Google Product Listing Ads Tips

Google has been experimenting and expanding its Product Listing Ads (PLA) over the past couple of years. With the recent addition of its PLA slider, Google can display up to 15 ads from a paid search campaign on a mobile search and up to 18 on a desktop search in some search queries.

Google also recently expanded the size of its mobile PLA listings, creating greater visibility for its paid ads, though it only displays five individual ad cards now.

As of late, Google has been displaying individual PLA cards instead of ad packs in a majority of its search queries. More than ever, PLAs are being displayed above text based ads in a number of its product queries.

The move only makes sense as more clicks are being driven from PLAs as opposed to traditional text based ads. It’s also been shown that a number of product search queries have displayed individual PLA cards on the right column of some searches. With the additional button “More on Google” at the bottom of PLAs, a number of product ads are gaining greater visibility than ever before.

For businesses looking to reap the rewards of Google’s recent PLA expansions throughout their Google AdWords campaigns, we present seven optimization tips that will ensure your PLA ranks and drives conversions for your website.

7 Product Listing Ads Tips to Stand Above the Competition

1. Update with a Comprehensive Feed Regularly

Your product’s placement on Google’s PLA will depend on the information that you send to Google’s Merchant Center. One thing that most retailers forget is to update feeds when their products change. Google’s Merchant Center ranks products based on freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. Google also favors merchants who send consistent feed as this will ensure a better user experience when they click through to your landing page.

It’s ideal to send feed to the Merchant Center when product inventories or pricing change. This could be daily or every other day depending on the size of your operation. This means keeping in touch with individual merchants if your company hosts a third party retail site. Freshness also ensures comprehensiveness in your data feed and will result in all of your products receiving higher rankings.

2. Match your PLA with your Landing Page

The accuracy of your feed will not only affect your PLA rankings, but also user experience. Make sure your product listing matches your landing page in entirety. If not, this will result in high bounce rates and a tumble in the PLA rankings. The description, serial number, and image of your PLA should be entirely relevant to your landing page. Google will also punish false PLAs that are not accurate in the rankings process. This could mean that one mismatched PLA listing could cause an entire ad group to falter as a result.

3. Expand your Feed

Research has shown that businesses with over 500 products receive higher rankings for their PLAs than businesses with less. Google will be able to better recognize and index products from businesses with larger feeds. This comes down to brand recognition and the business’s relationship with the Merchant Center. A business with a regularly updated and comprehensive feed will appear more legitimate and its products will appear higher in Google’s PLA rankings as a result.

If your business has very few products it might be ideal to keep them in one target ad group. This will help you track the progress of your Google Shopping experience better. For businesses with larger feeds, it’s ideal to separate different products into different ad groups to discover which products are performing better than others.

4. Target Products with the Most Clicks

It’s ideal to set up your own analytics to track which products are gaining the highest CTRs for your business. Google Shopping has severely limited tracking capabilities for ad groups so it’s crucial that you can track the best selling ads that will result in more revenue.

The logic on this one is simple. Find the products with the highest CTRs and place them in a specific ad product group with a higher bid. For products with low CTRs, it’s ideal that you move them to a lower bid product group or scrap them entirely. Remember to stay granular and ensure that product groups match the description you are aiming and paying for.

5. Optimize Images

PLAs are image based ads that display the use of a product. Often, they will be the number one factor that determines a user’s click on a specific ad.

Using a stock image will not differentiate your ad from the rest of the PLA carousel. Images should utilize color and background to make product images striking and visually stand out from other similar products being displayed.

For smaller firms and local businesses this can be the number one way to boost CTRs against big, competitive firms. For companies with incredibly large feeds, it’s feasible to focus this strategy on their best selling products.

6. Include Negative Keywords

Google Shopping matches users with products based on targets as opposed to keywords. This means that anything from your product feed could be in the results for a specific search. For example, searching for a Martin acoustic guitar at your business may result in electric guitars being displayed in the PLA results. Google allows you to insert negative keywords, such as “electric” so that your money is not wasted on highly competitive product bids.

7. Target Keyword Meta-Data

While Google may match users with target based results, it doesn’t mean businesses can’t optimize their feed and descriptions with targeted keywords from their SEO campaign. Optimizing your PLA title and description with your brand name, color, size, and serial number may not result in a higher ranking, but will ensure that users are given the most accurate information when they view your product listing. This will ensure accuracy and most likely line up with the keywords used on your landing page, which was keyword optimized to rank in a text based ad in the first place.

In the Google AdWords product campaigns there are also a number of other tips that will benefit your business. Make sure to campaign with text based ads that could show up right along side your PLA in a paid search. This will create greater brand visibility and result in more e-commerce for your website. Make sure your products are competitively priced and your landing pages are optimized to create easy conversions and a highly valued user experience. Often, users will not use the PLA listings for specific products, but will shop on websites of the brands they already know and trust.