According to McKinsey e-commerce has been 10 years’ growth in 3 months during COVID-19.
This has led Google to enter the online shopping industry head-on, going head-to-head with giant Amazon. To challenge Amazon, Google presents itself as a cheaper, less restrictive option for independent sellers. And it is focusing on driving traffic to sellers’ sites, not selling its version of products, as Amazon does. To increase its ability to sell products, Google has launched a series of updates, also aimed at helping small businesses gain visibility for their products.
We’re advancing our plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google. Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.
With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online. Bill Ready – President, Commerce (April 2020)
It is a great innovation. This new approach marks the overcoming of the pay-to-play model of Google. Before selling products on Google, you had to invest money and put in so much effort that small businesses could not appear on Google. With the free listing, Google allows everyone to sell their products on Google property.
Product data on Google
Typically, you’d only share product data for products you wanted to promote on Google services. This changed in 2020 with the introduction of several free offerings. First, it is free to participate in the Google Shopping tab. So your products can be listed for free increasing the exposure of your product to shoppers.
In addition, product data from Google Merchant Center is also fed into organic search. This helps Google present your products more accurately to shoppers in organic search. It means that now it makes sense for you to provide all your product data to Google rather than just a selected subset.
Google extracts a lot of information directly from web pages, so why is product data different? Product data needs to be accurate. Extracting information from web pages can be less reliable. Using structured data is one way to make sure Google correctly understands all product details you are providing on a web page.
How Products Can Appear On Google After Updates
Here is how Google, on its various surfaces, is improving the presentation of products with special features.
In Google Search product pages are enriched with:
- stock level
- pricing brackets
- breadcrumbs (these are helpful to present the structure of your offer to the end-user).
Also in Google Image Search product information are used and include:
- a product badge on the image (that inform the user that that product can be purchased),
- stock availability
- website url
When on the Google Shopping tab, also additional information is displayed and this might include:
- local availability (if the product is available on a nearby shop)
- a link to a comparison of similar products
- the brand
In Google Maps, when we’re sharing where our inventory is located, we can also help users see the products that are available in nearby shops. This is a new feature that is transforming the SERP and adding a lot more competition to online e-commerce.
Google Lens uses image structured data properties where available.
Read our article and learn how to optimize your content for Google Lens to get more organic traffic and visibility for your products.
What is Google Shopping Graph?
“Building on the Knowledge Graph, the Shopping Graph brings together information from websites, pricing, reviews, videos and, most importantly, product data we receive directly from brands and retailers,” said Billy Ready. The AI-enhanced model works in real-time and shows users relevant listings as they shop on Google.
Similar to Google’s Knowledge Graph, the Shopping Graph links information about entities and influences what may appear in search results. What’s different is that Knowledge Graph information comes from various sources and is not submitted directly to Google. Here you can offer product information to Google via the Merchant Center or Manufacturer Center.
Google Shopping Graph is growing. Billy Ready said, “We’ve seen a 70% increase in the size of our product catalog and an 80% increase in merchants on our platform”.
How Do You Get Your Products Into Google’s Shopping Graph?
To increase the sales for both your E-Commerce website and/or local retail shops, your goal is to help Google understand the products that you’re selling. We can do this by providing accurate product data using both push and pull strategies:
- Push: we feed product data using Google Merchant Center.
- Pull: we let Google crawl the structured data on our webpages.
Google is using this data to present products to end-users using special formatting on Google Search, Google Image Search, Google Maps, and now Google Lens. The aim of Google is to guide the consumer throughout his/her journey in making informative purchasing decisions. In the context of Google Search, product data is also aggregated into product knowledge panels that are designed to provide shoppers with an eye-bird overview of all the characteristics, how-tos, pricing details, and reviews.
Google stores all of this data in its Shopping Graph made of 2.4 billion products and constantly evolves how data is used on its various surfaces to be more relevant for the end-user.
Learn more about how to get product data into Google Shopping Graph, by watching the video.
Data synchronization is essential. A lack of it can create confusion and risk your products not ranking well on Google for one or more specific queries.
So you must make sure where your product information is coming from and make sure you’re using Merchant Feed for structured data. We go from there to enrich it with information that Google will appreciate.
On some occasions, you’ll have to make strategic choices about updating your data, deciding to put some information only on your website or only in the Merchant Feed. An example of this is the “in stock” value. As with other values that can change often, it is more beneficial to keep the information only on one side to avoid discrepancies or differences in updates that can negatively affect listing on Google.
A unique product identifier (UPI) is a number or code that uniquely identifies the product in the eyes of the customer. A UPI helps us identify a specific type of product or a color variation for that product worldwide.
As of 2018, UPIs became mandatory to list products in Google Merchant Feed. But the real change happened in 2021 when unique product identifiers became mandatory for free listening on Google.
Google said that “different products using the same GTIN with the same variant attributes will be considered ambiguous and will be disapproved.” Additionally, Google said that “if a group of products is identified as duplicates, only one will remain active and eligible to show in free listings.”
Adding structured data to your product page, you will be sure to have UPIs for each product you want to sell.
With WordLift, you can add structured data to your product feed, improving your visibility on search engines and Google Shopping. We inject structured data into your catalog and manage it automatically and at scale. Give us access to your source data from your product management system, Google Merchant Feed, or both. We’ll do the rest.
How Google Uses Structured Data And Google Merchant Center Data
The following are examples of how Google uses structured data embedded in web pages and Google Merchant Center data for different experiences. Note that experiences may vary by country, device, and other factors.
Best Practices For Ecommerce Sites In Google Search
A critical aspect of growing your online business is getting discovered in the search, and Google can help shoppers with this during their buying journey.
For this, Google provides you with these best practices that can help you. When you share data about your products, Google can more easily find and analyze your content, giving you the ability to appear in Google Search and other Google spaces. This allows your online shop to have excellent visibility and be found more easily by users searching for products or services like your company’s.
Google Duplex is the new technology developed by Google to automate certain tasks, such as booking a table at a restaurant, booking a flight, or speeding up your customers’ shopping experience. Learn how to use Google Duplex for e-commerce, check out our latest web story.
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