Google Merchant Center is the undisputed leader of digital advertising. A lot of marketers are using the platform, but only a few of them endorse it when asked about their marketing initiatives. It would not be wrong to say that Google Merchant Center is essential for every successful Google Shopping campaign. For most multi-location businesses, Google Merchant Center can act as a goldmine of data to gain a competitive advantage. Around the same time last year, Google introduced free local product listings at the bottom of Google My Business pages just in time for the holiday season.
What is Google Merchant Center? How does it work? What are the advantages of setting up your Google Merchant Center account? In this article, we will take you through the set-up and how to get started. We will also discuss some tips to optimize the tool to get the most out of it for your business.
What is Google Merchant Center?
Google Merchant Center was introduced in 2010 along with Google Shopping. It is an online platform that enables you to create shopping ads for Google, YouTube, and other Google partner sites. The primary idea is to enable merchants to upload and update details about their products and services. The product information can include pricing and availability. The updated data is displayed in Google Shopping ads and search queries.
Why should you use Google Merchant Center?
There are some important features that make it extremely valuable to the users.
1. Import customized product data sheets –
Google Merchant Center provides a wide range of descriptors for your product or service data. It gives you a number of options for customization to create shopping advertisements. It can be extremely useful when you are looking for a particular product, or to change your strategy for different products based on their performance.
2. Edit and update existing product data –
It is easy to update your product data. The platform enables you to optimize your products running on the Shopping Feed. Moreover, Google Merchant Center allows you to play with bids and manage your advertising strategy in real-time.
3. Smooth integration with Google products –
Google Merchant Center works with Google Ads, the Google Display Network, and various other ad platforms. It means you can run sophisticated remarketing and omnichannel ad campaigns. Being on the Google Merchant Center will make sure your overall marketing on Google is optimized, and that users will see the most relevant and updated product information for your business.
What is the cost of Google Merchant Center?
The Google Merchant Center is totally free to use. It is important to note that you will need to pay for user engagement. You can do that in the following ways:
1. Cost Per Click (CPC) –
In this method, you will pay a particular amount of money every time a potential customer clicks on one of your ads.
2. Cost Per Engagement (CPE) –
In the CPE method, Google will charge you every time a customer engages with an ad. It includes expanding a collapsed ad, viewing an ad for more than 10 seconds, scrolling an ad, and tapping on an ad.
How to Set up a Google Merchant Account?
It is a cakewalk to set up a Google Merchant Account. You simply need to follow the steps mentioned below. A quick no-brainer before we proceed. You will need an existing Google account to set up a Google Merchant Center account. It could be a Gmail or Google My Business account. If there is none, it is important to create one before we move on to the next step.
Open the sign-up form for the Google Merchant Center and click on the blue rectangular button that displays “Create your account”.
In the next button, click on the blue button showing “Get Started”.
After that, fill in the required information about your business along with the name and country. You can mention the tools that you will use like PayPal or Shopify. Once that is done, take a look at the Terms & Conditions and check the box to notify your agreement. Later, click on the blue rectangle button “Create Account”.
Now, it is almost done. Your Google Merchant Center account is ready to use, so you can proceed to click “Continue”. Your account is live now. So, now you are the owner of your Google Merchant Center account. Let us learn how to use it.
Link Google Merchant Center with Google Ads
The first and foremost thing to do now is to link your Google Merchant Center account to Google Ads. By doing so, the updated product information in Google Merchant Center will simultaneously be synced with your Google Ads account.
How to link your merchant account with Google Ads?
- Click on the gear icon at the top of the screen and select “Linked accounts”.
- Secondly, add the Google Ads account by entering your customer ID shown at the top of the screen.
- Lastly, you may need to approve the link from your Google Ads account. It is easy to do. Click on Tools and settings > Linked accounts > Google Merchant Center > View Details > Approve.
Now, you can enter your product data in your search campaigns and product listing ads. If you wish to expand your campaign management, you can link your Google Merchant Center account with multiple Google Ads Customer IDs. Simply, repeat the steps above for each Customer ID you wish to include.
How to add products to Google Merchant Center?
Adding products to your Google Merchant Center account is the single most important skill you will need to be successful. There are three parts to it. Let us find out.
1. Add a Product Data Sheet –
One of the main benefits of the Google Merchant Center is the ability to customize your product feed in multiple ways. It is possible due to spreadsheets. Google Merchant Center enables you to use your own XML and TXT files. However, we will be using Google Sheets for ease of understanding. It is easy to use and provides more control over the feed.
You can add a product data-sheet using Google Sheets as below.
- Head to “Products” in the dashboard and select “Feeds”.
- Then you will have to mention the country where you want to sell the product and your preferred language.
- Select “Google Sheets” in the next window and assign a name to your product feed.
- In the end, select “Generate a new Google spreadsheet from a template” and click “Create Feed”.
You will now be redirected to the “Feeds” section of the Google Merchant Center dashboard where you will be able to see the latest Google Sheet. Click open to open the sheet and edit.
2. Filling in the Product Data Sheet –
Once you open the spreadsheet template, you can fill in details in the given fields like ID, title etc. If you have any doubts, it is best to check the Google Merchant Center product data specification guidelines. It offers a detailed overview of each attribute along with examples.
You do not need to have detailed information about every field. However, the more product information you can offer, the better it is to make an informed decision. It will help in the following ways:
- There are a lot of possibilities to make customized, efficient Google Shopping ads.
- It is easy to search products for editing.
- It is easy to find ads that offer detailed information to the users.
As you are done, check the entire sheet to ensure you do not leave any empty spaces. It will save you a lot of time to look for particular products. When you wish to import your data, proceed to “Add-ons” in the Google Sheet menu, choose “Google Merchant Center” in the drop-down and click on “Upload sheet”.
3. Changes in Product Information –
If you want to make some changes to your feed, there is no need to fill in and upload a new sheet every time. Google Merchant Center enables you to use “supplemental feeds” which makes it possible to include new information. You can make changes to product information by:
- Proceed to “Supplemental Feeds” in the “Feeds” section and click “Add supplemental feed”.
- Follow the prompts and offer the required information. It includes a name for the supplemental feed, an input method, along your product data.
How to optimize Google Merchant Center?
As we are done with the basics, now we move to the tips and tricks to get the most out of the Google Merchant Center. You do not need to do everything written here, but it will help your business eventually.
1. Attribute Extension:
Though you have predefined attributes in your Google Sheets, there is no limitation whatsoever. Based on the ads you are working on, you might need to add extra columns in the sheet. It can be something specific that your potential customers might want to know about the product. It can include columns like “age range”, “size”, etc. There is a possibility to include some of the more crucial features in the title column. However, please do not go overboard with the level of detail or else the users may feel overwhelmed.
Sheet arrangement to make it scalable in the future is a good idea for the business. Hence, it is best to organize and clean your sheets before importing them to Google Merchant Center. This will improve the chances of scalability when the need arises.
3. Include GTINs:
Global Trade Item Numbers, commonly known as GTINs are important for all Google Shopping products, else you may face some issues in your Google Merchant Center account. More often than not, GTINs are located next to the barcode of the product packaging.
We hope you have found everything that you need to know about the Google Merchant Center. It is a crucial tool that will enable the users to find more details about your products. Moreover, they will find it quickly and in more places. It is best to optimize the Google Merchant Center to make the best use of it. What do you think about merging your Google Ads with Google Merchant Center? Do you have any doubts? Let us know in the comments below.
Dhruvil is a marketer for Nimblechapps, an app development solutions company joining December 2014, based out of Sydney, Australia. He has worked briefly as a Branding and Digital Marketing Manager before moving to Australia. At Nimblechapps, he worked on Social Media Marketing, Branding, Email Marketing and Blogging. Dhruvil studies Business at University of Western Sydney, and also handles Operations for the company in Australia.