In part one of this series we covered setting up Google product feeds. In part two we covered setting up Product Listing Ads in AdWords. In part three we covered properly tracking product search performance. In this post we will cover optimizing product feeds, product listing ads, and product extensions.
Optimizing Product Search
One of the great things about Google’s Product Listing Ads is that there is less to optimize than with traditional AdWords ads. You don’t have to choose specific keywords or even write ads; you just have to set up your feed properly, choose good images, have well-written titles and descriptions, keep the feed up to date, and build a negative keyword list.
One of the terrible things about Google’s Product Listing Ads is that there is less to optimize than with traditional AdWords ads. ;) We’re used to having a lot of control (or feeling like we have a lot of control) over our paid search marketing results. With product search we lose some of that control and put Google in the driver’s seat.
With PLA, you do not (currently) need to worry about:
- Display Network results – PLA are only on Google.com and some search partners
- Mobile targeting – PLA are only displayed to computer users
- Ad delivery – Accelerated delivery is not supported with PLA
- Ad rotation – You aren’t writing and optimizing ads
Right about now you’re probably thinking, “so what can I optimize?” There’s quite a bit you can do to ensure your product search campaigns are successful. The image below is a great example of what can happen if you don’t optimize your campaigns and feeds properly.
Feed and Ad Optimization
You need to approach product feed optimization much like you would website optimization, including utilizing keyword research and imagery changes, with a focus on the following attributes:
This attribute within your product feed allows you to indicate how your product should be classified. This classification will probably closely match how you organize products on your website. For instance, if you were selling a red cocktail dress, this attribute may be Clothing > Women’s Clothing > Dresses > Cocktail Dresses.
When choosing the wording used in this attribute, you will want to do some keyword research to determine the best words to use. For instance, in the example given above, you would research whether it was best to use ‘women’s clothing’, ‘women’s clothes’, or ‘women’s apparel’. You want to choose the wording that has the most potential traffic but with the least competition.
Title and Description Attributes
The text you put in the title attribute will be shown on the general search results page, as shown below, as well as on the Shopping results page. The description will also be shown on the Shopping results page. These attributes should be researched, written, and optimized on an ongoing basis.
In the example shown below, the titles are not eye catching and only one uses the phrase “red cocktail dress” specifically. The second result even says “holiday red” but we’re definitely not in holiday red dress shopping season. Optimize your product feed titles and descriptions to increase CTR using the same tactics you do for ad text and SEO page titles and descriptions.
Additionally, you may want to change your titles and descriptions to capitalize on trends, holidays, or current events. For instance, leading up to holidays you may want to include the word gift in your titles and descriptions. Or, if you sell a product that was featured in a movie or television show, you should update your feed to say “as seen in <insert show>.” Finding and maximizing competitive advantages is a key to success in Shopping results.
The image you choose can make or break your campaign performance. Make sure you are using images that display the exact product users are searching for, down to the color. If you are selling a product that other websites sell, make sure you use images that are unique to set your site apart from the competition. Finally, test different images and see what works best. Rotating and testing images in your product feed is the equivalent of testing new ad copy in your regular PPC ads, and should be made a priority.
Negative keywords in PLA campaigns work the same as in regular search campaigns. Using keyword research, common sense, and data you’ve gathered from other marketing efforts, you should build a robust negative keyword list to prevent your PLA from showing on unwanted searches.
Continuing with the red dress theme, the seller of this dress may have campaign-level negatives such as ‘bridesmaid’ and ‘prom’ to prevent their ad from showing if someone were to search red bridesmaid dress or red prom dress. They may also want to have ad group-level negatives with more specific features such as dress length, sleeve length, or neckline type. Getting this granular with negatives can be tedious but will pay off in the end with higher click through and conversion rates.
Bids for PLA should be optimized in the same way that you optimize bids for regular PPC campaigns. Experiment with increased bids for additional traffic or decreased bids to increase return on ad spend.
Test, Test, Test
To properly optimize your feed, you will need to test changes one at a time to see which strategy is the most effective. You don’t want to test image and title changes at the same time because you won’t know which change is responsible for the change in performance. You may also have thousands of products in your feed to optimize, so testing feed optimization can be a tedious and time consuming task. But, regularly updating your feed and properly optimizing attributes will result in increased sales.
Tip: Create a schedule in your calendar for feed optimization to ensure you stay on track and to break the project into manageable chunks so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Catch up on the rest of this series:
- Part 1: Setting up Google product feeds
- Part 2: Setting up Product Listing Ads in AdWords
- Part 3: Tracking Product Search Performance
Do you have any feed optimization tips or shortcuts to make the process easier? Share them in the comments below!