SEO for Google Shopping

Search engine optimization is essential for ranking in organic search results. As a result, Google Shopping was pushed further and further into the background for optimization in 2012, when the free offers were now linked to costs. However, a change by Google (in 2020) makes Google Shopping a sought-after SEO topic again. Find out here why SEOs are once again relying on Google Shopping and what the background to this is.

From Froogle to Google Shopping

Google has a long history of providing services for e-commerce products. The first service was Froogle; later Google Base took over Froogle. Both services offered retailers a method of informing Google about their products and thus improving their visibility in organic search results.

As a search engine optimizer in the mid-2000s, optimizing for Froogle and Google Base was also part of the job. That was back in the early days of shopping feeds.

But in 2012, Google changed the product listings from free to paid. Listings in Google Shopping (which Google Base later replaced) were now tied to Google AdWords.

For SEOs who specialize in organic search, the debate about Google Shopping and optimizing for Google Base and Froogle came to a halt. The focus was on using structured data such as schema with rich snippets to increase visibility in search results.


Return of free offers

Until Google announced in April 2020 that it would bring some free offers back into the Shopping results.

The headline in a blog post by Bill Ready (Google’s president of e-commerce) read as follows: “It’s now free to sell anything on Google.”

He wrote:

“With hundreds of millions of shopping searches taking place on Google every day, we know that many retailers have the items they need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online. For retailers, this change means that millions of people shopping on Google every day will be able to find them for free. For customers, this means that more products from more stores will be discoverable via the Goolge Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means that paid campaigns can now be supplemented with free listings.”

Ready cited the pandemic as the reason for the change. But it is very likely to be permanent. This assumption is based on the fact that more and more customers are now using Amazon for product searches rather than Google Shopping. It is obvious that this fact will probably have influenced Google’s decision.

Organic shopping results

In the shopping help portal (for consumers), Google describes the organic part of the shopping results:

“Unless otherwise stated, listings in Google Shopping are ranked based on relevance, including your search terms and other Google activity. Some display data is used to improve the quality of the results. Listings that are labeled “Sponsored” mean that the payments made by advertisers to Google can also influence how the articles are ranked and grouped. Google is remunerated for clicks on this ad.”


Old is new

Here we are in 2021, picking up where Google left off in 2012. Google Base has now been replaced by Google Merchant Center. Via the Google Merchant Center, a retailer can connect a real-time product data feed directly to Google.

Incidentally, the Merchant Center feed does not necessarily have to duplicate the website, which is of course enormously helpful. For example, a client of a company uses an inflexible e-commerce platform where title tags cannot be easily updated. By creating a highly optimized product feed, you could improve your ranking, which in turn leads to numerous sales in Google Shopping.

Optimizing a feed

Product feeds are essential for Google Shopping listings. Your e-commerce software probably has a standard feed generator. But there are also independent feed providers. As a third option, you can create your own feed with Google Sheets, which works natively with Google Center.

Shopping feeds can contain relevant search terms in the titles and product descriptions. Including these terms is scalable with scraping: you pull your product title and details into a sheet to quickly identify the most important terms. After a few hours (depending on the amount of product) you publish your feed and then measure the results. Repeat this as required.

SEO for Google Shopping

So if you have not yet dealt with feed optimization, we strongly recommend it. With the possibility of organic Google Shopping results, you can use a wonderful opportunity and platform to reach your potential customers with the help of good SEO knowledge or a respective SEO expert.

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