Google shopping is a great way to advertise your products on Google to potential customers. This style of campaign is one of the first that we will run campaigns for, and generally is where they will get the best results. In this article, we are going to go through what you will need to do to set up your website, create the right accounts and create your first Google Shopping Campaign for a Shopify Website. We are assuming that you already have a live website, with products and the relevant information stored in Shopify.
What Accounts Are Needed
The steps involved in running a shopping campaign are a bit more intricate than those required to run a Google Search or Google Display Campaign. These campaigns use keywords or other targeting methods, whereas Google Shopping uses a data feed (basically a summary of all of your product information) to control where your ad appears. As such advertisers will need to have or create two Google Accounts.
Google Ads Account
First of all you will need a Google Ads Account. This is where you will create the campaign, make adjustments to the budgets, set relevant bidding strategies and basically review and adjust anything performance based. Google Ads is where you would also be able to create Google Search, Google Display & YouTube Campaigns.
Google Merchant Centre
The second account you will need is a Google Merchant Centre Account. As we previously mentioned, Google Shopping uses a data feed to generate the content of your shopping ads, determine where to show your ads, provide context over who the product is designed for and many other things that we will discuss shortly. Websites can only have one Merchant Centre Account associated with them, and to control this Google requires advertisers to verify that they manage the website. The most foolproof way that we have found to verify a website is by copying the meta-tag and placing on the homepage of your Shopify Store in the <Head> section. Other methods to verify your website include using Google Analytics or through Google Tag Manager, but we have found issues through these methods.
Linking Your Accounts
The Merchant Centre is where you will provide your product information and Google Ads is where you will actually control the advertising, so naturally you will need to link the two accounts together. This process is quite simple. First you will need to find your Google Ads ID, this is a 10 digit number which you can find on the top right when you log in to Google Ads, this number will look something like 123-456-7890. Once you have this number, write it down or highlight and copy on your computer, you will need to input this number in your Merchant Centre. Don’t close this yet, as you will have to accept linking the accounts here shortly.
Once you’ve got a copy of your Google Ads ID, open up and login to your Merchant Centre Account. Again, up the top right you will see three dots in a vertical line like this ⋮, click and open up the Account Linking tab. Lower down on the page you will see the option to input your Google Ads ID. Once you have submitted the ID, it should show as ‘pending invitation’. To complete the process you will need to open up your Google Ads Account. In the top menu, click on ‘Tools & Settings’ on the right, and open up ‘Linked Accounts’, near the bottom of the page there will be a section for Google Merchant Centre, once you have clicked on ‘Details’ you should be able to see the pending invitation to accept.
What Is A Data Feed
Put simply, a data feed is a file which contains all of the relevant information that you will need to send to Google in order to run Google Shopping Ads. In order to get the best results from your Shopping Campaigns, it is important to include as much information as you can in this feed and more importantly you’ll need to make sure that this stays up to date whenever you make changes to the website. Some of the most important product attributes that you need to have include:
- Product ID, Title, Description, URL & Image URL
- Product Price
- Product Availability
- Google Product Category
- Product Type
- Manufacturer / Brand
- GTIN / Barcode
- Product Condition
How To Create A Data Feed
Google accepts feeds in multiple formats, including .txt, .xml, manually through a Google Sheet & through Content API. The most common is an XML feed, however recently Content API is a relatively new release and has become a lot more popular, offering a far better experience for everyone involved. The great news is that through Shopify you get access to some really easy ways of creating a Data Feed.
This is only recommended for websites with a small inventory (from 0 – 50), where pricing and availability doesn’t change very often. The easiest way to create a Google Sheets feed is by logging into your merchant centre and create a new feed, this is found under Products, Feeds and clicking the blue button with the +. Once you have clarified which language and moved to the next stage you will be able to select Google Sheets and use the template provided. just to make life a bit easier, we’ve created a spreadsheet shopping feed which you can copy and use for your own products.
The best part about a Google sheet feed is that whenever you update the spreadsheet your ads will almost instantly update. The downside is that you have to manually input and update the information whenever anything changes on the website. Think about how many times your products go in or out of stock, pricing changes or new season stock comes, it would be a very time consuming task, which is why we only recommend for websites with small inventories.
TXT & XML Feeds
This feed type is the most common and will generate and update the information as your website updates. The best way to create these feeds is by using one of the various Google Shopping Apps in the Shopify App Store. These will generally update on a daily basis, meaning you make changes to the websites or regularly having products go in and out of stock, then you will need to manually go into the merchant centre and get Google to re-process the feed. For most websites, using an XML feed will give decent results and once set-up won’t require too much maintenance.
This is the latest feed format released by Google and is the best by far. Content API basically sends your website information to Google in realtime. Meaning that whenever there are product changes on the website, this information is sent to Google within 20-30 minutes and your ads have been updated. It’s by far the easiest to set-up, simply link your Shopify website with your Merchant centre (each app will do this slightly differently) and wait for your products to be reviewed. We always recommend using Content API for customers, as there are now plenty of options available and where we see customers getting the best results.
Why Is A Feed Important
You can think of the data feed as the foundation of your shopping campaigns success. Behind website functionality, your data feed is what sets the campaigns performance. The data feed is what we send to Google for review. It contains product information that tells Google and anyone that searches on Google what your product is all about. This is why it is so important to include as much information as you can in your feed. It is your feed that controls what search terms your ads appear for and what information users can see before clicking on your ad.
The easiest way for advertisers to waste a lot of time and money is by creating shopping feeds using a poor quality data feed. Not only will you be unlikely to get many sales from your campaigns, but you’re also like to frustrate the user at the same time. There is nothing worse than for a user to click on an add that has one price, but then when they get to the website or worse halfway through checking out to realise that it is $20 more expensive. Your data feed needs to be correct, with us much information as possible and needs to update as you update your website.
It’s worthwhile doing some checks once in a while to make sure your data feed stays up to date. Not only are you likely to annoy potential customers, which is the opposite of what you are trying to do and what Google wants, but you can actually have your Merchant Centre Account suspended. If you have inaccurate data, meaning if there is a difference between what you are submitting to Google and what they can find on your website, then you entire account can be paused until the issues are 100% fixed. Google is generally generous giving advertisers some leniency, but if issues are resolved over time then they will give you a certain date to have all issues fixed before putting a holt to your advertising and sales. It’s fair to say, that we place a high importance on your feed quality and make sure that you never have to experience an outage like this, as it can debilitate an account & websites performance for quite a while until the issue is resolved.
So, once you have submitted your feed in the Merchant Centre, now you have to wait… Yes, unfortunately as keen as you are to get advertising and see those sales rolling in, you have to wait until Google has reviewed your feed, made sure that it matches what is labelled on the website and you have all of the requirements on your website to be allowed to advertise on Google Shopping. This process can vary on a website by website basis, normally we see up to 3 business days, but I’ve heard of some taking 10 business days. Either way, good things come to those who wait, so just be patient, check each day and you will be rewarded eventually.
If your website doesn’t stand up against Google’s policies, or if you have issues with your data feed, it will be at this stage that you will find out. Normally we see most products getting approved, with some requiring some minor adjustments or improvements. Ideally we would like 100% of products approved, due to a range of reasons this can’t always be achieved (at least straight away). Again, Google is quite generous by providing a list of issue products and what policy they are violating, however in most cases fixes to products need to be done on an individual basis and need to be worked at over time.
If you have seen 100% of products disapproved, then chances are your website hasn’t complied to one of Google’s policies. Google has much harder restrictions for Shopping than they do for Search campaigns, so don’t be too disheartened as you will still be able to do some form of advertising while fixing the issue. We’ve included a list of some of the common issues that we see, most of these are just part of a website best practice and are becoming less of an issue.
- Contact Us information – Including a phone number or email address
- Clear Returns & Refund policy found on the website
- Clear billing – No added pricing at checkout etc or hidden costs
- Invalid Images – Make sure
- No GTINs or Incorrect GTINs – GTINs are you products barcodes
Creating A Google Shopping Campaign
Now that your products have been reviewed by Google and you have fixed up any issues with GTINs or put in a returns policy, you can now create your campaign in Google Ads. This process is quite easy as you have already done most of the work! Once you have logged in to Google Ads simply, open up the ‘Campaigns’ tab on the left, click on the blue & white + button and select new campaign. Choose sales as your goal and underneath will appear an option to select a Shopping campaign.
This will give you an opportunity to make sure that your initial settings are correct, so make sure you have the right Merchant Centre selected along with the correct country. If you are wanting to advertise in multiple countries don’t worry, you will be able to adjust this later. You will now have two different shopping campaign types to choose from. If you website is more established then you can start straight with a ‘Smart Shopping’ campaign. If your website is on the newer side or you aren’t getting many sales, then we recommend starting with a Standard Shopping campaign and transitioning at a later stage. Depending on which shopping campaign type you will be given slightly different options from here.
Smart Shopping Final Set-Up
Once you have selected your campaign type as ‘Smart Shopping’, you will be given a chance to name your campaign, choose your daily budget & set a ROAS target. This is a topic for another time, but our recommendation to start is not to set a target, this will let Google work towards maximising the overall revenue.
In the next stage you will be able to choose your product groups. This is where you can determine what you would like to advertise and what you want to exclude. You can basically segment your products by the main attributes in your data feed.
Smart Shopping campaigns opens up new areas for your shopping campaigns to run ads, this includes on Youtube, throughout the Google Display Network & on the ‘Promotions’ tab in Gmail. As such you will need to include some text elements, including headlines, descriptions & a URL, as well as a ‘Marketing Image’ which can also be used. So make sure you have these handy, as you can’t proceed without them.
Congratulations, once you have input this information and clicked save you have launched your Smart Shopping campaign. Unfortunately, the work isn’t over yet though, skip below to see the next steps.
Standard Shopping Final Set-Up
Once you have selected your campaign type as ‘Standard Shopping’, you will be asked to choose between ‘Product Shopping’ & ‘Showcase Shopping’. Essentially ‘Product Shopping’ will for ads that are run for product specific searches i.e. ‘Apple iPhone XS’, while ‘Showcase Shopping’ is more at the category level, i.e. ‘Smart Phones’. To start with, we recommend Product Shopping, but the choice is yours.
Once you have selected your Ad Group Type, you can give this ad group a relevant name and choose your maximum bid (this is the maximum amount you are willing to pay per click). Click ‘Save’ and your done. Congratulations you’ve completed creating a shopping campaign. But the job isn’t over yet, as at the moment you are advertising all of your products. If you only want to select a certain amount, you will need to go into the relevant Ad Group and adjust the product group (by clicking the + next to ‘all products’). You are able to segment your products by the main fields in your data feed.
Reviewing Your Shopping Campaign Performance
In the initial stages of your campaign, the best thing that you can do is to leave it alone. Don’t touch a single thing, for at least the first 6 weeks. Google looks at campaign history to predict future campaign performance and quality score. As you have just launched a campaign, you don’t have this history, but you are starting to accumulate it. Generally, Google can look at anything up to the last 12 weeks worth of data for campaign history, so you should be seeing weekly improvements in your CPC or sales for the first period.
The ongoing optimisation on your campaign will vary depending on the goals you have outlined for the campaign, the campaign type you have selected and a whole range of other factors. The main thing to keep in mind is that you need to give the ads and campaigns time to build momentum, most often customers will go to your website multiple times before making a purchase, so you need to give them that time before analysing your campaign success.
Google Shopping Summary
There you have it, our complete guide to setting up a Google Shopping campaign from start to finish. We have extensive knowledge over running these campaigns, and putting in strategies to make sure that you are getting the most out of your campaigns. If you’d rather not go through that entire process, then reach out via our google ads packages page.