In response to the crippling effects of COVID-19 on retailers around the world, Google is shifting its Shopping platform from a paid ad service to now displaying free listings for merchants.
The switch in Google’s product search platform now includes unpaid, algorithm-derived listings under the Google Shopping tab instead of showing mostly paid product listings.
Bill Ready, president of Google’s commerce division, announced in a blog post that the pre-existing plan to make the switch was accelerated based on the economic devestations of COVID-19. Ready underscores the shift away from a paid ad auction to free listing platform as one way Google is working to support struggling retailers through the pandemic.
“Search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.” Ready states on the Google Blog.
“For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings. If you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings, and for new users of Merchant Center, we’ll continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months.”
The switch will first affect users and merchants based in the U.S. Google aims to expand the transition globally before the end of the year.
Google Shopping SEO Tips to Leverage the Newly-Leveled Playing Field
Retailers are no strangers to the fiercely competitive ecommerce environment and the array of challenges faced in marketing their products. In this newly-leveled playing field with Google Shopping, many retailers are asking themselves how they can capitalize on generating more traffic and sales through product search.
We’ve put together a series of Google Shopping SEO tips that coincide with standard product page optimization strategies. They include:
- Research and pinpoint relevant keyword data to help instruct how product listing Titles are named. Focus on descriptive, 4+ word search phrases that are less competitive and more conversion oriented.
- Write compelling, search-friendly descriptions that include target keywords but in a way that’s natural and not keyword-stuffy.
- Include high-quality images there are named and optimized based on relevant keyword data associated with each product’s Title.
- Be as precise and targeted as you can when categorizing your inventory. The more granular you are with your subcategories, the more relevant your products will be.
- Take advantage of selecting the most relevant product types associated with each piece of inventory, as this feature is optional and often overlooked.
- Include as much product information as you can, such as Brand, Model, Gender, Color, Size, and Size System, and mention the most relevant pieces of info in the product Title.
With changes in Google Shopping in place, it’s now easier for small players to compete with large, big-box brands. We’re excited to see how this switch impacts the search landscape, particularly the visibility of small online retailers.