You ever searched something on Google and saw a tab that says "Shopping"? Well, if you click that tab it will take you to a page that lists a bunch of products from different stores based on what you searched. Customers that are interested in a certain product can be lead back to the website that sells the product or even complete the purchase on Google!
Having your products show up on Google's "shopping" tab can help your customers find you so you can get more sales.
With that in mind, the point of this post is to show you how you can get your products listed on Google's "Shopping" tab and expand the reach of your e-commerce store.
I'll be showing you how you can do this for free on a WooCommerce or Shopify store.
Now for us to get started listing your products on Google, you will need to make use of a platform called Google Merchant Center. So we'll get started by explaining what the platform is and the basics of how it works.
Google Merchant Center is a platform developed by Google to allow E-Commerce professionals to sell their products on Google. With Google Merchant Center, you can have your products listed for free or run shopping ad campaigns to boost the exposure and reach of your products.
To get started using Google Merchant Center, you will need to make an account with a valid google email. You can click on this link and it will open a new tab for you to create an account.
Google Merchant Center allows you to upload your products and have Google's algorithm analyze the product data and match it to what people are searching for. Once the product data is analyzed and your products are approved, it may show up when a relevant search term is typed in.
To have your products show up on a Google Shop Ad or to have it listed on Google for free, you have to add your products to a product feed. According to Google Support, a product feed is a file that contains a list of products you want to advertise through the Google Merchant Center.
There are two types of product feeds in the Google Merchant center
When adding your products to either feed, you need to give it certain attributes so that Google can properly analyze the product data. These attributes are used to tell Google all the important stuff about your products such as the product's name, description, price, and other relevant information that you would want your customers to know.
When doing this, keep in mind that you need to make sure that you include all the attributes required by Google. If you don't do this, your products may not be approved to be included in any free listings.
To make sure the items in your feed show up on the Google Shop Page, make sure to enter as much information that you can share about your products as possible. Doing this is one of the things you can do to ensure that Google will show your product when a relevant search comes up.
A perfect example of why this is important is if you sell a product that one of your competitors also sells. In this scenario, let's imagine that you listed your product on Google Merchant Center but only included the required attributes to follow Google's policy and didn't spend much time optimizing your product descriptions. But your competitor took the extra step and added as many relevant attributes as they could and had product descriptions that are very clear about what the product is.
Your competitor's product will have a much higher chance of showing up when a customer searches for products in your industry. In addition to that, customers will understand more about what your competitor's product can do for them and may not pay attention to yours. With this scenario in mind, I think it paints a pretty clear picture about why you should care about having relevant attributes as well as good product descriptions on your products.
Now that we covered that, let's get to the fun part...where we actually create our product feed and have the data uploaded to Google Merchant Center.
The next section discusses how to set up a product feed on WooCommerce but if you need to do this on Shopify, you can click this link to be taken down to that part of the post.
For the WordPress integration of our product feed, we will be using the open-source plugin, WP Product Feed Manager. There are many other plugins you can use to create a product feed on Google Merchant Center, but the goal here is to get your products listed on the Google Shop Page for free and you can't go wrong with open-source plugins.
Below are some steps that you can follow to set up the plugin or you can check out my video on this topic and follow along with that if that is easier for you.
Go into the WordPress plugins and search up WP Product Feed Manager. You will find a plugin titled "Woocommerce Google Feed Manager". Even though the name of the plugin on the WordPress plugin directory is different, it is the plugin that we are looking for.
On the left-hand side of the WordPress admin dashboard, you should see it say, Feed Manager. You will now click into the Feed Manager and you will be taken to the page for the plugin settings.
Once you are on the page for the plugin, you need to click the button that says, Add New Feed
Inside the plugin, you should be prompted to enter a file name for your product feed and select a target country for it. As you fill out the fields in the plugin, more options should start to pop up for you to fill out.
It is very important during this step to make sure you pick a default category for your product feed. This is really important because the "default category" is used to populate a product attribute in Google Merchant Center called google_product_category. The google_product_category attribute helps Google to understand exactly what your product is and how it can be related to what someone is searching for on Google.
The list of categories shown inside the plugin contains product categories and sub-categories that are supported by Google.
So when doing this, make sure that you pick a relevant category for your product and go as deep into the sub-categories as you can. The deeper you can go into the sub-categories to define the products you sell, the better it will be for your chances of having your product show up in a free Google Shopping listing.
If you happen to sell multiple different products that can't all fall into a highly specific sub-category, you can pick the most general sub-category that all your products can fit into.
At this point, you will be looking at the right-hand side of the plugin where it says, Category Mapping. In this section, you will be mapping the products in the product categories you have made on your website to categories supported by Google Merchant Center
This is especially important if you were unable to pick a highly specific sub-category that all your products could fall into in the earlier step.
You need to go through each of your WooCommerce product categories and click the checkbox next to the category's name. Once you do that, the plugin will give you the option to map that category to the default category from Google Merchant Center that you selected earlier or to click edit and pick a new product category to map to.
Like I said earlier, it's really important to dive as deep into the Google Merchant sub-categories as you can. So if you think you can map your products in a specific WooCommerce category to a more specific sub-category that is supported by Google Merchant Center, then you should click edit and select one instead of using the default category you chose earlier.
Now that you are done mapping your products, you should put a relevant product feed title and description. This information will show up inside of Google Merchant Center once you have finished uploading your products so you should put a relevant title and description.
You will also want to take this time to add an update schedule for this product feed so that it will stay up to date whenever you make any changes to your product pages.
Once you have your Feed title, description, and update schedule setup, then you scroll down in the plugin to where it says, Attribute Mapping. The Attribute Mapping section contains all the required and optional attributes supported by Google Merchant Center.
Like I said earlier in the post, these attributes help Google understand what your products are and how they will match up to what people are searching for. So you want to make sure that you are filling out all the required and optional attributes that will help your products perform better once they start getting listed on Google Shopping.
Luckily for us, this plugin pulls out all the necessary information that is required by Google Merchant Center from our WooCommerce store's database. But even so, there are a few other optional but essential attributes that you will want to have values for to improve the performance of your products on Google Merchant Center
These attributes are:
By the way, if you are unsure which option to pick in the dropdown for the attributes, you can select "Fill with a static value" and enter the value manually
Once you are done, save the feed. After saving, you should be able to go back to the main page of the plugin and see the product feed you just created. Notice that the product feed has a URL in it that leads to a document ending in the extension ".xml".
We will be taking this .xml file from the product feed that we just made and uploading it up to Google Merchant Center in the next section of this post.
Head over to Google Merchant Center and go create or sign in to your account. Once you have an account, you will be brought to a page where you can set up your account.
Here you will set up your sales tax, shipping rates, connect your website to your account, and then finally upload your .xml file.
Setting up your shipping rates and sales tax is a bit outside the scope of this post. Properly setting up the shipping rate and sales tax on your products depends on where you are selling them from. So let's skip to the next part where we claim our WooCommerce website on Google Merchant Center.
To connect your website with Google Merchant Center, you need to verify it with your Google Merchant Center account. Click the link that says, provide your website URL and you will be taken to a page that prompts you to enter the URL of your WooCommerce store.
Afterward, you will be given an HTML <meta> tag that needs to be put on your website to finish the verification process. This <meta> tag needs to be inserted into the WordPress theme in the <head> section of it; you can do this by either editing the code of the WordPress theme you are using or by using a plugin to help you do this.
A great plugin to help you do this easily is the Insert Headers and Footers plugin.
To get back to the page where you can set up your free listing product listing, click the gear icon at the top of Google Merchant Center and select Free Listing Setup. From here you can select the product data link to be taken to a page that will allow you to start uploading your .xml file from the WP Product Feed Plugin.
Select See all methods underneath the heading "Upload multiple products"
Follow the directions given on Google Merchant Center until you get to a page that asks you how you want to set up your product feed. At this point, now you will be selecting the option to do a scheduled fetch to set up your feed.
Selecting scheduled fetch will bring you to a page in which you will be putting the file name of your Product feed as well as the file URL (URL to .xml file from the WordPress plugin) to finish the setup of your feed.
If you have followed all these steps, then congratulations, you have successfully uploaded your product feed to Google Merchant Center. All you need to do now is wait a couple of days to see if your products were properly approved by Google.
At the bottom of the post, I have linked to some additional resources that you will find helpful when working with Google Merchant Center, so check it out.
This section of the post covers how you can connect your Shopify store with Google Merchant Center and sync your products with the platform.
Below are some steps that you can follow to connect your Shopify store with Google Merchant Center or you can check out my video on this topic and follow along with that if that is easier for you.
To do this with Shopify, we can use a free Shopify App called, Google Channel. You can get this app by clicking on Marketing in the Shopify Admin followed by clicking the View more marketing apps button. You should see the Google Channel app and be able to install it as well as connect it to your store.
Once you add the app, you will need to link it with whatever Google account that you intend to use for Google Merchant Center and complete a checklist before you can continue.
Most of the items in the checklist are pretty easy to fill out because the Google Channel app is very intuitive. There should be a link over each checklist item and after clicking, the app should tell you what to do to complete that task on the checklist. But with that being said I will quickly go over how you can complete each of these tasks and provide an image to use as a reference if the app confuses you.
Please keep in mind that all of the steps I'm about to show you work best if you are using one of Shopify's free themes.
If you are using a premium theme and can't complete some of the steps, reach out to Shopify Customer Service and they should be able to help you out.
To complete this, click on settings on the bottom left of the Shopify admin dashboard and go to payments. Inside of payments, you can select whatever payment method you wish to use.
If you don't know which payment provider to use, you can't go wrong with the default payments provided by Shopify.
For this one, you can click on the Online Store sales channel and then go to preferences. From here you should be able to scroll down and see an option to disable your password
This is the step where you set up your refund policy, shipping policy, and terms of service pages for your site. Now I don't know if I'm thinking what you're thinking right now but the thought of dealing with legal pages sounds awful.
Thankfully Shopify has our back on this one and they have provided a way to generate a template for both the refund policy and terms of service page. You click on settings in the Shopify admin followed by clicking on legal to get the page where you can generate those templates.
With these templates, you can modify the content as you see fit and save yourself a whole bunch of time.
The only thing to take note of here is that Shopify does not allow you to generate a template to set up your shipping policy. It's up to you to come up with a good shipping policy to represent your brand and give your customers a great experience. Here's a great blog post from Shopify about how to create a great shipping policy for your store.
You can complete both of these tasks by going into the theme customization editor by clicking on the Online Store sales channel in your admin dashboard and clicking Themes. After selecting themes, you need to press the green button next to your theme that says customize. You should not be in the Theme customizer which will look similar to the image below.
Look for where it says Footer and click a checkbox that says show payment options. This will show all the payment options your store supports at the bottom of every page.
The theme's Footer is also where you will be adding your store's contact information. To add your contact information, you will need to add a new block to your theme and select the text block. From here you can enter your contact information; please note that the Google Channel checklist requires you to add two out of three types of contact information:
Once you have that filled out then you can go back to the Google Channel checklist and check this item off.
Now you're ready to set up your product feed.
Now we're finally ready to connect our Shopify store with a Google Merchant account. Inside of the Google Channel App, you should be able to create a new Google Merchant account that will automatically link your Shopify store with Google Merchant Center.
Normally you would have to confirm the URL of your e-commerce website inside of Google Merchant Center, but the app should have taken care of that for you automatically.
Once this is done, all you have to do is configure your product feed by choosing a target market for your product as well as setting up the shipping settings.
Please note that if you are using a third-party app to handle shipping, you will have to go into Google Merchant Center and manually set up your shipping rates for your products.
Once you have finished configuring your product feed, you should see something like what is in the image below in your Google Channel App.
As you can see, in my version of the app, my products are still pending Google approval to be listed inside of the Google Merchant Center. If my products are approved with no issues from Google, they will show up on Google Merchant Center but they probably won't perform very well or even end up inside of a free listing in the Google "shopping" tab.
The reason for this is because I did not set up the Google Product Categories or other related product data attributes that Google looks for to determine what products to show when someone searches up certain keywords.
Google has a list of different product categories and it is in your best interest to make sure that your products are a good fit for whatever category and sub-category that you pick. If at all possible, make sure that you go as deep as possible into the sub-categories until you find one that fits your product.
Here is a list of all the product categories that Google will accept for Google Merchant Center.
Once you have the product category that fits your product, you can click into where it says manage availability and you should see something like the image below.
Here you can paste in the Google Product category and sub-categories that are relevant to your products.
You should also notice that if you scroll to the right, there are other data fields that are empty for your products such as age group, gender, size, and barcode. Filling these data attributes is optional but is highly recommended if you would like your products to show up in a free listing.
This is especially important if you have any local competitors that are selling the same product as you.
And you're done, all you have to do now is wait for Google to approve your products and see if they were made eligible to appear inside of a free listing.
Well, if you made it to this point in the blog post, you have successfully created a Google Merchant Account and linked your WooCommerce or Shopify store to it. Congratulations, this was a great first step towards using Google to expand the reach of your store.
If you need any help with your e-commerce website or with setting up Google Merchant Center, feel free to contact me and I will help you get your issue sorted out.