For digital marketers looking to grow their business's organic sales, Google Shopping may provide more opportunity than once considered possible. 

One outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic, eCommerce retailers have gained the ability to utilize organic search product listings through Google Shopping to reach more shoppers, which was previously reserved for paid search listings.

This is especially fortunate for brick-and-mortar retailers that have made drastic changes to maintain some semblance of "normalcy" in their revenue numbers, their customer loyalty, and everyday business over the past few years. 

What should you consider when it comes to this opportunity to secure free listings on the search engine? What can marketers gain by utilizing Google Shopping for their business? 

We asked three trusted marketers and SEOs to weigh in on what they've seen hold importance in their space as well as how eCommerce retailers can use Google Shopping to their advantage. 

In this video-driven post, you can expect to find answers to the following questions: 

How Google Shopping Works

Presented by John Cardinale, SEO at Bloomingdale's

For those who are unfamiliar, Google Shopping is referring to the "Shopping" tab when you conduct a Google search. There are still ads that appear at the top and bottom of the SERP, however, everything that appears in-between these sections will result in organic traffic to your website.

There is a lot to be gained by businesses using Google Shopping. Follow along in the video below as I outline the four simple steps to start using Google Shopping.

(Connect with John on LinkedIn)

1. Create a Google Merchant Center Account

If you're already doing product listing ads (PLAs) or you have a paid search team, you're probably pretty close to implementation already.

2. Create a Feed

This feed contains your product and product information and is what you will be optimizing to try and get ahead of your competitors.

3. Opt-in for Surfaces Across Google

Keep in mind, even if you're not running PLAs, you can continue to participate in Google Shopping organic results.

4. Keep On-Page Optimizations Going

Googlebot will keep crawling your website, so make sure to continue your on-page SEO by filling in product IDs, descriptions, product titles, product availability, and pricing (along with great imagery, of course!).

One thing I will note from my personal experience is that when Google says something is optional, that's basically them saying, "Do this or your competitors will!", so it's important to consider all opportunities.

Why Bother with Google Shopping?

I can think of three reasons eCommerce brands need to use Google Shopping: 

  1. It's free. There is no direct cost to participate in this program.
  2. It's low-hanging fruit. If you already focus on Google Shopping, it could be as easy as just updating the Services across Google.
  3. Your competitors are missing out. It might be a good opportunity to differentiate yourself between your competitors who aren't using Google Shopping.  

How to Track Your Google Shopping Results

If you deal with data on a regular basis, you know an accurate and detailed historical data set is your best friend. This is the challenge with tracking your Google Shopping results, especially if this is something you may be diving into for the first time.

There are a few options you can choose for tracking your performance with Google Shopping. The first option is to track Google Shopping through the Merchant Center. They have a dashboard that shows unpaid clicks, and users can export this information.

Like the ads, the free listings will be powered by product data feeds uploaded to Google Merchant Center."

— Ginny Marvin, Search Engine Land

The other way to do it is by appending parameters to product URLs in the feed. This way you can easily identify whether a product page received traffic from Google Shopping compared to traffic organically. Just make sure that your canonical tags are in place if you're thinking about doing this!

(Stick around to learn how you can rank track Google Shopping with seoClarity .)

I strongly suggest you try to view performance from multiple angles to determine how the direction of performance correlates between your analytical tools. You should be seeing one main direction, and that is that product performance should be improving.

Helpful Hints for Retail SEOs

I want to finish with two helpful hints.

  1. If your products are not priced competitively, you will be exposed. Google has made it very easy for customers to instantly compare websites without visiting them.
  2. This applies to all SEO really, but all search results are about how you compare to competitors. Some product types may need more or different strategy than others.

Give all of the above a try for your first experience using Google Shopping. Gather some data, make adjustments and continue to monitor, and you can anticipate results from this widely untapped opportunity for organic traffic.

Recommended Reading: Leveraging SEO Data to Inform Online Merchandisers’ Strategies


Implications of Google Shopping for eCommerce Businesses

Presented by Greg Harris of eZdia

(Connect with Greg on LinkedIn | Learn more about eZdia)

I was in the middle of my quarantine stupor when I first read that Google was making a dramatic change with Google Shopping, moving from paid-only to a combination of paid and organic listings, which got me thinking about the future of this opportunity for eCommerce marketers.

Over time, we believe that marketers are going to increasingly list all of their products on Google Shopping, not just those that are profitable to advertise for.

In turn, that will create the world's largest database of products, certainly bigger than any one marketplace. As you can imagine, there's an enormous amount of growth potential for Google by making this move!

Recommended Reading: 17 Tips for Ecommerce SEO: Optimizing Product and Category Pages

The problem today is that most eCommerce sites are using manufacturer-supplied content for their site, and that's duplicative. It's not original and Google doesn't reward duplicate content. There's a clear opportunity for those sites that are willing to invest in unique, original content to see themselves go to the top of the organic listing.

So, what does that mean? I've drawn a couple of conclusions.

  1. The first is that the Time on Page metric is probably much more important than it's ever been. You need to be able to pull people into your page and hold their attention long enough to let Google appreciate the fact that you've got a good product offering. 
  2. We also think that over time, Google is going to put a lot of energy into trying to understand, "Are people just visiting your page or are they actually purchasing something?", as a way of measuring conversion.
  3. We also think that there's a first-mover advantage. Getting to number one on any Google listing? It's much easier to defend that top position than it is to crawl up and displace somebody who has already established themselves. We've taken a look at what's there today for a handful of search queries, and we think it's obvious that there is a significant opportunity for those sites willing to invest in content.

But, don't go crazy! Start with a test, take a handful of pages, build out that content and see if you can improve your ranking, drive more traffic, and get more sales. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about.

Recommended Reading: The Right Way to Do SEO Split Testing

Leveraging the Best Opportunities Within Google Shopping

Presented By Mitul Gandhi, Co-founder and Chief Architect of seoClarity

Google's announcement in April about making Google Shopping free again is a circle back to its early days pre-2012 when it was originally free. It presents several exciting opportunities to take advantage of.

At seoClarity, we're excited about this development because it means that SEOs have a brand new area in which they can gain exposure. Within the search results, you now see organic rankings and listings for various product-related keywords.

We have a very simple playbook that involves tracking your visibility in Google Shopping, enriching your product feed and measuring those results.

How seoClarity Helps with Google Shopping Optimization

Available immediately, every eCommerce client has the ability to have their keywords tracked and exported out for all their Google Shopping rankings that appear in the Knowledge Graph panel.

Users can also track and compare all of the attributes, including price, for every keyword against your competition. This appears in the UI in Rank Intelligence

Better yet: we've brought Google Shopping into our ClarityGrid Infrastructure, which lets you track, manage, analyze, and report on your performance in Google Shopping in the seoClarity platform — just as you would with the regular search results!

(Knowledge Panel of iPhone 11 showing the product title, start review, and pricing attributes from various eCommerce businesses.)

The second aspect of all of this is enriching product feeds through Content Fusion, our AI-driven content optimizer. Content Fusion gives you the power to optimize every single product listing that you have with machine learning intelligence so that no important feature is ever left out of your product feeds. 

Lastly, we are tracking the developments of Google Merchant Center to determine how we can incorporate your analytics data. We're excited about these developments and hope clients and non-clients alike begin to take advantage of these opportunities. 

Reach out to your Client Success Manager for more information on any one of these three assets we have underway to support your eCommerce initiatives. 

Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in September 2020, and has since been updated for comprehensiveness.