As an e-commerce seller, you may assume that buying ad inventory on Google Ads is the only way to get your products listed on Google Shopping.
Google Ads offers Shopping campaigns that are explicitly designed for Shopping placements. However, with click costs ranging from 34 cents to over $1 on average, according to WordStream, they can quickly burn through the marketing budget.
The good news is Google now offers free Shopping listings as an alternative.
What Is Google Shopping?
Formerly known as Google Product Search, Google Shopping is a platform that displays products sold by participating retailers.
Consumers can use it to search for and compare products for sale.
It consists of product listings that, depending on the specific type of listing, may appear in one or more of the following locations:
- Google Search
- The Shopping tab
- Google Images
- The Google Display Network
- Google partner websites
On Google Search, Shopping listings appear either at the top of the search results or in the top-right corner of the search results for relevant product searches.
To take advantage of filtering options, such as price, consumers must use the Shopping tab.
The Shopping tab is displayed below the search field on Google Search. Clicking it will reveal relevant product listings along with filtering options.
Google Introduces Free Shopping Listings
On April 21, 2020, Google Commerce President Bill Ready announced the arrival of free Shopping listings.
Up until now, all Shopping listings consisted of paid placements. If you wanted your e-commerce store’s products to appear, you’d have to pay for it.
Now, though, you can create free Shopping listings to promote your e-commerce products.
Free Shopping listings currently appear on the Shopping tab. You can find them sandwiched between paid Shopping listings, displayed at the top and bottom of the Shopping tab.
Google is also integrating free Shopping listings into its main search engine results pages (SERPs) on Google Search. By the end of the year, free Shopping listings will appear on Google Search under the “Stores” tab for relevant product searches.
Why Google Is Offering Free Shopping Listings
According to Ready, Google is offering free Shopping listings to help businesses and consumers weather the otherwise turbulent market conditions.
Thousands of retailers have shut down their brick-and-mortar stores since the coronavirus pandemic. With consumers having limited access to brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce is more important than ever.
Free Shopping listings help consumers find both essential and nonessential products for sale. At the same time, e-commerce businesses can use them to generate more sales without spending a dime.
Getting Started With Free Shopping Listings
You’ll need to create a product feed to take advantage of Shopping listings.
Like their paid counterparts, free Shopping listings are generated automatically via a data file known as a product feed.
Google will pull the necessary data from your product feed and use it to generate your e-commerce business’s free Shopping listings.
To get started with free Shopping listings, head to the Google Merchant Center portal and create an account.
After logging in to your newly created account, you can upload a product feed by selecting the “Products” link under the main navigation menu.
Google requires product feeds to follow a specific structure. Each product in a feed must contain a unique alphanumeric identifier, a title, description, URL, image, price, brand, and Global Trade Item Number (GTIN).
Additionally, you must save your product feed as either a text or XML file. There are plenty of guides available in Google Merchant Center that will walk you through the steps of creating a product file.
To make your product feed eligible for free Shopping listings, click the “Manage Programs” link in Google Merchant Center and choose “Surfaces across Google.”
After opting in to “Surfaces across Google,” Google will show your free Shopping listings for relevant product searches, assuming your product feed is structured correctly.
If Shopify, BigCommerce, or WooCommerce power your e-commerce business, you are in luck. Google has partnered with these three e-commerce platform providers to help e-commerce businesses set up free Shopping listings more easily.
For Shopify, you can set up free Shopping listings within the Google Channel app.
BigCommerce and WooCommerce offer similar apps to facilitate setting up free Shopping listings.
Free Buy on Google Listings
Google’s newfound generosity doesn’t stop at free Shopping listings. The search engine company is also offering free Buy on Google listings.
Buy on Google listings are a special type of Shopping listings. They appear in the same places as traditional Shopping listings, and they consist of similar product information.
The difference is that traditional Shopping listings, including free shopping, direct consumers to the e-commerce business’s website when clicked. Whereas ‘Buy on Google listings’ directs consumers to Google’s checkout page when clicked.
With Buy on Google listings, consumers can make purchases using the payment information stored in their Google accounts.
They can even use Google Assistant to perform voice-based purchases. Buy on Google listings are distinguished from traditional Shopping listings by the presence of a shopping cart icon.
Most online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, charge commission fees of about 10 percent to 15 percent. With Buy on Google, there isn’t a commission fee.
Google is offering them for free to eligible businesses.
Buy on Google listings are currently only offered to select businesses in the United States through an invite-only pilot program.
You can learn more about the program’s requirements and how it works on google.
With many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) struggling to generate sales amidst the pandemic, free Shopping listings are a breath of fresh air.
You can use them to promote your e-commerce business’s products for free on the Shopping tab and Google Search. When consumers search for a relevant product, they may encounter your listings.