Google Shopping averages around 1.2 billion searches each month. As a juggernaut in the industry, Google sees more activity than most websites see in their lifetime. Thanks to the advertising revenue of its parent company, Alphabet, which reached $69.6 billion in the second quarter of 2022, Google is stronger than ever. This represents a massive opportunity for sellers to significantly increase the exposure of their products on search engine results pages (SERPs).
However, since lots of retailers compete to win as many customers as they can, it can be challenging to stand out among such a large number of sellers and advertisers. To get higher sales, you need to optimize your product listing by following certain steps.
The first and arguably the most important step is to optimize your product images. That’s because product photos are one of the key factors in getting more conversions and making more money. Product visuals are crucial aspects of a great online shopping experience.
Since Google Shopping uses the featured images from your own eCommerce site or online store, you need to ensure that those product images are fully optimized for search.
In this article, we are going to share with you 8 best practices to optimize your product photos for Google Shopping. We’ll also touch upon the importance of Google Shopping images and Google’s requirements for product photos.
Why are Google Shopping images important?
When shopping online, your product images are often the only way customers can decide if they want to purchase a product or not.
Images are even more important on Google Shopping as it is the most visible part of a product listing. You would notice that product images are often the largest part of the advert on Google Shopping. This means that the product images are the first things customers spot, even ahead of the product price.
Product images are therefore crucial in helping customers form the first impression of your product and subsequently your brand. Since customers rely heavily on product imagery, you need to make sure they are well-optimized and visually appealing.
Optimizing images for Google Shopping can greatly benefit your business and help drive more qualified traffic to your website. Let’s look at a few reasons why image optimization is important for Google Shopping:
Improved visibility: Optimized images are more likely to appear in Google Shopping search results, increasing the chances that potential customers will discover your products.
Increased credibility: High-quality product images can help establish trust and credibility with customers, leading to higher conversion rates.
Enhanced user experience: Properly optimized images can load faster and be displayed more clearly, resulting in a better overall user experience.
Greater competitiveness: By optimizing your images, you can stand out among the competition and attract more customers to your products.
Increased sales and revenue: Ultimately, image optimization can lead to increased sales and revenue for your business. By improving visibility, credibility, and user experience, you can drive more qualified traffic to your website and convert more visitors into paying customers.
What are the product photo requirements for Google?
Let's look at the specific image requirements that you need to fulfill to list your products on Google Shopping. Ensure that your images meet these requirements before you optimize further.
Images that are too big or too small will receive an error message on your Google Merchant Center account. This will stop your products from being listed. Follow the image size guidelines that Google provides:
- At least 100x100 pixels (for non-apparel images)
- At least 250x250 pixels (for apparel images)
- Not larger than 64 megapixels
- Not larger than 16 MB
Google only accepts the following formats:
- JPEG (.jpg/.jpeg)
- WebP (.webp)
- PNG (.png)
- BMP (.bmp)
- TIFF (.tif/.tiff)
- Non-animated GIF (.gif)
Image URL formats
Since Google will look at images and their links using crawlers and an algorithm, it’s essential to get the URL right. To fulfill the requirements of Google's algorithm, the URL needs to abide by the following rules.
- Begin with http or https
- Lead to an image in supported file formats
- Change symbols and spaces with URL-encoded entities
- Be in line with RFC 3986 or RFC 2396 or RFC 1738
To ensure that your product images are of high quality and to avoid any listing issues, it is important to set up your robots.txt file correctly. This will allow Google's crawlers to examine your images regularly.
The most common product crawl errors that merchants encounter include incorrect URLs that lead to 404 pages, URLs with invalid characters, and URLs that are blocked by the server's robot.txt.
By properly configuring your robots.txt file, you can prevent these issues and ensure that your product images are properly indexed by Google.
When it comes to the actual image content, your images need to accurately showcase the product you are selling. This is especially true for items having multiple variants and colors.
While you may be tempted to use Instagram-worthy staged product images and flat-lay images, it's important to keep the primary image as close to the real thing as possible. Google states that the primary image should display the entire product and there should be little to no staging.
Note: Google further suggests - “If you're planning to upload an image of a product in its original packaging, make sure that the image clearly displays multidimensional product packaging and not just the front of the packaging.”
Moreover, the images should be devoid of any promotional content regarding the product.
In case your primary product comes along with other items, you'll need to display all these images and use the bundle attribute (is_bundle).
Except for the following two exceptions, placeholder images are not allowed:
In the Hardware or Vehicle & Parts categories, illustrations are allowed where necessary.
For the Paint category, single-color images are accepted.
8 best practices for Google product photos
Wondering why your Google Shopping campaign isn't getting the desired results despite following all the image requirements?
While following the image guidelines set by Google is essential for getting your product listed, it does not ensure higher sales. It is the bare minimum you need to get listed on Google Shopping.
To truly stand out among your competitors and boost sales, you need to optimize your images further. Here are some expert tips and best practices to transform your product photos from bland to grand.
1. Use high-quality images
Using high-quality images for your product listings is the first and most important step. These images not only build trust with your customers but also convey a story about your brand and services.
The better the quality of the product image, the more likely a potential lead would turn into a loyal customer.
To get these high-quality images, either hire a professional photographer to do the job or use a high-resolution camera. You can also take the help of certain apps or software to enhance the quality of your product photos.
Another thing to keep in mind is to be consistent with your product photos. No matter which solution you use for product photography, ensure that all the product images in your feed are of the same size and quality.
Keeping a consistent look across your product catalog is essential to give a professional look to your online store while offering customers a pleasant shopping experience.
2. Use multiple images
For each listing, Google allows you to upload up to 10 additional photos. While the primary image should be as clear and simple as possible, you can use the secondary images to:
Showcase your product from different angles
Show the product in use through lifestyle images
Give a better view of the product through close-up shots
These additional images can be submitted with the [additional_image_link] attribute.
3. Use the right images
Although it may seem like a simple task, it is crucial to ensure that the images you use for your products on Google Shopping match the title and description of your listings. This includes factors such as pattern, color, material, and customization (if applicable).
Having consistent and accurate images is essential for a successful Google Shopping experience.
When you have multiple variants for a single product, it's easy to mistake product images among those variants. So, as a best practice, review your product information frequently to avoid using any wrongly placed pictures.
4. Make your product the focus
As a best practice, ensure that your main product takes up 75-90% of space on the full image. This means that the actual product would take up the most space.
If the product is too small or too big, it won't look impressive. So, you need to frame wisely.
Moreover, at times, your props or backgrounds may overshadow your main product. To avoid such scenarios, always keep the primary image with a solid white or transparent background and remove any clutter or distraction as well.
Having a white background also highlights your product's true color and uplifts the brand image.
5. Conduct A/B testing
There is no better way to find out what works than by conducting A/B tests. In terms of Google Shopping, A/B testing images can help you determine which images are most effective at attracting and converting customers. Try variations of product images, analyze the results, and then make adjustments to improve the performance of your product listing.
Don't be afraid to experiment and continuously optimize your Google Shopping images until the performance improves significantly.
The more you test, the easier you'll find it to understand what works and what doesn't.
6. Show a single unit of the product
It is generally recommended to show only a single unit of the product in your product listing on Google Shopping. This can help avoid confusion for potential customers and ensure that they have a clear understanding of what they will be receiving if they make a purchase.
By showing a single unit of the product, you can also avoid any potential misunderstandings about the quantity of the product that is being sold. This can help reduce the risk of customer dissatisfaction and ensure that your product listings are as clear and accurate as possible.
Overall, showing a single unit of the product in your product listing can help improve the clarity and effectiveness of your listing, leading to a better experience for your customers.
7. Don’t use scaled-up images or thumbnails
It is generally recommended not to use a scaled-up image or thumbnail as the main product image on your Google Shopping listing. This is because using a scaled-up image or thumbnail can result in a low-quality or distorted image that may not accurately represent the product.
Using a low-quality or distorted image can further lead to a poor customer experience and may result in lower conversion rates. Customers are more likely to make a purchase if they have a clear and accurate understanding of what they are buying and therefore it’s recommended to only use high-quality images that accurately represent the product.
This improves the effectiveness of your product listing and increases the chances of potential customers making a purchase.
8. File names & alternate text
When it comes to optimizing your images for search engines, categorizing them with relevant file names and alternate text is crucial. This helps to ensure that your images are correctly indexed and can be easily searched based on relevant keywords.
By utilizing appropriate file names and alternate text, you can make your images more discoverable and increase the chances of them appearing in relevant search results. This not only improves the user experience for your customers but also enhances the overall visibility and credibility of your business. Incorporating this practice into your image optimization strategy is an effective way to enhance the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website and improve your online presence.
So, always remember to categorize your images with appropriate file names and alternate text to ensure that they are properly indexed and easily discoverable by your target audience.
Optimizing product photos for Google Shopping is a critical aspect of any eCommerce strategy. By adhering to Google's image guidelines and implementing the best practices we have outlined in this article, such as utilizing high-quality, full-size images, featuring a single product unit, and avoiding scaled-up images or thumbnails, you can significantly improve the effectiveness of your product listings and increase your likelihood of closing sales.
Optimizing your product photos for Google Shopping is a crucial step towards achieving eCommerce success. By following the best practices outlined in this article, you can optimize your product images, stand out in search results, and ultimately drive more sales on the world's largest online marketplace.