Top 3 Google Shopping Mistakes Even the Smartest Business Owners Make

Posted by Kevin Kielty on Feb 10, 2016

You've heard of Google Shopping and the Google AdWords Search Network, and understand that both are important for connecting consumers to retailers through advertisements. However, beyond that, the two are different animals.  

Understanding the basic differences can help you avoid some of the big mistakes even the smartest business owners make with Google Shopping, such as budgeting and ROI, failing to optimize and skimping on day-to-day budgetary management.

Here, we'll discuss the top three mistakes in-depth, and offer some tips for making the most of your Google Shopping campaigns.   

No. 1: The Wrong Mindset About Google Shopping ROI

Let’s look at a couple of ways to think about ROI in Google Shopping and how it's different than AdWords text ads …

Bidding Too High to Start

In some cases, people get overconfident in their ability to show up in Google Shopping results alongside competitors like Amazon. Oftentimes, this leads to bids that are too high. But the ability to show up is not true ROI.

Generally, it's best to bid low when you're starting out with Google Shopping. You may not get a lot of clicks, but at least you can first see what searches your ads show up for and what people are clicking on.

When you opt for a lower cost bidding strategy and test the results, you also buy some time to optimize your product page title and description, which can prep you for being even more relevant in the Shopping results (more on that later).

Knowing How Your Product Feed Factors

Good ROI starts with your product feed. Your product feed is a file connected to your Google Merchant Center and contains details about your available products. This is where Google pulls information for your Google Shopping ads.

For example, if you know your average cost per click is $5, and half of your inventory is less than $5, you can remove those less expensive items from the feed. Unless they're getting a 100 percent conversion rate, it's not worth the cost to keep them there.

Another perspective is that if you know 20 percent of your products bring in 80 percent of your sales, you can just keep that best-selling 20 percent of your product feed in your Google Shopping campaigns.

A final ROI consideration is thinking about your profits if you were to sell through, say, Amazon or eBay instead. These sites commonly charge you fees of 15 percent when you sell things there. If your advertising costs are less than that with Google Shopping, you can perceive that as a better ROI.

For more on approaching your Google Shopping ROI, stay on top of new enhancements as they come out.

No. 2: Not Optimizing for Relevance in Google Shopping Results

In Google's search results – whether it’s organic or paid results – the primary thing is relevance. A result should take a person to the page or content that is most relevant to their search.

The advantage to Google Shopping results above the organic search results is that you can pay to be at the top of the page, along with some pretty fantastic product imagery that makes clicking through enticing to users.

But even so, it's not time to relax your strategy. You still have to be relevant. Being irrelevant can cause wasted ad spend. Let’s look closer at that now, starting with the customer journey.

Understanding the Customer Journey

AdWords is good for grabbing the folks who are searching broad terms at the “top of the funnel” such as a search for a brand’s pots and pans -- “Viking pots and pans,” for example. Google Shopping, however, is better for the traffic that's ready to buy, and searching specifics like “Viking contemporary stainless steel 10-piece cookware set,” for example.

This is an important distinction for winning at Google Shopping.

The good thing is that only modified broad match exists for Google Shopping. Modified broad match gives you more control over when your ads will show, because your ads won't show for synonyms or related searches (as they will with broad match). This means you have increased relevancy, even if you get less traffic than you would with broad match. But it’s still not as tight as exact match. So you need to take steps to control when your product ads show.

Optimizing for Search

You can take some simple steps to optimize your Web pages to be more relevant in the Shopping search results (remembering that your data feed for Google Shopping pulls directly from the information on the product pages on your site). Let's talk about one of the easiest things to do: Optimizing your product title and descriptions on your Web pages. Optimizing means including the right keywords and optimal wording strategy in general. Things to avoid would be:

  • The wrong title
  • Too vague of a title
  • Too specific of a title
  • A title others in your category aren't using (you can research this by looking at ads from a sophisticated seller like Amazon. Search your product, append the word “Amazon” and learn how they're describing products you're also selling.)

When you don't optimize your product page title and description at the very least, you could be wasting ad spend by showing up for less relevant searches. In the organic search results, the downside to an irrelevant page is an exit. On Google Shopping, however, the downside is charges for those clicks.

As a side note, keep in mind that other things that factor into the customer's decision-making process once they land on your page is shipping options, reviews and other trust signals.

For more on optimizing your products and campaigns in Google Shopping, check out tips from Google and Search Engine Land, as well as the video below:

No. 3: Not Managing Budgets via Negative Keywords

In Google AdWords, negative keywords designate specific words and phrases that will not trigger your ads. If a user searches with one of your negative keywords, Google will prevent your ad from showing. Like certain keyword match types, this gives you an added measure of control and relevancy. We use negative keywords in AdWords text ads on the Search Network, but let's talk about how you can use them to drill down even further into Google Shopping management:

  1. Start by thinking about all the things your product is not.
  2. Are you repeating the wrong words too much? For example, in electronics, the word “amp” gets used a lot. If you overuse it, you might show up for searches for any amps – even for things you don't sell.
  3. Modifying your on-page optimization even more so you're not showing up for the wrong things in Google Shopping.

From there, monitor your account. If you continue showing up for the wrong things and your spend is high, you'll want to adjust. The following video offers information on reporting with Google Shopping: Even if you consider yourself adept with AdWords, you might have a few things yet to learn about Google Shopping. Take a little time for your ROI, optimization and negative keywords management to make the most of this platform for online retailers.