Google Shopping Ads: Best Practices and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Google Shopping Best Practices

Running Google Shopping Ads is a great way to increase traffic to your website and boost sales. However, if you do not set up your Google Shopping Ads correctly, you could be wasting time and money.

Sadly, many people make certain mistakes when running Google Shopping Ads campaigns, making their effort a waste of time and money instead of raking in a lot of potential customers.

This article will examine some common mistakes to avoid when running Google Shopping Ads and the best practices to integrate.

Firstly, there are 2 campaign types with which to run shopping ads, these are, Regular Shopping (just product listing ads) and Performance Max which is a newish campaign type that can utilize shopping, search, display and video all in one campaign.

For the purposes of this article we are going to talk about just shopping ads and not all aspects of Pmax, so this would be just the listings in a Pmax campaign. If you would like to find out more about Performance Max campaign type as a whole click here

What Common Mistakes Should I Avoid In Google Shopping Ads?

Common mistakes you should avoid to ensure a successful Google Shopping Ads campaign include:

Poorly Structured Product/Listing Groups

Product groups help you subdivide and arrange your products under Ad Groups or Asset Groups. You can segment your products according to product type, brand, categories, margin, price groups, ROAS targets, best sellers, this will all depend on you business goals.

It’s important to segment your products in a way that makes the most sense for your business goals and not just set it up with just “all products” and no segmentation


Having A Poorly Structured Feed

The majority of audits we perform, we see feeds that are not optimized and fit for purpose. The lack of optimizing the feed will just lead to your competitors taking the majority of sales and a bigger piece of the pie.

What is an optimized feed I hear you ask? well this involves ensuring that all relevant attributes are filled out for each product, we want to give GMC as much data about each product as possible.

We also want to be able to do title and image testing the same as you would with search campaign, there needs to be some form of constant testing and learning.

Product Type attribute is a powerful one when utilized, some users use this as a product categorization system, but we’ve found using important search terms for each product to be powerful.

The structure of the feed also enables you to set up you product/listing groups in the campaign as shown above.

At RK PPC Marketing we recommend using a 3rd party feed supplier such as Data Feed Watch which allows us to perform these tasks with ease.


Price Competitiveness

All too often we’ll have clients who’s best sellers historically are no longer performing, the main reason for this is due to price and how competitive you are in the current market. It is something to pay attention to especially if other retailers are selling the same product. If your price is higher then you will lose click volume and see weaker CTR and CVR.

If you are not able to compete on price possibly due to a competitor sale or are just being undercut and you have no margin to compete it is better to focus on products where you are competitive until such times that your prices are competitive again.

This of course is dependent on how well your brand is perceived in the market and whether the user is swayed by price, which is most often the case in 2023 with shoppers being more selective over their purchases.


Not Using Google’s Machine Learning To Your Advantage

Google’s Machine learning and bidding strategies are powerful tools to utilize in Google Shopping, gone are the days where campaign managers are optimizing bids manually. One caveat though is you need to have certain amount of conversion volume for this too really work in your favor.

If you are using Pmax campaign type you really should be using maximize conversion value with a target ROAS, if you are using a regular shopping campaign then you would want to be using a target ROAS bidding strategy. The level at which you set your tROAS will be dependent on whether you are in a growth stage or optimizing for profitability.

In all cases, the machine has to learn and identify users who are most likely to convert, so there is a learning period where you will need to accept a lower ROAS than perhaps you would like during this phase, how long this phase lasts really depends on how much data is being fed to it.

There are also other things we can do to help this process. These are adding audiences and especially a customer match audience to regular shopping. Adding audience signals to your asset groups in Performance Max. You should also add your customer match lists (emails of people who purchased) to the customer acquisitions which can be found in the summary of the conversions tab.


Best Practices For Google Shopping Ads

Some of the best practices for running a successful Google Shopping Ads campaign include:

Use A Custom Feed Provider To Optimize Feeds

There are 2 ways that you can really optimize the feed [1] use 3rd party feed provider [2] use a supplementary feed using Google Sheets.

The first option is a paid option but in our opinion is well worth it as it enables the feed to be optimized with ease and much smaller time constraints. Whilst there is a cost involved the time saved should be well worth it especially if you are paying an agency to handle this for you.

The second option is much more time consuming and requires huge amounts of data to be entered in the sheet and also kept up to date.

The beauty of a 3rd party custom feed is it is connected to your backend of the website and constantly updates as your product listings change and some even provide ways to do A/B testing of titles and images.

If you have a medium to large product catalogue you really should consider option 1.

Ensure You Have a Proper Google Shopping Structure In Place

Having the right structure that matches with business goals can be the world of difference from running a successful campaign to just wasting money. The 80/20 rule applies here, so why would you want to spend a ton of money on products that are not converting, perhaps you have an upcoming sale and you want to push these sale products, perhaps you need a structure that is based on margins.

There are endless ways to structure the campaign, We would recommend discussing this with the person / agency that will be running the Google Shopping campaigns to ensure the best possible results based on your business goals.


Do Your Research On Competitors

Ensure you are competitive in the market, you don’t want to find out that you blew a ton of money on products that didn’t convert because of pricing issues.

Established competitors will generally have optimized titles and images that you can learn from.

Another important factor is their landing pages and how they compare to yours. How easy is it to navigate, are there any roadblocks in the checkout process, Do the competitors offer something for free with a purchase or money off a second purchase.

All too often we see the website itself as the biggest roadblock to success, this could be due to slow loading times vs competitors.


Acquire Enough Conversion Data To Make Use Of Machine Learning

It is generally accepted that you need at least 30 conversions per month per campaign for Google’s Machine learning to work. This is because it is trying to learn who you customers are and with less data the less efficient it will be.

However, we have noted that the more conversions you have above 30 the more efficient the machine learning is. Here is a good post on LinkedIn that shows how efficient it actually is. So a good takeaway here is perhaps you should consider running a regular Google Shopping campaign if you are just starting out, where at least you will have more insights into the data as Pmax is a bit of a black hole when it comes to transparency!


Add Customer Ratings

These are very powerful and should not be overlooked, we have one client who had an issue with the feed ratings supplier and the ratings disappeared for around a week while it was sorted out, during this period conversions decreased by a third!

We would recommend that you start the process of acquiring seller / product ratings as soon as possible, this can either be done through Google itself or using a 3rd Party supplier such as Feefo or Trust Pilot.


If you have made it to the end of the article thanks for reading and we hope you learnt something from it. RK PPC Marketing Ltd specializes in shopping and custom feeds. If you need more help or advice please get in touch with us here