For nearly a decade, Google Shopping results have been accessible only to advertisers willing to pay for the listings through the Google merchant center. Known as product listing ads (PLA’s), these listings were a bullet train into eCommerce discoverability and revenue.
The onboarding process was stiff, needing a product feed to be customized and ported into Google. Though, it’s relaxed quite a bit over the years. Now, with our whole world going topsy turvy, Google Shopping is making big changes.
Announced about two weeks ago, Google will now allow free listings on their Google Shopping results pages. A reaction to the many challenges small businesses and online retailers are facing, consider it one of Google’s altruistic tactics to join the global fight.
In his announcement of the change, Bill Ready, President of Commerce at Google said “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.”
What does this mean if you’re already a Google Shopping Advertiser?
There will still be paid listings at the top and bottom of each shopping search engine results page (SERP), so you can still pay to appear in the first handful of results.
Furthermore, assuming strong relevance, you can show up in results you’re not paying for. If you’re on the top end of an auction and relevance for a query is high, you’ll likely enjoy more organic listings to go along with your paid ones.
It also means that there will be more products and competition crowding into a smaller space. If you’re on the bottom end of an auction, your search impression share may go down, and CPC and CPA’s might go up, or your budget simply won’t spend because you won’t be able to edge your way into the paid results.
What does this mean if you’re not a Google Shopping customer?
There is nothing but an opportunity for you. Increased customers and exposure, for free, are never a bad thing.
One major hurdle for adoption has always been the steep onboarding needed, and it sounds like Google is making moves to alleviate that process as well. They’ve announced partnerships with PayPal to help get customers on shopping results quickly, and are improving some existing partner feeds for Shopify, WooCommerce, Big Commerce and more.
They also casually mention in their announcement that these improvements will “help [them] show the best results”, which I take to mean “we’re prioritizing listings from these partners”. But who knows.
Other Possible Impacts
One thing they don’t mention in their announcement is whether these changes will be permanent or not. It being Google and all, they probably have no idea and are going to see how it goes. If these changes do become permanent, prepare for a giant can of SEO worms to optimize your listings for the best organic results.
Lucky for you, Intuitive Digital is a shop full of both Google Shopping and SEO experts. So wherever you are on the Shopping bandwagon, we can help.
We’re great at getting eCommerce customers onboarded and rolling, and we’re as equally good at improving what’s already there.
Give us a shout if you’re ready for some free-flowing shopping Kool-Aid!