Who is this ebook For?
The Aspirant Online eCommerce Marketer

Google Shopping, known previously as Product Listing Ads or PLA, has come to be recognised as the most powerful channel for eCommerce business promotions. Retailers are looking to expand their search universe to ensure that a wider range of consumers across geographies discover the right products at the right time. Further, as the SERP ecospace is becoming more visual and competitive, using Google Shopping campaigns with their top-notch value propositions has become a necessity. Before jumping into optimized campaign structures and management, what most retailers fail to realize is the massive room for possible optimizations in creating a world-class Product Feed. Google Shopping campaigns with such optimized feeds can boost your ROI by as much as 30%, as observed by many of our clients.

This eBook, the 1st edition revising the learnings from the Google Shopping Masterclass series aims to educate Online Retailers & eCommerce marketers to create a world-class Product Feed.

  • Diving Deep inside Google Merchant Center

The tips, tricks & best practices that really matter for optimizing your Google Shopping Campaign initiative.

  • Educating Online Retailers in Feed Management Best Practices

How an intelligent feed can improve your product’s visibility, click throughs and revenues, if you know exactly what to showcase to your end users and Google!

  • Creating a World-Class Product Feed

The secret sauce is what separates just another eCommerce product feed from a world class product feed, and how some of our clientele benefited from the same.

This eBook attempts to educate all Online retailers & eCommerce marketers in maneuvering across all the heavy and complex Shopping jargons and decode the best practices around Google Merchant Center, Product Feeds and a sneakpeak into OnlineSales.ai’s DIY automated tools that has all these tips and tricks built in.

Section 1
GMC Best Practices

Google Merchant Center (GMC) is a free Google Interface which allows you to connect, upload and update your eCommerce product catalog. If you haven’t created one already, simply create a free GMC account, verify your e-store information and you’re all set to start your Google Shopping Campaigns.

1. Uploading Your eCommerce Feed

While you’re uploading your eCommerce store feed you need to keep the following checks in place for a smooth upload with minimum or zero errors onto GMC. For a step by step guide to uploading your feed to GMC you can read Google’s Support Documentation

  1. THE RIGHT FEED FORMAT

      • Google currently supports data feed in 7 formats –
    • TSV or Tab Separated Values, extension (.tsv)
    • CSV or Comma Separated Values, extension (.csv).
    • TXT or Text File, extension (.txt).
    • XML or Extensible Markup Language File, extension (.xml).
    • ZIP File, extension (.zip).
    • GZIP File, extension (.gz).
    • BZ2 compressed File, extension (.bz2).

    Keep in mind ZIP, GZIP & BZ2 files need to be compressed text or xml formats.
    Most commonly used file formats are TXT & CSV. More on feed formats in the next section.

  2. THE 3 FEED TYPES

    In the beginning while launching Google Shopping campaigns we only upload the product feed file, which has an array of products listed with basic attributes like brand, size, color and price. However there are two more types of feeds that you need to be aware of:

      • The Merchant Promotions Feed : This helps you to assign and communicate special offers to your consumers when they see your product ads on Google SERP. We’ll be talking about the advantages of merchant promotions in greater detail in the next
        section.
    • The Inventory Feed :If you have dynamic price fluctuations and new products flooding into your store catalog or even products going out of stock, there is a simple way to keep abreast with thousands of such product level changes that could otherwise make life difficult for an eCommerce marketer. The inventory feed takes care of this. On an average, for product catalogs ranging from 100,000 SKUs and above, these inventory feed updates are a great way to ensure that product prices shown on Google Shopping Ads match that of the product pages on the website. This results in lower bounce rates and more add-to-carts.
  3. THE 5 INPUT SOURCES

    The most popular way to upload larger feeds (50k+ SKUs) is through sharing a feed link that fetches the source multiple times during the day to keep your Google Shopping Feed fresh and healthy. Smaller feeds can be uploaded via Google Sheets. Some other input sources of feeds manually use (for very small product lists), an API call and finally use a FTP (File Transfer Protocol), which is also popular.

  4. FREQUENCY OF FEED REFRESH

    Many eCommerce marketers ponder what really is the ideal frequency at which product feeds need to be refreshed, and the answer really depends on the size of your feed and how dynamic it is. Feeds in GMC expire every 30 days, so it is advised to refresh feeds before that time.

    Can this be automated? Yes, Google has a scheduling feature, which allows you to schedule your GMC feed refreshes daily, weekly or on a monthly basis. However, if your feed demands multiple refreshes, then it needs to be done manually. This can be done using APIs.

2. The Tricks about Merchant Promotions

Google Merchant Promotions is a great way to induce a sense of discount in the hearts of buyers, attracting them even before they land on your website. Merchant promotions increase your Ad CTRs by 5-7% and also lead to better conversion rates. A step-by-step, detailed implementation guide for merchant promotions is shared on Google’s help Documentation

Here are some common areas where users have issues setting and optimizing Merchant Promotions:

  1. WHITELISTING DOUBTS

    Yes, you need to whitelist your account before you set up the 1st merchant promotion for your Google Shopping Campaigns! The only way to whitelist your merchant promotions is through contacting channel partners and filling up the merchant promotions interest form,
    which can take around 2-3 working days to get activated. Hence make sure you have done this with enough time in hand, if you have any specific season sale or campaigns scheduled.

  2. SETTING UP MERCHANT PROMOTIONS FEED

    You can create promotions manually or upload a feed with promotional details. Promo id, applicability (all products or specific), offer type (code, generic), title (maximum 60 characters), effective dates of the offer, channel (online) are the required fields in setting up a Merchant Promotions Feed.

  3. MAPPING PROMOTIONS TO SPECIFIC PRODUCTS

    If your promotions are applicable to a specific set of products agnostic of any particular pattern like brand, for example, an end-of-season sale across categories, you will need to map particular promo ids in the feed for those specific products.

  4. THE POLICIES YOU NEED TO ADHERE TO

      • Promotions must not be overly restrictive (first time users or registration specific). It must be applicable for all users.
    • The minimum discount amount must be at least $5 or at least 5% off on the current price of the item.
    • Discounts must not already be shown on the Product landing page, but given in the cart or at checkout.
  5. IS THERE A REVIEW PROCESS

    Well yes, after the merchant promotions are updated, Google will scan through the details with respect to the above policies and only once it is cleared, the merchant promotions will be visible to the audience on Google Shopping Ads. This may take around 1 business day.

3. Keeping Your GMC Healthy

Keeping your Google Merchant Center feed healthy is an important aspect, which many tend to overlook sometimes. This can take a severe toll on your campaigns, so address these issues proactively. Read For a deep-divefor a deep-dive.

  1. THE BASIC WARNINGS

      • In general there are 4 types of errors in GMC that you should keep in mind, these mostly talk
      • about policy violations or product feed issues, we have listed some common examples here:
    • Policy violation : This is most common error in Google Merchant Center. There could be many reasons for this error but the most common is inappropriate or offensive content in the title or description. For example, Google doesn’t allow selling weapons, drugs or alcoholic products (in certain countries).
    • Image Errors : Image sizes should be proper and only product image should be shown on it (no logo or price) which can lead to those products getting disapproved.
    • Inaccessible Product Page : Product pages should be accessible from all countries and devices and Google should be able to crawl it.
    • Price and Availability : Product price and availability (in/out of stock) should be up to date, multiple failures in price or out-of-stock can get your top-selling product SKUs, hence updating feed as mentioned earlier is a must.
  2. DIAGNOSTICS

    The diagnosis tab is on the left hand panel in your GMC interface. The diagnosis gives you a comprehensive report of why one or many of your SKUs are being disapproved along with a specific reason. A sample set of common diagnostic issues are shared in the image

  3. SUSPENSION HANDLING

    Google sends out a notice to your registered email in case there are too many error in GMC. All these errors need to be removed before Google again re-checks the GMC account within 14 days. For more, check out how you can tackle suspension handling

Section 2
Creating World-Class Product Feeds
4. Product Feed & ‘Intelligent’ Insights

The basics of product feed attributes has been detailed on Google Support documentations, where you can get a clear understanding of basic product information to unique product identifiers, and even tips on how to best share your product details with Google for an optimized product feed. Below we’re attempting to nutshell some top optimization strategies around your product feed, which will give you the maximum boost in creating a top-notch product feed.

  1. DYNAMIC INSERTIONS IN PRODUCT TITLES

    By default, your product titles are picked up from your product feed, where titles are mere product descriptions. A sample could be along the template such as , like – Headphone ES1120 Black. You must know that the Product feed supplied to Google in the Title and the first part of your description works in a similar way to SEO algorithms, for keyword matches and contextual positioning of keywords. If you’re selling headphones, there are multiple buyer intents that you need to track and collate, like Brands (Sennheiser or Philips) or price sensitivity (Cheap, Affordable or Premium). For different product types these intents differ, and a great way to know what types of keyword themes need to be added is to analyze the search query report.

  2. HOW CONTEXTUAL KEYWORD INSERTIONS IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS

      • Many shun away when they hear the word ‘keyword stuffing’, however an algorithmic/logical
      • way of inserting the right keywords in the right places can lead to several impacts:
      • Increasing Your Search Universe for Discovery : Increasing Your Search Universe for Discovery : Adding relevant/contextual intent specific-themed words to your product titles and product descriptions, ensures that you qualify for a greater pie of the searches around your product. This helps you generate higher quality top-of-the-marketing-funnel (TOFU) traffic. Also, if you’re looking for an overall boost to your brand for presence digitally, it also impacts your brand lift, as we have observed
        for some of our mid-sized clientele.
    • Weeding out irrelevant Traffic : The immediate thought on your mind could be, what about irrelevant searches? Hence the advent of negative keywords, where a constant monitoring of your search queries (at a daily or weekly level depending on your feed
      size) can help you weed out irrelevant traffic, lowering your CPCs and improving all your conversion numbers!
5. Lessons from Product Feed Success Stories

Applying different variations of these keyword insertion strategies as isolated experiments have helped us weigh exactly how these optimizations impact campaign performance. We’re sharing some of these below:

  1. THE FASHION RETAILER GIANT

    On a certain set of apparel sub-categories, the word ‘online’ was added to the Title, as a result, 30% of the total transactions came in from products containing the query theme ‘online’, this is a 20% increase in product visibility and purchases for the 4 week experiment as compared to the previous 4 weeks. In another experiment, the word ‘buy’ was added to the product title and it resulted in 12% of the transactions (sizable SKU to comment upon) at a conversion rate that was 2X that of the overall campaign with similar products. Also these products had a Click Through Rate of 17%, which was 8 times the CTR of the overall campaign

  2. AUTOMOTIVE CATEGORY FOR AN eCommerce GIANT

    The typical problem here was that product titles were automatically a default combination of certain car/vehicle details like ‘Car Name’, ‘Gear’, ‘Multi Spare Part’. Even though these were correct, they were not relevant to the user’s search intents who were searching by ‘brands’ or other intents like ‘price oriented’ or ‘location specific’. These words were algorithmically added to the product titles and for more than 10,000 SKUs in minutes after the patterns of intent were identified. Over the next 2 weeks, 50% of this category on which the algorithm was applied to was compared to the other set where the campaigns were running with the default product titles. There was a clear result, where the impacted set had a CTR of 4X on average with a conversion rate hike of 4%. What this also meant was that the larger audience coming in from the expanded search universe needed more time to finish the purchase cycle (as average order values of products were higher).

  3. ONE OF THE LARGEST GIFTING PORTALS ONLINE

    In optimizing campaigns for this gifting portal, we observed that most gifts listed online have a generic type, product title, and description which talks more about the product. An in-depth search query analysis helped us understand that there were major gaps where user intents were not being captured. A major gamechanger was adding the word ‘gifts’ to the product title, which saw an immediate jump in search volume increase, CTRs rose by 8-10%. A more specific example is when certain gifts were purchased, and when the search queries were mapped back to successful purchases, some niche themes like ‘photo frame for mother’ or
    ‘best gift for boyfriends’ were identified. Our algorithms helped dynamically insert these {tokens} into the product description, and we saw a clear CTR increase of 6-8%, which brought in a conversion rate jump of +12%.

6. Building a World Class Product Feed

We have cited some examples on how some of our clientele were able to generate more revenues by creating a world-class product feed. So what is it that really defines a world-class product feed, and is there a score by which you can whet out the current status of your product feed?

Well, after seven years of understanding what really goes into these product feed optimizations, we at OnlineSales.ai have developed an app with algorithms that help eCommerce players identify and optimize their product feed at scale. To give you a flavour, we’ve identified some feed optimization areas for scoring the product, and
have listed them below:

  1. CREATE PRODUCT FEEDS INSTANTLY

    If you are using any of the top three eCommerce platforms like BigCommerce, Shopify or Magento, simply install our OnlineSales.ai App from the app store marketing section. We integrate your store details within minutes and create a product feed with the correct information layered out in the format that is Google approved.

  2. SCORING YOUR PRODUCT FEED

    Our Feed score grader evaluates your entire product feed and gives a score, which is based on how your products qualify in information-depth and relevancy as compared to top-notch product feed standards.

  3. CREATING SMART FEEDS WITH ONLINESALES.AI

    Post our Feed Analysis, as we detail out all the attributes that are missing, or need modification, we detail action methods in how best you can correct this at the store back-end to improve your product feeds. Some sample outputs from our Product feed grader are as
    follows:

Insider Tips & Tricks to Supercharge your Feed!

OnlineSales.ai experts recommend the following tried and tested, intelligence-drive supercharging growth hacks that are bound to make the most of your feed potential:

  1. USE FEED RULES IN GMC TO MAKE QUICK CHANGES TO FEED

    Feed rules is a new feature in GMC that helps you edit/transform your data feed. You can use feed rules to set values to attributes, assign columns. It also allows you to use conditions on attributes, e.g., if product type contains ‘Shoes’, once you specify Feed Rules for a feed, all future uploads are processed according to those rules. It’s not all-encompassing of what a Feed Enhancement engine is supposed to do, however, it’s very effective when you are looking to make simple changes quickly.

  2. EFFECTIVELY PROMOTE DISCOUNTED PRODUCTS

      • A lot of eCommerce websites have highly dynamic pricing and sale models. Shopping Ads
      • have an option to showcase discounted price and coupon codes apart from the retail price of
      • products. You can use the following attributes in feed to promote right products:
    • price: The actual price of product. E.g.: $40
    • sale_price: The discounted price of the product. E.g.: $36
    • promotion_id: Use this column to map to a promotion running on your website
  3. INCREASING FEED DENSITY TO MAXIMISE IMPRESSIONS

    For any eCommerce catalog, be it apparels, mobile phones, furniture or others, there are multiple variants for every product. E.g.: A shirt would be available in multiple colours, a sofa in different materials. When you are providing a feed to GMC, it is preferable for you to consider each variant as a separate product instead of one. Multiply your SKUs with each of these variants to create more SKU depth in the feed. Use different sizes, different colours as variants and create unique SKUs for each one. Each of the variants can however be tied back to a single item_group_id that will map all of them to parent ID. This process also helps with minimizing the number of disapprovals you find on GMC.

  4. HIGHLIGHT YOUR PRODUCTS THE RIGHT WAY

    Showcasing products the right way is as important as showcasing the right products. Image enhancements form an integral part in delivering the right ad experience for users. Excess background and unnecessary parts of images, such as trousers and head of model for a shirt product etc. can be cropped in order to increase focus on the product and making it look bigger, thereby improving CTRs. OnlineSales.ai’s Image Optimization Product would do this across products automatically, for the chosen specification, without affecting the source images. Image Enhancements show up to 35% improvement in CTR with the right transformation.
    Read more about image enhancements on our blog here

  5. TAPPING TOP-OF-THE-FUNNEL SEARCHES

    Majority of search queries on all search engines are top-of-the-funnel and broad intended. When it comes to eCommerce, keywords around ‘Online’, ‘Shopping’, ‘Buy’ themes occupy a significant number of impressions. Increase in your impressions on these keywords is important to grow across the search universe and deliver more impressions.

Next Steps?

Schedule an eCommerce Google Shopping Audit

OnlineSales.ai’s complimentary Google Shopping Audit is a comprehensive analysis of your eCommerce website, product feed and your Google Shopping Campaigns. We’ll be sharing this detailed audit report and walk you through this step-by-step with our customer success team and Google Shopping strategists.

Or schedule a 1:1 consultation with the Business Strategy team at

hi@onlinesales.ai