Whether you’re selling outdoor apparel, swimsuits, or haircare products, Google Merchant Center remains one of the best ways to grow your business, helping you to manage how your online and in-store product inventory appears in Google Search. As a bridge between your eCommerce store and the Google Shopping network, the platform is also exceptionally easy to set up, making it an essential part of any successful digital marketing strategy.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what Google Merchant Center is, why you should look into it, and how you can get GMC up and running for your online business today.
As highlighted above, Google Merchant Center acts as a bridge between your online business and the powerful Google Shopping network, helping you reach the millions of people who are searching for products like yours every day. With Google dominating over 92% of the global search market and the eCommerce industry expected to hit $7.4 trillion by 2025, this is important for businesses looking to boost their online presence, especially in crowded or competitive industries.
In essence, this means that Google Merchant Center also acts as a centralized “hub” and listing service where retailers can upload important information about their products. While Google’s algorithms are great at connecting people with the right products or information based on their searches, they can’t read minds. Information pertaining to product names, SKUs, sizes, colors, product availability, etc. has to be fed in from somewhere, and that information needs to be stored in a location that Google can easily pull from
By connecting you with the right customers across Google Search, Shopping, YouTube, and the greater web, you can drive record-breaking sales, using the insights you gather from each sale to put your products in front of even more valuable customers. Thanks to Google Merchant Center, your business can give Google an up-to-date catalog of all the products you’re looking to sell. Best of all, GMC gives your brand options for how your products are listed as well, with free product listings and paid product listings offering their own unique benefits.
Google’s free listings feature is exactly how it sounds, an easy way for retailers to list their products with no upfront costs. If your products are eligible for free listings, they can appear in the following places across Google:
Shopping Tab: Available on mobile and desktop in all countries where the Shopping tab is live as a free listing, products that appear on Google’s Shopping Tab, this offers a more visual experience for customers from the get-go. Customers can then be directed to your website to complete the purchase. If your store has opted in for free local listings, you can use this opportunity to let customers know that the products they’re searching for are also available at your nearby brick-and-mortar location. Additionally, U.S. retailers of all sizes can also consider opting into Google’s Buy on Google feature, as this offers a low-cost, commission-free model to sell their products directly on Google.
Google Search: Customers coming to Google to find more information on retailers, products, and brands will inevitably come across rich results. Appearing as a few lines of text, these results offer detailed product information such as price, availability, product reviews, and so on.
Popular Products: For customers using Google to shop for apparel and accessories, the Popular Products category can provide a more visual and user-friendly experience. Here, customers can explore a range of different products and brands, with category matches that are relevant to their search query. A customer looking for a new dress can quickly scan through a wide range of styles and options from different retailers. At the same time, someone looking for a new pair of running shoes can explore a comfortable list of options to find the right fit. For apparel retailers looking for more ways to optimize their fashion digital marketing, this provides an excellent way to put your brand and products directly in front of customers who are eager to convert.
Shopping Knowledge Panel: Acting as a search box that organizes information for specific products, the Shopping Knowledge Panel includes product details and product reviews. If your product data feed happens to include the product being searched, yours may be eligible for this experience.
Google Images: Customers looking for products and brands like yours on Google Images will inevitably see images with the added “Product” label. As a globally available feature for mobile and desktop users, this label tells customers that the featured products can be purchased. Best of all, it helps to give your customers rich information such as price, availability, ratings, and the name of your brand. For customers who want to see a list of similar products, the Google Lens feature is only a quick tap away.
YouTube: It’s no secret that modern consumers love to browse YouTube for a variety of reasons, with the platform accounting for over 1 billion hours of video watched each day. Among that mix, how-to guides and product reviews are often used to connect online storefronts to a much wider audience, especially for businesses who know how to leverage the benefits of YouTube advertising. As customers browse the platform, they may see a list of products that can be purchased via links directly underneath the video. As an added bonus, customers searching for specific retail products can also see matching products in their YouTube search results.
Retailers wanting to make the most of their experience with Google Merchant Center can also leverage paid product listings, with Google Shopping campaigns to promote online and local inventory. Known as Shopping ads, these campaigns can be used to boost traffic to your website or local store, as they appear in a variety of places including the Shopping tab on Google Search, Google Images, Google Search Partner Websites, and across the Google Shopping Network including YouTube and Gmail. Getting started is easy, and you’ll need to send Google your product data with Merchant Center and create a campaign with Google Ads after.
From there, Google will use your campaign to create ads on Google and throughout the web in places that potential customers might see your products. Best of all, Shopping ads help give customers a better sense of what you’re selling, as they’re more visual than standard text-based ads and include a photo of your product, the name of your product, its price, the name of your store, and more.
Better Qualified Leads: As highlighted above, one of the primary benefits of Shopping Ads is the increased quality of leads that your brand gains from the process. By featuring product information directly in your ads, you can help potential customers make more informed purchase decisions, increasing the likelihood that they complete a purchase once they land on your website. To go back to a previous example, let’s suppose you have someone looking for a new pair of running shoes. When that person types “running shoes’ into Google Search, they’re likely to see Shopping ads from a variety of footwear and apparel retailers. At the same time, the more visual nature of those Shopping will help that customer find what they’re looking for that much faster, as they can clearly see whether a certain pair of shoes fits their desired look or budget based on the picture. This means that if that customer clicks on one of these ads, they already have a good sense of the product and its cost, making them much more likely to convert than the average consumer.
Easy Setup and Management: One of the things that makes Shopping Ads so popular with retailers is how easy they are to set up and manage. Rather than worry about keywords or text, most of the prep work is already done for you, as Shopping ads pull product attributes directly from your Google Merchant Center data feed.
Better Reach and Visibility for Your Brand: Google Shopping Ads are also exceptional when it comes to boosting the reach and visibility of your brand. For starters, they place your products directly at the top of Google search results above organic listings, making it that much easier to grab the attention of potential customers. Secondly, the images they use naturally capture more attention than keywords or slogans, adding even more visual appeal to your brand and products.
Measurable Performance Data: Shopping ads also provide measurable data on how your products are performing at any stage of granularity. If you’re a fashion retailer who needs to see how many clicks a particular style of dress received, you can do so, simply by filtering your products view. At the same time, you can use benchmarking data to get better insights into how your campaigns are performing relative to the competition, data which is invaluable if you’re trying to make a name for yourself in a crowded industry.
As highlighted above, setting up Google Merchant Center for your business is actually quite easy, with Google providing step-by-step instructions on how to get started right from your favorite platform, whether that’s Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, or Presta Shop.
Additionally, Google provides a helpful FAQ to answer all the most common questions surrounding GMC, from what you need to get started to the best methods for managing your ads and results.
At the end of the day, Google Merchant Center remains one of the most powerful tools to grow your eCommerce business, whether you’re looking to drive more sales, reach more customers, or measure the impact of your sales. Should you find yourself curious as to how you can make the most of Google Merchant Center and all of its features, we’d love to help!
As a Google Premier Partner with over 10 years of experience in SEO and paid advertising across multiple competitive industries, the digital marketing experts at VELOX Media can help put your products in front of the right customers and drive needle-moving revenue for your eCommerce business. Learn more about how VELOX can develop ROI-focused marketing campaigns to help you outrank the competition in Google SERPs today.