Updated July 30, 2020, 12:16 pm
A new version of Google Shopping has arrived, and while it hasn’t been rolled out everywhere quite yet, it should be available in the US and Canada in a matter of days, and globally by year’s end. By offering this feature to all merchants, Google will be increasing its appeal to consumers and sellers alike.
Formerly known as Product Listing Ads, Google Shopping has been around for 8 years now, and it allows customers to search for, view, and compare products. Users will type in their search terms as usual, and product results will appear under the Shopping tab, with most results now consisting of free product listings.
Google has made this decision at a time when many brick and mortar retailers have had to close their doors due to the current coronavirus crisis, highlighting the importance of having an e-commerce strategy. In a recent blog post, Google’s President of Commerce, Bill Ready, noted that the pandemic was the driving factor in Google “advancing our plans to make (Google Shopping) free for merchants.”
The change will be permanent, and according to Ready, it will offer merchants “free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs.” The move benefits shoppers by offering “more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab.” Ready continued by adding, “for advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings.”
By opening to all merchants, Google not only creates an attractive offering for sellers and consumers, but they also position themselves to better compete with Amazon, which continues to make gains in both advertising and product search. Their previous approach of limiting results in Google Shopping to retailers willing to pay had left Google at a disadvantage.
With more products appearing in search results creating greater competition, retailers that wish to feature more prominently in search can continue to pay for ads. This will result in a new consideration in organic product search optimization for SEOs and e-commerce marketers.
How Will it Work?
Google will feature paid shopping ads at the top and bottom of the page when the Google Shopping tab is selected, though Google may experiment with the layout in the future. There will be no change to the main Google Search page, with the carousels of product listing ads continuing to consist exclusively of ads.
As with ads, the free listings will be driven by data feeds that are uploaded to Google Merchant Center, which has been open to all retailers for a little over a year. A Google Merchant Center account will be required to upload a product feed.
A section titled “Popular Products” has begun to show organic product listings.
Google has also announced a new partnership with PayPal, allowing merchants to use PayPal to link their accounts to Google Merchant Center. This will allow Google faster access to seller details and easy verification of trusted merchants.