5 Optimisation tips for Google Shopping Search Results
Over the last few months Google has been rolling out changes to their shopping search (also known as Google Base or Froogle) introducing new features that allow users to make easier comparisons between different products or between the prices charged for the same product from multiple retailers. Along with these new features within the product search results, there also seems to be more and more products being displayed within the general search results page and with more prominent positions within the page.
These changes are resulting in Google’s shopping results driving increased levels of traffic to ecommerce websites and I have seen sites where the product search is driving as much as 15% to 20% of all traffic. Even better is that the conversion rate of these visitors is usually at least double that of other sources with customers already interested in your product before they land on your site. As such for most online retailers ensuring that you optimise your google base feed is a highly cost efficient way of driving more traffic and more importantly sales.
1. Add tracking to your Google Base Feed
In order to see the results of your optimisation work it is very important that your can differentiate this traffic from other organic sources. If you are using Google Analytics for your website tracking then the easiest way to do this is to suffix the URLs of your products with the standard parameter for traffic source and medium with are utm_source and utm_medium respectively.
For example the following shows the URL for a product which has had this tracking code suffixed on to it, this then means anybody landing on the site via that link will appear under the organic traffic with a source of “GoogleBase“.
Once this has been done and the changes updated in the search results ( this can take up to 24 hours from resubmission of your feed) then your Traffic Sources report should start showing the Google Shopping traffic separately like this:
2. Provide Unique Product Identifiers
At its most basic your Google Base feed can contain just the name, price, description, image etc. However you can and should provide as much detail as possible. Most importantly if you are retailing the same products that are not unique to you then ensure you provide in your feed the relevant manufacturer information such as the manufacturers part number or unique product identifier and the name of the brand.
As of 3rd of may Google has stated that “unique product identifiers are required for all products except those in the clothing category and custom-made goods“. I have yet to see feeds being rejected for not including this information yet, but that is not to say it won’t happen, and the benefits of adding this to your feed make it worthwhile either way.
- “Compare prices” – You may have seen this button next to the results on a product search, and this gives access to a page showing all the retailers selling that product with a comparison of their price before and after delivery and also the rating’s for that retailer. If you find that your competitors are all showing on a page like this without you, even though its for a product you also sell, then the chances are it is due to them all providing a matching unique product identifier that has been omitted from your feed.
- Mobile search- You have probably come across the barcode scanning applications now available on most smart phones, these allow you to search the barcode of a product with the phone’s camera and then in most cases do a search in Google shopping for the EAN number. In order for you to ensure that your products appear in these results then it is vitally important that you include within your Google Base feed the EAN/UPC numbers for your products.
More information on what product identifier data can/should be supplied is available on the google merchant center help page.
3. Get your pricing right.
Price is a big factor in the decision making for users searching on Google shopping so being competitive on price is vital to capturing traffic. However it is not all about displaying the best price possible in your feed, ensuring that the prices in your feed are accurate is also of utmost importance. I have known retailers in the past supply in their Google Base feed prices lower than they actually charge on their site, and along with running the risk of being banned from the shopping results, they also see their bounce rate jump due to the first reaction of visitors seeing the higher price than in the results page is to hit the back button so despite getting extra traffic they end up with less sales.
As such when supplying your prices in your feed ensure that your prices are
- Kept up to date, if you change prices on your site then resubmit your feed immediately
- Include all taxes and other charges
- Delivery Prices are also included in the feed, this can be particularly important in comparison pages like the one in point 2 above.
4. Reviews and lots of them
The star ratings and reviews are shown more regularly than ever in the product search results as more and more of the review sites are being parsed by Google’s bots, and it seems that these are playing their part in the rankings of the shopping results with merchants who have higher numbers of reviews and higher average ratings are being pushed to the top. Along with improve your position in the rankings having more and better reviews next to your listing is going to work wonders for the click through rate of your products, so securing reviews should be seen as an important part of your online marketing. A popular technique in helping secure these reviews is sending following up emails a couple of weeks after an order has been dispatched in which you provide a link for the customer to leave a review. If possible incentivise this by including a reward for the review such as money off the next purchase (which can help improve retention of customers), entry into a prize draw or even a free gift.
The following review sites seem to be currently taken into account in the Google Shopping results, some of them charge a fee to list your site but do offer many extra features that can help both secure more reviews and improve the way they are displayed to help improve conversion rates:
5. Optimise your titles.
Something you should be doing anyway within the title tags of your product pages, however ensure you carry such good practice over to how the names are formatted within the Google Base feed. A good formula for how your title should read is below
- Manufacturer/Brand + Product Name + Colour / Type / Specifics
Such a title is more beneficial than using just the product name as it catches the more long tail queries that are often used in Google shopping where shoppers may already know exactly what they want and are just looking for the best deal. Google Base allows up to 70 characters for the product titles so ensure you make the most of it.
Other things to bear in mind
- Ensure the product type value you provide for each product matches up with the most appropriate category from Google’s taxonomy available here
- Automate your data feed to submit at least once a week.
- Ensure your descriptions are keyword rich
- Include as many attributes as possible