From this month, Google will allow merchants worldwide to list their products on its Shopping tab for free. The scheme was rolled out across the US in the early part of 2020 but has now become available across the globe, providing merchants with an opportunity to boost their visibility and tap into more prospective buyers than ever before.
Why Did Google Do It?
If you’re in the habit of remembering weird things like I am then you’ll probably remember Froogle, or Google Product Search. These were precursors to Google Shopping with the notable difference that they were free to use. All of this eventually changed leading up to the Google Shopping we know today where paid ads are given priority, but now it seems we’re getting a return to the good ol’ days.
This seems to be largely because Google has been losing ground to Amazon and eBay in terms of its market share. The idea, purportedly, is that eventually Google Shopping will become more of an integrated buying experience like its competitors, rather than driving traffic to websites to make a purchase.
This also comes in the wake of Google being criticised for not making competitor search results visible – Google argues now that opening up the Shopping Tab has fixed this problem, although time will tell as to how true this is.
What Does This Mean For Businesses?
For some businesses this could be a big opportunity. As a merchant you will be able to list your products on Google Shopping via Google Merchant Centre, putting them just a search away from a worldwide audience who previously would only have seen paid ads with the best scores. Because it’s free, it means there is no financial burden for small and medium businesses to list their inventory.
Another benefit of the now free service is that smart business owners and marketers can use the service to test the water for larger paid campaigns. By listing the inventory for free, they will be able to gauge potential audience response and make adjustments to larger campaigns accordingly.
It’s important to specify that the Shopping tab is what will be affected. On the main “Search Results” page, the products you see will still be primarily paid listings, as has always been.
On the actual “Shopping” tab however, the results shown will be a mixture of organic search results and paid listings. This tab accounts for around 10-15% of shopping clicks, so there are huge opportunities to have your inventory seen by a whole new wave of people – and it won’t cost you a penny – just make sure your product SEO and reviews are up to date!
Is it Still Worth Paying for Ads?
In short – yes. Although the Google Shopping tab is going to include free listings, the initial listings that appear when you search will still be primarily paid ads, as mentioned above. These listings account for the overwhelming majority of shopping clicks, so if you want the best chance of users viewing your products, paid ads are still the best way to go.
A good deal of listings on the Shopping Tab will still be well-ranked paid ads too, so if you’re currently running a campaign don’t pull the plug just yet!
How Can I Make Sure My Products Are Seen?
With free listings opening up to a much wider range of businesses, getting your inventory to a position where it will be organically visible could be tricky. Below are our top tips for making sure your Google Shopping ads get seen:
- Optimise your titles and descriptions for SEO
- Use high quality photos
- Encourage as many positive reviews as possible
- Organise your product feed content in line with Google guidelines
- Measure the performance of your listings regularly