Boss Lady

Google Shopping Ads: How retail businesses can get started with them


This short guide outlines how retail business can implement Google Shopping Ads to expand their market and increase their sales.

Many of us dream of making our fortune online, perhaps with an eCommerce store. In the grand scheme of making millions, the store creation is the easy part, driving traffic to the store is a lot trickier. In the world of eCommerce, the quote “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t usually equate. If you build it without promoting it, nobody will know it even exists!

Google Shopping Ads: overview

There are several ways to promote an online store, you can use social media, you can use great content and you can try and climb the Google rankings. However, the most direct way to get people to your store and to view your products is to use Google Shopping Ads.

Google Shopping Ads are those images at the top of search results that normally have a price and often a rating. Shopping ads are just for eCommerce – so you will need to link the ad to a page with a product and the ability to purchase it!

Google Shopping Ads are effective, because firstly, they are displayed at the top of the search results, but also, they contain all the basic information that searchers are looking for. The name of the product to confirm it’s what a user is looking for, the price and a review-rating. You can see all the main things that you might be interested in as a consumer, at a glance.

Before you start with Google Shopping Ads, make sure that your online store has a contact us page that displays your address, email and phone number. If you don’t want people ringing your house or place of work, consider hiring a phone answering service like Moneypenny to cover any inquiries. You will also need to display your returns policy somewhere on your site too.

The good news about Google Shopping Ads is that you can get started for free. They now offer “Google Surfaces” which you can enrol in and display your product with, for free (at the time of writing). There is one technical part of setting up Google Shopping Ads – verifying your website. If you don’t have Goole Analytics or Tag Manager setup on your store, you may have to add some code to a webpage on your site.

Sign uto Google Ads & Merchant Center 

To get started, you will need a Google account and you will need to sign up for both Google Ads and Google Merchant Center.

  • First thing you need to do is go to Google’s Merchant Center website and create an account. The signup process is pretty straightforward, just enter your location, a display name for the business (you can change this at a later date), and choose your timezone.
  • On the next page, you’ll need to subscribe or unsubscribe to the emails that Google wants to send you about optimizing your campaigns, and you should read the terms and conditions. When happy, click “Continue”.
  • On the third page, you will be asked to choose the programs you want to use. To get started it’s probably best to tick/choose “Surfaces across Google” (it’s free) and “Shopping Ads” and then click “Continue” at the bottom and then “Create Account”. On the Merchant Center homepage, click “Continue” next to the Setup surfaces across Google heading. To begin with, scroll down to near the bottom so that you can see “Provide your website URL”.
  • Click that text and add your website / online store’s URL and click “Save”. You will now have to verify that you own the store. To do this you will need to either access Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager or the ‘backend’ of your store so that you can add a code snippet to it. There is a great video from Google themselves on how to verify your website. Failing that, you can always hire someone to help you do this part, from PeoplePerHour or Upwork.
  • Once you have verified and claimed your website, go back to the “Product and business information” page and click on the “Shipping (optional)” link. Although this part is optional, the more information we give to Google the better. Click the big blue and white plus icon (+) and fill in the information such as your location and the delivery times. The order cutoff time relates to the latest time in the day, that you will process and send out orders. For example, if you offer next day delivery, do people have to order before a specific time to get the product the next day?
  • Add the shipping rates – if you charge for shipping. If you charge different rates for different delivery times, then give each shipping option a different name. once you are done, click “Save” and you should go back to the “Product and business information” page.
  • Next setup up tax, if you are in the US, Google will pretty much automate the process for you with a few clicks. If you are elsewhere in the world, just follow the instructions and fill in the details. Remember that this part is optional, but will make things easier if you are filing your accounts.

Click “Save” when you are done, and now comes the tricky part! The Feed…


Feeds are now a lot easier! They used to take days or even weeks to fill in for large eCommerce websites.

  • Near the bottom right, click on the box and the text – “CREATE PRODUCT FEED” Select your country of sale, language and  check “surfaces across Google”.
  • On the next section click “Website Crawl” – this will allow Google to look at each page on your website and add products to the feed automatically.

If you are not happy with the products that are inputted into the Merchant Center, then you the second easiest way to add in bulk is to use a Google Sheets feed, or add individual products by clicking the big blue and white plus (+) symbol.

The feed is usually just a spreadsheet, containing the specific product data that Google wants to see and interpret. There are required feeds that you have to have, and other recommended feed items that aren’t required but should ideally, all be filled in if possible. Your feed data is a huge part of what Google is examining when it chooses which ads to show to which people.

Linking Google Shopping Ads with Google Merchant Center 

If you want to set up Google Shopping Ads as well as “Google Surfaces” then you will need to go back to the homepage of Merchant Center, click on the Google Shopping Ads option and link Google Merchant Center with Google Ads.

Go to Google Ads homepage and sign up. When signing up, I would look at near the bottom of the screen for the option to “Switch to Expert Mode” – this gives you much more control over your ads. On the next page which asks for your goal, again my advice would be to look for the text near the bottom which says “Create an account without a campaign” and click it. Fill in your details and click “submit” on the next page and then “Explore Account”.

Now you’ve created the Google Ads account, go back to Google Merchant Center, go to the Setup Shopping Ads option, click “Continue” and scroll down to where it says “Link your account” and then click “LINK”. Now – go back to Google Ads, there should be a notification near the bell icon on the top right, click this, look for link requests and click “View”, “View details” and then “approve”.

Create a Google Shopping Ads Campaign 

Go to Google Ads, click “campaigns” and then click the big blue and white plus (+) symbol. Leave the first ‘box’ at the top to “Create a campaign without Google’s guidance” (they’ll always upsell you on everything possible) and scroll down and click “Shopping” for campaign type and then leave the option below this as “standard shopping campaign” and scroll down.

Name the campaign – e.g. “Test Campaign”, then under “Bidding” I would recommend leaving or changing this to “Manual CPC” to begin with and “optimize for conversions”. Give your campaign a daily budget. Bear in mind that Google may go over this by quite a bit!

Under targeting, I would recommend unticking both “Search Network” and “Youtube, Gmail and Discover”, at least to begin with.

Select locations and add a start and end date. On the next page, select “Product Shopping”. Showcase shopping is also effective, so it might be worth copying this campaign but selecting “Showcase Shopping” at this point.

Add your bid – start low and then you can also increase it. Start with pennies/cents if possible. Click Save and you are done!

Few! In the reporting section of Google Ads, “Max CPC” relates to the maximum bid you have just set, “Impressions” is how many times your ad has been displayed and “Cost/All Conv” is how much you spend on ads for each sale.

Smart shopping

Automation is something that Google is pushing across text ads and shopping ads. This makes sense for people who are not trained in the intricacies of Google platforms and want to still use their advertising services. You can get started quickly with Smart Shopping, just give Google a budget, you can also give them a ‘ROAS goal’ – i.e. the Return on Ad Spend that you expect. With these 2 pieces of information,

Google will decide where to show your ads e.g. Google search results, Youtube, Google image searches, Gmail; to what users/audiences, which devices and at what times of the day. The more data you have, in theory, the better Smart Shopping will perform. So if it starts slowly, it is likely that Smart Shopping campaigns will improve as time goes on. Google Shopping Ads take time to setup and take a lot of tweaking and optimizing to begin with, but are usually relatively easy to maintain once you have found a profitable ‘system’.

About Janine Lucas'