What is Google Shopping and How Does it Work?

Google Shopping results are starting to spring up at the top, and at the right-hand side, of ordinary Google search results where product names (or related terms) are included in searches on the web’s most popular search engine.

There’s also a bit at the top of Google which says “Shopping”.

But what is Google Shopping, exactly, and how might we use it to improve our online sales?

Google Shopping has been around for about ten years. It was previously known (in good old Google name-changing fashion) as Google Base.

Google Base was a free shopping search engine which allowed merchants to submit product data to Google to be included in shopping searches, which were used by people looking to find items to buy.

Google Adwords advertisers could promote their products over those of other retailers by paying per click (CPC) via Google Base.

Google Base became Google Shopping in 2012.

In many major markets – the USA and UK included – Google Shopping went “pay only” in 2012. This means Google will now only list your items in Google Shopping if you sign up and fund a Google Adwords account as well as submitting a validly formatted product data feed to Google via Google Merchant Centre.

Have I said “Google” enough for you yet?!

Google Shopping screenshot showing google products such as Google Pixel 2 and the Google Home Smart Speaker


Where Searchers See Google Shopping Links

There are a number of places that people doing product based searches will see your products if they are listed in Google Shopping:

  1. At the top of search results (ad area) – with prices
  2. At the right of search results (ad area) – with prices
  3. In Google Shopping itself – with prices (and comparison with other retailers)

In each of the first two options, there is a link to click which will open up Google Shopping (the third!) and allow searcher to find your product among the other retailers which sell the same item. The aim is to help connect buyer and seller at the best price / conditions. Google’s aim is to make some money for facilitating this connection.

Is Google Shopping right for your product?

Before getting started, it’s worth thinking about whether Google Shopping has something your business would benefit from.

For hand-made or custom products, Google Shopping might not be appropriate. The great benefit of Google Shopping is to compete with similar products on price or availability, which isn’t necessarily helpful if, for example, you’re designing a custom submarine.

Steps To Get Your Products Into Google Shopping

Getting Your Products into Google Shopping involves the following steps:

  1. Setting up an Account with Google’s Merchant Centre
  2. Submitting a valid product feed to Google
  3. Setting up and funding a Google Adwords account
  4. Setting your campaign Cost Per Click (CPC) and daily budget at your Google Merchant Centre

Note that your daily budget is important, as, once you’re out of budget, you will exit Google Shopping, and your products will no longer display, even for free clicks. Yes, you can get free clicks through Google Shopping!

Wait. Free Clicks?!

Yes, the links at the top and right of Google searches are paid. These are ads. But the links within Google Shopping itself, are not. You can get free clicks from in here. BUT, and this is an important but, your products won’t display at all in Google Shopping unless you have Adwords turned on, setup, and with budget remaining in hand, so make sure you get the balance right! (Note, we can do this for you).

Setting Up a Google Merchant Centre Account

You’ll need a working Google Account (you do have one, don’t you?!), first.

You’ll also need to be using the Google Account which has verified the domain in question in Google Webmaster Tools. So, if you aren’t already (and you should be) go over there and set this up. Probably think about sending your Sitemap.xml file to Google through here too if you just signed up! If you don’t know what any of those things are, then perhaps contact us – Silicon Dales can do these things on your behalf to ensure better indexing of your content and products via Google.

Then visit Google Merchant Centre and follow the steps to sign up an account.

The UK link to Google Merchant Centre is here.

Creating a Google Product Feed

Creating a validly formatted Google Product Feed is something which we will leave for now. There is a link about this over at Google here, or, if you’d like, we at Silicon Dales can ensure your e-commerce solution is working to produce proper Google Product Feeds for you.

Setting Up With Adwords

You’ll also need to hop over to Adwords.Google.Com and sign up an account there, and set up billing.

Set Your CPC and Daily Budget at Google Merchant Centre

Once you’ve got valid product data flowing to Google’s Merchant Centre, the last step is to offer Google a small reward for delivering your products in their search results.

This can be setup here (again, UK link!):


Got Problems – We Can Do it For You!

We can manage the whole above project from start to finish (yes, that includes designing and launching a full e-commerce web shop beforehand). Just contact us if you want someone else to do all of this on your company’s behalf.

See Also

Check out our Google Shopping section for all our related content.

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