The Google Shopping Webinar Of The Year
This past Thursday, I had the good fortune to listen to expert Google Shopping insight from Ruth Burr, lead SEO at SEOmoz and Nii Ahene, COO at CPC Strategy and author of the “The Google Shopping Guide For Business Owners.”
If you missed the live webinar, check out the recorded version:
With a combined experience of over 12 years, Ruth and Nii outlined Google Shopping best practices for:
- Landing Page Optimization
- Semantic Markup
- On-page Optimization
- Google Shopping Bidding
- Google Shopping Ad Keywords
Following their talks, Ruth and Nii were also kind enough to answer some insightful listener questions including:
- What effect do you think dynamic re-marketing will have on Product Listing Ads (PLAs)?
- What’s the best way to create a campaign structure?
- What is the difference between SKU-level strategy and theme-based strategy for Google Shopping campaigns?
Nii: How’s it going everybody? This is Nii Ahene, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of CPC Strategy. Welcome to today’s webinar on Google Shopping with SEOmoz and CPC Strategy. We’ve been calling this the Google Shopping Webinar of the Year because we really believe that. I mean, between SEOmoz and CPC Strategy, you will not find any bigger search businesses anywhere else. We have a lot of good insight to share with everybody on the webinar. Let me go ahead and show my screen and we can go ahead and get started.
Here’s the agenda for today. First we’ll do some introductions, go through the agenda, do some housekeeping, then I will present CPC Strategy’s guide to dominating Google Shopping. After that, Ruth from SEOmoz will discuss Google Shopping best practices. We’ll wrap things up with a Q&A.
Nii Ahene, CPC Strategy COO
For introductions again I am Nii Ahene, co-founder of CPC Strategy. We help clients sell products online via Google shopping, comparison shopping engines, Amazon.com, and paid search. If you have any questions about any one of these channels, feel free to ask them today during the webinar or via email. Also with me today is Mary Weinstein who got things set up and will be running the Q&A board. Mary, can you give a quick introduction on yourself?
Mary Weinstein, CPC Strategy Content Manager
Mary: Sure, thanks, Nii. Hey guys, my name is Mary, and like Nii said, I am the Content Manager at CPC Strategy. My job is just to find, share, and create awesome content for you. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to hit me up at [email protected]
Nii: Cool. Ruth, could you give a quick introduction on yourself as well?
Ruth Burr, SEOmoz Inbound Marketing Lead
Ruth: Sure thing. Hey guys, my name is Ruth Burr, and I am the Inbound Marketing lead at SEOmoz. I’m in charge of SEO and inbound marketing for SEOmoz.org and our related properties like Open Site Explorer. Today I’m going to be talking about how you can enact best practices for Google Shopping that are good for SEO too.
Nii: Awesome, awesome, awesome. We encourage everyone to stay to the end of the webinar for the Q&A. But, if you do have to leave, there will be a recording of the webinar available on our website for download later in the week. Also, speaking of Q&A, feel free to ask questions via GoToWebinar through the chat box. We’ll try to get to all of them during the Q&A session. Last but not least, we’ll be using the hashtag #CPCWebinar to talk about the webinar on Twitter while it’s going on, so feel free to join the discussion there as well. So let’s jump in to things.
Paid Google Shopping Opportunity for Ecommerce Merchants
So what’s going on? As everybody knows we’re about six months into Google’s paid shopping experiment, and the results are in. Paid Google Shopping is the real deal. Quarter after quarter we have examined performance of the top comparison shopping engines. Looking at performance in the last quarter of 2012, we see that Google was best in class, both in terms of revenue and cost of sale for e-commerce websites. Meaning that smart retailers like yourselves, that take the time to educate themselves and build and manage solid campaigns, have a huge opportunity to drive qualified traffic to your website by keeping ahead of the curve on management best practices. The two graphs we see here are from Q4  of last year. We’ll actually be releasing Q1 rankings sometime over the next week or so. Mary, if you can go ahead and post the URL, they can take a look at the data that we have there as well.
Getting Started with Google Shopping
If you haven’t launched a campaign, it’s pretty easy to get started with Google Shopping. All you have to do is to log in to your merchant account, open up the Settings tab, click “AdWords”, add your Customer ID and your AdWords account will be linked to your data feed. Once your inventory is linked, you can start to create targeted campaigns on specific products to your data feed. Now, it’s a bit much to go over the entire setup process on the webinar, but we’ve created a comprehensive guide that details the entire process. You can download this entire white paper at the bit URL that Mary’s going to provide for everybody in the chat box as well.
Google Shopping Best Practices
But, enough about the setup process. Let’s jump into what you guys actually care about, which is how to compete on this new, exciting channel. Here are CPC Strategy’s eight insider tips to dominating the new Google Shopping.
1. Number one: get a data feed guy.
2. Number two: suppress out-of-stock products.
3. Number three: learn how to bid properly.
4. Number four: understand the places your products will show up.
5. Number five: use the dimension search term report to cut keywords.
6. Number six: take advantage of short-term bidding inefficiencies.
7. Number seven: accelerate your ad placements.
8. Number eight: use CPC Strategy’s secret sauce. That one might give me a little bit of trouble here, but I’m going to reveal it to you guys anyway because you guys are going to stay to the end of the webinar.
Google Shopping Data Feed: Get A Data Feed Guy
Tip number one: Get a data feed guy. Now, with the old Google Shopping, it was possible just to get a plugin, set up a data feed one time, and not really worry about it. The new Google Shopping requires IT departments and personnel to collaborate with Internet marketers to slice and dice your data and your inventory feed. To create AdWords labels of products, brands, and other attributes so you can increase visibility for segments that perform well, and decrease bids and visibility for segments that do not. Ideally, the person that currently handles your data feed will be versed enough in your marketing metrics to make segmenting decisions on his end. Similarly, your marketing person should be technical enough to look at your existing inventory feed so he or she can target product groups that perform well within the AdWords interface. Either way, there needs to be some kind of crossover or collaboration between the two parties.
If you’re just using a tool currently to push out your data feeds, you need to make sure you know how to create labels for product groups with the tool. Otherwise you won’t be able to take full advantage of the great targeting capabilities of the program. Again, this is a data feed-driven program, so it’s essential that you have a tool or process in place to slice and dice data in your product feed.
Google Shopping Product Suppression: Suppress Out-Of-Stock Products
Tip number two: Suppress the products that you don’t want showing up on Google. This seems like a no-brainer, but it definitely makes sense to make sure that products that aren’t in stock, or products that have low availability, are not going out to Google. Google gets to choose which products show up on PLAs, meaning that you don’t have a say in what particular products show up for which search queries. The worst thing you can do is pay for traffic that lands on pages that don’t have the products that you actually want to advertise. Make sure you are using product suppression in your data feed to ensure only products you want visibility are actually advertised for.
Google Shopping Bidding: Learn How to Bid Properly
Tip number three: Learn how to bid properly. What exactly did I mean by taking full advantage of the targeting capabilities of the new program? Since you can group your products in any way with the AdWords label column, you can for instance, tag all your bestsellers with a “B” tag by products in your inventory feed. And double your bids for these products because you know they convert better than anything else. Or, if there’s a particular brand that doesn’t perform well, you can tag it with a term like “low” in your data feed and bid as little as possible for it. The possibilities are literally endless.
Google Shopping All Products Bid
With that said, there’s one very important thing to bear in mind, make sure you set your all-product bid target as your lowest bid across your product listing ad campaign. That actually bears repeating. Make sure you set your all-product bid as your lowest bid across your product listing ad campaign. Why? Because Google will always select the product target that generates the most revenue for Google.
For instance, say you sell pet food, and you want to bid 70 cents on cat food products, but your all-product bid is set at $1.00. Guess what? Despite all the segmentation work you’ve done in your feed and in AdWords, Google will take that $1.00 bid for that cat food click because an all-product bid includes everything in your feed, including cat food. This is a very easy mistake to make. We’ve seen it in campaigns we’ve taken over in the past, and we don’t want to see you do the same thing. Learn how to bid properly, and you’ll be in great shape.
Google Shopping Ad Placement: Understand The Places Your Products Will Show Up
Tip number four: Understand the places your products will show up. Now, a very interesting quirk about the new Google Shopping program is that you are participating in one auction for two different placements. Taking a look at the slide here, we see the one box, or the universal Google shopping placement located in the top-right of the search result page. Now, this is prime real estate. We can assume that if Google does its job of identifying product-related searches well, that the traffic garnered from these pages will be at least as qualified as organic or traditional placements on this page.
Google Shopping Ads on Comparison Pages
Now, on this slide, we see the other place Google Product Listing Ads will show up, the product comparison page. This page is accessible by clicking the Shopping tab on search result pages. On these pages, your products are shown next to those of your competitors, and they’re given the ability to sort by various methods. What this means is that a savvy retailer should consider whether they’re targeting placement on the first set of listings on the main page, or the second set of listings on the comparison page when determining their bids. If you’re super price competitive, but your margins are thin, you might want to penny bid your products, or nickel bid your products, to make sure they still get exposure when consumers sort by price on the comparison page.
Google Shopping Ads on Google Search
Alternatively, if you have a bigger marketing margin to spend, it might make sense to bid up on products so you can get as much of that front-door traffic as possible. In any situation, figuring out the right bidding strategy is essential to success on the new channel. Unfortunately, there isn’t any rule of thumb. You kind of just have to follow the data, figure out what products do well for you, and then bid aggressively for the ones that do well, and lower the bids for the ones that don’t. Just like AdWords, you’ve got to find out what works for you.
Google Shopping Negative Keywords: Use the Dimension Search Term Report to Cut Keywords
Tip number five: Use the dimension search term report to determine negative keywords. Search marketers familiar with AdWords know that maintaining a target portfolio of negative keywords is essential to avoid keyword creep in their paid search campaigns. Given the fact that Google selects where your placements are, the same holds true for product listing ad campaigns as well. A very powerful tool in determining which search queries to block from Google is the “Search Terms” report located in AdWords. To locate this report, select an ad group, or a product target, click the Dimensions tab, then hit the View drop-down. You’ll then be shown a report which details the exact search queries that have generated traffic to your website. As a bonus, if you have AdWords tracking correctly set up, you should be able to see which keywords have converted. Looking at the data, you can eyeball whether the traffic Google thinks are associated with your products are the correct keywords you want to be driving traffic to your product pages. If they aren’t, you can add the keywords to your negative keyword list in your campaign, and block them.
Currently, we’re about six months into the program, the keywords that are driving traffic to PLA listings, are still very, very, very relevant. But, again, I’ve said this in previous webinars, we can definitely see Google getting more and more liberal with keywords that are associated with products as they’ve done with broad match and enhanced broad match. It just makes sense for Google to get more aggressive in terms of associating keywords with different products. Definitely use this report to make sure that you’re just bidding on keywords that make sense for you.
Google Shopping Short Term Market Inefficiencies: Take Advantage of Short-Term Bidding Inefficiencies
Tip number six: Finding short-term market inefficiencies. Since the PLA program is still pretty new, many retailers aren’t even aware of the need to segment their feed, nor do they have any inkling about the tips that I’ve outlined so far today. What this means is that there are a lot of opportunities to pick up traffic on the cheap for those that move quickly.
On this slide, we see a search for Microsoft Office 2010. On the left we have traditional AdWords, and on the right, we have product listing ads. Both paid placements appear above the fold. I’d venture to guess that to the average consumer, the PLAs on the right-hand side of the page are a lot more eye-catching.
Guess what? Traffic on the PLA side for this particular search query cost a tenth of what it did on the AdWords side. I don’t think it gets much clearer than that. There is a huge opportunity to drive cheap, qualified traffic to your website because these are two different options. Of course, we don’t anticipate these opportunities to last forever. But, while they’re there it makes sense to take advantage of them.
Accelerated Google Shopping Ad Placements: Accelerate Your Ad Placements
Tip number seven: Consider accelerating your ad placements. Once you find out which products perform well on Google, you’ll probably want the increased exposure for these products. The best way to do that is to increase the frequency Google shows PLAs by shifting the delivery of your ads. We’ve taken advantage of this strategy for our clients with high performing products by creating a new campaign of only very high performers, and changing the default ad delivery schedule.
As some of you may know, the default setting takes your daily budget in account and then show ads evenly over time. But, if you’re confident in the selection of products that are tagged as best sellers in your product feed, it makes sense to switch the delivery of these ads to accelerated. Set a very high budget, and then increase the frequency and the breadth of keywords that can trigger with your PLAs. With that said, it makes sense to be very careful with this strategy. If you don’t have a ton of data, and you don’t know for sure which products are converting for you, this is a great way to blow through a lot of money really fast, and we don’t want you to do that. But, once you have enough data to know what your best sellers are, your high converters are, it makes sense to move these products to a product target, increase your delivery method, and make sure that these products get as much traffic as possible.
Google Shopping SKU Level Ad Groups
And finally, our final tip. Again, this is probably going to upset some people here at CPC Strategy, since it’s been part of our secret sauce for improving our client performance almost overnight. Don’t leave money on the table by using SKU-level build outs. We found that SKU-level build outs leave money on the table because they’re too granular. It’s very easy to build out a single ad group for each SKU in your inventory feed with the AdWords editor or other tools. But we’ve found that doing this has an adverse impact on performance. We believe that this is the case because it creates a very limited basket of keywords Google can use to associate search queries with your product targets in your feed.
Instead, we strongly advise moving forward with theme-based product targets in your campaign. This provides Google with a large set of related data to associate with your products, giving you the opportunity to be more relevant for a broader set of keywords.
Google Shopping SKU Level Campaigns vs. Theme Ad Group Campaigns
Here’s a real life example. In January, this particular client, who was in the office supply vertical, ran his PLAs strictly on a SKU level. He was doing pretty good at $67,000 in revenue and a 6.51:1 return. We took over his campaign in February, shut out the SKU campaign his old agency had built, and built out a PLA campaign based on the theme-based label strategy. Revenue not only doubled, but his ROI improved meaningfully. Meaning that he has more dollars to spend on things like inventory, other paid channels, or even a vacation. I mean, it’s remarkable that a small shift in strategy can have such a big impact on performance.
That wraps things up for our tips on Google Shopping. It should put you far ahead of your competitors who aren’t on today’s webinar. We’ve aggregated all of our coverage on the new Google Shopping over at our blog. If you have any questions about the material I’ve covered, feel free to ask them during the Q&A. We’ll definitely make sure that we get to them. With that, I’ll go ahead and hand the stage over to Ruth who will detail SEOmoz’s best strategies for moving forward with Google Shopping. Thanks.
Ruth Burr: Google Shopping Strategies
Ruth: Thanks, Nii, that was really awesome. Okay, let me get into slideshow view here. Okay, guys. Today I’m going to talk to you about some additional Google Shopping strategies that will not only help you get more and better traffic, but will also, in many cases, make your SEO people love you as well. So it’s a win-win.
Google Search: Clean Data
The first thing I want to talk about is squeaky clean data. This is really important. What I mean by clean data is that the data that is in your data feed exactly matches the data that is on your website. It’s super important to Google that this is the case. They’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to make sure that this is true. It makes a lot of sense because the reason that Google has Google Shopping is because they want people to use Google Shopping.
If somebody searches for something, and they see an ad for it, and they click on the ad, and then the page that they get to is different from what they expect: maybe the product is out of stock, maybe it’s a different price, maybe it’s a different product, that is a bad experience. It’s bad for you because you won’t have made the sale because the person’s not getting what they expect. It’s also bad for Google Shopping because that person has tried to use Google Shopping and has had a bad experience. So, it’s really important that your data is fresh and clean.
That goes for everything, all of the factors about your product, the price, the availability, the description, image, everything should be consistent between your ad, your data feed, and your landing page. You can even use not just the data that the users see, but extra data that search engines see as well to send that kind of consistent data signal. How we do that is we use Semantic Markup.
Semantic Markup for Google Shopping
You can learn all about Semantic Markup at schema.org. But what it is, is basically a set of HTML tags that you can put anywhere in your website. They have them for a bunch of different kinds of pieces of data that basically takes the guesswork out of finding and parsing the data on your site for Google. Instead of Google having to figure out that this is a product, and here is the price, and here is how many stars it’s gotten in ratings, just from context clues you can use Schema.org to say, “Hey, Google. Here is exactly where this piece of information. Here’s what it is. It’s right here.”
Semantic Markup Example
This is an example of Semantic Markup from BackCountry.com for this boot that I have a picture of. It’s a really cute boot. They have it marked up: “Here it is. Here’s the brand name. Here’s the rating. Here’s the aggregate rating.” Not only does that save a lot of time, in terms of Google crawling and parsing your site, but it’s also another way to send that signal of consistent, fresh, clean data which Google loves.
The other thing that’s really important to remember is that everything needs to be very up-to-date. Freshness is really important to Google overall, but especially on the high-performing, high-commercial intent queries which are the kind of queries that you’re getting in Google Shopping. You really want to make sure that your products are up-to-date. That’s everything, if you have a price change, if you move out of stock, set up everything you can to automatically change that availability, and that price, and any other piece of information about your product, and in your product listing ads that can change. The faster you can get that up-to-date in your data feed, the stronger a trust signal you’re sending to Google. That’s going to impact your data quality score, which is in turn going to mean that you are not going to have to bid as much in the individual keyword-level auctions that are taking place. And that’s great, because it means your CPC’s are lower, and it also means Google likes you, and it’s nice to be liked. It feels good.
So, your customers love clean data because they search for what they want, and they find it, and then they buy it, and they’re happy. Google loves clean data because it’s really easy for them to parse, and because they know you’re creating a good experience for users. You love clean data because people are coming to your site and buying things from you. That’s what we’re trying to do here.
Google Developer Tools Data Quality Feed Section
The link at the bottom of this slide is a link to the Data Quality Feed section of Google Developer Tools. It’s great for insight into what Google wants out of data quality. They’ve also got a tool in there for you to check the quality of your data feed, and make sure you don’t have any errors in there. You should probably be checking the quality of your feed at least once a week. You probably don’t need to check it every day. It depends on how often you’re updating your feed.
But, at least once a week go in, check the data quality feed, make sure there are no errors because, again, the more errors you have, the less Google’s going to trust you. They’re going to be like, “I don’t want to send people over to that site. That site’s broken.” That’s not what you want. You don’t want to tell Google you have a broken site. You want to tell Google you have a clean, well-organized, fresh, trustworthy site. That’s tip number one.
Google Shopping Product Listing Ads: Stand Out
Once you’ve got your data all nice, and fresh, and clean, the next thing that you can really do to take your product listing campaigns above and beyond, is to really think about how you’re going to stand out in a crowd, and stand out from your competitors. One of the first ways you can do that is your image. Your image is, in this case, your ad.
Product Listing Ad Keywords
This is an example from a search for a black cardigan on Google. You can see that two of the results that come up in the Google Shopping box are not actually black cardigans. Looking at the one in the upper left-hand corner, that’s from J. Crew. Do I think that J. Crew doesn’t have black cardigans? There’s no way J. Crew does not have black cardigans. There’s no way Sachs Fifth Avenue doesn’t have black cardigans. It’s such a basic item of clothing. What this means is that these vendors are not taking control of their keywords and of their negative keywords. Anything that is a filter that you’re seeing a lot, that would be things like color, size, price, etc., those are things that you really want to make sure that you are including the correct ad for.
You want to make sure that you’re bidding on those keyword variations, that’s a great way to build out your keyword list. You want to make sure that you are adding those terms as negative keywords for the ads in which they don’t apply. I imagine in this case these ads are being shown because they’re bidding on cardigan, and haven’t bothered to add colors as an additional filter. That’s going to lose you the click. Nobody searching for “black cardigan” is going to click on that.
Google Shopping Images
The other thing that you want to do is make sure that the image is clean, that it’s clear, that it has a light background so it stands out. Whenever possible, it’s great if you can use your own images and not the images from the manufacturer because everybody else is going to be using images from the manufacturer. A ton of e-commerce companies do that. The more you can use your own images, it’s just another little thing you can do, especially for things that aren’t clothing, things like electronics, or furniture, where there are no models involved. It’s really easy to just see the same image over and over. Seeing a slightly different image catches the eye and can get you a few extra clicks.
Google Shopping Product Descriptions
The same goes for product description. I just took a phrase from a product description for the same boot that we were looking at on Back Country earlier. You can see that there are five different websites all using the same exact description for this product. This is another really easy way to stand out from the crowd is just to start creating your own unique product descriptions. Not only does that help you stand out, it can give you more of a unique brand voice. I know what you’re thinking, “Ruth, I have hundreds and thousands of products. I can’t go in and write new descriptions for all of them.” Okay, I feel you on that. What you can do is start out with your new products, as you’re adding new products, start writing unique product descriptions for those now. Over time, the old products you’ll filter out, and you will have unique descriptions for everything.
Top Sellers on Google Shopping
What you can also do from there is take a look at your top sellers. Not just the things that sell the most, but the products that get the most traffic, the product that has the best return. Start with your greatest hits. If you have a product, you’ve got 6,000 in stock, and it’s three years old, and you’re not really bidding on it, you probably don’t need to take the time to rewrite that product description. But, with your best sellers it can really make a difference. What’s great about this is it also helps your SEO because you are contributing to having less duplicate content on the site. The more unique content you have on each page, the better it is for SEO.
I know that if you are using the manufacturer’s product description, you’re dealing with somebody whose SEO, he or she is also trying to get those product descriptions to be unique. If the two of you work together, not only do you have more resources, and a better chance of getting this done, but then he or she will like you, and maybe even owe you a favor, and who doesn’t like that?
Google Shopping Data Feed Details
Another thing to really keep in mind with your data feed is to be really, really thorough. Here, I just pulled up boots, and you can see there are a ton of different things you can filter out: category, price range, color, style, brand. Each one of these pieces of data is a piece of data that you can update in the product feed. Any piece of data that you don’t put in the product feed, as soon as someone chooses to filter on that data point, you will be filtered out. If your boots are black, but you haven’t told Google Shopping that they’re black, if somebody filters down and says they only want black boots, your boot is not going to show up. So, the more pieces of information you can give Google in your feed, the more different kinds of filtering and drill-down you’re going to be able to show up in, and get clicks and sales.
That goes for identifiers as well. To Nii’s point, it’s probably not a good idea to build out ad groups based on SKUs. But, you can absolutely include any unique identifiers you have in your data feed, whether it’s the UPC code, if you’re selling books maybe you have an ISBN number, anything like that you really want to make sure your including. If somebody is searching on that level, then that’s a really bottom-of-the-funnel customer. That’s a customer who knows exactly what they want and now they’re just trying to figure out where to buy it. Why not buy it from you? You have the information because you sell these things. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to sell them, so include it. It’s an easy one.
Google Shopping Inbound Marketing Presence
The last thing that you can really do with Google Shopping is contribute to building an inbound marketing presence. We want to start thinking about all of these things, whether it’s text ads, or product listing ads, or SEO, or any of these things. We really want to start thinking about all of them as building a holistic online brand presence. Google Shopping can absolutely be a part of that if you’re working together. You want to make sure that you’re getting your messaging in sync. What are your unique value propositions? What are your selling points? Do you have free shipping? Do you have free gift with purchase? Do you have trust, good reviews, great customer service? Whatever that is, the more you can send a consistent message the better.
What you’re going to start seeing is that there are going to be situations where you just totally own the search engine results page for a query. You’ve got a text ad there, you’ve got Google Shopping ad there, and you’ve got an organic result. If all of those say entirely different things, it’s not a trustworthy signal. It kind of seems like, “You’ll say anything to make a sale, won’t you?”
If you think about your brand, if you think about your brand messaging, and you sync that up between your PPC and your SEO efforts, and also with your social media efforts, and anywhere else that you’re building your brand online, you’ll be able to build a stronger brand. Consumers like brands, Google likes brands, brands make people feel safe and trusted.
Google Shopping Re-targeting
Really, I think personally, anybody who’s doing Google Shopping should also be doing re-targeting. I certainly know that these boots are a good re-targeting candidate because they’ve been following me around the Internet for days since I made this slide. These are just a couple of examples, like I clicked through to this page, and this is the boot that I looked at.
Why not, if somebody’s gone all the way to your website and looked at a specific product? Especially if they’ve put it in their cart, but haven’t converted, these are great re-targeting targets. It’s a great way to build your audience pool, and say, “Hey! Remember this boot that you thought was really cute, and you weren’t quite ready to buy? Look how cute it is. Don’t you want it?” It also gives you a chance to message again that consistent brand message, and provide even a little bit more detail about the product, like Nordstrom is doing in this Facebook ad. Google Shopping is one of the best ways to quickly build a re-targeting pool.
Specific Product Landing Pages
The other thing that you should think about is getting granular. One keyword per landing page isn’t entirely realistic. But, what I mean is one product per landing page. If I was searching for that specific boot, and I clicked on an ad for that specific boot, and you just took me to your Boots category page, and I had to drill back down and find the boot again, guess what? I’m not going to do that because I’ve already searched for it. I’ve already picked it out. I don’t want to have to do it again. I’m going to click back to the search results and pick a different vendor who will show me the products that I want. Make sure that your landing pages are at the product level if you’re advertising at the product level.
Negative Keywords for Google Shopping
Like I said, you also want to be using your negatives really wisely. That’s something that Nii talked about, too. You want to be really careful with any sort of all-products feed. You want to be really intentional about how you’re using negatives and how you’re using your “exact” and your “phrase match.” You don’t want the wrong product showing up for a query that you have the right product for.
For the middle-of-the-funnel terms, where maybe they’re not searching for a specific boot, but they know they want a black boot, maybe you’ve got five black boots, push the lower cost items and bid those up because you’re going to get the click through rate (CTR). If everybody else is advertising black boots for $98, and you’ve got one for $79, that’s a big incentive to click and say, “This one’s a little bit cheaper.” Even though you might get a smaller return on those because they’re not as expensive, you’re going to get more clicks, and ultimately more sales. Over time that is going to result in more revenue.
Landing Page Social Sharing
Another neat thing you can with these highly- specific product focus landing pages is encourage people to share them, especially with consumer goods. SEOmoz is a software and service company. We don’t really have a lot of product pages. But if you do, these are things that people might want other people’s opinions on. Especially clothing, especially electronics, especially books and movies, things like that. Encourage people to pin it, to share it to Facebook, to share it on Twitter.
Add those buttons. Make it easy, make it simple so people can say, “Hey, I’m thinking about buying these boots. What do you think?” Not only is that fun, not only does it provide another way for customers to engage with your brand, but now you’re also getting these same products in front of those peoples’ friends, and that can expand your audience. Again, I really have to stress do not send Google Shopping customers to search result pages or category pages. Make it very specific for the product that they think that they’ve clicked on.
Those are my tips for Google Shopping. If you guys have any questions, feel free to tweet at me. Now I’m going to turn it back over to Mary.
Google Shopping Questions
Mary: Great. All right, so if anybody has any questions about what Ruth touched on, or what Nii touched on, feel free to chat that and we’ll have the experts answer those questions for you.
1. What do you think about products like GoDataFeed and SingleFeed?”
Nii: Cool. I think we have one question from Twitter. Let me bring that up real quick. This comes from Francisco Meza. Mary, let me go ahead and put the URL for you to send to everybody. Hashtag #CPCWebinar question is, “What do you think about products like GoDataFeed and SingleFeed?” Number two, “What about feeds for Amazon, eBay, and others?”
Products like GoDataFeed and SingleFeed are great tools to use. They do have the ability to manipulate the data in the tool. I think that if you have somebody in-house that is a data analyst that can follow the data and follow the trend, a tool like GoDataFeed or a tool like SingleFeed is an awesome tool to allow you to send to the comparison shopping landing pages.
With that said, if you don’t have the bond with in-house managed services like ours, or other services out there, it makes less sense. It really depends on your expertise and your ability to interpret the data. It really depends on your know-how, how familiar you are with figuring out what makes the most sense for you.
Number two, what about feeds for Amazon, eBay, and others? With Amazon and eBay, those are different. Those are marketplaces where the transaction takes place on a third-party website. There are tools, Channel Advisor, Mercent, CPC Strategy, we all have tools that enable you to integrate with those channels. Again, with Amazon and eBay, they take a percentage of the actual closing price themselves. It really depends on what you’re selling to see if that makes sense for you, or not.
Those are great questions. I can answer more specifically if I knew the product you were selling. But I don’t want to make any generalizations. Definitely give us a call and we can talk about what exactly we can do for you.
2. Does Google not automatically suppress out-of-stock products?
Mary: Awesome. Our next question is from Ally, and she says, “Does Google not automatically suppress out-of-stock products?” I think that’s, again, a question for Nii.
Nii: Yes, Google does automatically suppress out-of-stock products. The issue with that is that you have to make sure your data feed is up-to-date. That’s where people run into problems if they aren’t sending that inventory to Google, keeping that inventory fresh, they’ll run into issues, or they’ll have that automatically sent out to Google.
What we do is we set a rule, anything of low availability we don’t even send it over to Google Shopping to ensure that we don’t risk it at all. You can set that threshold at two, at zero, at one. Just ensure that you always send over fresh data, keep that data up-to-date, make sure you don’t send products that might say in-stock when they’re actually out of stock. Great question.
3. What’s the best way to create a campaign structure? Should I create a campaign for each brand, or if a brand has collections?
Mary: Cool. Next question is from Daniel Vellas. He says, “What’s the best way to create a campaign structure? Should I create a campaign for each brand, or if a brand has collections?” Again, I think that’s another question geared more towards Nii.
Nii: In terms of creating campaigns, think about what makes the most sense for you to manage your products. So, if you have products that tend to be different product types, product types might be the way you want to go. If your products tend to be different brands, but the brands, they tie together in terms of the price, that might be the way to go.
The best way to really figure it out is by using Google Analytics. If you have e-commerce tracking set up, you can take a look at Google Analytics and see how your bestsellers are clumping. Are your bestsellers all from a specific brand, or are your bestsellers all in a specific price range? That can kind of hit on where you should focus your efforts, whether that should be by price bucket, or by brand, or by product type.
The advice is that it depends, like most things data-related, it depends. But, use the data. Take a look at what your bestsellers are from Google paid traffic, and then see what the similarities are between them. Use that to figure out how you should slice and dice your actual campaign structure.
4. Do you recommend having segments by price for Google Shopping Ad Groups?
Mary: Next question is fairly similar from Brandon. He wants to know, “Do you recommend having segments by price?”
Nii: Yes, absolutely, if price looks like it’s a leading indicator of performance. That’s saying that if products over $100 do remarkably better than products under $100, then definitely use that as something to segment, or actually label your feed with, “These products are above this threshold”. These products are below that threshold.” The reason being is if you do see that this particular price bucket, or particular price range performs well, you definitely want to increase your bids on it.
When thinking about how to segment your data, think about what the end result you want to happen is. Do you want to bid more? Do you want to bid less? Any time you see a break in the data, any time you see particular trends in the data, you want to isolate that in your data feed by adding a label. If the data is telling you that products that are more expensive than $250 don’t sell at all, then you definitely want to break that apart and bid as low as possible for those products that have that label in them. Absolutely. Great question. Great question.
Google Shopping Data Feed Questions
5. How long does it take before Google updates my pricing and inventory after I upload a feed?
Mary: Moving away from strategy a little bit, we’ve got a couple of data feed questions. An initial one from Jim, he wants to know, “How long does it take before Google updates my pricing and inventory after I upload a feed?”
Nii: It’s very fast. It’s very fast. I would say 5 to 10 minutes, if even that. You can log into your Merchant Center and you’ll see a key upload feature, whether that’s via the API or via a flat file update, it will say “Processing.” Unless you have millions of products, you’ll see that get updated and live onto Google as soon as it says it’s good to go in Merchant Center, it’s good to go live on AdWords as well.
6. If you re-write product titles and descriptions just in the data feed, will it have a negative impact since the landing page does not have the same exact wording?
Mary: Awesome. A similar question from Ally, and I’ve actually heard this question asked a couple times, so great job bringing this up, Ally. She wants to know, “If you re-write product titles and descriptions just in the data feed, will it have a negative impact since the landing page does not have the same exact wording?”
Ruth: I think it definitely can have a negative impact. It’s something that you can sort of play around with. But again, just trying to have that consistency as much as possible. Especially with the name of the product, I think that that is the biggest one that you really don’t want to mess with. It’s something that I would do sparingly. I always say touch stuff if you want to touch stuff, but it’s something that I would do pretty carefully.
7. Please explain re-targeting. I didn’t really understand that concept.
Mary: Here’s another one for Ruth from Craig. He wants to know a little bit more about re-targeting. He says, “Please explain re-targeting. I didn’t really understand that concept.”
Ruth: Oh, sure. Google calls it re-marketing. Basically, you put a pixel on your website that fires when somebody does a certain thing. It could be “visits the page,” or “clicks on a link.” You can either do that through Google AdWords directly, or you can set it up. I know SEOmoz uses a company called AdRoll we to do it, and we love them.
Nii: We use them, too. They’re great.
Ruth: Yeah, they’re great. Then, you’re able to track that person as long as they don’t clear their cookies. You set a cookie, and it usually expires in 30 days. Then you can show, just as people who have those pixels on computers, ads for your product. It becomes almost like a content network ad, but it’s specifically for people who have already seen that product. Or you can do people that have put things in their cart, but haven’t checked out, or whatever you want to do. It’s just to remind them, “Hey, you looked at this product, but you didn’t buy it. Want to buy it now?”
8. Can you provide an example of a SKU-level strategy as opposed to a theme-based strategy?
Mary: Awesome. Another question from Craig. He would like an example of a SKU-level strategy, as opposed to a theme-based strategy.
Nii: An example of a SKU-level strategy, say you have 1,000 unique products on your e-commerce store. Each of them has a unique SKU, so the way you would set up a SKU-level strategy is that each SKU would be its own product target, and then the AdWords interface-assuming that your SKUs were sequential just for the sake of the illustration-you would have 1,000 ad groups, each of them having one product as your product target. You would have an ad group called SKU number one, and a product target that would just have SKU number one in it, meaning that you would have 1,000 ad groups with 1,000 unique product targets that would just point to one particular product.
We’ve seen build out and that’s the only thing people use to build their entire campaign out. The issue with that is that it makes it difficult for Google to associate particular products with a larger theme of keywords, a larger universe of keywords.
A theme-based build out would be using other attributes that tie together a group of products, for instance brand, or price bucket, or manufacturer, or attributes of the particular products used for segments. Any larger theme that ties together two or more products creates the ability for Google to use more keywords to associate with a particular product.
Say we did a build out that was associated with brand, or product type, and you were an office supply seller, you would have a paper product target, you would have a printer product target, you would have a monitor product target. In those product targets there would be groups of products with different price ranges, different manufacturers within it. That’s the difference. Going off of the actual theme versus going after the unique, specific products, with unique, specific landing pages.
9. Can you add the logo of your company in the product images as a differentiator to achieve a higher click through rate?
Mary: We’ve got a branding question from Daniel. He asks, “Can you add the logo of your company in the product images as a differentiator to achieve a higher click through rate?”
Ruth: That would be one way to do it.
Nii: Yeah. I would have to check the Terms of Service. I’m pretty sure you can definitely do it. Nobody’s going to stop you from doing it. The question is will it get flagged by your competitors. That’s something I don’t know. But, as Ruth said in her presentation, if you can take your own images of products instead of using the images that come from the manufacturer, it’s a great way to stick out especially if somebody has a search for the same products.
Let’s say someone does a search for “Nike Air Max,” and your Nike Air Max shoe looks the same as everybody else’s shoe, it’s not going to stick out. But, if you took your own image, instead of the stock image that the manufacturer provides, that image is going to look different. Somebody’s probably going to see your ad before they see the ones that look the same.
Putting a watermark on it with your logo, I can’t tell you yes or no. I can definitely follow up with that. If you can send me an email, I’ll definitely chase down that answer for you and let you know whether that’s okay or not. We should probably do a blog post about it since that’s a very good point.
10. Using Semantic Markups, will these codes tell Google to not look at the info on the product page, and only the Semantic code? Or, will Google look at both and compare?
Mary: I’ve got another one for Ruth from Dan. He asks, “Using Semantic Markups, will these codes tell Google to not look at the info on the product page, and only the Semantic code? Or, will Google look at both and compare?”
Ruth: Google will look at both and compare. It’s more of a hint than an instruction. It doesn’t carry the same weight as like a robot.txt no index tag where they’ll just completely honor it. It’s just another place that they can look and get additional data. You definitely want both of those to be consistent. One won’t override the other.
12. What effect do you think dynamic re-marketing will have on PLAs?
Mary: Awesome. I’ve got another one from Brian, “What effect do you think dynamic re-marketing will have on PLAs?”
Ruth: I think that there’s definitely room for both. I guess part of it depends on whether or not Google starts opening up their own search results page ads to re-targeting ads, which I don’t really see them doing. I think that those first initial searches are really so important for capturing that top-of-the-funnel traffic. Especially now when you think about how people are usually using three, or four, or five different search queries over the lifetime of their research before making a purchase of anything. I might start out Googling “best honeymoon destinations,” and actually convert on the keyword “cheap flights to Maui.” That doesn’t mean that each of those aren’t important.
I think that having those top-of-funnel text ads and PLAs when people are especially just beginning their search, or at the very end when they know exactly what they want, are still going to be very important. Like I said, there’s room for both in the marketplace.
13. What’s the best way to track product performance?
Mary: Very cool. I’ve got kind of a more analytics-based question. Jim wants to know, “What’s the best way to track product performance?”
Nii: I’m assuming this is for PLAs or AdWords. The best way is to make sure you have Google Analytics linked up with your AdWords account. Google makes it very easy, I think it’s one or two clicks inside your settings and the two can talk to each other. What that will enable is for you to actually use Analytics and look at specific landing pages. Which, if you’re an e-commerce merchant, tends to be your product pages. You can find out which products have performed the best.
Additionally, the cost information from AdWords is also sent over to Analytics. If you go to Campaigns, and then “Traffic source is AdWords,” you will see all your campaigns whether PLAs, or traditional, or even re-marketing, and see the cost you paid for them, as well as any conversions you got from each of the particular campaigns. Getting that set up is probably the easiest way to do it.
There’s a lot of different analytics suites out there, but Google Analytics is a great, free product that is very easy to get started with. I think we have a couple blog posts about that, as well, getting e-commerce tracking set up. We can definitely include those in the webinar notes when we post them up on our blog.
14. What labels or tags are available to organize a product feed for AdWords?
Mary: Definitely. I’ve got another one for Nii. “What labels or tags are available to organize a product feed for AdWords?”
Nii: You can use any label you want, which is the most awesome part about labels. If you have unique inventory that nobody else has seen and they’re categorized in a certain way, or if you want to just be secretive about what your actual labels are, you can label any product anything with the AdWords label column. You can use multiple labels for one particular product by using commas to delimit them in the field. That’s why it’s so important to be able to use the technology platform, or feed vendor, or provider that has the ability to manipulate the data and the data feed because you can add as many labels as possible.
Here at CPC Strategy, we use the label “live” to indicate whether it’s a product we want to bid actively on, or if we want to penny bid it. You can be as creative as you want with the labels column.
15. When you update your feed for product ads, just say for a rebate or a lower price maybe, how quickly will it be updated on Google?
Mary: Very cool. And another feed-based question from Eric, he’s talking about promotions. He says, “When you update your feed for product ads, just say for a rebate or a lower price maybe, how quickly will it be updated on Google?”
Nii: Can you repeat that? Sorry about that.
Mary: Sure. He wants to know when you update your feed for product ads, just say for a rebate or maybe creating a lower price, how quickly will those updates be shown on Google?
Nii: As long as you’re pushing to Google, you’re dropping a new data feed to Google, or you integrate it with the API, 5 to 10 minutes if you have an average-sized feed. When I say “average-sized feed,” I’m talking about 15-25,000 products. You’ll see “Processing” when you push it initially. Maybe 5 to 10 minutes later, the information should be active in Google’s database.
For larger feeds, or if you have multiple feeds, I know that it takes multiple feeds longer to update. If a feed has more than 100,000 products, it might take a little bit longer. But, it’s relatively quickly. As long as you push your feed to Google, whether you’re dropping it via FTP or API, they start that process and Google has enough machines to make sure things get processed as quickly as possible.
16. You indicated that you are leaving money on the table when you use a SKU-strategy. When using theme-based product targets, are you referring to grouping different products together? For example, garden stones, jewelry, or benches?
Mary: A question from Barbara, I believe about one of the last slides in these presentations. She says, “You indicated that you are leaving money on the table when you use a SKU-strategy. When using theme-based product targets, are you referring to grouping different products together? For example, garden stones, jewelry, or benches?”
Nii: Yes, when I’m referring to a theme-based strategy, the theme can be anything from the actual product types, to the pricing bands the products are in. A great example is these are products between $1 and $25, products between $25 and $50. Just using a strategy that incorporates multiple products in a single target, that allows you to really dial in on different attributes on products that can be good or bad for performance.
When you do a SKU-based formula, or you have a SKU-based strategy, you don’t have as many dials to really dial in. What actually makes a product perform? All you have is “this product performs,” or, “this product doesn’t.” There’s bigger themes in data that you can use to infer what’s going to do well if you can slice and dice your data by various different themes.
Nii: The most obvious one would be product type, of course.
SEOmoz & CPC Strategy Webinar Of The Year Closing Remarks
Mary: Those are all the questions that you guys had written in for Ruth and Nii.
Nii: Cool. Thanks again everybody for being on the call. We’ll definitely send out a replay to everybody that was on the webinar, and for the people who missed it as well. Again, our thanks to Ruth for being with us from SEOmoz. Thank you to Mary. Either one of you have any closing remarks?
Ruth: Thanks for listening today, guys. If you do have any more questions, feel free to reach out on Twitter.
Mary: This audio recording will be available for all the listeners. We’ll be sending the recording out, and it will also be available on our blog this week, as well.
Nii: Cool. Thanks again. Definitely hit us up on Twitter and Facebook.