2015 Holiday Google Product Feed Optimization

Google Shopping will be a primary sales channel for many retailers this Black Friday, but in order to hit ROI targets and increase campaign profitability, retail marketers need an advanced product feed optimization strategy.

jason-bellJason Bell, Senior Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy hosted last week’s webinar to discuss the top enhancements retailers need to make in preparation for Black Friday / Cyber Monday.

There were a lot of questions we didn’t get a chance to answer – so here they are now with answers from Bell.

Q. What are your thoughts about creating one ad group for a single product group?

A. You can definitely do this but it’s going to be a lot more management heavy and intensive for you to manage unless you have an automatic system. It creates a lot of extra campaigns, ad groups. There are some benefits – I’d recommend doing this for your top products.

Even if you just sell it with the top products, there are some benefits such as auction insights, getting search terms data (specific on those products), adding negatives. There are benefits but I wouldn’t recommend it for every ad group and every single product unless you have plan on making a lot of adjustments through Q4.

Q. Keyword Insertion – is it automatic as in AdWords?

A. No, this isn’t something that happens automatically (if it was – everyone would be doing it). This is done manually based on data that you find in your search terms, analytics data. Top keywords must be adjusted in the feed directly.

Q. Can SKU’s & MPN’s be the same?

A. Yes.

Q. Do changes to the product description have as much of an impact as changing the product title?

A. It’s hard to calculate that, but we have seen that titles are going to have a larger impact (the weight shifts left to right). Usually for the top targeted keywords we add them to both title and the description.

Q. How do you choose an item group ID?

A. Usually, we defer to the parent MPN.

Q. Regarding excessive capitalization – is that a good thing for your titles or a bad thing?

A. This is definitely a bad thing. Google will add a warning or disapprove a product. It also just looks ugly.

Q. Is Google Merchant Promotions overriding Ads promos added with AdWords directly?

A. (Assuming they mean the text when you hover over a shopping ad) – this isn’t overriding it, this is its own special offer promotion. (Refer to the link at the bottom of the PLA ad)

Q. I consistently see my competitors PLA returning in place of mine on the SERP. Wholesale competitors are monopolizing ad space. How can I improve my results while keeping my bids down?

A. You can optimize your titles, but at some point you are going to have to bid high enough. What we’ve seen is if – you don’t start bidding enough, you will never really get the traffic you are seeking. But if you bid really aggressively – get that volume, then bring your bids down – it should stick better.

It’s not documented but this is something we have seen happen in our experience.  There is no magic title optimization strategy that is going to win over the SERP. Most likely it’s going to take a little bit of both (aggressive bids, optimize titles, and adding negatives).

Q. How do you handle variations which have different prices (in drop down). We currently suppress all those products from the feed?

A. For that you are going to want to have a line item per product in the feed and you’re going to want to make sure the pricing is correct. You shouldn’t have to exclude those.

Q. If you have different colored shirts (knowing the feed has you select product by ID number) – When in AdWords does this mean you have to create landing pages on unique URLs for each color of shirt?

A. No, you don’t need to have unique URLs, you can send to the same parent page (but make sure color, pricing, everything should match in the feed). (Ideally, you should have it set up so when they land on that page, it auto-selects for you).

Q. How do I get the same MPN as another retailer if they are selling the same item I am selling?

A. Go to the Shopping tab, then click on the comparison page, you should see all your competitors. At the very bottom (details section) should have MPN.

Q. Google doesn’t like duplicates. Does it make sense to have one page with all product variations and individual product page for each variation?

A. You could do either, or – a lot of people probably have one page where you select the variations and a page for each. 

Q. Why not bid up a single SKU product group rather than send multiple SKUs/Variants that will be competing for impression share?

A. Because, you can have up to 8 listings on the SERP – if you have the budget and want to hold a lot of impression shares – there is a chance you can show up multiple times. If that is your goal then it makes sense to send multiple SKUs.

You spread out your chances of getting a click. If budget is an issue – it might not make sense. Not the same as text (where you only get one listing).You can own all 8 spots (or whatever is available).

Q. Should we still add keywords to the titles/descriptions if our feeds our generated across different selling platforms?

A. It really depends on the platform. 

Q. I heard from Google that 10% of traffic goes to the Shopping tab, while 90% goes through the web search tab. What are your thoughts regarding how to optimize product group bids to target search traffic? Titles and descriptions in this case are less relevant.

A. What’s on the SERP is not the same as whats on the Shopping tab. Improving titles and descriptions is going to help you in both areas . Because we don’t know what Google uses on SERP vs. Shopping tab it can be difficult to optimize for that.

Q. Will using the same MPN get me more visibility?

A. If it’s to SKU up – yes, usually. Sometimes you actually bid less – but still gain a good amount of traffic because you SKU up. Maybe you offer a better price or free shopping or no tax and they see the bottom line price – so they pick you instead.

Usually, it is better to SKU up or match your competitors than lone listing. But if you happen to find yourself as a lone listing at the very top of the Shopping tab – (consider yourself lucky!) in this case might not be a good idea to SKU up. 

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