One of the most overlooked areas of Google Shopping optimisation is improving the product feed itself.
It is fundamentally important, because Google uses the information within your product feed to determine within which searches your adverts show.
Apart from improving relevance, optimising your feed allows you to better segment your products, because the structures of your Google Shopping campaigns are generally based on data within the feed.
If you’re missing the brand attribute, you can’t segment your campaigns into different brands.
If you don’t have variations, you can’t bid based on the different variations of your products.
By ensuring that each product has the full set of data, you can create complex granular campaign structures that are easier to manage and provide better performance.
Google recommends you include the brand, product name and basic product characteristics, such as model, colour and size.
Google Shopping feed software
In most cases, you need some form of feed optimisation software to optimise your feed.
Feed optimisation software effectively sits between your website and your Google Merchant Center account.
The software pulls the feed from your website and you can then make changes to the feed using rules, as well as filling in missing attributes without making changes to the content on your website.
The feed is then pushed into the Google Merchant Center, ready to go.
There are dozens of providers of Google Shopping feed optimisation software, but the two that we have found to be the best are Shoptimized and Feedonomics.
Shoptimized: This is a low-cost solution for anyone who wants to get started with feed optimisation. It has a good range of rules that you can set up to optimise your feed.
Feedonomics: Probably the market leader when it comes to product feed optimisation, Feedonomics is, however, towards the more expensive end of the market. But it runs very quickly, which makes up for the added cost.
1. Add search terms to your product headline
Optimising your product titles is of fundamental importance, because it has the biggest effect over which searches you appear for.
For example, when Crealytics tested adding the term “party dress” to the title of Lipsy London’s party dress products, it saw that the number of searches these products appeared for increased by 16.3%.
In fact, Crealytics’ data would suggest that it is the only part of your feed that really has any effect on getting more impressions/clicks per product.
Not only does it increase relevance but it also entices shoppers to click on your product.
There are two types of search queries that you should look for to improve your product titles.
- Low share of voice: Terms that are not included in product titles but get a large volume of searchers. You can use the guide here to find them.
- Text ad queries: Search queries that have high volume and appear in your search ads but don’t appear within your product titles. You can use the guide here to find them.
Once you have created a list of high volume search queries, you then need to add them to the product titles of your products.
Data from Crealytics suggests that the most important part of the product title is the first few words, so in most cases you should append the search query to the front of the product title to get the best results.
If there is no major specific search query for the product, you can simply append the most searched for product category term to the beginning of your product title.
2. Add brand to your product titles
One of the easiest ways to improve your product title is to include the brand of your products within the product title.
Most feed optimisation software allows you to create a rule that searches for the brand within the product title, and if it doesn’t exist, adds it to the beginning or end of the product title.
This would convert
Grey Zoom Pegasus Turbo
Nike Grey Zoom Pegasus Turbo
3. Add product-specific info to your product titles
As well as the brand, you can add other product-specific attributes to your product titles.
To do this, you need a well-optimised feed that contains all of these attributes.
You may want to consider adding the following:
- Size of the product
- Colour of the product
- Material of the product
- Gender of the product (if it is gender-specific)
One thing to be careful of when you are adding attributes using rule-specific software is to ensure that it still makes sense; after all you should be writing your product titles for humans as well as Google’s search bots.
As you go through, manually review your product titles to ensure that they still make good sense and have not become completely incomprehensible.
4. Manually rewrite titles of the highest-performing products
This is a great tactic that I stole from Andrew Lolk. As with most things in life, 80% of the outcome comes from 20% of the input.
We therefore suggest that you segment your top-performing products that are driving the vast majority of your conversions and write manual titles for them to ensure the best possible results.
5. Use correct product identifiers
Unique product identifiers are one of the most important attributes within your feed. There are three types of UPI: GTIN (Global Trade Item Number), MPN (Manufacturer Part Number) and brand. For most products, you need to submit two of the three types of UPI.
Google uses product identifiers to group products together and expects that the product identifiers that you submit are the same as the product identifiers that your competitors submit, too.
If the identifier that you submit is incorrect, Google can’t group your products correctly, which will likely result in lost impressions and conversions.
The Identifier Exists attribute should be used for custom-made goods only. If your goods are not custom-made, you must get the proper UPI from the product manufacturer.
6. Use 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.
Andrew Lolk also offers a quick way to make sure your product categories are correct by creating bulk rules for matching product types with Google product categories.
He suggests taking the following steps:
- Download your feed to Excel.
- Create a pivot table with product types in each row.
- Add a column with COUNTA, so you can see how many products are in each product type.
- Start mapping them one by one.
7. Use custom labels
Custom labels are a great way to improve your Google Shopping structure and internal reporting, but don’t have any effect on the performance of your Google Shopping campaigns.
We generally suggest using labels to create segments that you can use to structure your campaigns or bid on, such as:
- Price bands
- Profit margin bands
- Top performers
- Any other value that you don’t have anywhere else
You can then, for example, create separate campaigns for top performers compared to your average ads.
You can also use the labels for bidding. For example, if you have products that have a margin of £50, you may want to bid more aggressively than if your products have a margin of £5.
8. Write detailed descriptions
Google allows you to use up to 10,000 characters for your product descriptions.
We suggest that you aim for the following:
- 500 to 1,000-character descriptions.
- 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.
- Focus on using good grammar and punctuation throughout your description, while limiting the use of special characters, such as exclamation marks.
9. Make sure product images are high quality
Despite Google’s minimum requirements being that the image should be at least 100 x 100 pixels, larger higher-quality images perform better in Google Shopping.
- We suggest that you submit images that are at least 800 x 800 pixels. Here is an example of how much more visually appealing a larger higher-quality image can be, compared to Google’s standard 100 x 100 requirements.
- You want to make your image clear and easy to see. We suggest that you use a plain white background. Avoid having other products in the image, so you can clearly see which one is being advertised.
- For the best finish, get your images retouched if you are taking them yourself.
- Make sure that you have the right image for the product. If you have several different colour variations of a product (green, red, blue), for example, ensure that the blue product has the blue product image, and so on.
- Make sure that you don’t include watermarked images, because Google disapproves these.
10. Clean the existing feed data for spelling and grammatical errors
This is another idea that I borrowed from Andrew Lolk, but it is powerful and often overlooked.
When you receive a product feed from an ecommerce platform, you often find that it is riddled with errors, some due to the platform and others due to human error of the person submitting the data in the first place.
Common errors that you should watch out for are:
- Wrong capitalisation
- Use of the wrong language
11. Populate fields that don’t contain data
If there’s a number of products that don’t have product data, you should go through and add this data to help Google group your products.
You may want to segment your campaigns by category, colour or size, for example, or make bidding decisions based on these attributes.
To do so, you obviously require these attributes to be included within your product feed. We suggest that you have at least got the following attributes within your feed:
If you have a large number of products that don’t have data, going through and manually finding the data takes a huge amount of time and isn’t an efficient use of your resources.
Andrew Lolk suggests that instead of doing it manually, you use rules to find different attributes.
He recommends using lookups within the description to find colour, size and material. For example, he would use the following rules to find out if the product was green and set the colour to green:
If description contains the word “green”, then add “Green” to the field “Color”.
For age and gender, he suggests that these can be typically applied using rules based on your product type or brand. In most cases, he suggests the gender can be found within the product type.
Although optimising your product feed may seem daunting, with the right strategy, you can see strong improvements in your paid search campaigns.
We first suggest making sure that you have the right tools for the job and find a feed optimisation tool that offers you the functionality you need.
You should then start by optimising your product title, as this is the most important attribute, before going on to focus on other areas, such as the description and images.