Whether you’re new to the ecommerce world or a seasoned veteran, Google Merchant Center can be an essential tool for promoting and selling your products online. Understanding how to use this free platform effectively can help drive traffic, attract new customers, and boost sales.
Navigating this platform and optimizing your profile is the key to success. In this article, we’ll explore exactly what it is and how it works, and explore the benefits of using it for your online business.
I’ve also gathered up five expert tips to help you get the most out of your Google Merchant Center account.
What Is Google Merchant Center?
Google Merchant Center is an online tool that enables businesses to upload product information and make it available to potential customers. By using Google Merchant Center, businesses can create product listings that will appear across Google services including Google Shopping, Google Search, and even YouTube.
The Merchant Center acts as a hub for all your business and product information. Google then uses this information to populate search results automatically. You can also use the information in the Google Ad Manager to create targeted paid ad campaigns.
How Does Google Merchant Center Work?
When you sign up to Google Merchant Center, you’ll be able to create unique product listings for everything you sell, that can then appear on various Google Platforms. You can create an account using an existing Google account, such as a Gmail or Google My Business account.
Once you’ve signed up, you'll upload product information. Google Merchant Center links with many ecommerce platforms, to make uploading quicker. You can also upload your products manually, either one-by-one or with a spreadsheet.
You’ll need to provide Google with all possible information about your products – title, description, images, prices, and availability. Google will review your product data for accuracy and to ensure it meets the guidelines and policies.
After the products have been approved, Google will use the information to automatically display your products across Google services for free. This includes search engine results, Google Shopping, Images, Maps, and even YouTube (with paid listings).
The Benefits of Google Merchant Center
Google Merchant Center is a powerful tool for showcasing your products and reaching a global audience. Its benefits include:
- Increased visibility: Google is one of the world’s most visited websites. Having access to an array of Google platforms allows you to be seen by thousands of people. You can attract new buyers and grow your customer base.
- Simple integration: Google Merchant Center makes it easy to streamline your marketing process. By only having to upload information once to use across the Google tools, you’ll save time and ensure information is accurate and always up to date.
- Customer trust: Having products listed on Google can help give your business credibility and authority, especially if you enable customer reviews.
- Cost-effectiveness: Creating a Google Merchant Center account and listing products to appear in Google Shopping results is completely free. If you’re not taking advantage of this marketing method, you’re missing out.
How Much Does It Cost to Use Google Merchant Center?
Google Merchant Center is completely free to set up and use. You can upload all your products without paying a cent. These free listings are then used to populate search results, including shopping, images, and maps.
However, you can also use Google Merchant Center to create and run paid listings. These allow your products to appear at the top of search results for better visibility. Google uses two main payment models for these ads:
- Cost-per-click (CPC): You pay every time someone clicks on your ad
- Cost-per-engagement (CPE): You pay any time someone expands an ad and engages with it for more than ten seconds
5 Tips for Using Google Merchant Center
1. Optimize Your Product Feed
As with any online search, ensuring your product descriptions are search engine optimized (SEO) is important. SEO determines how your products appear in organic searches. Good SEO can help shoot your listings straight to the top, while bad SEO may mean your listings don’t appear at all.
There are a lot of elements to SEO, but for your product listings the most important thing is to make sure the information is up to date and clear. This includes pricing, availability, and, if relevant, location. Any information you provide needs to match what’s listed on your website, or Google may delist it.
Also, because product titles are sometimes truncated, especially on mobile, make sure to include key details at the front of your title. Use strong and specific keywords to help Google accurately index your products. For example, if you are selling sandals, your listing should be as specific as possible – i.e. “women’s maroon wedge sandals.”
2. Use High-Quality Images
Google Shopping is largely a visual experience, so it’s crucial to have the best possible images of your products. They are the first thing your potential customers will see and form an opinion about. In fact, Google has tight criteria when it comes to product images and will reject images until they meet minimum standards.
For starters, images need to be high resolution. Also, don’t use a placeholder image or an image with promotional materials or visible watermarks. Specifically, Google recommends images:
- Have light or white backgrounds
- Accurately display the entire product or bundle
- Are at least 1500x1500 pixels
- Show the product at the correct scale (the product should take up between 75-90% of the space)
- Show a single unit
3. Add Reviews to Your Products
Having social proof to back up your products and business is essential for cutting through the competition – especially on Google. One way to easily add social proof is with customer reviews.
While it may be a challenge when you’re first starting out, encourage your customers to leave reviews to help boost your credibility. Customer reviews show potential customers why they should buy from you and help them gain confidence in your products. You can add reviews to your product listings in a number of ways.
The easiest is to use Google Customer Reviews, which is a free Merchant Center service that enables you to get feedback from customers who purchase from your site. It presents customers with a short survey they can opt-in to after checkout and then aggregates the results.
This becomes the Seller Ratings and Product Ratings, which appear under your Google listings in search results. If you don’t use Google Customer Reviews, Google can also pull from specific third-party review sites like Trustpilot. You can also submit reviews yourself through the Merchant Center, which can then be added to your seller profile.
4. Leverage Promotions
Promotions are another free feature available in your Merchant account. They allow you to easily add unique offers and digital coupons to your free and paid Google Shopping listings. This gives you a competitive advantage over other listings, when shoppers are searching for products.
Promotions help you drive more traffic to your site. They also present urgency to give customers a reason to make the sale quickly. To be eligible, promotions must be available to all customers (things like military discounts or discounts for loyalty members aren’t allowed), expire within six months, and comply with Google’s policies. Promotion types include:
- Discounts: percent off, buy one get one free/reduced price, or cash back
- Free gifts: a free item or gift card with the specific value noted
- Shipping deals: free or discounted shipping pricing.
Promotions are currently only available in select regions including the US, UK, parts of Europe, Australia, and India. However, Google has said it’s working to expand this feature across the globe.
5. Monitor Your Product Performance
As with any marketing efforts, it’s important to track your performance and results. Doing so allows you to understand exactly what’s working and what’s not, so you adjust course as needed.
Your Merchant Center dashboard provides valuable performance data that can help you identify areas for improvement. Through the dashboard you’re able to monitor click-through-rate, conversion rate, and more to get a better understanding of how your products are performing – both overall and individually.
With this data, you can adjust your product information and determine the best marketing strategies moving forward. Knowing what products perform best may also help you better allocate a paid advertising budget or figure out which products are most in demand.
The Best Way to Accept Online Payments
Providing a fast and secure checkout process is crucial for your ecommerce success. The best way to provide top-notch service is with Pay.com, a payment service provider that gives you the flexibility to scale up and grow.
You can use our API to embed hosted payment fields in your existing website or app. Your customers will enjoy a customized checkout experience that matches the look and feel of the rest of your website.
Pay.com takes care of security for you by maintaining Level 1 PCI DSS compliance (the highest level), to help protect your customers’ sensitive information. Additionally, we support advanced security measures like tokenization and multi-factor authentication through 3D Secure 2.0, to help ease the risk of fraudulent activity.
With Pay.com, you’ll gain access to the user-friendly Pay Dashboard. Here, you can easily track your transactions, get detailed customer analytics, and pull reports to help you stay on top of your sales records.
The Bottom Line
Google Merchant Center is an incredibly valuable tool for any business that sells products online. It’s a great marketing avenue for any business, big or small. Best of all, because it’s free to create a product feed, there is no reason not to use it!
By creating an up-to-date and accurate product feed, you’ll increase visibility across organic search results. This helps boost traffic to your site, attract new customers, and drive more sales. It’s also important if you plan on using ads to target specific customers through search.
However your customers find you, you’ll want to ensure a smooth customer experience, from start to finish. Pay.com can help with that! You can accept a wide variety of payment methods to reduce checkout friction and cart abandonment rate.