Google Shopping is quickly becoming the go-to search engine for product searches and comparison-shopping. It is a powerful tool that not only creates an additional e-commerce platform for e-commerce websites, but also allows brick and mortar stores the ability to create an online presence for their products.
(Google Trends: Jan. 2011 - April 2014)
As you can see from this graph, the interest in the search engine has increased at an impressive rate and has encouraged businesses, both small and large, to publish and advertise their products on Google Shopping. As a result, this has made the search engine a highly competitive space with name brand stores quickly taking notice and capitalizing on its popularity. This has meant that simply uploading product feeds to Google Shopping is not enough for businesses to place on the first page and SEO/SEM tactics are necessary to improve their presence within the search engine.
In typical Google fashion, the secret formula for appearing on the first page is not clearly identified, but hints as to what may help a business get these placements are provided by Google and users who have run tests and posted their results online. The list of SEO/SEM tactics on the web is constantly growing with hit or miss results, but below I have laid out a few factors that have been confirmed to have an impact on your Google Shopping presence.
Factors that effect your Google Shopping ranking:
-Bid and Budget
-Quality of Product Feed
-Frequency of updates.
-How many relevant Google recommended fields are filled in.
-Additional Images, Product Grouping, etc.
-Data feed is properly formatted and complete.
-Google Product Categories
-Product Headlines & Descriptions
-3rd Party Information
Bid and budget – This holds a high importance in where you rank on Google Shopping. The size of your budget and how much you are willing to spend for a top placement informs Google about how serious you are about advertising on Google Shopping.
Quality of Product Feed – This involves many factors, but all factors revolve around how clean and complete your data feed is.
-The more data feed fields that you fill in with complete and accurate information, the better-informed Google will be and the more your products will appear for relevant searches.
-How frequently you update your data feed with availability and products tells Google that your store is reliable and contains the most up-to-date information.
-Correctly formatting your data feed by Google’s standards will ensure that your products appear with correct information for the most relevant searches.
Google Product Categories – Google heavily weighs the "google product category" that is selected for each product. They use this category as an easy way for their system to recognize types of products and accurately show them for the most relevant search results. Try to be as specific as possible with your category selection.
Competition – Here are a few factors that contribute to competitiveness:
-The amount of merchants bidding on the same categories.
-How broad the product categories are.
-How broad the product titles and descriptions are.
These are all factors that typically determine how competitive your space might be and are usually validated by how high your CPC and how low your impression share is.
Product Headlines & Descriptions – The quality and detail of product information is an important factor in how Google determines how relevant a product is to a users search. Having keyword rich, yet specific titles and descriptions helps Google match up your products with the most searches possible.
Seller ratings – This product extension is not weighed as heavily as bid, budget and product feed information, but it still provides an indicator of the quality of your products and brand to Google. Users also see seller ratings as public validation of your products and brands quality.
3rd Party Information – Google Shopping uses 3rd party information on your products and brand to help aid in relevance and identity. This is similar to how Google populates its information for Google Places. From research, it does not appear that this factor is weighed as heavily as the other factors on this list, but it is still considered in gathering detailed information about a merchant.
In a future blog post, I will try to provide more SEO/SEM tactics that will help make minor improvements to your placement, but for now, this blog post should provide you with more than enough to start optimizing your products for Google Shopping.