Google Shopping Ads are often referred to as “Google Product Listing Ads,” possibly because that's what they are – product listings that appear at the top of Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

With a range of powerful yet easy to use eCommerce platforms now available like Shopify and WooCommerce, more and more people are setting up their online stores and running them from their spare room.

Today we will look at the setup process using WooCommerce on a WordPress website.

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If you want to drive sales fast and don't have months (possibly years) to work out your SEO campaigns, then product listing ads on google may well be the answer.

While it's virtually impossible to compete with big brands on many of the leading commercial terms for eCommerce products like trainers, google product listing ads can put you right in the mix.

Now, we will take you through, step by step, from creating your account to putting your ads live.

Before you start, make sure that you have a page that features your company's contact details, including a telephone number (it might be a good idea to invest in a phone answering service if you are working from home) and a returns policy. 

Please note that the guide will take you through launching your google product listing ads campaigns and also provide a briefly overview of the e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics.

Setup Google Product Listing Ads

Let's get started.. 

Start Off with Some Research

Before you start, be assured that google product listing ads will likely prove profitable for you and your business.

If, for example, you make $5 of profit per sale of boxing gloves, then you probably don't want to pay more than $5 per click for your product listing ads on google! You could also look into the “lifetime value” of a customer and your website's conversion rate to come up with some more specific forecasts and projections.

Use a keyword planner or a similar tool such as Ubersuggest to see how much the average cost per click is on relevant search terms. This will give you some idea as to how competitive shopping ads will be on specific SERPs.  

Keyword research is an essential part of your planning. You could begin by asking people what they might search for if they were looking to purchase a specific product. You can also search for relevant terms and scroll to the bottom of the SERPs to look at related searches:

Before you start, make sure that Google Shopping Ads are likely to prove profitable for you and your business.

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You can also take your main search term, for example, “sneakers UK” and add the letters A-Z at the end of the term. This should generate a number of predicted-searches: 

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Once you know what search terms you want to target, move onto the next stage!

Optimize Your Store’s Images

Before we delve into google product listing ads and the setup process, make sure that your images are very high quality – but ensure that they are also optimized for site speed so that you don't damage your site's general user experience.

You can use WordPress plugins such as Smushit to compress images or use a CDN such as Cloudinary.

Sign Up to Google Ads & Google Merchant

Assuming that you have already created your online store, the next step is to sign up and create the necessary Google accounts.

Navigate to Google Ads and then click on the “start now” button. If you haven't got a Google account, you can create one here. Follow the steps to enter your information until the process is complete. Be sure to double-check that Google doesn't put any ads live for you yet, though!

Once you have your Google product listing ads account sorted out, you will need to go over to the Google Merchant Center and sign up – the process is pretty similar.

Create Your Data Feed

Ah, the data feed. This is an immense pain when it comes to setting up product listing ads on google. If you don't fancy doing the feed yourself (I wouldn't blame you), then you can hire someone for a one-off cost on websites such as Peopleperhour.

If you haven't already – you may want to backup your site before installing any plugins. For this example, we'll be using the aptly named “WooCommerce Data Feed plugin“.

Once it has been installed, it should appear on the left-hand side-menu in your dashboard (/wp-admin) area. 

Hover over the menu item to launch the side-menu, then click on “Add New Feed.”

Give your feed a catchy name that describes what it's for. E.g .,” Running Sneakers Feed” and choose if you want one feed for the entire site or one for each category of product that you're selling.

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You can create separate feeds by using tags and categories to group similar products. If you choose “Category Filter,” another menu will appear, allowing you to check the ones you want to use in this feed.

Next, you need to go through and select the feed configuration options. Here you will want to choose “Google Shopping” from the drop-down menu.

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The plugin should now be able to sync up all of your products and generate the data feed to be used in the Google Merchant Center. You may have to add some additional attributes or delete some by clicking the red trash icon to the right of the rows of attributes.

Once you are confident the data feed contains everything you want to advertise, press the publish button near the screen's top right.

Add Your Data Feed to Google Merchant Center

After the feed is published, you can copy the feed URL easily.

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The feed of your google product listing ads should resemble the layout below and look something like this:

http://nice-mma.com/wp-content/uploads/rex-feed/feed-4651.xml

Copy your feed URL and in a new tab, go to Google Merchant Center.

Log in and click on “Feeds” on the left-hand side menu. Then click the addition sign “+” in the blue circle:

The feed should resemble the layout below and look something like this:

http://nice-mma.com/wp-content/uploads/rex-feed/feed-4651.xml

Copy your feed URL and in a new tab, go to Google Merchant Center.

Log in and click on “Feeds” on the left-hand side menu. Then click the addition sign “+” in the blue circle:

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Next, you need to fill in your business information, and then, in the “Name and Input Method” section, you need to name the feed.

In the example below, I have named the feed “Demo 1,” – but in reality, this should be a lot more descriptive – “MMA T-shirts Feed,” for example.

I've set the fetch frequency to “Daily” and pasted in the feed URL that I copied from the dashboard area of my site.

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When prompted – click “Fetch Now” to load the data feed information into Google Merchant Center.

Google Merchant Center should now be good to go! There's just the little job left of creating a campaign back in Google Ads.

Create a Shopping Campaign in Google Ads

There are several different options and different ways to create product listing ads on google ; in this guide, we will go through the generic steps – you are advised to research which options and choices in terms of the settings and setup will best suit your business. 

Split testing everything is generally the best way to find out, though!

Login to Google Ads and click on “campaigns” on the left-hand side menu. Now click the add button in the blue circle to create a new campaign.

To present with some boxes, can Click “Sales” and then “Shopping.” Next, choose “Standard Shopping Campaign.”

On the next screen, give your campaign a name and choose “manual CPC” for the bidding strategy (bidding strategy is something to split the test later).

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Give the campaign a daily budget – bear in mind that Google sometimes goes over the daily budget amount – way over! (but states it will average it out over 30 days).

Save the campaign.

Make sure Google is not signing you up to Display and Youtube adverts by unticking any relevant boxes. Choose “Product Shopping” on the next screen, and next to “bid,” set a maximum amount that you are willing to pay for a click on your google product listing ads.

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Ensure Your Conversion Tracking is Setup

To monitor the performance of your product listing ads on google, you will need to ensure that you have conversion tracking in place. The best way to do this is to use Google Tag Manager and the e-commerce reports in Google Analytics.

To get started with eCommerce tracking, you will need to sign up to Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager and add them to your website. The easiest way to do this is to get your Analytics ‘UA' code and your Tag Manager “GTM” code and add them to your site using plugins.

Get more information on how to install Google Tag Manager on WordPress here

Again, you can hire someone to do this for you on a website like PeoplePerHour or Upwork. Feel free to ask any query!

Frequently Asked Questions

In marketing, PLA stands for “Product Listing Ad,” a format commonly used for displaying product images, prices, and descriptions in online advertising, particularly in e-commerce and retail contexts.

Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) function by retailers providing product feeds containing information like prices and images to Google. Advertisers create PLA campaigns in Google Ads, specifying budgets and targeting. PLAs are triggered by user search queries that match products in the feed. When a match occurs, Google displays the ad with product details. Advertisers are charged per click, and they can optimize campaigns for better performance. PLAs offer a visual way for e-commerce businesses to showcase products in Google search results.

PCA (Product Category Ads) and PLA (Product Listing Ads) differ in their ad format and purpose. PCAs promote entire product categories, making them suitable for broader targeting, while PLAs focus on individual products, ideal for users searching for specific items. PCAs offer a broader overview, while PLAs provide detailed information. Campaign structures vary, with PCAs organized around categories and PLAs focused on individual products or product groups. The choice between the two depends on your marketing objectives and the level of detail you want in your campaigns.

Listing products on Google through Google Merchant Center is free, but advertising those products using Google Ads involves costs based on the CPC model when users click on the ads.