Google Shopping – What's Changed in the Last Year?

By Tinuiti Team

Like many aspects of Internet marketing, Google Shopping changes from time to time based on user experience studies and other metrics. Essentially, Google wants to deliver the best possible experience, which means adjusting its algorithms and approach. If you keep up with the ways in which Google Shopping has changed over the last year, you’ll leap ahead of the competition.

PLA Traffic

In the first quarter of 2016, Merkle issued an intriguing report that revealed increases in product listing advertisement (PLA) traffic, particularly from third-party sources and on mobile. According to Merkle, these changes trace back to two critical changes in Google Shopping:

First, Google started displaying PLAs on third-party websites. This created a profitable partnership for both advertisers and publishers. From Merkle’s data, it looks like a rousing success.

Second, Google removed right-side ads in early 2016. Other than PLAs and choice other bits of content, that part of the SERPs has remained vacant on desktops and mobile devices.

Google PLA Testing

Throughout 2016, Google has been testing different versions of PLAs on the SERP. They were found to be testing expandable PLAs for up to 16 products, as well as the number of products at the top of the SERPs were anywhere from 3 to 6 products found.

GTIN Requirements

Also in the last year, Google has instituted GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) requirements for 50 different brands, and according to the search engine giant, it will expand this requirement to as many brands as possible throughout 2016. The goal is to streamline the process of identifying the products you sell so Google can serve up accurate listings in Google Shopping.

Reduced Google Product Category Options

You’ll notice that Google has removed some of the sub-categories for Google Product Categories, which will simplify the process of identifying the items you wish to sell through Google Shopping. Some of the primary categories that no longer need to be further specified include apparel, medicine and drugs, books, and video game consoles.

More Options for Google Shopping Feed Specifications

To increase simplicity and accuracy, Google Shopping has also made a few changes to feed specifications. For instance, you can now submit Units and Quality Attributes for bulk items. If you’re dealing in construction materials or similar large-volume products, this might apply to your Google Shopping experience.

Additionally, shipping information has become available for more countries, including Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands. You might see an uptick in orders from these countries because consumers there know the full price of the product up front, and therefore can continue with the purchase unimpeded.

The Future of Google Shopping

What should your team look for in Google Shopping in the future?

With so many changes taking place over the last year, Google will likely continue to monitor user experience and solicit feedback from consumers.

PLAs might get more expensive in the future as more merchants purchase them. Historically, PLAs have ranked far below text ads in purchase volume, but as the Merkle report indicates, the tides have changed. As PLAs get more prominent, demand will increase — as will cost.

If you’re hoping to sell more product online, keeping up with changes to Google Shopping is not just a good idea, but a necessary one. For more tidbits of insightful and relevant data, read our Industry Report: Search & Shopping Trends (2015vs2014).

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