5 Ways To Optimise Your Google Merchant Feed
There are many important settings in Google Merchant Center that you need to optimise before running Google Shopping campaigns. Product titles and descriptions, shipping settings and product images all play a key role in driving sales from your Shopping and Performance Max campaigns. In this post, we will cover the 5 most important Merchant Center settings and feed optimisation techniques you need to focus on. We explain each setting in detail so you can stay on top of them all and not risk campaign launch delays.
Optimise your product titles. Titles are one of the main attributes that Google's algorithm uses to decide when to display products and optimising them is of fundamental importance, because it has the biggest effect over which searches you appear for. Start by adding your brand name, high-search volume terms and product specific details to your titles and descriptions.
The attributes you will want to include depend on which vertical you're in. For instance, apparel products should include brand + Gender + Product Type + Attributes such as colour, size and material; Electronics product titles should include Brand + Attributes + Product Type + Model Number; and Consumables should include Brand + Product Type + Attributes such as product weight, flavour, count, etc.
Create keyword testing in your feed to really hone in on what keywords are working for your store. If you are using a feed management tool, you can create A/B tests to see which keywords perform best or you can experiment by adding different keywords to your product variations and check which ones perform best. Important to remember:
The title in the product feed should be an extension of the title on the website. That way, the information shoppers see on the ad will be cohesive with the site.
Place important information at the beginning of titles. If it gets truncated on the results page, the important information will show first.
Don’t use salesy language. Providing the info shoppers are looking for will speak for itself and allow you to show up in the most relevant searches.
Always perform tests for what resonates best for the prime audience and converts shoppers into repeat customers.
When optimising your Google Merchant Centre product feed, remember that product images are the first thing shoppers see when an ad is shown, so you want to make sure these look great.
Use high quality pictures, make sure the variants match the picture such as colour, size, material and make sure there isn't text over the image - watermarks and sales graphics will get the products disapproved.
Think like your shoppers - Google values the title second, only behind the image. It is one of the 4 attributes that consumers see on Google’s result page. And even if the picture tells a lot, the title must be compelling. Titles should highlight the most relevant product attributes so that shoppers can easily skim through and determine if the product is worth clicking on. If you are an online retailer you are obliged to know your consumers’ behaviour.
Recognizing the most significant factors that pushing customers towards making a purchase is crucial in this process. No one-size-fits-all. Especially when it comes to optimizing product titles. Each industry and each customer are different. Analyze your audience, as they are the key to understanding the intent of your searchers
When optimizing Google product titles, remember character length limits: Ensure they don't exceed the maximum character length of 150 characters. In some cases, only 70 characters may be displayed, such as on a mobile device. If you do exceed that length, your title might get truncated. Google will show as much of your product title as they can, but it will often be shortened. So make sure you put the most compelling information at the beginning of the titles.
Avoid Capitalization - capitalized text is common in spam and untrustworthy ads. Use capitalization only when it’s needed. Including for abbreviations, phone numbers or countries.
Don’t include promotional text such as price, sale price, sale dates, shipping, delivery date, other time-related information, or your company’s name. That information is reserved for other attributes.
Avoid words from foreign languages, unless they’re well understood by everyone, including words from foreign languages might cause confusion for shoppers and negatively impact your ads performance.
Be specific and add the distinguishing details of each variant. Does your product come in different color or sizes? Include these attributes in the title and remember to use your variant images
Optimise product descriptions. Writing good descriptions is your chance to educate the user on the product before they click in to the website. In this case make sure the descriptions are well written and make corrections if necessary. Google allows you to use up to 10,000 characters for your product descriptions. We suggest that aiming for 500 to 1,000-character descriptions which include all the most relevant attributes, such as size, features and technical specifications.
Add information around visual details, such as pattern, material and design. This helps Google return more accurate searches for the shopper. Avoid listing the specifics of any variant products — simply state the product comes in other colours, materials and so on. This prevents the wrong product from showing.
Make sure the description contains relevant information of the product, and why is it relevant to the user. Here, it is possible to include additional benefits such as free shipping, color, size and materials.
Make ads stand out with sales and merchant promotions. Sales and merchant promotions trigger people’s buying habits and usually leads to high click through rates and lower cost per conversions.
In fact, a Google study showed that they can cause a 28% lift in conversion rates. Say one of your clients runs a clothing store and has a sale on t-shirts for 25% off during spring break. In this scenario, they’ve created a promotional code of SAVE25 on their website. You can put this to good use in the Shopping ads.
First, create an attribute called promotion_id and populate only the t-shirts that are on sale with the promo code. After this, go to Google Merchant Center and create the promotion under the promotions tab. If you do not see a merchant promotions tab then a Merchant Promotions Interest Form will need to be submitted. There will be instructions on how to create promotions in Google including effective start and end time, specific products vs all products, and if you are using a promotional code.
These promotions can be run for up to 3-4 months without updating. This is good if your clients are offering free shipping or running a long sale. Google Promotions Feed Alternatively, if your client has multiple promotions and changes them frequently, then setting up a Google Promotions Feed may be a better option. Then it can be uploaded to Google Merchant Center.
A Google Promotion Feed is a spreadsheet that houses all of online promotions and the related data such as promotion_id, product_applicability, offer_type, long_title, promotion_effective_dates, redemption_channel.
Google published a case study showing how Office Depot increased the performance of their Shopping ads. After using Merchant Promotions, they: Increased the CTR by 8.1% in UK and 9.8% in Germany CVR improved 18.1% in UK ROI increased 9.3% in Germany
Add the correct Google product category. Using the correct product category is another way to tell Google which product your ad should show. The Google product categories are similar to UPIs in that you and your competitors should be submitting the same values for each product, giving Google another way of grouping your product with other competing products.
You can get your products approved with general categorisations such as Apparel & Accessories > Clothing, but for the best results, you should put products into the most specific category.
You can download Google’s Product Taxonomy here, which contains all of the different product categories.
Google is increasingly putting more emphasis on product types which contribute to the overall “quality score” of your data feed. Once you organize your products into respective categories, you get a clear visibility over all of your products which in turn helps make the bidding process easier.
Products should be categorized only by type. For example: Apparel & Accessories> Clothing> Outerwear> Coats & Jackets> Denim Jackets. You can also create custom labels based on the values you define and how you categorize your products accordingly to differentiate various products, for example, best-selling products, clearance sale products, etc.
Create a supplemental feed and use custom labels. With supplemental feeds, you can easily add product labels, update product information and run promotions through supplemental feeds.
Custom labels are a great way to target your clients’ goals and segment products in Google Shopping campaigns based on factors you decide. Selling products in different price ranges but paying the same Cost per Acquisition (CPA) for each can become unprofitable pretty quickly. But if you’re able to get a hold of your profit margin data (or are able to calculate it), then this custom label will really make a difference in your campaigns. It will even enable you to further optimize your bidding strategy.
You can set it up in a few steps:
Merge your main data feed source with your margin data. If you don’t have margin data, then it’s possible to calculate using the item_cost data in your main feed.
Create your rules to set up the margin-based label.
Now you can use your new custom labels to subdivide your campaign and adjust the bids based on their margins (for example: cheap, medium and expensive)
It's also possible to create custom labels based on how your client’s prices compare to their competitors' prices. After gathering the price data, divide the products into 3 categories based on where they fall compared to other retailers selling the same products: poor, good, and excellent.
Set up a campaign for each of these categories. If there are any products that have fallen into the ‘low’ tier but are actually performing well, create separate rules for those so they can continue to thrive. Now you can play with your budget and test to determine how much you should allocate to the products in your ‘excellent’ tier.
Bonus Tip: Duplicate product IDs to target more keywords. The idea is to create another set of ads with a higher relevance to a targeted keyword since Google’s algorithm doesn’t always get it right.
For example, let's say your client had a product called 'Skincare Gift Basket'. You could use this strategy to have it show for a top of the funnel 'Mother's Day gifts' search query. It would allow you to create an ad with a different title, like: "Mother's Day Skincare Giftset” or for another occasion like weddings, Christmas or anniversaries.
Using these tactics with your campaigns will ensure that they are well optimized beyond the basic channel requirements. While each business is unique, these strategies can be applied no matter how big or small the product feed is. They’ll also make common performance metrics possible like increasing ROI and conversions while also decreasing costs per click.
Optimizing your data feed is a powerful and effective way to improve your ad performance on Google with a low cost per click and more conversion rate, producing more sales by optimizing the product titles based on the categories they are grouped into, matching feed colour to the landing page, using promotions in your feed for high click-through rates, selecting the best original image for your product ad and providing GTINs to get your ads placed with searches like “Best” and “Top”.