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Google Shopping: What is it and how does it work?

Google Shopping: What is it and how does it work?

Looking for a way to reach more customers and get your products discovered? Google Shopping is your answer. It’s one of the leading platforms consumers use to discover products and it accounts for 76.4% of all retail search ad spend. This tells us that retailers and brands see Google Shopping as a worthwhile channel for driving revenue.

In this post, we’ll cover the basics of Google Shopping, what it is, how it works and why it’s one of the most popular channels for brands in 2024.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a Comparison Shopping Service provided by Google that summarizes millions of products into an easily searchable and visual format. The goal is to make it easy for consumers to research products, find information about the features & prices, and then connect them with sellers to make the purchase.

For example, if you’re looking for a new pair of earrings, you can go to Google and type in “gold hoop earrings”. The results will show you a combination of organic product listings and sponsored product listings. Users can also use the Shopping tab to see more results and side-by-side comparisons.

Example of the difference between Shopping Ads in Google search results and the shopping tab

This is the typical Google Shopping experience for consumers.

How does Google Shopping work?

Google Shopping is powered by two platforms, Google Merchant Center (GMC) and Google Ads. To participate in Google Shopping, brands need to make a Google Merchant Center account and upload their products to create a product feed.

Once a product feed is created, brands are eligible to create Free Product Listings via Google Merchant Center. If brands want to start advertising their product listings on Google Shopping, they can do this by connecting their Google Ads account to their Google Merchant Center. This allows the product data from GMC to flow between Google Ads and create Shopping Ads.

The process of how Shopping Ads are created
Product Listings are formed using the data in Google Merchant Center and Shopping Ads are created and managed in Google Ads

What are Shopping Ads and how do they work?

Shopping Ads (sometimes referred to as Product Listing Ads or PLAs) are a type of ad that can be created from product data in your GMC. They include a product image, title, price, store name and more. These ads give consumers a better idea of what your product is before clicking on it.

Shopping Ads are displayed in four places: Google's Shopping tab, Google Images, Google Search, and YouTube. Google uses existing product data from your GMC (not keywords) to decide how and where your Shopping Ads show up.

Example of where Google Shopping Ads are displayed

When a user clicks on a Shopping Ad, they will be taken back to the seller’s website where they can finish their purchase. Shopping Ads will always appear in the ‘sponsored’ section of search results and take priority ranking above Free Product Listings.

Benefits of listing products on Google Shopping

There are two ways a brand can list its products on Google Shopping; Free Product Listings, or Shopping Ads. The main difference between the two is that Shopping Ads have more visibility as they’re always shown above the Free Product Listings.

However, both options offer compelling benefits for brands:

  • Better leads - Shopping Ads give customers a better understanding of what your product is before they click on it. Meaning that customers who land on your website from a Google Shopping Ad are more motivated to purchase your product.
  • Qualified traffic - Google does a good job of matching your products to relevant search queries, meaning the impressions and traffic to your ads are from qualified shoppers who are ready to purchase.
  • Increased visibility - Shopping Ads and Free Product Listings are eligible to show up across Google’s entire display network, meaning you can expand the reach of your products across multiple channels and touch points.

Using reviews to stand out on Google Shopping

The challenging part about Google Shopping is getting the attention of browsing customers when they have thousands of other options in front of them. The best way to make your products stand out and attract clicks, is by displaying star ratings and reviews on your product listings.

Product Listings on Google Shopping that have star ratings and reviews have 24% higher click through rates

Star ratings and reviews make your listings more visually appealing and signal a sense of credibility to browsing shoppers. They also provide helpful context that helps consumers make an informed purchase decision when they’re discovering your product for the first time.

You can use an approved third party review aggregator (like Junip), to easily display all your reviews on Google Shopping and optimize your product listings.

Get started with Google Shopping

Listing your products on Google Shopping is a proven way to drive qualified traffic to your website and enhance product discoverability. To maximize your presence on this channel, it's crucial to stand out with compelling listings that display star ratings and reviews. These not only boost credibility but also play a pivotal role in optimizing Shopping Ads.

The easiest way to get reviews into Google Shopping is to work with an approved third party aggregator (like Junip). You can install now & get a 14-day free trial, or get in touch with our team for a personalized walkthrough.

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