With Google recently phasing out PLAs (Product Listing Ads), many merchants are left wondering what the Big G could do next to jerk out the digital rug from under their feet. But Google is all about relevancy, and their best way to build on the market share they’ve already captured is by continuing to hone and tweak that relevancy.
Their latest shift? A deeper, more integrated concentration on Google Shopping. According to a study on CPC Strategy, optimized Google Shopping feeds outperformed PLAs in terms of increased revenue, order volume and ROI:
So how do you optimize your feeds, product labels and other leftovers from PLAs? One of the biggest changes that has sent many merchants scrambling is the limit on Custom Labels. Each account is limited to 5, and they’re designed to make segmenting and organizing your products easier than ever.
Setting Up Custom Labels
It’s a good idea to plan out your custom label structure before you launch a shopping campaign, since you want as much of your inventory indexed as quickly as possible – particularly seasonal or clearance items. Since you only have five of them per account, you may need to stretch your creative muscles a bit to determine the best possible uses for them – such as:
- Category-Based Labels – These are breadcrumb-like labels that make it easy for customers and search engines alike to drill down deeper into your categories to find a specific product. An example would be Electronics > Smartphones and Tablets > Tablets. Using labels like this would let you create individual ad groups for each major category and sub-category as well.
- Best Sellers / Most Popular – Use custom labels to focus on your best-selling or most popular products, along with labels that conversely would identify poor performers. Along those same lines, you could also have:
- High / Low Profit Margin Products – If items with a low profit margin are appearing in your product feed, you may not want to draw as much attention to them as your higher margin items. Custom labels can be used to identify each group so that you can promote or exclude them respectively.
- Sales Status – Seasonal and clearance items can be put into their own particular Custom Labels for easy ad group creation and promotion.
Once you get your custom labels sorted, it’s onto the actual feed optimization.
Data Feed Optimization
Managing and maintaining a relevant, quality data feed is crucial to the success of your Google Shopping listings. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much work to see your efforts pay off in a short amount of time. For example, the best optimized data feeds have specific points in common, such as:
- Distinguishing Product Photos – When all of your competitors are using the same bland stock image, your product photo can stand apart from the crowd. Incorporating a photo of multiple colors/sizes of the product or the product actually being used by a customer can grab the viewer’s attention as they scroll through a long list of “me-too” images.
- Searchable Titles and Names – Product number YLOWSHIRT223X1 means nothing to your shopper. Extra Large Yellow T-Shirt, however, can mean the difference between an order and an abandoned shopping cart. By the same token, using terms that your target audience would use to find an item will greatly increase that product’s chances of being found and featured in a feed. A “Country Blue” rug could be any shade – a “dark blue” rug, less so. Take the time to reformat your product names into a way that your visitors can easily understand and visualize.
Other Google Shopping Points to Keep in Mind
Optimizing your product feed and setting up custom labels are two of the biggest ways to keep your Google Shopping listings clean, searchable and relevant. But don’t get so bogged down in feed management that you forget the same core points that help every e-commerce site rank better (and save money), including:
Scrutinizing Your Ad Networks – E-commerce site data feeds are often pulled and spread across a variety of partner sites. Carefully scrutinize where your traffic is coming from. If a particular site or network isn’t performing to your expectations, look elsewhere. Concentrate your spending where it makes the most impact and brings you the most conversions.
Mobile Responsive Design – Oftentimes, e-commerce packages are leftover “bolt-on” components with major content management systems like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. They’re neither optimized in terms of data feeds nor mobile responsiveness. Mobile commerce is growing by leaps and bounds, and failing to account for these visitors is just giving your competition free money out of your own pocket.
Testing Date/Time – Different products appeal to different people at different times and dates. There is no “best time to _______” for everyone, so by split testing your ads and making tweaks based on search keyword volume and time of day/day of the week will enable you to find the best possible time frames that work for what you’re selling.
The Bottom Line on Optimizing Your Data Feed
There’s no single approach that works for everyone. As with much of our advice here on KISSmetrics, the best way to know is to test. Switching from Product Listing Ads to Google Shopping doesn’t have to be time consuming or costly. By leveraging your existing PLAs and analytics data, you’ll be able to find and plug those leaky holes where your product listings may not be getting the exposure and reach they deserve.
The important thing to remember is that throughout the transitional process, don’t be in a rush to trash your existing PLAs or AdWords labels. Some of this information may still be used (and still relevant in search) as the dust begins to settle on the Google Shopping fault-lines. What’s more, other shopping sites, product recommendation engines and e-commerce data feed sites may still use the older information as they work on transitioning their own systems to fit the needs of the more modern shopper.
With a little foresight and some careful planning and organization, your product feeds will be as optimized as possible while helping your own offers stand out, get noticed and get clicked.
Now It’s Your Turn…
What do you think of the new changes to the Google Shopping experience? Have they affected the way you run your campaigns? Are you seeing more increases in revenue as a result of the shift? Share your comments with us below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps businesses improve website design and increase conversions with user-focused design, compelling copywriting and smart analytics. Learn more at iElectrify and get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up. Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!