Google recently announced some big news – Google Shopping is now offering free listings!

In a blog post titled “It’s now free to sell on Google”, Google’s President of Commerce, Bill Ready laid out the shape of things to come for Google Shopping in just a few brief paragraphs. In short, Google Shopping is evolving, and those of us who work closely with Google Shopping are very excited.

So what’s changed?

As of next week, retailers selling in the US will be able to list their products for free on searches within the Shopping tab of Google. In order to do this, you’ll still need a Google Merchant Centre account and you’ll still need your products to be active and approved by Google.

These free product listings will only be shown on the Shopping tab – not the regular Search pages – and below the carousel which is reserved for paid Google Shopping listings:

The changes will only be available to US merchants initially, but Google is expanding them out globally over the course of the next 8 months.

How will this affect our Customers?

For customers new to selling on Google Shopping, this means potentially millions of free impressions for their products. And for those already selling on Google Shopping, the ability to augment their current paid campaign activity with free listings.

At Cloud Seller Pro we consider this a positive move for all our customers. Your products will now benefit from gaining free exposure and traffic, which will be visible along-side your paid advertising.

Your Paid Shopping ads will still appear at the top and bottom of the Shopping tab on Google, exactly as they currently appear in the main Search results. The main Google Search page will also not change, with the carousels of product listing ads (PLAs) being reserved for Paid Ads only.

It’s important to remember that free Google Shopping listings will be an extra benefit, not a substitute for a well-managed campaign. We know from over 20 years’ experience in search ads, that a combined organic and paid approach delivers the best results.

Paid versus Free Shopping listings

Even with Google revisiting the roots of free shopping listings from the days of Froogle, Paid advertising will form an integral part of any strategy, one that we have the platform and years of experience in managing hundreds of accounts to deliver.

In “classic” search advertising, organic search is ideal for developing user awareness with a lower financial investment. Paid search ads complement this by delivering targeted traffic for search terms that suggest the user is ready to buy.

This is no different when it comes to Shopping ads, users still search in a similar way, moving from a research phase to purchase. So as with Search ads, free listings should not be a trade off with Paid, rather used to enhance performance. At Cloud Seller Pro, we able to use our platform and experience to create campaign structures and bidding strategies to deliver traffic at all points of the purchase funnel.

But it’s not all about Paid advertising either! The amount of free traffic you receive will depend on your position on the Shopping page. From Google’s other services, we expect free listings will be ranked on product data, seller and product ratings, price, and engagement. Our existing product data cleaning/optimisation services are perfectly placed to improve these metrics and give your shop the edge in organic rankings.

So why have Google made this change?

This development has been part of Google’s long term plan for Shopping, but has been accelerated by the coronavirus crisis in which many retailers with physical stores have been forced to close, increasing the need for them to adopt a faster ecommerce strategy.

“While this presents an opportunity for struggling businesses to reconnect with consumers, many cannot afford to do so at scale,” said Ready. However, this change is not just for the benefit of retailers. Ready continues, “For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab.”

But don’t forget Amazon. Amazon has been growing their share massively in Google Shopping and search advertising over the last two years. You only need to look at Auction Insight data to see the impression share of Amazon’s growth increase year-on-year. This gain in visibility has limited the overall impressions in Google Shopping for a vast number of potential new retailers.

Enabling virtually all online retailers to gain free access to Google Shopping will enhance Google’s offering to both merchants and consumers, and will help Google to win back some of it’s lost dominance.

How are we planning for the future?

From our perspective, the biggest priority is preparing to help our customers capitalise on these opportunities. Our team has over 20+ years of experience with SEO and content optimisation as well as Google advertising campaigns. And we’re confident we have the expertise necessary to work with the new model as it develops.

Cloud Seller Pro has the development and the initiative necessary to balance organic improvement and PPC optimisation to deliver a stronger ROI for our customers. 

We also have an advantage very few agencies do; we have plenty of experience working with Amazon Sponsored Ads as well as Google Shopping. Amazon’s search results are likely to serve as a model for how to incorporate free and paid product listings together in an effective way; we’ll be able to bring our knowledge there to bear.

By already working with many US sellers, who are ready and live across Google Surfaces to start gaining traffic from these new free listings. As soon as these new listings are rolled out to the UK, we will be one step ahead.

Cloud Seller Pro has always looked to improve return in the short-term while building long-term stable platforms for our customers. Adding this new free channel gives us another tool to use to benefit our customers.

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