
  • what keyword phrase they searched for
  • what page they landed on
  • how long they stayed on your site
  • how many pages they visited
  • whether they made a purchase
  • a bunch of additional information

You can also set up "goals" you want Google Analytics to track for you, which is really useful. The most obvious goal, of course, is a “purchase goal” that keeps track of how many visitors place an order. But you could also set up goals for things like signing up for your newsletter, creating an account, landing on a particular page, and so on. We’re not going to worry about setting up any goals yet. Right now, I just want you to create a Google Analytics account and insert the “tracking code” into your site so Google can start tracking visitors. Later on in the training, we’ll go into more depth on how to actually use all the data Google tracks for you to improve your store and maximize your conversion rate.

How to Set Up Your Analytics Account & Install the Tracking Code

At this point, all you really need to do is activate the Google Analytics account and install the tracking code on your site. This will enable Google to start collecting statistical information about the visitors on your website. Later on in the training, we'll talk about how to actually use all the data to improve your conversion rate and make more sales. Right now we just want to start collecting the data. Obviously, the first thing you'll want to do is activate the Google Analytics product within the Google account you've created for your business. Once you've done that, you need to insert a short string of code (which Google will provide to you) into your site. It's a very simple process... basically you just 1) copy the piece of code Google gives you and then 2) paste it into the appropriate field in your shopping cart's admin panel (or into the 'head' section of your template if you're using WordPress). Here are a couple useful links to Google's tutorials...

Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)

GWTDon’t you wish there was a way to see your site the way Google sees it? To see it through Google’s eyes? Wish granted! :D This is exactly what Google WMT is! It alerts you of problems Google sees with your site… things like broken links, crawl errors, duplicate meta titles, etc. If there’s ever a major problem with your site (which hopefully will never happen), you may even receive a message from Google in your WM account to let you know what the problem is and how to fix it. Within your GWT account, you can also submit a sitemap to tell Google the exact URLs of all the pages on your site that you want Google to index (i.e. include in its search results). In theory, Google will eventually find all of your pages on its own; but submitting a sitemap (via your GWT account) expedites that process and ensures that Google finds all your pages.

How to Set Up & Use Google Webmaster Tools

NOTE: We recommend setting up your Google Analytics account BEFORE setting up Google Webmaster Tools since it will make it much easier for you to verify ownership of your domain name when setting up Google Webmaster Tools. 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 walks you through the process of setting up & configuring your Webmaster Tools account, but they always become outdated within a month or two. :( So instead of providing a (most likely outdated) guide, we're going to provide a handful of links to Google's tutorials for setting up, configuring & using Webmaster Tools.

Submitting Your Sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools

Before you can submit your sitemap, you need to first create it. Most new-age shopping cart platforms have a sitemap generator tool. Basically, all you have to do to generate a sitemap is log in to your admin panel, find the right page and click a 'Generate Sitemap' button. A couple seconds later, it will provide a URL for your sitemap. Just copy the URL to your clipboard and be ready to provide it to Google Webmaster Tools. Now you're ready to submit your sitemap to Google. Follow the steps in this Google tutorial for submitting your sitemap. This tutorial explains how to diagnose problems (if any) with your sitemap, and this tutorial addresses common sitemap errors. For additional information, here's the index page for WMT's help articles (3 of which we just linked to) about sitemaps.

 

Pro's Edge: Should My Page URLs Include a 'www' Prefix or Not?

Most shopping cart platforms (including Shopify) give you 3 options...

  1. Force all pages to have a 'www' prefix
  2. Force all pages to not have a 'www' prefix
  3. No force (allow both versions of each page)

Note: If you select one of the "force" options, your shopping cart software will only allow that "version" of each page. If users try to go to the version of the page that doesn't exist, the software will automatically change the URL to the correct version. I recommend choosing one of the "force" options. My personal preference is to force all pages to NOT have a 'www' prefix since it's kind of "old school" for URLs to have a 'www' prefix. If you prefer to have the 'www', though, that option is just fine too. Whichever option you choose, here's the important thing... As you're setting up accounts and doing various things to market your store (all of which will be covered in Chapter 6 and beyond), make sure to always use the correct version. If you select 'Force all pages to not have a 'www' prefix', make sure to never include 'www' when setting up various accounts and as you're marketing your store.

Google Publisher Tag

The Google Publisher tag officially “ties” your website to your business’ Google+ page (i.e. it tells Google that you own/control both of them). Why does this matter? Two reasons…
  1. Google will display a link to your Google+ profile page next to search results for your website, which draws searchers’ attention and increases your click-through rate (i.e. the percentage of people who click the link and come to your site).
  2. Google can link up the reviews/ratings left on your Google+ profile with your site.

The Publisher tag is still fairly young, but we expect Google to do more and more with it over the next couple years. You probably don’t have a Google+ page for your business/website yet (since we haven’t gotten to that a step yet), so you’ll probably need to come back to this step after you’ve set that up.

Google Merchant Center (GMC)

Google Merchant CenterGoogle 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). Up until a few years ago, inserting your products into Google Shopping was free. And 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 4 visitors a month! :( Google PLAsWhen Google Shopping changed to a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model a few years ago, 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. And now you can actually get meaningful traffic from Google Shopping! It’s very affordable compared to other forms of paid advertising, and 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). 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).

  1. Setting up your Google Merchant Center account
  2. Creating your product data feed
  3. Uploading your product data feed, and
  4. Setting up your product search listings in Google AdWords

Step 1. Setting Up Your Google Merchant Center Account

If you already have a Google Merchant Center account and sign into it, you will now see a message, highlighted in red, that is plastered across the top of the page that says: "To keep your Product Search listings active on Google, you'll need to set up a Product Listing Ads campaign in Google AdWords." 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. If you have already set up and verified your URL, you can skip to the next major step: Creating Your Product Feed File. Everyone should have at least one Google account by now – either a Google Analytics account or a Google Webmaster Tools account (hopefully, both). 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 Store Coach training and still don't have a Google account of any kind, you can sign up for one by clicking the red SIGN UP button at the top-right of the screen. You must have a Google Webmaster Tools Account in order to verify and claim your URL, which is one of the mandatory steps for setting up a product feed (outlined below). When you sign into Google Merchant Center for the first time, you will be prompted to complete the following:
  1. Select a location
  2. Agree to the Terms of Service
  3. 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 'Settings' in the sidebar and then the 'General' link.
  • You will need to provide the full URL for your website (including the http://)
  • You must include a Store Name that will appear on your listing. This name should be the name of your website with no additional promotional text. For example, everythingdoghouses.com would have a store name “Everything Dog Houses.” Please note that Google automatically truncates store names that are longer than 20 characters.
  • Though not required, it is a good idea to provide your business address and phone number.
  • Provide a link for customer service inquiries (normally this is the link to your 'Contact Us' page).
  • Provide Private Contact Information. This information is not made public, but Google uses it if they need to contact you for some reason, such as policy violations.

You will also need to click on the 'Tax and shipping' link under the main 'Settings' heading in the sidebar and enter your shipping and tax rate information.

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:// but without the www (i.e. http://everythingdoghouses.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 everythingdoghouses.com was really located in a directory on petstoresusa.com, the path to the main URL would be http://petstoresusa.com/everythingdoghouses.com, for instance). Next, in a separate tab, sign into your Google Webmaster Tools account. If you have not already added the website in Webmaster Tools, 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 Webmaster Tools page.
  • HTML Tag: You can copy the code Google supplies and enter it into your website's home page <head> section.If you are using SHopify, they have a tutorial for how to do it here.
    1. 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.
    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 Webmaster Tools 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:
    1. Click on the Settings link, then click General.
    2. Under Website URL, enter your site's URL.
    3. Click Claim this URL to claim the website.
    4. 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 in BigCommerce

    For most people, setting up Google Product Search ads is a real hassle. Not only do they have to create a product feed using Google's specifications, but they have to maintain those feeds, resubmitting them on a regular basis. Fortunately, BigCommerce has made the entire process much easier. We'll show you where to get the information on setting up your Google Product Search feed in BigCommerce and explain some of the parts that may be confusing...
    1. Login to your BigCommerce admin panel, click on the Marketing tab, and then click on Google Product Search Feed.
    2. You will see a message that tells you that you have not yet set up your products for use with Google Product Search Feed. Click on the Learn how to Setup your Products for Google Products Search link, which will take you to the BigCommerce Knowledge Base tutorial.
    Helpful Tips Mapping Your Categories: The following tips should help in the 'Category Mapping' section of the BigCommerce tutorial:
    • Take your time to make sure that you have picked the best possible category for your products. Most of the time, if you choose the right series of categories and subcategories, you can get an exact match or one that is awfully close to the category your products are in. You may have to back up a couple of times and choose different categories or subcategories to find the right path; though, things aren't always where you think they would be (Ballet Bars is listed in the Dancing subcategory of the Sporting Goods category, for instance). If you can't find the exact category you are looking for, don't pick a specific one that doesn't apply to your category's products unless you think people looking in that subcategory will also be looking for the products in your category. Instead, just leave it set to the more general category and click Save & Exit.
    • Remember that you need to map every single category, including your subcategories!
    Enabling Your Products: The following tips should help you better understand some of the aspects of the 'Enabling your products' section of the BigCommerce tutorial that may be a bit unclear:
    • Different niches have different requirements as far as product feeds go. Be sure to read Google's Summary of attribute requirements so that your feeds are not rejected. Also make sure that you read Google's Unique product identifiers specification so that you include the extra attributes they may require if you are selling things like media, clothing or books.
    • Unless you have just a few products in your online store, it is much faster to export your products and work with them in a spreadsheet than it is to edit them one at a time in your Big Commerce admin panel.
    • Many of the things that Google requires in a feed are already taken care of by the default BigCommerce feed. If you are editing your product feed with a spreadsheet, the only things you will be adding things to are the columns on the far right of your spreadsheet that have the 'GPS' (Google Product Search) prefix. In most cases, you will only need to add things to the 'GPS Category' column and either the 'GPS Global Trade Item' or the 'GPS Manufacturer Part Number' columns.
    • Because people sometimes put products in more than one category and the Google feed specification only allows a product to be in one category, BigCommerce cannot automatically assign your category names to your Google product feed. If you are adding products to the Google Product Search feed one at a time in your BigCommerce Control Panel, you will have to select one and only one category for each product to apply to your feed. If you are editing your feed in a spreadsheet, the best thing to do is to copy everything from row 2 on down from the 'Category' column and paste it by clicking on row 2 of the 'GPS Category' column. Then, scroll down through them one at a time and make sure that there is not more than one category assigned to a product. If there is, pick whatever one is the best one in your opinion for that product.
    • For all products, Google requires at least 2 of the three unique product identifiers: Brand, GTIN and MPN.
      • Brand – This is automatically picked up in the feed from your 'Brand Name' column, which is on the left side of the spreadsheet. If you have not specified a brand for your products in that column, you'll probably need to do so (unless you know both the manufacturer's part number and its GTIN). If you are selling products that don't have brand names, use your website name or an abbreviation of it as the brand name.
      • GTIN – Although they aren't necessarily the same exact thing, for the purposes of this feed, the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) would be a product's UPC code. If you know it, it would go in the 'GPS Global Trade Item Number' column.
      • MPN – Technically speaking, the MPN (Manufacturer's Part Number) is the unique product identifier that a manufacturer assigns to a product for the purposes of ordering it. With some manufacturers, the MPN is often the same as the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). If they don't have a different MPN, just use the SKU. Although they aren't necessarily the same exact thing, for the purposes of this feed, they can be. If you are selling generic products that don't have SKUs, make one up (you are the "manufacturer", after all). You can copy and paste the product data from the Product Code/SKU column on the left side of your spreadsheet into the 'GPS Manufacturer Part Number' column or enter them individually if you know the actual MPNs.
    • All of the other columns in the GPS column are optional except for the very last one: 'GPS Enabled'. Please be sure that the 'GPS Enabled' column has a Y in it for every product you want to enable for Google Shopping. If the other GPS columns are applicable and you want to fill them in, you can if you want to; it will make your products appear more often for very specific searches.

    Step 3. Uploading Your Data Feed

    Now that you have created your data feed, you still need to upload it. Please read the following article in the BigCommerce Knowledge Base to see how to upload your product feed file:

    How do I submit my product feed to Google Product Search?


    Step 4. Setting Up Your Product Search Listings in Google AdWords
    Now, at long last, it is finally time to get your products listed on Google Shopping. To do that, you will need to have an AdWords account and link it to your Google Merchant Center account. Link Your Google Merchant Center Account to Your Google AdWords Account In order for your product listing ads to show, you must link your Google Merchant Center account with a Google AdWords Account. You can add multiple AdWords accounts to the same Merchant Center account. If you don't yet have an AdWords account, skip ahead to the Setting Up A New AdWords Account section below.

    1. In your Merchant Center account, click Settings, then AdWords
    2. Enter your AdWords Customer ID (CID), which you can find at the top of your AdWords account when you're signed into it.
    3. Click Add
    Now you will need to sign into your AdWords Account to complete the Setting Up A Product Listing Ad Campaign instructions (below). Setting Up a New AdWords Account They have made setting up a new AdWords account pretty simple via Google Merchant Center.
    1. Click the big blue 'Get Started' button at the top to set up a new AdWords campaign.
    2. Fill out the basic settings for your account: set your time zone, enter the currency that you will be using to pay with, and name your campaign. Note: Bids and account budget default to the minimum amount (which you can change in the next step).
    Setting Up A Product Listing Ad Campaign Even if you already have an AdWord campaign running, you will want to set up an entirely new campaign for your Product Listing Ads. To do that, log into your Google AdWords account. If it does not take you to the 'Campaigns' tab automatically, click the 'Campaigns' tab at the top of the page. Within the 'Campaigns > Campaigns' tab, click the green 'New Campaign' button. Then, in the various sections on this page, do the following:
    • General - Before you name your new campaign, first select 'Search Network Only' under 'Type' and then select the 'Product listing ads' radio button to the right. Now, go back up and name your Campaign something that will identify it to you as your display ad campaign for this website (you'll see why we told you to do the other two steps first if you rushed ahead and did not do this in the order we have laid out).

    • Networks - Scroll down to 'Networks' and uncheck the 'Google Search Networks – include search partners' box. If you leave this checked, your ads will show up in all kinds of non-targeted places, which we do not recommend.

    • Desktops & laptops, mobile devices and tablets - Click 'Let me choose' and leave the 'Desktop and laptop computers' box checked and also check the 'Tablets with full browsers' box, leaving the 'Mobile devices with full browsers' unchecked. Again, this is our recommendation, especially at the beginning. People tend to shop from computers and tablets and browse aimlessly from mobile phones. You will be paying for every click so you want to make sure that when someone clicks a product listing, they are doing so from a device that they are more likely to be making a purchase from. This will help you gauge your ad spend at the beginning. If you find you are not getting enough clicks, you can add the mobile devices later but should only do so if you are using a shopping cart platform (like BigCommerce) that is optimized for mobile devices. Definitely monitor your clicks and conversions to see which devices are resulting in sales and which ones are not so that you can adjust your campaign settings accordingly.

    • Locations – Choose where you would like your product listings to be displayed (we normally pick just the United States).

    • Languages – Select 'English' (the default) unless your website is in another language.

    • Bidding and budget – Select 'I'll manually set my bids for clicks' (you don't want Google deciding how much you'll pay, do you?).

      • Default Bid: Enter the default amount for bids that you do not specify elsewhere. Obviously, there's no way we can give you a clear-cut answer on how much you should bid because it's different for every product niche. We would suggest looking at what the minimum page 1 bid is for a regular text ad for your most popular product and setting your Display Ad bid at half that price. If you don't want to do that, start at $0.25. After a few days, you should be able to see what the average position is for your various products and adjust your bid up or down from there.

      • Budget: Enter the maximum you wish to spend per day on all product listing ads combined. We recommend entering $20-50 here if you're just starting out with PLAs. It's kind of a "safety net" in case you set something up wrong and your ads get way more exposure & clicks than you intended.

      • Ad Extensions – By default, the checkbox next to 'Product' that says 'Extend my ads with relevant product details from Google Merchant Center' is checked, as it should be. Underneath, there is an 'Extensions' section where you will need to click the drop-down arrow and select the Google Merchant Center account that this campaign will get its products from (this is your product feed file).

      • Advanced Settings – We normally skip this section, which allows you to schedule start dates and end dates for campaigns as well as the hours of the day and days of the week you want to target. You can certainly play with these advanced settings if you'd like to, but we usually don't.

      Once you're finished with all that, click the 'Save and continue' button. You should now be on the 'Create Ad Group' page. You can set up many different Ad Groups and even assign certain product types to them. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will only be setting up one Ad Group and assigning all of our website's products to it. On this page, fill in the following fields:

      • Ad Group Name – Call your Ad Group anything you think will help you remember what is in it. In this case, because all of our products are being displayed, we might call it 'PLAs - Doghouses - All Products'.

      • Create an ad – If you feature something like free shipping on all or select products or are running a sale, you might want to highlight that by entering text into the 'Promotion' box here. Something like 'Free Shipping on All Dog Houses This Week' or 'Special 10% Off Coupon Code: SAVE10PERCENT' would be examples of good promotional copy. Don't worry about keywords here because Google doesn't pay attention to ads for SEO anyway. You want to put something actionable here, not something generic like 'Satisfaction Guaranteed'. Keep in mind that there is a 45-character limit so keep it short and sweet and DO NOT USE ALL CAPS!

      • Auto Targets – By default, this is set up for all of your products. For now, leave this box checked to apply to all products (you have to anyway, at this point).

      • Ad Group Bids – We already set up a default bid on the previous page, so that default bid shows up here for our Ad Group. You can have several different Ad Groups and have each one with different bid amounts. To change the bid from the default, simply type in the amount you would like to bid for each click in this particular Ad Group.

      Click the Save ad group button to finish. You are now done with all of the basic settings for your product listings ad. There are quite a few advanced things that can be done from here but, as we said at the beginning of this tutorial, its purpose was merely to show you how to set up a basic product listing ad (surely you are exhausted by this point). One last thing... Google has created a tutorial video that shows you how to set up a product listing ad. It's not all that detailed (hence the reason we felt the need to write our own detailed tutorial), but it does go over the basics.

      Advanced Bidding Tips for Google Product Listing Ads

      In order to keep this tutorial as simple as possible, we showed you how to set a universal bid for all of your products. In practice, though, you'll very rarely want to do that. You'll typically want to have different bid amounts for different products or categories, largely based on how much profit you make for each group of products. Check out the Pro's Edge box immediately below to learn how to set up unique bid amounts for specific groups of products within your product feed file, which can save you A LOT of money! 
    1. Login to your BigCommerce admin panel, click on the Marketing tab, and then click on Google Product Search Feed.
    2. You will see a message that tells you that you have not yet set up your products for use with Google Product Search Feed. Click on the Learn how to Setup your Products for Google Products Search link, which will take you to the BigCommerce Knowledge Base tutorial.

    Step 1. Setting Up Your Google Merchant Center Account

    If you already have a Google Merchant Center account and sign into it, you will now see a message, highlighted in red, that is plastered across the top of the page that says: "To keep your Product Search listings active on Google, you'll need to set up a Product Listing Ads campaign in Google AdWords." 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. If you have already set up and verified your URL, you can skip to the next major step: Creating Your Product Feed File. Everyone should have at least one Google account by now – either a Google Analytics account or a Google Webmaster Tools account (hopefully, both). 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 Store Coach training and still don't have a Google account of any kind, you can sign up for one by clicking the red SIGN UP button at the top-right of the screen. You must have a Google Webmaster Tools Account in order to verify and claim your URL, which is one of the mandatory steps for setting up a product feed (outlined below). When you sign into Google Merchant Center for the first time, you will be prompted to complete the following:
    1. Select a location
    2. Agree to the Terms of Service
    3. 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 'Settings' in the sidebar and then the 'General' link.
    • You will need to provide the full URL for your website (including the http://)
    • You must include a Store Name that will appear on your listing. This name should be the name of your website with no additional promotional text. For example, everythingdoghouses.com would have a store name “Everything Dog Houses.” Please note that Google automatically truncates store names that are longer than 20 characters.
    • Though not required, it is a good idea to provide your business address and phone number.
    • Provide a link for customer service inquiries (normally this is the link to your 'Contact Us' page).
    • Provide Private Contact Information. This information is not made public, but Google uses it if they need to contact you for some reason, such as policy violations.

    You will also need to click on the 'Tax and shipping' link under the main 'Settings' heading in the sidebar and enter your shipping and tax rate information.

    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:// but without the www (i.e. http://everythingdoghouses.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 everythingdoghouses.com was really located in a directory on petstoresusa.com, the path to the main URL would be http://petstoresusa.com/everythingdoghouses.com, for instance). Next, in a separate tab, sign into your Google Webmaster Tools account. If you have not already added the website in Webmaster Tools, 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 Webmaster Tools page.
    • HTML Tag: You can copy the code Google supplies and enter it into your website's home page <head> section. In BigCommerce, this would be done as follows:
      1. Login to the admin panel of your BigCommerce store, click on the Store Design link at the top of the page, and then click on the Browse Template Files button for your active template.
      2. Next, look in the top-left corner of the page, find the HTMLHead.html template file, and click on it. This should open it up in the window on the right.
      3. Finally, insert the Google code by placing your cursor after <head> in the first line, press ENTER and paste in the HTML code.
      4. Click the Save button at the top-left of the window.
      5. Click the 'Verify' button in Google Webmaster Tools.
    • 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.
    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 Webmaster Tools 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:
    1. Click on the Settings link, then click General.
    2. Under Website URL, enter your site's URL.
    3. Click Claim this URL to claim the website.
    4. 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 in BigCommerce

    For most people, setting up Google Product Search ads is a real hassle. Not only do they have to create a product feed using Google's specifications, but they have to maintain those feeds, resubmitting them on a regular basis. Fortunately, BigCommerce has made the entire process much easier. We'll show you where to get the information on setting up your Google Product Search feed in BigCommerce and explain some of the parts that may be confusing...
    1. Login to your BigCommerce admin panel, click on the Marketing tab, and then click on Google Product Search Feed.
    2. You will see a message that tells you that you have not yet set up your products for use with Google Product Search Feed. Click on the Learn how to Setup your Products for Google Products Search link, which will take you to the BigCommerce Knowledge Base tutorial.
    Helpful Tips Mapping Your Categories: The following tips should help in the 'Category Mapping' section of the BigCommerce tutorial:
    • Take your time to make sure that you have picked the best possible category for your products. Most of the time, if you choose the right series of categories and subcategories, you can get an exact match or one that is awfully close to the category your products are in. You may have to back up a couple of times and choose different categories or subcategories to find the right path; though, things aren't always where you think they would be (Ballet Bars is listed in the Dancing subcategory of the Sporting Goods category, for instance). If you can't find the exact category you are looking for, don't pick a specific one that doesn't apply to your category's products unless you think people looking in that subcategory will also be looking for the products in your category. Instead, just leave it set to the more general category and click Save & Exit.
    • Remember that you need to map every single category, including your subcategories!
    Enabling Your Products: The following tips should help you better understand some of the aspects of the 'Enabling your products' section of the BigCommerce tutorial that may be a bit unclear:
    • Different niches have different requirements as far as product feeds go. Be sure to read Google's Summary of attribute requirements so that your feeds are not rejected. Also make sure that you read Google's Unique product identifiers specification so that you include the extra attributes they may require if you are selling things like media, clothing or books.
    • Unless you have just a few products in your online store, it is much faster to export your products and work with them in a spreadsheet than it is to edit them one at a time in your Big Commerce admin panel.
    • Many of the things that Google requires in a feed are already taken care of by the default BigCommerce feed. If you are editing your product feed with a spreadsheet, the only things you will be adding things to are the columns on the far right of your spreadsheet that have the 'GPS' (Google Product Search) prefix. In most cases, you will only need to add things to the 'GPS Category' column and either the 'GPS Global Trade Item' or the 'GPS Manufacturer Part Number' columns.
    • Because people sometimes put products in more than one category and the Google feed specification only allows a product to be in one category, BigCommerce cannot automatically assign your category names to your Google product feed. If you are adding products to the Google Product Search feed one at a time in your BigCommerce Control Panel, you will have to select one and only one category for each product to apply to your feed. If you are editing your feed in a spreadsheet, the best thing to do is to copy everything from row 2 on down from the 'Category' column and paste it by clicking on row 2 of the 'GPS Category' column. Then, scroll down through them one at a time and make sure that there is not more than one category assigned to a product. If there is, pick whatever one is the best one in your opinion for that product.
    • For all products, Google requires at least 2 of the three unique product identifiers: Brand, GTIN and MPN.
      • Brand – This is automatically picked up in the feed from your 'Brand Name' column, which is on the left side of the spreadsheet. If you have not specified a brand for your products in that column, you'll probably need to do so (unless you know both the manufacturer's part number and its GTIN). If you are selling products that don't have brand names, use your website name or an abbreviation of it as the brand name.
      • GTIN – Although they aren't necessarily the same exact thing, for the purposes of this feed, the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) would be a product's UPC code. If you know it, it would go in the 'GPS Global Trade Item Number' column.
      • MPN – Technically speaking, the MPN (Manufacturer's Part Number) is the unique product identifier that a manufacturer assigns to a product for the purposes of ordering it. With some manufacturers, the MPN is often the same as the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). If they don't have a different MPN, just use the SKU. Although they aren't necessarily the same exact thing, for the purposes of this feed, they can be. If you are selling generic products that don't have SKUs, make one up (you are the "manufacturer", after all). You can copy and paste the product data from the Product Code/SKU column on the left side of your spreadsheet into the 'GPS Manufacturer Part Number' column or enter them individually if you know the actual MPNs.
    • All of the other columns in the GPS column are optional except for the very last one: 'GPS Enabled'. Please be sure that the 'GPS Enabled' column has a Y in it for every product you want to enable for Google Shopping. If the other GPS columns are applicable and you want to fill them in, you can if you want to; it will make your products appear more often for very specific searches.

    Step 3. Uploading Your Data Feed

    Now that you have created your data feed, you still need to upload it. Please read the following article in the BigCommerce Knowledge Base to see how to upload your product feed file: How do I submit my product feed to Google Product Search?Step 4. Setting Up Your Product Search Listings in Google AdWords
    Now, at long last, it is finally time to get your products listed on Google Shopping. To do that, you will need to have an AdWords account and link it to your Google Merchant Center account. Link Your Google Merchant Center Account to Your Google AdWords Account In order for your product listing ads to show, you must link your Google Merchant Center account with a Google AdWords Account. You can add multiple AdWords accounts to the same Merchant Center account. If you don't yet have an AdWords account, skip ahead to the Setting Up A New AdWords Account section below.
    1. In your Merchant Center account, click Settings, then AdWords
    2. Enter your AdWords Customer ID (CID), which you can find at the top of your AdWords account when you're signed into it.
    3. Click Add
    Now you will need to sign into your AdWords Account to complete the Setting Up A Product Listing Ad Campaign instructions (below). Setting Up a New AdWords Account They have made setting up a new AdWords account pretty simple via Google Merchant Center.
    1. Click the big blue 'Get Started' button at the top to set up a new AdWords campaign.
    2. Fill out the basic settings for your account: set your time zone, enter the currency that you will be using to pay with, and name your campaign. Note: Bids and account budget default to the minimum amount (which you can change in the next step).
    Setting Up A Product Listing Ad Campaign Even if you already have an AdWord campaign running, you will want to set up an entirely new campaign for your Product Listing Ads. To do that, log into your Google AdWords account. If it does not take you to the 'Campaigns' tab automatically, click the 'Campaigns' tab at the top of the page. Within the 'Campaigns > Campaigns' tab, click the green 'New Campaign' button. Then, in the various sections on this page, do the following:
    • General - Before you name your new campaign, first select 'Search Network Only' under 'Type' and then select the 'Product listing ads' radio button to the right. Now, go back up and name your Campaign something that will identify it to you as your display ad campaign for this website (you'll see why we told you to do the other two steps first if you rushed ahead and did not do this in the order we have laid out).
    • Networks - Scroll down to 'Networks' and uncheck the 'Google Search Networks – include search partners' box. If you leave this checked, your ads will show up in all kinds of non-targeted places, which we do not recommend.
    • Desktops & laptops, mobile devices and tablets - Click 'Let me choose' and leave the 'Desktop and laptop computers' box checked and also check the 'Tablets with full browsers' box, leaving the 'Mobile devices with full browsers' unchecked. Again, this is our recommendation, especially at the beginning. People tend to shop from computers and tablets and browse aimlessly from mobile phones. You will be paying for every click so you want to make sure that when someone clicks a product listing, they are doing so from a device that they are more likely to be making a purchase from. This will help you gauge your ad spend at the beginning. If you find you are not getting enough clicks, you can add the mobile devices later but should only do so if you are using a shopping cart platform (like BigCommerce) that is optimized for mobile devices. Definitely monitor your clicks and conversions to see which devices are resulting in sales and which ones are not so that you can adjust your campaign settings accordingly.
    • Locations – Choose where you would like your product listings to be displayed (we normally pick just the United States).
    • Languages – Select 'English' (the default) unless your website is in another language.
    • Bidding and budget – Select 'I'll manually set my bids for clicks' (you don't want Google deciding how much you'll pay, do you?).
      • Default Bid: Enter the default amount for bids that you do not specify elsewhere. Obviously, there's no way we can give you a clear-cut answer on how much you should bid because it's different for every product niche. We would suggest looking at what the minimum page 1 bid is for a regular text ad for your most popular product and setting your Display Ad bid at half that price. If you don't want to do that, start at $0.25. After a few days, you should be able to see what the average position is for your various products and adjust your bid up or down from there.
      • Budget: Enter the maximum you wish to spend per day on all product listing ads combined. We recommend entering $20-50 here if you're just starting out with PLAs. It's kind of a "safety net" in case you set something up wrong and your ads get way more exposure & clicks than you intended.
      • Ad Extensions – By default, the checkbox next to 'Product' that says 'Extend my ads with relevant product details from Google Merchant Center' is checked, as it should be. Underneath, there is an 'Extensions' section where you will need to click the drop-down arrow and select the Google Merchant Center account that this campaign will get its products from (this is your product feed file).
      • Advanced Settings – We normally skip this section, which allows you to schedule start dates and end dates for campaigns as well as the hours of the day and days of the week you want to target. You can certainly play with these advanced settings if you'd like to, but we usually don't.
      Once you're finished with all that, click the 'Save and continue' button. You should now be on the 'Create Ad Group' page. You can set up many different Ad Groups and even assign certain product types to them. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will only be setting up one Ad Group and assigning all of our website's products to it. On this page, fill in the following fields:
      • Ad Group Name – Call your Ad Group anything you think will help you remember what is in it. In this case, because all of our products are being displayed, we might call it 'PLAs - Doghouses - All Products'.
      • Create an ad – If you feature something like free shipping on all or select products or are running a sale, you might want to highlight that by entering text into the 'Promotion' box here. Something like 'Free Shipping on All Dog Houses This Week' or 'Special 10% Off Coupon Code: SAVE10PERCENT' would be examples of good promotional copy. Don't worry about keywords here because Google doesn't pay attention to ads for SEO anyway. You want to put something actionable here, not something generic like 'Satisfaction Guaranteed'. Keep in mind that there is a 45-character limit so keep it short and sweet and DO NOT USE ALL CAPS!
      • Auto Targets – By default, this is set up for all of your products. For now, leave this box checked to apply to all products (you have to anyway, at this point).
      • Ad Group Bids – We already set up a default bid on the previous page, so that default bid shows up here for our Ad Group. You can have several different Ad Groups and have each one with different bid amounts. To change the bid from the default, simply type in the amount you would like to bid for each click in this particular Ad Group.
      Click the Save ad group button to finish. You are now done with all of the basic settings for your product listings ad. There are quite a few advanced things that can be done from here but, as we said at the beginning of this tutorial, its purpose was merely to show you how to set up a basic product listing ad (surely you are exhausted by this point).

      Advanced Bidding Tips for Google Product Listing Ads

      In order to keep this tutorial as simple as possible, we showed you how to set a universal bid for all of your products. In practice, though, you'll very rarely want to do that. You'll typically want to have different bid amounts for different products or categories, largely based on how much profit you make for each group of products. Check out the Pro's Edge box immediately below to learn how to set up unique bid amounts for specific groups of products within your product feed file, which can save you A LOT of money! 
    • General - Before you name your new campaign, first select 'Search Network Only' under 'Type' and then select the 'Product listing ads' radio button to the right. Now, go back up and name your Campaign something that will identify it to you as your display ad campaign for this website (you'll see why we told you to do the other two steps first if you rushed ahead and did not do this in the order we have laid out).
    • Networks - Scroll down to 'Networks' and uncheck the 'Google Search Networks – include search partners' box. If you leave this checked, your ads will show up in all kinds of non-targeted places, which we do not recommend.
    • Desktops & laptops, mobile devices and tablets - Click 'Let me choose' and leave the 'Desktop and laptop computers' box checked and also check the 'Tablets with full browsers' box, leaving the 'Mobile devices with full browsers' unchecked. Again, this is our recommendation, especially at the beginning. People tend to shop from computers and tablets and browse aimlessly from mobile phones. You will be paying for every click so you want to make sure that when someone clicks a product listing, they are doing so from a device that they are more likely to be making a purchase from. This will help you gauge your ad spend at the beginning. If you find you are not getting enough clicks, you can add the mobile devices later but should only do so if you are using a shopping cart platform (like BigCommerce) that is optimized for mobile devices. Definitely monitor your clicks and conversions to see which devices are resulting in sales and which ones are not so that you can adjust your campaign settings accordingly.
    • Locations – Choose where you would like your product listings to be displayed (we normally pick just the United States).
    • Languages – Select 'English' (the default) unless your website is in another language.
    • Bidding and budget – Select 'I'll manually set my bids for clicks' (you don't want Google deciding how much you'll pay, do you?).
      • Default Bid: Enter the default amount for bids that you do not specify elsewhere. Obviously, there's no way we can give you a clear-cut answer on how much you should bid because it's different for every product niche. We would suggest looking at what the minimum page 1 bid is for a regular text ad for your most popular product and setting your Display Ad bid at half that price. If you don't want to do that, start at $0.25. After a few days, you should be able to see what the average position is for your various products and adjust your bid up or down from there.
      • Budget: Enter the maximum you wish to spend per day on all product listing ads combined. We recommend entering $20-50 here if you're just starting out with PLAs. It's kind of a "safety net" in case you set something up wrong and your ads get way more exposure & clicks than you intended.
      • Ad Extensions – By default, the checkbox next to 'Product' that says 'Extend my ads with relevant product details from Google Merchant Center' is checked, as it should be. Underneath, there is an 'Extensions' section where you will need to click the drop-down arrow and select the Google Merchant Center account that this campaign will get its products from (this is your product feed file).
      • Advanced Settings – We normally skip this section, which allows you to schedule start dates and end dates for campaigns as well as the hours of the day and days of the week you want to target. You can certainly play with these advanced settings if you'd like to, but we usually don't.
      Once you're finished with all that, click the 'Save and continue' button. You should now be on the 'Create Ad Group' page. You can set up many different Ad Groups and even assign certain product types to them. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will only be setting up one Ad Group and assigning all of our website's products to it. On this page, fill in the following fields:
      • Ad Group Name – Call your Ad Group anything you think will help you remember what is in it. In this case, because all of our products are being displayed, we might call it 'PLAs - Doghouses - All Products'.
      • Create an ad – If you feature something like free shipping on all or select products or are running a sale, you might want to highlight that by entering text into the 'Promotion' box here. Something like 'Free Shipping on All Dog Houses This Week' or 'Special 10% Off Coupon Code: SAVE10PERCENT' would be examples of good promotional copy. Don't worry about keywords here because Google doesn't pay attention to ads for SEO anyway. You want to put something actionable here, not something generic like 'Satisfaction Guaranteed'. Keep in mind that there is a 45-character limit so keep it short and sweet and DO NOT USE ALL CAPS!
      • Auto Targets – By default, this is set up for all of your products. For now, leave this box checked to apply to all products (you have to anyway, at this point).
      • Ad Group Bids – We already set up a default bid on the previous page, so that default bid shows up here for our Ad Group. You can have several different Ad Groups and have each one with different bid amounts. To change the bid from the default, simply type in the amount you would like to bid for each click in this particular Ad Group.

      Click the Save ad group button to finish. You are now done with all of the basic settings for your product listings ad. There are quite a few advanced things that can be done from here but, as we said at the beginning of this tutorial, its purpose was merely to show you how to set up a basic product listing ad (surely you are exhausted by this point).

      Advanced Bidding Tips for Google Product Listing Ads

      In order to keep this tutorial as simple as possible, we showed you how to set a universal bid for all of your products. In practice, though, you'll very rarely want to do that. You'll typically want to have different bid amounts for different products or categories, largely based on how much profit you make for each group of products. Check out the Pro's Edge box immediately below to learn how to set up unique bid amounts for specific groups of products within your product feed file, which can save you A LOT of money!

    Pro's Edge: Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) Set-Up Guide

    Now that the days of free product listings via the Google Merchant Center are over, many people who took advantage of those listings have dropped out, refusing to pay for something that used to be free. This has created a HUGE opportunity for those who realize the benefits of having product-specific ads (complete with images, product titles and prices) appear at the top of the search engine rankings and don't mind paying for the exposure.

    Since there are fewer websites vying for that prime real estate, your product listings are far more likely to show up now than they did in the past. Although product listing ads are pay per click, those clicks can often be purchased at half the price of what traditional AdWords text ads cost. Please Note: Product listing ads are available in a limited number of countries, including the USA, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia and a few other countries. The purpose of this guide is to help you get your Google Merchant Center account set up and running as quickly as possible. We'll delve into some advanced bidding options and other advice in the next Pro's Edge box below. There are 4 major steps involved in setting up your Google Product Search listings:

    1. Setting up your Google Merchant Center account
    2. Creating your product data feed
    3. Uploading your product data feed, and
    4. Setting up your product search listings in Google AdWords

    Step 1. Setting Up Your Google Merchant Center Account

    If you already have a Google Merchant Center account and sign into it, you will now see a message, highlighted in red, that is plastered across the top of the page that says: "To keep your Product Search listings active on Google, you'll need to set up a Product Listing Ads campaign in Google AdWords." 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. If you have already set up and verified your URL, you can skip to the next major step: Creating Your Product Feed File. Everyone should have at least one Google account by now – either a Google Analytics account or a Google Webmaster Tools account (hopefully, both). 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 Store Coach training and still don't have a Google account of any kind, you can sign up for one by clicking the red SIGN UP button at the top-right of the screen. You must have a Google Webmaster Tools Account in order to verify and claim your URL, which is one of the mandatory steps for setting up a product feed (outlined below). When you sign into Google Merchant Center for the first time, you will be prompted to complete the following:

    1. Select a location
    2. Agree to the Terms of Service
    3. 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 'Settings' in the sidebar and then the 'General' link.

    • You will need to provide the full URL for your website (including the http://)
    • You must include a Store Name that will appear on your listing. This name should be the name of your website with no additional promotional text. For example, everythingdoghouses.com would have a store name “Everything Dog Houses.” Please note that Google automatically truncates store names that are longer than 20 characters.
    • Though not required, it is a good idea to provide your business address and phone number.
    • Provide a link for customer service inquiries (normally this is the link to your 'Contact Us' page).
    • Provide Private Contact Information. This information is not made public, but Google uses it if they need to contact you for some reason, such as policy violations.

    You will also need to click on the 'Tax and shipping' link under the main 'Settings' heading in the sidebar and enter your shipping and tax rate information. 

    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:// but without the www (i.e. http://everythingdoghouses.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 everythingdoghouses.com was really located in a directory on petstoresusa.com, the path to the main URL would be http://petstoresusa.com/everythingdoghouses.com, for instance). Next, in a separate tab, sign into your Google Webmaster Tools account. If you have not already added the website in Webmaster Tools, 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 Webmaster Tools page.
    • HTML Tag: You can copy the code Google supplies and enter it into your website's home page <head> section. In BigCommerce, this would be done as follows:
      1. Login to the admin panel of your BigCommerce store, click on the Store Design link at the top of the page, and then click on the Browse Template Files button for your active template.
      2. Next, look in the top-left corner of the page, find the HTMLHead.html template file, and click on it. This should open it up in the window on the right.
      3. Finally, insert the Google code by placing your cursor after <head> in the first line, press ENTER and paste in the HTML code.
      4. Click the Save button at the top-left of the window.
      5. Click the 'Verify' button in Google Webmaster Tools.
    • 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.

    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 Webmaster Tools 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:

    1. Click on the Settings link, then click General.
    2. Under Website URL, enter your site's URL.
    3. Click Claim this URL to claim the website.
    4. 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 in BigCommerce

    For most people, setting up Google Product Search ads is a real hassle. Not only do they have to create a product feed using Google's specifications, but they have to maintain those feeds, resubmitting them on a regular basis. Fortunately, BigCommerce has made the entire process much easier. We'll show you where to get the information on setting up your Google Product Search feed in BigCommerce and explain some of the parts that may be confusing...

    1. Login to your BigCommerce admin panel, click on the Marketing tab, and then click on Google Product Search Feed.
    2. You will see a message that tells you that you have not yet set up your products for use with Google Product Search Feed. Click on the Learn how to Setup your Products for Google Products Search link, which will take you to the BigCommerce Knowledge Base tutorial.

    Helpful Tips Mapping Your Categories: The following tips should help in the 'Category Mapping' section of the BigCommerce tutorial:

    • Take your time to make sure that you have picked the best possible category for your products. Most of the time, if you choose the right series of categories and subcategories, you can get an exact match or one that is awfully close to the category your products are in. You may have to back up a couple of times and choose different categories or subcategories to find the right path; though, things aren't always where you think they would be (Ballet Bars is listed in the Dancing subcategory of the Sporting Goods category, for instance). If you can't find the exact category you are looking for, don't pick a specific one that doesn't apply to your category's products unless you think people looking in that subcategory will also be looking for the products in your category. Instead, just leave it set to the more general category and click Save & Exit.
    • Remember that you need to map every single category, including your subcategories!

    Enabling Your Products: The following tips should help you better understand some of the aspects of the 'Enabling your products' section of the BigCommerce tutorial that may be a bit unclear:

    • Different niches have different requirements as far as product feeds go. Be sure to read Google's Summary of attribute requirements so that your feeds are not rejected. Also make sure that you read Google's Unique product identifiers specification so that you include the extra attributes they may require if you are selling things like media, clothing or books.
    • Unless you have just a few products in your online store, it is much faster to export your products and work with them in a spreadsheet than it is to edit them one at a time in your Big Commerce admin panel.
    • Many of the things that Google requires in a feed are already taken care of by the default BigCommerce feed. If you are editing your product feed with a spreadsheet, the only things you will be adding things to are the columns on the far right of your spreadsheet that have the 'GPS' (Google Product Search) prefix. In most cases, you will only need to add things to the 'GPS Category' column and either the 'GPS Global Trade Item' or the 'GPS Manufacturer Part Number' columns.
    • Because people sometimes put products in more than one category and the Google feed specification only allows a product to be in one category, BigCommerce cannot automatically assign your category names to your Google product feed. If you are adding products to the Google Product Search feed one at a time in your BigCommerce Control Panel, you will have to select one and only one category for each product to apply to your feed. If you are editing your feed in a spreadsheet, the best thing to do is to copy everything from row 2 on down from the 'Category' column and paste it by clicking on row 2 of the 'GPS Category' column. Then, scroll down through them one at a time and make sure that there is not more than one category assigned to a product. If there is, pick whatever one is the best one in your opinion for that product.
    • For all products, Google requires at least 2 of the three unique product identifiers: Brand, GTIN and MPN.
      • Brand – This is automatically picked up in the feed from your 'Brand Name' column, which is on the left side of the spreadsheet. If you have not specified a brand for your products in that column, you'll probably need to do so (unless you know both the manufacturer's part number and its GTIN). If you are selling products that don't have brand names, use your website name or an abbreviation of it as the brand name.
      • GTIN – Although they aren't necessarily the same exact thing, for the purposes of this feed, the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) would be a product's UPC code. If you know it, it would go in the 'GPS Global Trade Item Number' column.
      • MPN – Technically speaking, the MPN (Manufacturer's Part Number) is the unique product identifier that a manufacturer assigns to a product for the purposes of ordering it. With some manufacturers, the MPN is often the same as the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). If they don't have a different MPN, just use the SKU. Although they aren't necessarily the same exact thing, for the purposes of this feed, they can be. If you are selling generic products that don't have SKUs, make one up (you are the "manufacturer", after all). You can copy and paste the product data from the Product Code/SKU column on the left side of your spreadsheet into the 'GPS Manufacturer Part Number' column or enter them individually if you know the actual MPNs.
    • All of the other columns in the GPS column are optional except for the very last one: 'GPS Enabled'. Please be sure that the 'GPS Enabled' column has a Y in it for every product you want to enable for Google Shopping. If the other GPS columns are applicable and you want to fill them in, you can if you want to; it will make your products appear more often for very specific searches.

    Step 3. Uploading Your Data Feed

    Now that you have created your data feed, you still need to upload it. Please read the following article in the BigCommerce Knowledge Base to see how to upload your product feed file: How do I submit my product feed to Google Product Search?Step 4. Setting Up Your Product Search Listings in Google AdWords
    Now, at long last, it is finally time to get your products listed on Google Shopping. To do that, you will need to have an AdWords account and link it to your Google Merchant Center account. Link Your Google Merchant Center Account to Your Google AdWords Account In order for your product listing ads to show, you must link your Google Merchant Center account with a Google AdWords Account. You can add multiple AdWords accounts to the same Merchant Center account. If you don't yet have an AdWords account, skip ahead to the Setting Up A New AdWords Account section below.

    1. In your Merchant Center account, click Settings, then AdWords
    2. Enter your AdWords Customer ID (CID), which you can find at the top of your AdWords account when you're signed into it.
    3. Click Add

    Now you will need to sign into your AdWords Account to complete the Setting Up A Product Listing Ad Campaign instructions (below). Setting Up a New AdWords Account They have made setting up a new AdWords account pretty simple via Google Merchant Center.

    1. Click the big blue 'Get Started' button at the top to set up a new AdWords campaign.
    2. Fill out the basic settings for your account: set your time zone, enter the currency that you will be using to pay with, and name your campaign. Note: Bids and account budget default to the minimum amount (which you can change in the next step).

    Setting Up A Product Listing Ad Campaign Even if you already have an AdWord campaign running, you will want to set up an entirely new campaign for your Product Listing Ads. To do that, log into your Google AdWords account. If it does not take you to the 'Campaigns' tab automatically, click the 'Campaigns' tab at the top of the page. Within the 'Campaigns > Campaigns' tab, click the green 'New Campaign' button. Then, in the various sections on this page, do the following:

    • General - Before you name your new campaign, first select 'Search Network Only' under 'Type' and then select the 'Product listing ads' radio button to the right. Now, go back up and name your Campaign something that will identify it to you as your display ad campaign for this website (you'll see why we told you to do the other two steps first if you rushed ahead and did not do this in the order we have laid out).
    • Networks - Scroll down to 'Networks' and uncheck the 'Google Search Networks – include search partners' box. If you leave this checked, your ads will show up in all kinds of non-targeted places, which we do not recommend.
    • Desktops & laptops, mobile devices and tablets - Click 'Let me choose' and leave the 'Desktop and laptop computers' box checked and also check the 'Tablets with full browsers' box, leaving the 'Mobile devices with full browsers' unchecked. Again, this is our recommendation, especially at the beginning. People tend to shop from computers and tablets and browse aimlessly from mobile phones. You will be paying for every click so you want to make sure that when someone clicks a product listing, they are doing so from a device that they are more likely to be making a purchase from. This will help you gauge your ad spend at the beginning. If you find you are not getting enough clicks, you can add the mobile devices later but should only do so if you are using a shopping cart platform (like BigCommerce) that is optimized for mobile devices. Definitely monitor your clicks and conversions to see which devices are resulting in sales and which ones are not so that you can adjust your campaign settings accordingly.
    • Locations – Choose where you would like your product listings to be displayed (we normally pick just the United States).
    • Languages – Select 'English' (the default) unless your website is in another language.
    • Bidding and budget – Select 'I'll manually set my bids for clicks' (you don't want Google deciding how much you'll pay, do you?).
      • Default Bid: Enter the default amount for bids that you do not specify elsewhere. Obviously, there's no way we can give you a clear-cut answer on how much you should bid because it's different for every product niche. We would suggest looking at what the minimum page 1 bid is for a regular text ad for your most popular product and setting your Display Ad bid at half that price. If you don't want to do that, start at $0.25. After a few days, you should be able to see what the average position is for your various products and adjust your bid up or down from there.
      • Budget: Enter the maximum you wish to spend per day on all product listing ads combined. We recommend entering $20-50 here if you're just starting out with PLAs. It's kind of a "safety net" in case you set something up wrong and your ads get way more exposure & clicks than you intended.
      • Ad Extensions – By default, the checkbox next to 'Product' that says 'Extend my ads with relevant product details from Google Merchant Center' is checked, as it should be. Underneath, there is an 'Extensions' section where you will need to click the drop-down arrow and select the Google Merchant Center account that this campaign will get its products from (this is your product feed file).
      • Advanced Settings – We normally skip this section, which allows you to schedule start dates and end dates for campaigns as well as the hours of the day and days of the week you want to target. You can certainly play with these advanced settings if you'd like to, but we usually don't.
      Once you're finished with all that, click the 'Save and continue' button. You should now be on the 'Create Ad Group' page. You can set up many different Ad Groups and even assign certain product types to them. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will only be setting up one Ad Group and assigning all of our website's products to it. On this page, fill in the following fields:
      • Ad Group Name – Call your Ad Group anything you think will help you remember what is in it. In this case, because all of our products are being displayed, we might call it 'PLAs - Doghouses - All Products'.
      • Create an ad – If you feature something like free shipping on all or select products or are running a sale, you might want to highlight that by entering text into the 'Promotion' box here. Something like 'Free Shipping on All Dog Houses This Week' or 'Special 10% Off Coupon Code: SAVE10PERCENT' would be examples of good promotional copy. Don't worry about keywords here because Google doesn't pay attention to ads for SEO anyway. You want to put something actionable here, not something generic like 'Satisfaction Guaranteed'. Keep in mind that there is a 45-character limit so keep it short and sweet and DO NOT USE ALL CAPS!
      • Auto Targets – By default, this is set up for all of your products. For now, leave this box checked to apply to all products (you have to anyway, at this point).
      • Ad Group Bids – We already set up a default bid on the previous page, so that default bid shows up here for our Ad Group. You can have several different Ad Groups and have each one with different bid amounts. To change the bid from the default, simply type in the amount you would like to bid for each click in this particular Ad Group.
      Click the Save ad group button to finish. You are now done with all of the basic settings for your product listings ad. There are quite a few advanced things that can be done from here but, as we said at the beginning of this tutorial, its purpose was merely to show you how to set up a basic product listing ad (surely you are exhausted by this point).

      Advanced Bidding Tips for Google Product Listing Ads

      In order to keep this tutorial as simple as possible, we showed you how to set a universal bid for all of your products. In practice, though, you'll very rarely want to do that. You'll typically want to have different bid amounts for different products or categories, largely based on how much profit you make for each group of products. Check out the Pro's Edge box immediately below to learn how to set up unique bid amounts for specific groups of products within your product feed file, which can save you A LOT of money!

     

    Pro's Edge: Google PLAs Advanced Bidding Guide

    Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are, perhaps, the very best value in the realm of paid advertising. Because pictures of your products and the price appear in the Google search results, customers already know what they are getting and what it costs, so conversion rates are considerably higher than they are for regular AdWords ads. They also tend to cost around half of what clicks do for regular AdWords text PPC ads. In the expandable section immediately above, we went into great detail about how to set up a basic PLA campaign for all of your products. While that certainly will get your products appearing, listing everything for the same bid price will have you bidding far too much for some product types and far too little for others. Fortunately, there is a way to modify your bid prices on different items so that you are not paying the same PPC amount for $30 accessories as you do for $600 major items in your store.

    Since most people are using our recommended shopping cart, BigCommerce, this tutorial will show you how to vary the bids for different products while still using the product feed that BigCommerce creates for you. We'll assume for the purposes of this tutorial that you already have your Google Merchant Center account set up, already have an AdWords account set up, and already have the default setup for Product Listing Ads (i.e. all of your products listed for the same bid amount). If you are not already at that stage, go through ALL of the steps in the expandable section above BEFORE continuing on with this tutorial. The only place you will need to make any changes is in your AdWords account. But you may want to also have your Merchant Center account open in a separate tab so you can see precisely how individual products' categories appear to Google. Before we get started, you'll need to familiarize yourself with a few terms...

    • Campaign - In this case, the campaign is for our Bird Cages Now website and it is the Product Listing Ads campaign, which we have called 'BCN Product Listing'. We might have other campaigns for that website such as a regular AdWords text ads campaign or a re-marketing campaign. We might have multiple websites and run one or more campaigns for those sites, too.
    • Ad Group - With Product Listing Ads, bids are set in AdWords at the Ad Group level. By default, there is only one ad group when you set up your Product Listing Ads and it includes every product in your store that you have chosen to make visible (indicated by a 'Y' in the very last 'GPS Enabled' column of your BigCommerce product feed file). So that we don't get it confused with our regular AdWords ad groups or Product Listing Ads for other websites, we have named the default Product Listing Ads group for all of our products on Bird Cages Now, 'BCN PLA – All Products'.
    • Auto Targets - Auto Targets are conditions that automatically trigger a bid amount. By default, your initial ad group was set up with an Auto Target of 'all products'. There are several other more specific things that can be targeted, which we will show you momentarily.

    The higher your bid price, the more likely it is that your product will show up in the Google Shopping ads at the top of page one of the search results. Right now, all of our products on the Bird Cages Now website have the same exact bid: $0.40. What we want to do is set the bid a little lower for the small cages where our profit is less and a little higher for the large cages that we make much more money on. 40 cents seems about right for our medium cages, at least for the Avain Adventures brand. We also want a catch-all bid that is extremely low for things like cage covers because we don't make nearly as much money on those items but they still bring people into our website where they just might make a larger purchase. For things that we don't want to bid on at all (like feeder cups), we'll just change the entry in the last 'GPS Enabled' column of our BigCommerce feed file to 'N' and those products won't even show up in our feed. In addition to having different prices for the three sized cage groups, we have decided we want to bid slightly more for our Avian Adventures cages than our A&E brand because we make a little more profit on the Avian Adventures line. Here is what we have decided we want our maximum bids to be for our seven product groups:

    Avian Adventures Small Cages .30
    Avian Adventures Medium Cages .40
    Avian Adventures Large Cages .50
    A&E Small Cages .25
    A&E Medum Cages .35
    A&E Large Cages .45
    All Products .10

    Now, before we show you how to set up different bids for different groups of products, it's important that you understand how Google works. As you probably have figured out by now, Google is a for-profit company. Like all companies, their goal is to make as much money as they possibly can. When it comes to deciding what bid they are going to use for your product listing ad, there is only one thing to remember. Google will always pick whatever will make them the most money. So, even though the Avian Adventures Small Cages will appear in the 'All Products' group, because they have a higher bid in the 'Avian Adventures Small Cages' group, Google will use the higher bid price of 30 cents whenever products from the 'Avian Adventures Small Cages' group are shown.

    Changing the Bid for your Default All Products Group

    Before we set up new product groups, we're first going to change the bid we already have in place for our catch-all 'All Products' group.

    1. Login to your AdWords account and click on the Product Listing Ads Campaign for your website. In our example, we would click on the 'BCN Product Listing' Ad campaign (see Image 1 above).
    1. You should only have one ad group set up at this point. Click on the bid price in the Default Max CPC column next to your Ad Group name and change it to your "catch-all" bid price for all products. In our example, we would change our bid price from $0.40 to $0.10 for the 'BCN PLA – All Products' group.

    That's it! You're done changing your low-ball default bid price.

    Creating New Product Groups

    Now it's finally time to do what we came here to really do... assign different prices for different products!

    1. You should still be in the Groups tab for your Product Listing Ads campaign. If you aren't, click your PLA campaign name to get to the right place.
    2. Click the green New ad group tab, which will take you to a page where you will enter the basic information for your new Product Group.
      AdWords New ad group tab
    3. Enter the name for your first new Product Group in the 'Ad group name' field. In our example, it will be 'Avian Adventures Small Cages'.
    4. The promotion field is optional and this is where you would list a short blurb about a sale or discount coupon. We'll leave it blank for now.
    5. Uncheck the 'All products' box in the 'Auto targets' section. You do NOT want all products to be in this group!
    6. Enter your maximum bid in the 'Default bid' field. In our case, we want to bid $0.30 for the 'Avian Adventures Small Cages' ad group.
    7. Click the blue Save ad group button.

    Adding an Auto Target for your Ad Group

    We're almost done adding our new ad group, but we haven't told Google what type of products we want to have in the ad group yet. After saving your Ad Group in the last step, a new page will appear, asking you to add a product target. Click the Add product target button, which will take you to a page where you can enter one or more auto targets for your new Product Group.

    Now, before we get into how to add one or more targets for your product group, we need to first explain what an auto target is and what types of targets are available for you to use. Targets are specific things in a feed that you can use to narrow down product types like the brand or the category they are in. Auto targets are conditions that will automatically trigger your product bid to be selected (hence, the name "auto target"). There are technically 6 auto target types that can be used with a Google Product Listing Ad feed and you can define up to three targets for each ad group. Unfortunately, because of the way that feeds are constructed in BigCommerce, only four of those target types can be used with BigCommerce (and really only three that you would likely ever use). The six types of targets are:

    • id - This is the product ID on your BigCommerce store, which should be in column B. Unless you are going to set up a Product 'Group' for each individual item, you probably won't ever us the Product ID as a target. If you only want to list a few products on Google Shopping - especially if you want each one to have a different bid price - you might consider using the Product ID. Otherwise, it would be a nightmare setting up, monitoring and adjusting proices for hundreds of different Ad Groups because you had to set up an Ad Group for each product.
    • product type - This is the target that the vast majority of people will be using. The 'Product Type' is really the actual category you have "mapped" to Google Shopping in your BigCommerce store (it's the second to last column on the right in your BigCommerce product spreadsheet and has the column heading 'GPS Category'.) Essentially, if you use this as a target, any product in this category on your store will have the same bid price.
    • brand - This is a another target that you might use effectively. You can use it to target one price for one brand and another target for another brand. When combined with the 'Product Type' target, it allows you to specify what category and brand a product needs to have to trigger that bid price. We'll be doing that in the upcoming example.
    • condition - You'll probably never use this target, since there are only two values that can exist here - 'new' and 'used'. I suppose if you are selling new items and used items, it would be a great target to use. Obviously you would want to bid more for new products that you would be charging more for.
    • adwords labels - Unfortunately, there is no 'adwords labels' column in a BigCommerce product spreadsheet, so you cannot take advantage of this very powerful target. If you have no problem creating your own feeds and manually uploading them constantly, creating an 'adowrds labels' column allows you to label any product any way you want. You could create a label for products under $100, another label for products under $200, etc. and label each product one by one with one of your custom labels. It is beyond the scope of this tutorial to show you how to create your own Google Product feed; though, if you elect to go the manual feed route, you can visit the Google Feed Specification page and try to decipher the Google instructions.
    • adwords grouping - This is similar to 'Adwords Labels' but it is more retrictive. Nobody really ever uses this target because Adwords labels are far more flexible. Like Adwords labels, there is no column for this in the BigCommerce product feed, so there is really not much sense in discussing this target any further.

    For our Bird Cages Now website, we are going to set two targets for each product group: 1) Brand and 2) Product Type. First we'll select the Brands target from the drop-down list. Then, we'll enter the brand name exactly as it appears in our Google Merchant Center feed. After doing that, we'll click the + Add another link to ad our 'Product Type' auto target. The labels you add as targets must match the names as they are displayed in your Google Merchant Center feed exactly or your listings will not appear! This is why it is a good idea to have Google Merchant Center open in another tab. Sometimes, things are formatted differently there than they are in your BigCommerce spreadsheet. To see exactly how a product's feed is formatted in Google Merchant Center, click your website account's display name (in our case, 'Bird Cages Now') and then click the Products link on the left. All of the products you have ads running for should display there. Click on any product name to see exactly how your feed appears to Google (you may have to scroll down the page a little bit). Although the 'Brand' is formatted normally, you will notice that the way the Product Type appears in your Merchant Center feed is definitely different than it is in your BigCommerce spreadsheet if your product is listed in a subcategory (this is the 'GPS Category' column in BigCommerce). Subcategories in Google Merchant Center feeds are always listed in the heirarchy separated by right arrow brackets ('>') with a space on each side of the arrow. Our small bird cages are listed on the BigCommerce 'GPS Category' spreadsheet like this: Bird Cages By Size/Small Bird Cages. In Google Merchant Center, that same subcategory listing appears like this: Bird Cages By Size > Small Bird Cages. You need to enter it the way it appears in Google Merchant center with the right-arrow brackets. After you have added one or more targets for your Product Group, it is always a good idea to click the Validate button to make sure no formatting errors have occurred. Our finished auto targets for the small Avian Adventures Bird Cages looks like this...

    Once you have validated that your targets are correctly formatted for your Product Group, click the Save button. You will be taken to the Auto Targets tab for the Ad Group you just created. If you ever need to edit a target you can do it from here by clicking on the actual auto target name in the table. You can also add more auto targets by clicking the + Add product target button. click on product target That's it! Now every time a search query happens that our Small Avian Adventures Bird Cages qualify to be listed for, Google will see that we want to bid more for these than the low bid in our All Products group and because of that, it has a much better chance of showing up on page one in the Google Shopping ads. Now we just need to create a new ad group and targets for the other five Product Groups we want to set bids for by repeating the above steps. After that is done, we will be bidding more on the products we make more money on and bidding less on the products that aren't as profitable. This is much better than a "one size fits all" bidding strategy, isn't it?

    Some Final Things to Consider

    We should add one final bit of advice. Although we are by no means advocating changing the categorization of your store in such a way as to make it more difficult for people to navigate, because of the way you need to do this with BigCommerce, you might need to make some changes to your category structure in order to bid the way you really want to. One thing you might consider doing is creating a whole separate "Shop by Price" category and listing it at the bottom of your category list. That way, people can still navigate your store as they normally would, but they would have the option of using the Shop by Price category, too. Then, you could really target your bids by the price of items and not just by whatever category they happened to be in. Another thing you could consider doing is creating subcategories within each category that might better group products by price.

    Google AdWords

    Google AdWordsGoogle AdWords are another type of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising offered by Google. They’re the traditional paid ads with a headline and a couple rows of text (rather than product images/titles/prices) you've no-doubt seen on Google search results pages. My recommendation is to hold off on Google AdWords ads for now, as they’re usually (depending on the niche) more expensive that PLAs and don’t bring quite as targeted of traffic. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still recommending trying out AdWords ads... I just wouldn't start them yet. It’s not one of the tasks in the Store Launch Sequence. But go ahead and activate a Google AdWords account so it’s ready and waiting when you get to Chapter 9 and go to set up your first AdWords campaign.

    Google Mail (Gmail)

    GmailObviously, you’ll want to use your domain-specific email account (the one you set up through your shopping cart’s admin panel) for your “official” emails corresponding with customers and suppliers. But I typically use a Gmail account for marketing and link-building efforts (which we’ll get into in Phase 3). This keeps your primary, domain-specific email account more clean and organized.

    Create Social Profile Accounts

    Set Up Social AccountsAlright, let’s get social! Well, let’s at least get ready to get social. ;) Here in Chapter 6, you’re just going to set up your social accounts so they’ll be 100% ready when you're ready to start using them. Take a few minutes to watch this video to learn about the power of social marketing and how it works. Then, after the video, I’ll walk you through how to create your social profile accounts.

    Step-by-step instructions for setting up accounts at each of the "Big 3" social networking sites are provided in the expandable sections below...

    Steps to Create a Twitter Account & Profile for Your Website

    Creating a Twitter account for your website is an integral part of the “Insanely Simple SEO Plan” I’ll be introducing in Phase 3. A Twitter account gives your business a place to post updates and push info out to your Twitter followers. In time, as you build a strong group of followers, your "updates" will turn into visits and even backlinks to your blog and website. Your Twitter account is a vital tool for a) branding your business and your website online, and b) building authority in Google.Follow these simple steps to create a Twitter account...

    1. Go to Twitter.com and create a new account. (Note: The fields you need to fill out are below the text that says 'New to Twitter? Sign up.’)
    2. As your 'Full name’, simply enter your website name (i.e. I would enter 'Store Coach’ if I were creating a new Twitter account for StoreCoach.com).
    3. Now simply enter an email address and password to create your account & click the button to sign up.
    4. You will now be taken to the 'Join Twitter today' page with all of your details filled out. Simply verify the details and click on the 'Create my account' button.
    5. Go through all the "tour" steps one at a time. It's up to you whether you choose to follow any other users during these steps. When asked to upload a profile image, just use your store's logo (you may need to resize and/or crop your logo to get it to look good here).
    6. Go to your email account and click the confirmation link within the email Twitter sent you.

    This concludes the steps required for creating a Twitter account for your website. In Phase 3, we’ll go into depth on how to actually use it. All in good time!

    Steps to Create a Google+ Page for Your Website

    In the short time since its inception, Google+ has become what may be the very best social networking platform on the Internet. Second in number of users to only Facebook, there is truly no better way of reaching a wide, targeted audience than with Google+. Not only do your posts on Google+ reach the people who follow you (just like on other social networks), but your website has a much better chance of showing up in search results if that person or any of the people in their "Google+ Circles" is also in one of your "Google+ Circles." (Don’t worry if you don’t understand that yet. The point is this: Google+ is cool.) :) Unlike Twitter, you can’t just create a brand new, stand-alone Google+ account for your website/business. Instead, what you do is create a "page" for your website within your personal Google+ account. So there are 2 steps here…

    1. Create a personal Google+ account (if you don’t already have one)
    2. Create a "page" for your business within your personal Google+ account

    Step 1. Create a Personal Google+ Account

    If you already have a personal Google+ account, skip down to the Links Section portion of Step 1. Still reading this? You must not have a personal Google+ account. Let’s set that up now. Log in to your Google account, and then go to the Google+ sign-up Page and sign up for Google+. As you go through and create your profile, remember that this Google+ account is a PERSONAL account. (We’ll add a “fan page” for your website/business later on in Step 2.) Make sure to enter your personal information… your name, your birth date, your picture, etc. Enter as much or as little information as you’d like, keeping in mind that on most things you can specify who gets to see the info (i.e. only people in your “Circles” or anyone). Links Section. The most important part of your Google+ profile is the Links section, made up of 3 parts… 1. Other profiles. Use the ‘Manage Connected Accounts’ option to insert links to your other social profile pages (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.). Use the ‘Add Custom Link’ option to insert links to other sites/pages you want to highlight (but don’t bother listing your website here since we’ll link to it in the other 2 sections below). 2. Contributor to. This is where you’ll tell Google that you own the website you’ve built, essentially “linking” you (personally) to the website and making all of the “Google+ Circles” magic I was talking about before work. To add your site, just click the ‘Add custom link’ button, enter the store name (for the “anchor text”), enter the store’s URL, and save. 3. Links. The purpose of the ‘Links’ section is a little bit different; so even though it’s a little bit redundant, we always add links to our websites in this section as well. Okay, you’ve now set up your personal Google+ profile. Proceed to Step 2 to create a “page” for your business within your personal account.

    Step 2. Create a “Page” for Your Business

    While logged in to your personal Google+ account, go to the create a page wizard. (Alternatively, you can click on your user icon in the top-right corner of the page and then select the ‘Add account’ button towards the bottom of the drop-down menu.) For the type of page, select the ‘Company, Institution or Organization’ option and then just go through and input/upload all of the information requested (store name, URL, tag line, logo, etc.). Select ‘company’ for the type of page and leave ‘Any Google+ user’ selected. All you really need to do at this point is set up a “bare bones” profile for your website/business. Don’t worry about customizing the page or adding a bunch of content to your profile page at this point.

    Steps to Create a Facebook Page for Your Website

    Similar to Google+, Facebook requires you to create a “fan page” for your website/business within your personal Facebook account. You can’t just create a stand-alone Facebook account for your website/business. Here are the steps…

    1. Log in to your personal Facebook account. (If you don’t have a Facebook account, you’ll need to create one.)

    2. Go to the create a fan page wizard. Important Note: If you’ve never created a custom page before, you’ll likely be asked to provide a custom “username” sometime during the upcoming steps. Just provide a logical username (i.e. StoreCoach), since the username you enter will eventually become the page name at Facebook (i.e. http://www.facebook.com/StoreCoach).

    3. For the type of fan page, select the 'Company, Organization or Institution’ option.

    4. Select the 'Retail and Consumer Merchandise' category from the category drop-down (or a different category if it suits your website better), and enter your store's name (i.e. ‘Tom’s Dog Houses’ if your domain name is TomsDogHouses.com).

    5. Upload your store’s logo (which you may need to resize and/or crop) to be the image for your business. The optimal size for the logo/avatar image is 180 x 180 pixels.

    6. Provide a brief description of your business, making sure to include your website’s URL. Don't be too "salesy" here; just give a true explanation of your website and focus on how your business helps people. That does it for your initial set-up.

    There’s obviously a lot more information you can and eventually will provide, but this is as far as you need to go at this point. We’ll dive a lot deeper into actually using Facebook and the other social networking sites in Phase 5.

     

    Pro's Edge: How to Get a Custom URL for Your Facebook Fan Page

    Once you have at least 25 "fans" of your company's Facebook fan page (i.e. 25+ people who have "liked" your page), Facebook allows you to choose a custom URL for the page. This is great because it makes it extremely simple to point others to your Facebook fan page. (For example, Store Coach's Facebook fan page is located at http://www.facebook.com/StoreCoach.) Follow these simple steps to choose a custom URL for your Facebook fan page...
    1. In the upper-right corner of Facebook (once you're logged in), click on the down-arrow and choose to 'Use Facebook As' your company name (which should be listed in the drop-down menu there).
    2. Find and click on 'Admin Settings' in the admin panel section towards the top of the page's body.
    3. On the left side, click on 'Basic Information', which will take you to a new admin page.
    4. In the middle of the page, click the link that says 'Create a username for this page?'.
    5. On the page that comes up, click on the blue button that says 'Continue as YOUR NAME'.
    6. For your username, enter your store's name without any spaces (i.e. Store Coach would be StoreCoach).

    Set Up & Configure Your On-Site Blog

    Note: Since recording the above video, Google has "retired" the Google Authorship tag. It's no longer necessary (or even possible) to add the Authorship tag.

    Your on-site blog will be the "hub" for the social marketing you’ll be doing in Phase 3. Without a blog, there’s really no point in even setting up social accounts or doing social marketing! On-Site BlogA blog is also the easiest, most natural place to continuously add new, unique content to your site. We touched on this a little bit back in Chapter 5 and we’ll go into a lot more depth on it in Phase 3, but it’s important for you to recognize the value of constantly adding fresh, original content to your site. Google hates stagnant, unchanging sites. You should constantly be adding new content, and your blog is the best place to do that.

    What Does "On-Site Blog" Mean?

    Your blog needs to be an integral part of your website. In other words, it needs to reside on the same domain name as your site (i.e. YourDomain.com/blog or blog.YourDomain.com). You don’t want to set it up as a completely separate, stand-alone website with its own domain name. In order for a) the social marketing stuff to work and b) your store to get rewarded by Google for the content you’re adding to your blog, you want to set it up as an on-site blog.

    Blogging Platform Options

    The bottom line here is that you can use ANY blogging platform you’d like. If you’re already familiar with a particular platform, I’d say use that! The platform itself doesn’t really matter so long as you have a blog and actively use it. Many shopping carts (including Shopify) have built-in blogging platforms, which is nice. The PROs to using your cart's built-in blogging system are: 1) it's pre-configured so set-up will be easier, and 2) there's no additional cost (it's included with your shopping cart subscription you're already paying). The big CON is that you're pretty much stuck with its out-of-the-box functionality ("as-is"). You can't add plug-ins and widgets like you can with WordPress and other major blogging platforms. WordPress Blogging PlatformThat's why I generally recommend using WordPress (my personal favorite) or another blogging platform such as Tumblr or Blogger (if you're more familiar with one of them). But didn’t you say it needs to be an on-site blog? Yes, it does. But each of these stand-alone blogging platforms allows you to "map" your blog to be a sub-domain on your site (i.e. blog.YourDomain.com).

    Set Up & Configure Your On-Site Blog

    Follow the step-by-step instructions in the Pro's Edge section below to set up and configure your on-site blog.

    Pro's Edge: How to Set Up & Configure an On-Site Blog

    The following set of steps assume you will be using WordPress as your blogging platform, since it’s the platform most people are familiar with and the platform we use and recommend. If you’ll be using a different blogging platform, the steps will basically be the same but some of the details may vary.

    Step 1. Register a New, Low-Cost Domain Name

    "Uh, what are you talking about, Coach? I swear you said I want my blog to reside on the same domain as my store! Why would I need to register a new domain name?" Yeah, it’s a little confusing. :) Let me explain … Most shopping cart platforms (including Shopify) don’t allow you to install third-party software (such as WordPress) on their servers. So the only way to get a WordPress blog on your store’s domain is to host it separately and "map" it to a sub-domain location on your store’s domain name. So your blog will actually be hosted on a separate hosting account with a unique domain name, but it will appear to be located on your store’s sub-domain because of how it is "mapped." I know, I know... it sounds pretty complex, but it’s actually quite simple and very easy to set up. So for this first step, go to either GoDaddy or NameCheap and register a low-cost domain name. The domain name itself doesn’t matter since nobody will ever see it. Oftentimes, you can pick up a .us or .biz type extension for just a couple/few bucks a year, so you may want to get a non-.com domain name to save a few dollars. (Note: If you have a domain name lying around, go ahead and use it for your blog.) For this first step in the process we need to register a "low-cost" domain name. Alternatively, if you have a domain name laying around that you aren't using, you can save yourself a few bucks and use that instead. The domain name itself doesn't really matter because it will not be seen by anyone. The domain and hosting are simply used to run the blog, but the public won't even know what the domain name is.

    Step 2. Set Up a Low-Cost Hosting Account

    As we discussed in the previous step, you’ll need an account where your blog will actually exist (even though you’ll be “mapping” it to make it look like it’s part of your store). In this step, I’ll walk you through the process of getting a hosting account and linking it to the domain name you registered in step 1. If you already have a hosting account you’re happy with, you can most likely use that. If you don’t have a hosting account, we strongly recommend using HostGator. The Baby Plan is only a few bucks a month, and you'll get the first month free using the link. The Baby Plan will allow you to host unlimited domain names and give you unlimited space, enabling you to use it for hosting other stores’ blogs, a corporate website or blog, or any other miscellaneous websites you end up having later on. A few quick pointers about signing up with HostGator...

    • When you set up your account here, be sure to use the promo code STORECOACH to get the first month free.
    • Provide the domain name you registered in step 1 as the 'Domain Name' requested during the sign-up wizard.
    • Within a couple minutes of signing up, you’ll receive a couple emails from HostGator. Be sure to keep those emails because they contain a) the username and password for your hosting control panel and b) the nameservers you'll need in order to “link” your domain name to the hosting account.

    Now that you have a hosting account in place, it's time to “link” the domain name to the hosting account. The nameservers for your new hosting account will be listed in one of the emails HostGator sent you and will look something like this: NS442.HOSTGATOR.COM and NS443.HOSTGATOR.COM (there will be two of them). Log in to your domain registrar account (GoDaddy or NameCheap) and enter the nameservers HostGator gave you. Here are step-by-step instructions for GoDaddy and for NameCheap. Once you input the nameservers, it can take anywhere between 5 minutes and 24 hours for the changes to propagate (i.e. take effect), although it typically happens within an hour or two. You can tell the nameservers have propagated when you visit the domain name in your web browser and see a mainly blank page without any graphics or company logos on it. (If it’s been a few hours and you’re still not seeing this, try clearing your browser’s temporary files (cache/cookies), flushing your computer’s DNS and/or rebooting your modem. Do a quick Google search if you’re not sure how.)

    Step 3. Install WordPress

    Installing a WordPress blog is free and easy to do. Simply follow these step-by-step instructions. (Note: During the set-up process, you’ll be asked to create a username. For security reasons, we recommend choosing a username other than ‘admin’.) To see your newly created blog, just type your domain name into a web browser (i.e. YourDomain.com). To access your blog's admin panel, simply add '/wp-admin' to the end of the domain name (i.e. YourDomain.com/wp-admin). You’ll obviously need to enter the username and password you selected during the set-up process.

    Step 4. "Map" the New Domain Name to be a Sub-Domain on Your Store

    Coming soon...

    Step 5. Add Follow Buttons for Your Social Profile Pages

    These steps will help you add ‘Follow Us' buttons to your blog’s pages so visitors can join your social communities (or subscribe to your blog's built-in RSS feed)...
    1. In a new tab, go to http://www.addthis.com/.
    2. Click on the 'Get the Code' link towards the top of any page on the AddThis website. (When the 'Register' page pops up, you can just close it. You don’t need to register.) In the sub-menu that appears below 'Get the Code’, select the ‘Follow’ option.
    3. You’re now at the page where you'll create your code. For starters, select the style you like from the 'Style' drop-down. Next, delete the text in the 'Header' field (you don't need this). Now enter the exact URL for your profile page (i.e. https://twitter.com/storecoach) at each of the social networking sites you created accounts at (which should be at least Twitter, Google+ and Facebook). Note: WordPress is pre-configured to work for RSS, so I’d include that as well by entering this URL for the RSS option: blog.YourDomain.com/blog/feed (replace ‘YourDomain.com’ with your store’s domain name).
    4. Now click on the 'Get the Code' button below the preview.
    5. You'll be taken to a new page. which displays the code you just generated. Simply click the 'Grab It’ button.
    6. Within your blog's admin panel, go to ‘Appearance > Widgets’.
    7. Drag and drop a 'Text' widget from the 'Available Widgets' area on the left side of the screen to the 'Main Sidebar' area on the right side of the screen.
    8. The 'Text' widget will open (expand). Enter 'Follow Us!’ (or whatever you’d like it to say) in the 'Title’ field. Then paste the code from your clipboard (Ctrl+V) into the larger open field (below the ’Title’ field) and click 'Save'.

    Step 6. Add Social Share Buttons

    It’s important to make it easy for your blog’s visitors to click social "like" buttons to quickly share the blog posts they enjoy. When a visitor clicks on one of these “like” buttons, your post will automatically be shared with all of his/her followers, potentially turning 1 visitor into dozens or hundreds of visitors! (This is how a blog post can “go viral” or at least become popular within your topic/market.) The following steps will walk you through installing the AddThis social like buttons on your blog post pages...
    1. Navigate to the ‘Plugins > Add New’ page in your blog’s admin panel.
    2. Do a search for 'AddThis'.
    3. Click 'Install Now' next to the #1 result. Click 'OK' on the confirmation pop-up you will probably see.
    4. On the page that comes up, click on 'Activate Plugin'.
    5. Now navigate to ’Settings > AddThis’ in the left sidebar of your blog’s admin panel.
    6. On the page that comes up, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the 'Save Changes’ button.

    Step 7. Activate a Commenting System

    Having a good commenting system on your blog encourages interaction, which will help in building a strong social following. You can use any commenting system you’d like (including the built-in commenting system), but in my opinion, the DISQUS comment system is the best comments plugin available for Wordpress blogs right now. In order to use the DISQUS comments plugin, you need to create a free account with DISQUS. The first set of steps below will walk you through that, and then the second set of steps will help you install & activate the plugin needed in your blog's admin panel. Create a DISQUS Account
    1. In a new browser tab, go to http://disqus.com/ and click on the 'Sign Up' button.
    2. Enter your Site URL (this is the URL for your store, not your blog), Site Name, Site Shortname, Username, Password, and Email address. Then click 'Continue’.
    3. Go to the email account you used to sign up and click the link in the email from DISQUS to confirm your email address.
    Install & Activate the DISQUS Plugin
    1. Within your blog’s admin panel, navigate to ‘Plugins > Add New’.
    2. Do a search for 'Disqus Comment System'.
    3. Click 'Install Now' next to the #1 result. Click 'OK' on the confirmation pop-up you will probably see.
    4. On the page that comes up, click on 'Activate Plugin'.
    5. Once the page reloads, click on the new 'Comments' menu item in the left sidebar menu.
    6. Enter the DISQUS Username & Password you created in the previous set of steps and click 'Next'.
    7. Check the radio button next to your blog's name and click 'Next'.
    That concludes the steps for installing the DISQUS comments system on your blog. Now visitors to your website can use virtually any type of existing personal social account to post comments on your blog posts.

    Step 8. Add Links to Important Pages in Your Store

    It’s very important for each page of your blog to link to your store’s "important pages" (typically your home page, category pages and possibly brand pages as well). Not only do you want visitors on your blog to click through to your store, but it’s also important to do this so that the "authority" your blog builds up over time (which we’ll discuss in Phase 5) "passes" to your main store (and particularly to its most important pages). Follow these steps to add links to your store’s most important pages to the sidebar of your blog pages...
    1. Within your blog’s admin panel, navigate to ‘Appearance > Widgets’.
    2. Drag and drop the 'Text' widget from the 'Available Widgets' area on the left side of the screen to the 'Main Sidebar' section on the right side of the screen.
    3. The 'Text' widget will open (expand). Enter ’Store Categories’ (or whatever you’d like the heading to be) in the 'Title’ field. Then, in the larger box below the ‘Title’ field, enter the following text for each link you want to create...
      <a href="http://domain.com/page">Category Name</a><br />
      Replace 'domain.com/page' with the actual URL of the category/brand page, and replace ‘Category Name' with the actual category/brand name.
    4. Once you have entered all links, click 'Save’. (Note: If you’d like, you can create 2-3 separate widgets (one for each grouping of links) instead of putting them all within 1 widget.)

    Do Expanded Keyword Research & Keyword-Optimize More Pages on Your Site

    Back in Chapter 5, I only had you keyword-optimize your home page for the primary keyword phrase you're targeting. The rest of your site (including category pages, sub-category pages, brand pages and product pages) is NOT keyword-optimized yet. Let's remedy that, shall we? :) Why didn't we just keyword-optimize all the pages back when we were building the store in Chapter 5? Excellent question. :) I intentionally had you hold off until now to ensure that you didn't a) build your store with Google - instead of customers - in the forefront of your mind, or b) over-optimize your site, which can get you penalized by Google. Besides, you had enough to focus on while you were building your store. I didn't want to add this to the pile! But now that your store is built, let's find some more keyword phrases to target and the best pages on your site to implement them.

    Step 1. Find More Keyword Phrases

    Match Keyword Phrases to PagesMany people make the mistake of picking a particular page on their site and then trying to find a somewhat relevant keyword phrase that "fits" that page. That's the wrong approach. Instead, we're going to start out by using Niche Finder Pro to find a bunch (5-20) of additional keyword phrases that are relevant to our niche/store. Then, once we have a good list, we'll go through and choose which page on our site is best suited for each keyword phrase we want to implement. Make sense? Open Niche Finder Pro and set the 'Minimum Daily Searches' option to a low number (i.e. 5). You're looking for secondary keyword phrases here; you're not choosing a niche. So we're okay with lower-volume phrases. (Set the other two filters fairly low as well.) Now do a search for your root word (in singular form). Cruise through the results and save any and all relevant keyword phrases to your Favorites list. Try not to even think about whether the keyword phrases you find might have a good corresponding page on your site; just save everything that's even somewhat relevant. (Note: You may also want to search for other short phrases - i.e. brand names, styles, other descriptors - related to your niche/product line to find additional keyword phrases.) Once you've exhausted all of your search ideas, skip over to your Favorites page and run the 'Can I Rank?' calculator for each keyword phrase. Now it's time to pick some additional keyword phrases you want to optimize for. Like I said before, we're okay with lower-volume phrases here (the 'Daily Search Volume' number does NOT need to be bold & green). You'd rather optimize a particular category or brand page for a keyword phrase that only gets 15 or 20 searches per day than not keyword-optimize the page at all! But aside from that, use the same general mentality you used back in Chapter 1 when you were picking a niche. The higher each of the 4 scores, the better! Come up with a prioritized list (ordered from most attractive to least attractive, based on the 4 scores in Niche Finder Pro) of the top 5 or 10 (or possibly as many as 20, depending on the niche) secondary keyword phrases you want to implement in your store. Once you've created your list (preferably organized into a simple spreadsheet), you're ready to move on to Step 2.

    Step 2. Choose the Best Page for each Keyword Phrase

    Next, create a list of all of the "top-level" pages on your site. This includes:
    • Main category pages
    • Sub category pages
    • Brand pages
    • FAQs and/or buyers guide pages
    • Maybe a handful of the most popular product pages (the ones that actually get searched for)

    Now you're just going to start at the top of your top-level pages list and pick the keyword phrase that is the "best fit" for each top-level page (1 keyword phrase per page). The keyword phrase doesn't need to be a perfect match, but it should at least make sense. Don't force it too much! ;) Your focus should be on assigning a keyword phrase to each main category and sub-category page, as well as brand pages. But you can also assign a keyword phrase to particular product pages as well. Now, there's a very strong likelihood that a handful of the keyword phrases in your list won't have a home. That's perfectly fine! Like I said before, you don't want to try to force a square peg into a round hole. Left-overs are fine. For attractive (i.e. high-scoring) keyword phrases you don't assign to a particular page, you can create a "queue" and consider writing a blog post, article or buying guide that targets that phrase later on.

    Step 3. Keyword-Optimize the Pages You've Selected

    Now go through, page by page, and keyword-optimize each page exactly the same way you optimized your home page back in this section of Chapter 5...
    • Put 1 instance of the keyword phrase in the page's title tag
    • Put 1 instance of the keyword phrase in the page's H1 heading
    • "Sprinkle" the keyword phrase (and related LSI keyword phrases) naturally into the textual content of the page 2-5 times

    Remember not to go overboard and run the risk of over-optimizing the pages. And be careful not to undo all the good work you've done with making your site customer-friendly. If changing the H1 heading on a page is going to be confusing to customers that land on that page, don't change it! Similarly, if changing the title tag for a page is going to cause confusion to shoppers who arrive at that page out from Google or another search engine, don't mess with the title tag. It's not worth confusing your customers and losing sales to try to keyword-optimize for a phrase that doesn't really fit. Again, don't force it!

    End Result

    Once you've completed the 3 steps above, your home page, main category pages, sub-category pages, brand pages and maybe even a handful of product pages will be keyword-optimized for the best keyword phrases in your niche. Now your site is truly done! ;) And as an added bonus, you'll have a list of additional keyword phrases you can target in blog posts and/or articles and buyers guides later on. Sweet!

    Other Tasks to Launch Your Store

    Okay, gang, in this final section of Chapter 6, we’re going to bang out a small handful of quick tasks to finish out the Store Launch Sequence and send you on your way. Let’s get to it!

    Submit Your Product Feed File to Free Shopping Portals

    Free shopping portals likely won’t send you a ton of traffic, but the traffic you do get from them is 1) quite targeted, 2) high-converting and 3) free. So why not, right? :) Most new-age shopping carts have a product feed generator that creates your product feed file for you, and most free shopping portals have a feed "grabber" that automatically pulls in your feed file. So submitting your product feed to free shopping portals is as easy as 1-2-3…
    1. Within your shopping cart’s admin panel, click a button to auto-generate your product feed file (make note of the URL of the file your shopping cart creates)
    2. Create an account at each of the shopping portals you want to submit your feed file to
    3. Within each account, provide the URL of the product feed file

    At a bare minimum, we recommend submitting your feed file to Bing, though there are several "second-tier" free shopping portals you may also want to get listed in as well.

    Pro's Edge: Adding Your Products to Bing for Free

    Bing buries the FREE Bing Shopping account within the PAID Bing Ads accounts. There is a single login and account for both services, even though one is free and one is paid. Therefore, in order to upload your product feed to Bing so your products are included in Bing's free shopping portal, you need to create a Bing Ads account.

    At several points in the process of creating a Bing Ads account, it will appear as if you are going to be charged/billed for the service. But that is only because the Bing shopping portal account (which is free) is linked to the Bing Ads account (which is not free). Rest assured that you will NOT be charged unless you actually create ad campaigns within the Bing Ads portion of the account, which is NOT required. Uploading your product feed for the Bing shopping portal, which is the focus of this Pro's Edge tutorial, is completely FREE.

    PART 1: Create a Bing Ads Account & Add Your Store

    Before you can upload your product feed to Bing, you first need to create a Bing Ads account. Click this link to go to the sign-up page. We recommend using your parent company's details when creating this account. That way, if and when you create additional stores, you can use this same account for all of them. We also recommend saving your login information to your 'Passwords' spreadsheet for future reference. Note: At the time this tutorial was created, Bing Shopping was only accepting merchants with an address within the USA. Therefore, to be included, you either need to be located inside the USA or you need to get a US mailing address if you are located abroad. Before proceeding, you will have to wait for an email from Bing that indicates your account has been approved and is active. Once your account is active, follow these steps to add your store to Bing...

    1. Login to your account at https://bingads.microsoft.com/.
    2. Click the Tools tab in the top right-hand corner of the page.
    3. Within the 'Management Tools' section on the right side, click the Bing Merchant Center link.
    4. On the 'Create a store' page, leave 'Create new store' checked, enter your store's basic details, check the terms box and click Finish.

    After completing this portion of the set-up process, you will get an email explaining that your store must be reviewed and approved before it is activated. This process typically takes 3-5 business days but we've seen instances where it seems to take even longer :( . (Note: If you don't hear from them within a week, you can submit a support ticket to ask about the delay.) Once you get an email from Bing confirming that your account has been activated, you can proceed with the steps below.

    PART 2: Create and Submit a Feed File

    1. For starters, we need a clean export file that contains all of the products in your store. For all other shopping cart platforms, you'll need to check your platform's documentation if you don't know how to export your products into a feed file.
    2. Open the product export file using a spreadsheet application like MS Excel or OpenOffice Calc. When you open the file, you'll likely see a pop-up box that asks you to choose some settings for how the file should be opened. Select the following options: 1) Comma, 2) Quoted field as text, and 3) Detect special numbers.
    3. If your product feed file shows SKUs, Attributes or Options on their own rows (separate from the rows containing the main product information), you will need to get rid of those extra rows by highlighting them, right-clicking & deleting them. Your products should now be displayed in the spreadsheet program (one product per row).
    4. Resize the spreadsheet so it's only taking up the upper half of your computer's monitor.
    5. Download the Bing Example Feed and open it, re-sizing it to take up the lower half of your computer's monitor. (You should now have your store's product feed file in the upper half of your screen and the Bing Example Feed in the lower half of your screen.)
    6. One column at a time, you can copy the column you need from your product feed file (at the top of your screen) and paste it into the corresponding column in the Bing Example Feed (at the bottom of your screen). The BOLD RED columns are required fields. If you hover over any of the headings in row 1 of the Bing Example Feed, you'll see a tip about what information you should enter in that column. You may also want to refer the Bing Category List and Bing Attributes Table (both down below at the end of this Pro's Edge tutorial). Useful Tip: You can copy an entire column by clicking on the column number above the first cell, holding 'Ctrl' (or 'Cmd' for Mac users) on your keyboard, clicking the very top cell containing the heading text to de-select it, and then clicking 'Ctrl' (or 'Cmd') and 'C' on your keyboard at the same time. Then paste the entire column into the appropriate column in the lower spreadsheet by highlighting the cell below the heading text (row 2) and clicking 'Ctrl' (or 'Cmd') and 'V' at the same time on your keyboard to paste.
    7. Once you feel that your bing-example-feed.xls file is fully populated, click within any active cell on the spreadsheet and then press 'Ctrl+A' (or 'Cmd+A' on Macs) to highlight all cells. Then press 'Ctrl+C' (or 'Cmd+C' for Macs) to copy it all to your clipboard.
    8. Open a new text document (with the .txt extension) and paste all of the content from your clipboard directly into it ('Ctrl+V' on a PC or 'Cmd+V' on a Mac).
    9. Select 'File > Save As...' (or press 'Ctrl + Shift + S') to bring up the 'Save As' menu and choose a name for your text document. (Note: If you are asked what encoding this .txt file should be, make sure you choose UTF-8.) The end result here is that you have a completed file (I'll assume you named it 'bing.txt') saved to your computer ready to be imported into Bing.

    PART 3: Upload the BingFeed.txt File to Your Bing Ads Account

    1. Login to your Bing Ads account at https://bingads.microsoft.com/.
    2. Click the Tools tab in the top right-hand corner of the page.
    3. Within the 'Management Tools' section on the right side, click the Bing Merchant Center link.
    4. On the page that comes up, click on your store name from the list.
    5. Click on the Catalog Management tab to open that section.
    6. In the Catalog name field, enter 'Bing Shopping'. In the File name field, enter 'bing'. Then click Save.
    7. Click on the View All Catalogs hyperlink that should now appear next to 'Catalog Info' (if you don't see this hyperlink, try refreshing the page).
    8. From the list on the page, select Bing Shopping (which is the catalog you just created).
    9. Scroll down to the Shopping Feed Upload section, click the Browse button, select the bing.txt file on your computer and click Upload Feed to Bing Merchant Center.

    You have now submitted your product feed file to Bing. It should be processed within 1-2 business days. Once your feed file has been processed, your products should start appearing within the Bing Shopping results.

    Bing Categories

    Adult, Arts & Crafts, Baby & Nursery, Beauty & Fragrance, Books & Magazines, Cameras & Optics, Car & Garage, Clothing & Shoes, Collectibles & Memorabilia, Computing, Electronics, Flowers, Gourmet Food & Chocolate, Health & Wellness, Home Furnishings, Jewelry & Watches, Kitchen & Housewares, Lawn & Garden, Miscellaneous, Movies, Music, Musical Instruments, Office Products, Pet Supplies, Software, Sports & Outdoors, Tools & Hardware, Toys, Travel, Vehicles, Video Games

    Bing Feed Attributes (aka "Headings")

    Click here to view the table of Bing Feed Attributes.

    Submit Your Site to the Dmoz Directory

    Once upon a time, it was a good idea to take a couple hours to submit your site to all kinds of directories on the web (of which there are thousands and thousands). But (semi-)recent updates to Google's algorithm have made most all of these directories pretty worthless (some could even be viewed as "spammy" by Google). So nowadays, we only bother submitting our site to Dmoz. Just follow the instructions on this page to add your site to Dmoz. It's free and should only take a few minutes.

    Write and Post a Buyers Guide and an FAQs Page

    I know you’ve written a lot of content to get to this point, but I want you to write just a little more. :) I just want you to write an FAQs page and maybe a Buyers Guide for your customers (knowing that Google is also going to love you for it). What should you write about? Just put yourself in the shoes of your customer and consider what kind of information will help them find the right product and decide which product will meet their needs, solve their problem and fit within their budget. Here are a few quick ideas just to get your brain pumping…
    • Compare brand A to brand B
    • Compare the “economy line” to the higher-end models
    • Explain the difference (in lay man’s terms) between technology A and technology B
    • Compare style A to style B
    • Compare products made out of material A to products made out of material B

    A great place to get ideas for buying guide topics is Yahoo Answers. Just do a quick search for your main keyword phrase and take a look at commonly asked questions relating to your product line. If there's not enough to say about a particular topic to make a stand-alone buying guide out of it, just have it be one of the Q&As on your FAQs page. You’ll definitely want to link to these buying guides in the footer of your store. And in some cases, it will also make sense to make mention of these guides and add links to them within the textual content of your home page and/or category pages (and possibly even on some product pages).

    Set Up a Newsletter

    It’s much easier to sell something to a customer who has already bought something from you than it is to go out and acquire a new customer. That’s why having a newsletter is so important. Even if you’re selling a product line that doesn’t really lend itself to repeat customers (and most of you will probably be in this boat), I still recommend taking the time to set up a newsletter. It will take you 5 minutes, and it’s free. You don’t have to feel like you need to send out a "monthly newsletter" or even every 3 months or 6 months. For most of our stores (which sell “one and done” products customer’s aren’t likely to buy very often), we only mail out to our list every year or so (i.e. at the beginning of Christmas shopping season). But that annual mailing usually results in a handful of sales, which makes it well worth the minimal time and effort it takes. MailChimpWe recommend using MailChimp for 3 reasons: 1) it’s completely free (until your list becomes quite large), 2) it’s pre-integrated into almost all shopping carts, and 3) it’s super intuitive and easy to use. Linking your MailChimp newsletter account to your store is as easy as inserting a couple of ID #s (i.e. keys) into the right fields within your shopping cart admin panel.

    Recommended (but NOT required): Create a Custom 404 Error Page

    When a customer clicks a broken link on your website (or another person's website) that leads to the dreaded 404 – Page Not Found error page, it's extremely frustrating to the customer. In many cases, the customer will simply leave your website and go searching elsewhere. Your chances of them returning to your website are not very good at that point!The default 404 error message for most shopping cart platforms (or the one that is displayed by search engines when the website software doesn't have a 404 page) are not very helpful and, even worse, they are typically worded in a way that seems to suggest that the customer did something wrong! You've already got a frustrated shopper on your hands. It certainly does not help to exacerbate the situation by implying that it is the customer's fault. Instead, it is a much better idea to change your 404 error page to something that is not only apologetic, but one that is helpful. You should give the customer easy ways to get where they wanted to go, along with providing ways they can contact you to get immediate help. Customers will appreciate that you are offering help to them, which definitely is a major plus in gaining their trust. Besides, there is nothing better for conversions than when you engage directly with a customer!

    Review the Complete Store Launch Sequence

    Before you move on to Phase 3, cruise down through this complete list of tasks to make sure you’ve completed the entire Store Launch Sequence…
    1. Create a Google account for your website/business
    2. Activate Google Analytics (GA) and insert the tracking code into your site (make sure it’s on your blog, too)
    3. Activate Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) and submit your sitemap
    4. Insert the Google Publisher Tag on your site
    5. Activate Google Merchant Center (GMC) and, optionally, start Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs)
    6. Activate Google AdWords
    7. Activate Google Mail (Gmail)
    8. Create a Twitter account for your website and configure your profile page
    9. Create a Google+ page for your website and configure your profile page
    10. Create a Facebook page for your website and configure your profile page
    11. Consider creating a Pinterest and/or LinkedIn account as well, if applicable
    12. Set up and configure your on-site blog
    13. Perform expanded keyword research and keyword-optimize additional top-level pages on your site
    14. Submit your product feed file to free shopping portals
    15. Submit your site to Dmoz
    16. Write and post a Buyers Guide and an FAQs page
    17. Set up your newsletter
    Once you’ve completed all the above tasks, your store is officially launched and you’re ready to open for business and start making sales & profits!