10 Google Shopping Mistakes Draining Your Budget

By Tinuiti Team

Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been using the program since its early days–no one is exempt from making mistakes on Google Shopping.

However, there are ways to reduce those mistakes that end with lost cash, and boost opportunities for gain. Read on to find out 10 of the most common mistakes we’ve seen, so you can avoid them in the future!

1. Inaccurate Fields in Merchant Product Feeds

It may not be the most exciting part of your Google Shopping strategy, but inaccuracies and incomplete fields in your product feed can really hurt your ads. How? By not getting them listed–or getting them lumped in incorrectly with other products online.jason-bell

Take UPCs, for instance. “If you have an MPN field or a UPC that’s not correct, at some point, Google might just disapprove that product,” says Jason Bell, Senior Account Analyst at CPC Strategy.

“And if you send the incorrect MPN, there’s a potential you could get matched up incorrectly with other products on Google Shopping.”

Google is tightening up on merchant product feeds–make sure they’re accurate.

2. Not Optimizing Merchant Product Feeds

Data should be accurate first; robust second. If you just have robust data, that could hurt you. Your stuff might show up for the wrong search, and searchers can bounce,” says Bell.

After you ensure feeds are accurate, don’t just throw any title and description on your ads. Your ad visibility and CTR will did if you don’t optimize titles, descriptions, and attributes.

Check out the following posts for step-by-step guides to product feed optimization:



3. Bidding the Same for Mobile and Desktop

If you’re still bidding the same across the board for devices in your Adwords account, you’re probably throwing money away. Mobile and desktop performance is usually different–and soon, Google will give sellers the ability to bid separately on tablets in Adwords.

“If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, keep your bids lower, but don’t drop bids completely on mobile. Test the waters timidly at first. If you get some traffic and orders, then build it up from there,” says Bell. “If you have a solid budget and you just you have a mobile optimized site, you can bid more aggressively.”

Side note: If it doesn’t look like mobile is performing as well as your desktop campaigns, don’t drastically drop your bids on mobile. Instead, take a holistic approach and try to uncover cross-device metrics: How many users start their search on mobile, then convert on desktop?

Learn how to check these metrics on the official Google Adwords blog:


4. A Disorganized Google Shopping Campaign Structure

“If you’re just bidding everything on one blanketed campaign, you could be missing out,” says Bell. “If your campaign structure doesn’t fit the strengths of your business, then you’re losing opportunities for profitability.”

It’s important to remember there’s no “right” way to do this for every seller. It’s important to cater your campaign build–whether it be a campaign, ad group, or product build–to your goals and your own offerings. If you’re a manufacturer, maybe it’s a product type or line. If you’re a reseller, maybe it’s brands.

“If you create product level ad groups, you’ll easily be able to see the Auction Insights and Search Query on that one product. But if you do it for every single product you have, and you have thousands of products, it can be tough to manage,” says Bell. “If you do decide to go this route, I recommend you pick 5 or 10 of your best sellers and focus on dominating search results for those specific products.”

To learn more about pros and cons of product level ad groups, check out these posts:


5. Overly Restrictive Negative Keywords

david-weichelNegative keywords ensure that your ad doesn’t come up for unrelated searches. Used correctly, negative keywords save you money because those unprofitable/irrelevant searchers won’t see your ad, and therefore won’t click.

However, you also don’t want to set and forget too many negative keywords.

David Weichel, VP of Product Development at CPC Strategy, explains how overly restrictive negative keywords can cost you potential sales.

“Top-of-the-funnel search terms that don’t have a directly attributable conversion/transaction value can often still play an important role in exposing new customers to your brand or product. They also add new users to your cookie pools who you can eventually retarget. Those audiences often have a killer ROI.”

The bottom line? Use negative keywords, but pay attention to keywords you may not think are converters that play a key role in the buyer’s journey.

Bell shares another way to find hidden gems.

“If you feel like you’re leaving keywords on the table, you can test out a Dynamic Search Ads campaign, and do a low bid of 5-15 cents, and run that concurrently with your other campaigns. It will potentially show you where you’re missing out on targeting. We recommend you take all the current keywords you’re bidding on, add them to a negative keywords list as an “exact match” and apply it to that Dynamic Search Ads campaign so you’re not competing with yourself.”

Pro tip: Make sure you still add in your account-wide negative keywords.

For more on using negative keywords in Google Shopping, check out our post: How to Optimize Your Campaign with Adwords Negative Keywords.

6. Not Adjusting Location Targeting or Ad Scheduling

If you don’t pay attention to when or where your ads are shown, you could be losing cash during low-converting times or in low-converting geographic areas.

Look historically at where and when your products perform best, and be less aggressive  on bidding during the lower-performing times.

Pro tip: Check “Dimensions” to see your best-performing times and locations.

“For instance, if you have a call center, and you’re closed on the weekends, you probably don’t want to bid aggressively on ads during the weekend,” says Bell.

Time is money, but in Google Shopping, so is location. If your products are only available to be shipped to specific locations, and someone outside of that location clicks your product and it’s not available, you’ve lost money. And if you do ship somewhere, but conversions are ultra low for whatever reason–say you sell heavy winter jackets, and San Diegans aren’t buying–down bid on those specific locations.

Check out these official Google AdWords blogs to learn more:


7. Not Bidding Down on Underperforming Product Ads

Underperforming product ads with high bids are a drain, and should down bidded while you assess why they’re underperforming. But don’t panic and pause your underperformers just yet.

“I would never remove or pause an underperforming product, because I still want to show up on the Shopping Tab–I just don’t want to pay a premium to be on the SERP. There are many times where I’ll just cut our poor performers down to 5 cents, and I continue to monitor those, because they could still come back,” says Bell.

However, there is cause for alarm if one of your top selling products is suddenly underperforming. Why would that happen?

“There are many reasons why your top performing products my dip. Usually the biggest reason is price–price is king on Google Shopping,” says Bell. “Or perhaps a competitor is offering free shipping and you aren’t. It could also be that a newer model of your product came out, or it could be seasonal.”

In this case, you’ll need to assess the reason why, and then take action–whether that’s by upping your bid or looking into product updates.

8. Not Harnessing Audience Lists

If you’re not using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RSLA) to tailor ads to audiences at different parts of the buyer’s journey, you’re losing out on some of your most valuable potential converters.

In most cases, you should bid more aggressively on cart abandoners. When they leave those products in the cart cart, but are still searching online, they’re already further down the funnel, and you’ll have a better chance of drawing them back with an ad.

Learn how to remarket the right ads to the right audience at the right time in our post about RSLA for Shopping Ads.

9. Failure to Monitor Competitive Metrics & Auction Insights

Keep an eye on impression share, especially for top products or branded products.

“If you see impression share dip, it likely means one of your competitors is getting more aggressive, or more competitors have entered the market. Review Auction Insights to see the names of competitors who could be driving that impression dip,” says Bell.

10. Not Utilizing Google Merchant Promotions Extension

If promotions are available on your Google Merchant account, use them. Also called “Special Offers”, those promos may give you an edge over other competitor retailers who don’t use them.

“Promos may not lead to a higher conversion rate (if there’s no real value to that sale–say 5% off), but it does give you a higher click through rate especially if no one else is doing it,” says Bell.

Our advice? Run a test, and see what kind of impact it has on your CTR and conversions.

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