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Google Shopping and Google Merchant Center

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What is it?

The next stage in your optimization process would be if you’re a retailer or working for large e-commerce or any kind of e-commerce outlet as a client or in-house is to use Google Shopping.

Google Shopping

So Google Shopping is taking the lion’s share of all paid search results for retail at moment. Google Shopping displays those visual search ads. These ads show the product and they show the price. They’re linked directly to your e-commerce store using an XML feed, which is something that your developer or your webmaster will know about, and that drives dynamic ads on the search results that show exactly your product, exactly your price.

And when someone clicks on it, it takes them to the landing page that they need to go to in order to buy that. So it’s a very visual way of doing e-commerce using search results. It is taking way more clicks, way more impression share, and driving way more conversions than standard text for retail and has been for the past number of years.

If you’re doing any kind of retail e-commerce or are planning to kind of go forward to future proof your e-commerce activity, considering Google Shopping part of your mix is essential.


The elements that we need to consider for this include:

  • Your e-commerce store
  • The XML feed, which is the link between your e-commerce store and Google
  • Google Merchant Center, which controls the feed
  • Google Ads, which you create your shopping campaigns from

So just to reiterate, it’s your e-commerce store. It’s the XML feed from your e-commerce store, Google Merchant Center, and then our Google Shopping campaigns from that.

Google Merchant Center

We’ll have a look at Google Merchant Center because this is where we upload our feed. This is where we link our retail e-commerce store to Google.

We create an XML product feed from our web developer or through a plugin, if you’re using something like Shopify or Magenta or any of the big e-commerce website engines.

You can create using a plugin an XML product feed that will be built for this. And then you upload that feed into Google Merchant Center. Then you set what’s called a fetch. This is how often Google goes and fetches the data from that feed. So ideally this is once a day, because any longer than that and prices can change, products can go out of stock, and different things.

There’s other factors that may affect the performance of your feed. So 1:00 in the morning every day is the standard time when Google Shopping or any other comparison shopping engine (CSE) fetches from your store XML feed.

If you have hundreds of thousands of products, there’s no way you can create all the keywords for those. So these keywords are created on the fly from that feed using Google’s intelligence. It opens up your entire inventory and puts it online. And when something goes out of stock, we’re able to set up rules that say, if we go down to only five units left, turn off the ads or one unit left, turn off the ads, or whatever it may be. So it’s a very powerful way of ensuring the most up to date and relevant feed-based information is being pushed into Google.

Uploading your feed

Uploading your feed is very straightforward. A feed is just a URL link. So it’ll be your store name. such as mystore.com/xmlfeed.xml or shoppingfeed.xml, whatever you call it. And then you just paste that URL into Google Merchant Center and then decide how often you want to have it fetched.

At that point you’re able to ensure that your imagery is going to be as up to date as possible. You’re then given a tabular look of what your feed looks like. This determines how Google reads your feed. You’re able to see your product name, your landing page, your image, your price, all the factors that Google uses to create the ads in a table once you upload your feed and it’s very intuitive and very simple and easy to understand.

So once we’ve uploaded our feed into Google Merchant Center and everything is looking okay there, we need to ensure that Merchant Center is linked to Google Ads. We can do that in the left-hand menu of Google Merchant Center. And once they’re linked and talking to each other, we’re able to create what’s called a shopping campaign in Google Ads. In the beginning of this module, we were looking at the types of campaigns you can create in Google Ads. We were looking at, there’s search, there’s display, there’s video, there’s apps, and there’s shopping campaigns.

So we’re going to choose a shopping campaign at this point.

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Cathal Melinn

Cathal Melinn is a well-known digital marketing director, commercial analyst, and ecommerce specialist with over 15 years’ experience.

Cathal is a respected international conference speaker, course lecturer, and digital trainer. He specialises in driving complete understanding from students across a number of digital marketing disciplines including: paid and organic search (PPC and SEO), analytics, strategy and planning, social media, reporting, and optimisition.  Cathal works with digital professionals in over 80 countries and teaches at all levels of experience from beginner to advanced.

Alongside his training and course work, Cathal runs his own digital marketing agency and is considered an analytics and revenue generating guru - at enterprise level. He has extensive local and international experience working with top B2B and B2C brands across multiple industries.

Over his career, Cathal has worked client-Side, in digital marketing agencies and media owners with brands including HSBC, Amazon, Apple, Red Bull, Dell, Vodafone, Compare the Market, Aer Lingus, and Expedia.

He can be reached on LinkedIn here.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


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