On February 13th, Google shopping became a paid platform over here in the UK, following the move in the US in late 2012. As a result, Google Merchant Center datafeed results will not show in Google’s search results until they are connected to an adwords account.

While many people have been complaining about this, the change does have one huge positive for professional SEO companies: the enormous headache that is optimising Google product feeds no longer exists. If you have Google Merchant Center set up with a datafeed containing your product information then you’re all set to go, and setting up product listing ads is actually a very simple process. If you were previously enrolled into Google’s organic shopping results then this will all be in place.


Getting Product Listing Ads Set Up

To set up product listing ads (PLAs), log into your Adwords account and navigate to the ad extensions tab. You have two options for doing this, if your products are segmented in Merchant Center in line with your campaigns then set up PLAs in each campaign, if not then create a new campaign, add the PLA ad extension, select your feed, choose a budget, click ‘all products’, and then you’re all set to go.


The Benefits of Product Listing Ads

Product listing ads do come with some big benefits, and although we now have to pay for clicks, it’s not all bad. The following are the main positive featured about PLAs:

1. With a good product range, it’s possible to achieve a healthy return on investment just by switching on PLAs. This won’t last forever, but right now they are vastly underused, and just by using a careful bit of CPC adjustment you can generate a good return on investment by using PLAs.

2. You have greater insight into where your ads are appearing, what keywords are triggering your products, and which keywords lead directly to conversion. This data can also be rolled out for your product level SEO.

3. Previously Google shopping was dominated by the big players in online retail. Notably Amazon of course, and here in the UK companies such as Play.com also dominated for a lot of queries. These companies have massive SEO departments driving them up naturally, but when moved over to a paid leads system they simply cannot afford to compete for every type of product. SEO costs are spread across the whole company and they benefit from economies of scale, but with PPC ads Google has leveled the playing field, and every retailer competes on price for every single product individually. Even the big boys can’t compete for each of their many thousands of products, and many retailers are now seeing their ads appearing for searches where their old organic rank was buried deep under several pages of products.


Product Listing Ads will inevitably mean Google makes more money. Every click you got from Google shopping now has to be translated into a paid click, and so for many online retailers, a significant portion of their traffic will now go from being free to being paid. However, Google shopping was not widely loved, often the product suggestions were poorly targeted and many companies, including one of our clients, were regularly outranked by companies who were reselling their products.

After the fuss about Google simply using this as a way to draw in more revenue has died down, we fully expect Product Listing Ads to be generally praised, and form a crucial part of the Adwords campaign for any ecommerce retailer and their accompanying ppc management company.

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