shopping campaigns

What's the future of Google Shopping?

What is the future of Google Shopping- what is the next change we expect to see for it?

More structured data! If you think about it, Google is now competing with Amazon. Sure, they don't carry inventory, or process that many payments (yet), but Amazon is successful in part due to the reach and breadth of their marketplace--they explore other product categories on their "partner's" dimes, then compete directly with their most successful "partners". Google is skipping the actually-stocking-and-shipping bit, but they're otherwise in the same game. And here's the funny part--Amazon is better at SEARCH in this context. Of all things for Google to fall behind on, that's a surprising revelation, at least to me.

However, if you think about the difference between using Google Shopping, and shopping on Amazon, Google is only good if you already know exactly the product you want--you practically have to have the SKU or UPC in-hand to get anywhere. Amazon has done a much better job, so far, on identifying quantifiable facets of these products (think voltage, inseam, color, language, or any other narrow-by), and making their insanely heterogeneous catalog navigable. Google is just starting to get there, but they rely almost exclusively on the data provided by Merchant Center feeds. Amazon is somewhat limited by their partner feeds, too, but because they're stocking so many products, they have a directly vested interest in getting it (mostly) right.

Google's product data ends up being a democracy--if six of your competitors are calling this widget a "wadget", well, no amount of being "right" is going to make it a "widget" to Google. There just isn't enough structured data available, tied to distinct UPCs, so they're going to keep reading from those Merchant Center feeds. UPC originality becomes a limiting factor, too, as MPN (manufacturer part numbers) and SKUs aren't anywhere near unique. So, if you're Google, you're aware of that weakness, and in order to increase the number of people shopping on your platform, you're going to keep making it easier to "browse" rather than just "find", and you're going to see them close the gap on payments, too--which they're already working on in some cases.

Have questions?  Drop me a line via the Contact form--I love to talk shop.

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Does product title optimization help Shopping Campaign performance?

Roy, have you seen much lift optimizing product titles for Google Shopping Campaigns?

Personally, I haven't seen that much lift from effort spent on product title optimization.

I know there are entire companies out there built around this type of optimization.  They claim incredible things, but I guess I don't get it. Google Shopping is a content democracy.  If you send Google a spectacular product title, or any other content for that matter (great photo!), then you're helping your competitors as much as yourself.  Google is abstracting the product data, and then simply dumping traffic off to whatever retailer the shopper clicks on.  This actually leads to all kinds of shopper confusion. When there's an error in a description, or the like, it's not clear whether that data came from you in their mind. It was on Google, and they clicked to you, right? While there are probably incremental gains to be had here, the safest baseline is the same as my SEO advice: be the most relevant result, and most things will shake out.

One area that absolutely makes sense to invest in is the overall quality of your product data and feed in general.  This includes some aspect of product title optimizaiton.  In my reviews and working with clients I see a lot of room for improvement in the underlying data submitted into the product feed.

First, start by working through your errors and warnings in Google Merchant Center.  Google does a decent job of prioritizing what you need to fix under the Diagnostics tab in Google Merchant Center.

In terms of the product title, are you already following Google's specifications of a 150 character limit? Remember that typically only 70 characters will display.

For products with variants (parent-child SKUs) are you using the common title for all of the variants and adding the variant attributes after the common title?

Are you following Google's editorial guidelines?

A properly constructed product title will typically include the following data:

  • Brand | Product Name | Attribute 1 | Attribute 2 | etc.
  • Levi's 501 Original Fit Blue 32x34

Additional information that I've seen that can help improve the relevancy depending on the product could be gender, model number or any other product descriptors that are commonly used to find a specific product.  For example:

  • Levi's 501 Men's Original Fit Stonewash Blue Jeans 31x34

While this type of product title optimization may not necessarily help your performance within Google Shopping Campaigns, it is improving the user experience and relevancy for someone looking for this specific product.

Have questions?  Drop me a line via the Contact form--I love to talk shop.

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