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04 September 2021 • Guides

Google Shopping ads: A complete guide and tips for your online store in 2024

Google Shopping ads: A complete guide and tips for your online store in 2024

As the owner of an online store, you’ll find that there are multiple paths to earning sales for your business. Of course, a high-quality website created with the help of an amazing ecommerce platform (hint, hint: WiziShop) is absolutely essential. 

However, you’ll likely want to add other methods to your strategy to ensure that you’re reaching as many potential customers as possible. One opportunity that new entrepreneurs sometimes forget about or don’t think to consider is Google Shopping

Google Shopping has been assisting both online shoppers and retailers since its debut. Furthermore, the platform has evolved considerably over time, and Google continues to make changes to improve the experience for all.

Today, using Google Shopping to promote your products is easier and more effective than ever!

Google Shopping ads supply numerous benefits, making them an enticing avenue for online merchants of all kinds to avail of to help grow their businesses. 

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explain how Google Shopping ads work and how to set them up for your own ecommerce business. In addition, I’ll provide you with some handy tips to ensure that you’re making the most of your efforts with your ad campaigns on the platform.

What are Google Shopping ads?

Google Shopping ads are ads featuring the products of merchants who have signed up to advertise their goods on the Shopping platform. They contain a variety of important product details, including price, product name, and merchant name. 

However, what sets them apart from other ads on Google is their usage of product photos.

Consumers using Google Shopping to research products will see ads appear after performing searches using keywords related to those products. If the photo and other details in the ad appeal to them, they’ll click on the ad and head directly to the product page on the retailer’s website.

From a merchant’s perspective, Shopping ads are a powerful way to promote their products and reach a wider audience. The inclusion of photos in the ads can help them to stand out from their competitors. 

These ads will often attract more clicks, increasing the number of potential customers visiting a store’s website.

If you’re considering availing of Shopping ads to grow your business, you’ll be creating and managing your ad campaigns with two different platforms. 

You’ll first build a product feed, which contains all the details related to your ecommerce website’s products in a standard format, in Google Merchant Center. This is also where you’ll supply Google with the tax and shipping information for your business. 

The information that you include in your feed is what Google uses to create the ads that shoppers will see for your products.  

After connecting your Merchant Center account to Google Ads, you can then set up your Shopping campaigns. In addition, you’re able to determine your budget and strategy for your bids, measure and analyze the performance of your campaigns, and optimize your campaigns all in Google Ads.

Where do Shopping ads appear?

Though Shopping ads were originally limited to showing up in Google’s standard search results, this is no longer the case. The increase in the Shopping platform’s popularity with shoppers and retailers alike has led to Google expanding the reach of Shopping ads over time. 

Consumers can now also find ads on the Shopping tab, in Google Images, on Google Search Partner websites, and on the Google Display Network, which includes Gmail, Google Discover, and YouTube. 

If you’re using Shopping ads to promote your products today, you’ll have more opportunities than ever before to reach potential customers and drive traffic to your site!

What types of listings are there on Google Shopping?

Although this article focuses on Shopping ads (also known as “paid listings”), it’s helpful to have a good understanding of the different kinds of listings available on the platform. 

That way, you can better compare the options available to you and determine what best matches the unique goals of your business at this time.

Free listings

In April 2020, Google started allowing merchants to create free listings on the Shopping platform. Though it was initially for U.S. listings only, the company announced later that year that countries across Asia, Europe, and Latin America would also be able to participate. 

With this new policy, today’s shoppers have access to a lot more products and a greater number of online stores. From a retailer’s perspective, regardless of your budget, you can now enjoy the benefits of using the platform to advertise your product catalog!

How to use free listings

If you’d like to avail of free listings, you can get your products to appear via one of two possible methods.

The first option involves opting into the free-listings feature when you set up your account with Merchant Center. Your products should begin to show in free listings after you’ve successfully submitted your product feed and Google has approved your products.

With the second option, you must have structured data markup on your website. After you’ve created your product feed in Merchant Center, your goods will automatically appear in free listings without you having to do anything extra on your end.

Where will shoppers see free listings?

Despite not costing you anything, free listings can still help to boost the visibility of your products and your online store. When consumers perform search queries using keywords related to your products, Google may display your free listings in a variety of places.

For instance, say that a shopper’s looking to buy a new pair of women’s running shoes. In the image below, we see that there’s a long list of relevant free listings that appear on the Shopping tab, just underneath the sponsored (paid) listings.

free listings on Google Shopping

Depending on what country you’ve opted to promote your products in, consumers may see your free listings in other areas of Google as well. 

These can include in the Google Search results (though in a different spot than the paid listings) and even in Google Images, where images featuring the “Product” annotation designate that the item in the image is for sale.

Although free listings are a great way to get started with Google Shopping, they probably won’t bring life-changing results for your business. After all, ads remain the most noticeable listings, even on the Shopping tab.

However, if you’ve just launched a new online store and/or are you’ve a rather tight budget to work with, free listings can be an excellent option. You can analyze the performance of your free listings and determine which products are most successful and with which bidding strategies. 

If you decide later that you’re ready to move on to paid listings, you’ll then have a better idea of what works best for your business. This will ensure that you’re optimizing the platform to suit your needs and getting the most bang for your buck!

Paid listings

Shopping ads, or paid listings, are essential if you’re looking to maximize the potential of Google Shopping for your online store. 

As stated previously, paid listings are the most prominently displayed on the platform and also receive the majority of clicks from consumers.

How to use paid listings

I’ll explain this process in more detail later on, but here’s a quick synopsis of how to use Shopping ads to get started.

Similar to free listings, you’ll first need to sign up with Merchant Center and build your product feed. Next, you’ll connect your Merchant Center account to your Google Ads account. This can be an existing Ads account or a new one that you create.

After connecting your accounts, you’ll be able to begin creating Shopping campaigns to better organize and manage your ads. Note that there are three different types of Shopping ads from which to choose.

Product Shopping ads are the single-product ads that you’re likely most familiar with seeing during your own online shopping experiences.

You may alternatively opt for Showcase Shopping ads. These allow you to assemble several of your related products together into a group, which in turn lets consumers view multiple products of yours at the same time. 

For example, if you sell camping supplies, you might decide that you want to promote all of your products that relate to a shopper’s search for “camping tents.” A Showcase Shopping ad can feature all of your relevant products in one ad, which can help people to discover your brand.

Finally, if you have a physical store, you can promote your products with local inventory ads. This type of ad will appear to people searching online in your store’s local area. 

When they click on your ad, they’ll arrive at what's known as your “local storefront.” Here, visitors can discover what products are in stock in your physical store, see your store’s hours of operation, and more.  

Where will shoppers see paid listings?

Depending on how you’ve set your preferences for your ad campaigns, Google may display your products in several different places.

The most conspicuous spot is of course at the very top of Google’s search engine results page (SERP). Your Shopping ad will appear above text ads and the list of organic search results, making it the first thing that consumers see when performing search queries related to your product.

Google Shopping ads found in the search results

Shopping ads can also show up on the Shopping tab, designated by the word “Sponsored” listed just above them. 

Using the example of women’s running shoes again, we see paid listings at the top of the Shopping tab.

Paid Google Shopping ads on the Shopping tab

However, shoppers can also find paid listings at the very bottom of the Shopping tab, with the free listings sandwiched between. In addition, if people search for products using YouTube, relevant Shopping ads may show up there as well.

What are the benefits of using Shopping ads?

In today’s ecommerce market, a significant number of consumers continue to use Google to begin their product research. 

It makes sense then to establish yourself on the Shopping platform to reach potential customers as early as possible in their search for the perfect product to suit their needs.

You may be considering using Google’s text ads to get the word out about your online store. While they can be effective when done correctly, they require you to create the ad copy and perform a lot more keyword research.

With Shopping ads, however, much of the work is taken care of for you by Google. 

Using the data in your product feed, Google creates ads for your store’s products and displays them for relevant searches by consumers.

Yes, it does take some time to set up your product feed, but managing your campaigns afterwards is relatively simple.

If you’re trying to be cautious with your marketing budget, starting out with Shopping ads rather than their text counterparts is generally a safer bet.

Still not convinced? 

Here are some of the top reasons that online retailers opt to incorporate Google Shopping ads into their marketing strategies.

Your products will have increased visibility in Google’s search results

Even if you’ve got a stunning ecommerce website created with WiziShop, the best online store builder around, it’s not going to do you much good if potential customers don’t know about it! 

These days, the competition in ecommerce is fierce. As the owner of an online store, it’s important for you to do everything you can to reach as many consumers as possible.

When you examine the SERP for a search query involving a product, you can see how having high-ranking Shopping ads can be a boon for a business.

Shopping ads appear at the very top of the SERP, followed by text ads and then the organic results. 

Whether consumers are ready to buy or are just doing some pre-purchase research, they don’t want to waste any time. If a Shopping ad catches the eye of a potential customer, they’re unlikely to keep scrolling to see what the text ads or organic results have to offer. 

By using Shopping ads, you can boost the visibility of your business, putting your products at the top of the search results and first in shoppers’ minds! 

Ad images help your business to stand out

In addition to Shopping ads appearing at the top of the SERP, the fact that they feature images can also help your products to shine in a sea of competition.

Say that you want to buy a new backpack for your next hiking adventure. 

You search for “hiking backpack” on Google to see what you can find.


Your eyes are probably naturally drawn to Shopping ads with photos of available products over any of the text-only results.

This is because while text ads and organic results simply describe products, Shopping ads SHOW the item for sale.

If one of those Shopping ads seems to offer exactly what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance that you’d click on it immediately.

Shopping ads are also helpful to shoppers who aren’t quite sure of what they want to buy. They’re able to quickly learn more about the products available to them and compare the different items offered by various merchants.

Users generally have higher purchase intent

Shopping ads function in a way that’s quite different from how more traditional forms of advertising work. Rather than interrupting a TV show or a YouTube video, they appear to consumers who are already looking for that product.

If your ad shows up for a shopper’s search query, it means that they were using search terms related to the item that you have for sale. They were actively searching for your product or at the very least using relevant keywords in their search. 

This shopper may be in the beginning stages of product research or may be ready to purchase very soon. Either way, your ads are only going to appear to people who are interested in your product.

Because of the potential customer’s higher purchase intent, you won’t have to work as hard to win them over. 

Don’t get me wrong...you still need to convince shoppers that your product is the best option available and that your business is trustworthy.

However, you won’t be starting from scratch. You’re halfway there to earning a new sale! 

How much will Shopping ads cost you?

Although this is understandably a crucial question for any ecommerce entrepreneur, it’s unfortunately difficult to come up with a clear, definitive answer.

This is because the exact cost of Shopping ads depends on a number of factors and will vary from business to business.

The Shopping platform features a cost-per-click (CPC) model, meaning that you’ll be charged by Google every time that somebody clicks on one of your ads.

When you create your ad campaigns, you’ll set your bidding strategy along with a max amount for your daily budget. Don’t worry, though—you can modify your strategy and budget even after you’ve launched a campaign.

If you’re new to Google Shopping, there will probably be some trial and error involved before you discover what works best for your business. 

It’s important to remember that there are several factors that can influence how much the platform will cost you. These may include the maximum bid that you set, the type of products that you sell, how many products are in your campaign, and your chosen targeting strategy.

To give you a rough idea of what you might need to spend to be successful with Google Shopping, we can take a look at some data from WiziShop clients.

On average, to earn 10 conversions per week, our stores that sell products in the gifts, collections, and games category spend $10 (USD) in the same period.

In contrast, stores offering items in the beauty, health, and wellness category dole out $15 (USD) a week, while those featuring sports- or hobby-related products have an average investment of $19 (USD).

How to set up Google Shopping ads

Now that you’ve got a better idea of the different facets that comprise Shopping ads, let’s get into how you can start using them for your own business!

1. Create an account with Google Merchant Center

Earlier in the article, I mentioned how setting up your Merchant Center account is essential for Google Shopping. 

It’s one of the first steps you’ll need to take, as you won’t be able to do much of anything on the Shopping platform without it!

Fortunately, creating your Merchant Center account is a relatively simple process that involves answering a few questions about your business.

That being said, there are few things to note before you begin. 

First, you’ll need to have a Google Account to sign up with Merchant Center. If you already have a Google Ads account, you’re all set, but you could alternatively use your Gmail account. 

Second, you must be able to verify that you’re the owner of the website that you provide in Merchant Center for your online store. This can easily be done from your domain registrar, so just be sure that you have access to it.  

Third, you should have a good understanding of your location’s tax requirements before creating your Merchant Center account. This can get especially tricky if your business is based in the US, so be careful! 

You’ll be able to select the states where you charge sales tax for your products or simply provide the exact rates that you use.

Finally, having a Google Ads account is mandatory. If you already have one, you’ll just need to link your 10-digit Google Ads ID to your Merchant Center account. 

However, if you still need to sign up with Google Ads, you can easily create an account when you’re prompted to do so in Merchant Center.

2. Build your product feed

No matter what types of listings you’re planning on using to promote your products, a thoughtfully crafted product feed is essential. Google takes the data that you provide in your feed to create the listings that will appear to consumers on the platform. 

After your account’s been approved in Merchant Center, you’ll be able to begin creating your product feed. Google allows you to add your data via multiple methods.

If you don’t have a very large catalog of products, you might consider building your feed manually with Google Sheets. You can either create a new Google Sheet yourself, being sure to complete it with all of the required attributes, or use a template that’s already available.

However, if you’ve got an extensive list of goods to add, adding your data automatically may be your best bet.

Once Google approves your products, you’re given the green light to go ahead with your ad campaigns.

3. Create a Shopping campaign

In order for your ads to start appearing for consumers’ searches, you’ll need to create Shopping campaigns, which can be done in Google Ads. With your campaigns, you’ll be able to manage, organize, and optimize your listings. 

Shopping campaigns consist of product groups, which you’ll use to subdivide your inventory and determine what products you want to bid on for a certain campaign.

When you create your product groups, you’ll find that Google allows for quite a bit of customization. Using any of the long list of product attributes, you may subdivide your products however you like.

The best product groups to create will depend on the unique needs of your business. For instance, if your product catalog consists of items from multiple brands, subdividing your goods by brand may be an effective strategy.

Google will keep any items that you opt to not subdivide in the campaign in an “Everything else” group. 

After grouping your products, you’ll set your bids for the various product groups. These bids will be based on the specific goal(s) that you have for the campaign.

The instructions mentioned above are for Standard Shopping campaigns, but you may also choose to create Smart Shopping campaigns. 

With this option, your campaign management becomes even simpler. Smart Shopping campaigns are very quick to set up and employ automation for bidding, placing the ad, and targeting.

Although this type of campaign isn’t optimal for every online store, it certainly does offer a number of advantages.

To begin, there’s very little work to do on your end to optimize your campaign. 

Google uses the product feed that you’ve built to create and display ads on numerous networks to the consumers most likely to want to buy your products. The platform’s systems then test your ads to determine which are the most effective.

In addition, bidding is completely automatic. Using your given budget, Google automates the bidding and placement for your ads to achieve maximum conversions.

Tips for optimizing Shopping ads

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to Google Shopping to guarantee life-changing success for businesses. Nevertheless, there are a few steps you can take to start your ads off on the right track.

1. Make sure that your product feed is in excellent shape

A product feed that’s complete with detailed, accurate information is key to making the most of your efforts on the Shopping platform. Whether you have free listings or ads, a top-notch product feed can make the difference in how well they perform. 

Here are a few areas of your product feed that you’ll want to prioritize to increase your chances of success.

Product images

The images that you use for your products are arguably the most critical part of your Shopping ads. Because images take center stage in your listings, they need to be high-quality photos that will entice consumers to click through to your website.

It’s best to use a plain white background to show off your products and to highlight their features. 

Google also states that if you have apparel images, they should be at least 250 x 250 pixels, while non-apparel images should be at least 100 x 100 pixels. Note that images may not be bigger than 16 MB in size, though.

Product titles and descriptions

The titles that you use for your products also play an important role in the success of your Shopping ads. An optimized product title is informative and descriptive, making it clear to consumers exactly what the product is that you’re selling. 

A great product title will also help Google to know when to display your ad to shoppers on the platform. 

Despite the fact that you’ll have 150 characters to use for each title, Google tends to place more importance on the first few words. For this reason, use the keywords most relevant to potential customers’ search queries for your product at the beginning of the product title. 

In addition, the descriptions for your products deserve some attention too. Consider what features for your product are most likely to appeal to shoppers and be sure to mention them here, also adding in relevant keywords where you can. 

Although descriptions won’t appear for listings that consumers see on the SERP, they’ll show up when people click on ads to expand them on the Shopping tab. 

What’s more, Google will do a quick review of your ad’s product description to determine its relevance for searches.  


Yes, an excellent photo in your ad is probably what’s going to first draw the eye of shoppers using Google Shopping to search for products to purchase.

However, there’s a better chance that they’ll actually click on your ad if it’s accompanied by a price that appeals to them!

Determining how much to charge for the items you have for sale isn’t always easy.

After all, if the price is too high, potential buyers may be put off from purchasing. 

If you charge too little, you risk not earning enough to make a profit. What’s more, some consumers may even believe that you’re offering a low-quality product if the price is a lot lower than what other retailers are charging for similar items.

The correct price for your product will likely depend on a few different elements. If your target market consists of shoppers to whom pricing may be a really influential factor, you’ll need to be especially careful about not going too high with product prices.

In contrast, if you’re targeting consumers who aren’t as concerned about pricing, charging more for your products may actually increase clicks on your ads.

This may work particularly well if your product has a special feature or a clear advantage over that of your competitors’ products. 

Google product categories

As you’re well aware at this point, Google uses the information in your feed to determine when your ads should be shown to shoppers. 

You can increase the chances that your products will appear to consumers who are more apt to be interested in purchasing them by assigning each item an accurate product category.

To complete this attribute in your feed, you’ll need to choose a Google product category from Google’s own taxonomy.

You’re only allowed to select a single product category for each item in your feed, and it must be a predefined category from Google’s list mentioned above.

It’s best to be specific as possible when picking from the taxonomy, using a category that’s at least two or three levels if possible. 

For example, if your online store sells surfboards, you could simply choose “Sporting Goods” as the product category. However, “Sporting Goods > Outdoor Recreation > Boating & Water Sports > Surfing > Surfboards” is better suited to the product that you’re offering. 

2. Set goals with measurable results

While having a plan in place doesn’t guarantee success, it certainly helps!

Setting goals for your Shopping ads can help you to better manage your strategy and allow you to get more creative with your efforts to reach those aims.

If you’re just getting started in ecommerce, your goals probably aren’t going to be the same as those of a larger business. 

Whatever your particular goals may be, it’s crucial that you establish what you hope to accomplish with Google Shopping as you create your campaigns.

Furthermore, you want to be sure that you’re able to measure the results of those goals so that you can see how far you’ve come and where you can improve.

Here are a few of the most common goals that merchants tend to have when using the platform.

Boost sales

This is likely to be one of the top goals for any newer business. They’re often working with smaller budgets and need to have shoppers buying from them to continue operating.

You can definitely increase sales for your online store with the help of well-done Shopping ads. However, be careful not to ignore profitability along the way!

By this, I mean that if you are seeing an uptick in sales but are spending a lot more on your ads to achieve those results, is that actually helping your business? 

It may be okay for the short term but not sustainable down the road.

Increase conversions

Earning more revenue is great, but attracting new customers can also be advantageous for your business. 

As you transform site visitors into loyal customers, you’ll expand the reach of your brand. Furthermore, you can analyze customer behavior to determine how to boost each customer’s lifetime value and increase your store’s profits.

Note that there’s a difference between a conversion who makes a one-time purchase and one who returns time and time again. To earn the business of the latter, you’ll need to examine the entire user experience that you provide. 

From the moment consumers view your Shopping ads to when they receive their orders in the mail, that experience should be smooth and enjoyable so that they want to shop with you again in the future.

Improve profitability

After you’ve been using Shopping ads for a while, you’ll probably be wanting to see how you can maximize revenue while minimizing costs.

To help increase your business’s profitability, you’ll need to analyze a variety of metrics for both your ads and your products. 

Determine your store’s profit margin with the platform by examining your ad spend, your cost of goods sold, and the revenue that your Shopping ads earn.

You may find that some of your products are more profitable than others, and you can adjust your bidding accordingly to focus your spending more heavily on those items.

By using a target return on ad spend (ROAS) bidding strategy, you can set the percentage of return that you’d like to earn for the amount that you’re spending to promote your product. 

This figure considers how much you earn in sales for that product and subtracts the cost of your ad spend. 

For instance, say that you set your target ROAS at 200%. This means that you hope to earn $2 in revenue for every $1 that you spend on ads. Google will then adjust your bids automatically to get the most conversions and simultaneously achieve this target ROAS.

3. Add product ratings

Regardless of the products that your Shopping ads promote, product reviews can do wonders for your campaigns. When you use Google’s Product Ratings program, your ads will feature accumulated reviews for your products. 

Shown in both paid and free listings, these product ratings use a 5-star rating system and also inform shoppers of the total number of reviews for the item in the ad.

Google gathers product reviews from various sources to determine the aggregated rating for products on the platform. Sources may include merchants, review aggregators, review websites, and people using Google. 

Ratings can increase consumers’ trust in a product and can help them decide if the item is the right one to suit their needs. 

In addition, if Google Shopping users include the word “best” or “top” when researching products, products boasting high ratings are more likely to appear for those particular search queries. 

You can see why this would be advantageous for your business, especially if there’s a lot of competition out there for your product.

Keep in mind that when it comes to reviews for your business, the more the merrier!

Search Engine Journal describes a 2018 study done by Bright Local, which found that shoppers generally need to see at least 40 online reviews before they trust the star rating shown.

If you’d like your Shopping ads to start including product ratings, note that you’ll first need to have at least 50 reviews. You can then sign up for Google’s Product Ratings program by completing the Product Ratings Interest Form.

4. Offer promotions

Creating promotions for your online store’s offerings can bolster your efforts on the Shopping platform in a number of ways. 

First, they’ll likely encourage more shoppers to click through to your website. If they’re comparing ads from two different businesses for the same item and your store offers a special sale, they’re more likely to click on yours.

In addition, because promotions are offered for a limited time, they can help to boost your conversion rate, as customers will feel the need to act quickly. A great sale may be just the push they need to finalize a purchase and become new customers!  

Finally, as Google will display your ads’ promotions on desktop and mobile devices alike, you’ll be able to capture more traffic across different avenues.  


The flexibility and customization possibilities of Google Shopping make it a worthwhile platform for nearly any ecommerce business that’s looking to generate more sales and attract new site traffic. 

Nevertheless, maximizing your results with your Shopping ads will require some careful planning and strategizing on your end.

As a reminder, taking the time to craft a high-quality product feed in Merchant Center can save you money and frustration in the long term.

Although there’s quite a bit of merchant competition on Google Shopping, providing as much detail in your feed as possible will increase your chances of getting your ads to appear to the most relevant consumers.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your Google Shopping strategy as you learn what works best for you and your business. Nothing is set in stone!

Are you already using Google Shopping ads to promote your products?

Let us know what your experience has been in the comments below!

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