Back in 2019, Google announced that it would start displaying products from Merchant Center in areas other than Shopping Ads.
The details were unclear until recently when Google announced Surfaces Across Google.
These new areas include Google:
And despite the extra exposure from these added surfaces, Google isn’t charging merchants for this service. There’s good reason for this.
For a while now, Google has been improving its search engine to better cater to shoppers.
When someone searches for “winter coats”, Google wants the search results to collect as many relevant results from as many retailers as possible, so everything the shopper needs to make a purchase is right in front of them.
From Google’s standpoint, this is also a great way to engage businesses that have held back on using Shopping and other paid options. In order to give their users the best possible experience, Google wants to incentivize these companies to at least upload their inventories, even if they’re not ready to launch any paid campaigns.
Of course, this might also be an attempt to pull merchants away from Amazon. Google may soon take a sizable piece out of the ecommerce giant’s pie by making it easier for smaller retailers to rank for the kinds of keywords shoppers use when they’re ready to buy.
Why Surfaces Across Google is a big deal to sellers
Surfaces across Google is a really big deal for ecommerce companies.
Google is doing more than ever before to help these businesses connect with potential customers. So, if you haven’t started taking advantage of this opportunity yet, here are three reasons you shouldn’t wait any longer.
You get a lot more bang for your “buck”
Of course, you don’t actually have to spend anything. As we mentioned earlier, Google is offering greater visibility across these surfaces for free.
All you have to do is upload them to Merchant Center.
To be clear, ecommerce companies should still be investing in paid search, especially popular options like Google Shopping and Shopping Actions. They’re great for targeting shoppers who are ready to buy, and the ROI is much faster than what you’d see from SEO alone.
That said, if you’re not ready to start investing in a campaign or you already are but don’t want to extend your ad spend, you can’t beat Google’s invitation for free advertising. Your budget doesn’t change, but your profit margins will.
Reach potentially untapped segments
It’s not just that you stand to gain free traffic by using Surfaces across Google.
You stand to gain traffic from segments of your market you may have otherwise never had access to in the past.
Again, this is especially true if you’re not paying for traffic at the moment, but it still applies to companies that are currently running ads.
Consider that Google claims its Display Network reaches 90% of all Internet users on the planet. That’s about 1 billion people. While those represent paid ads, it still gives a good idea of just how far Google’s reach extends. Don’t expect that reach to dwindle any time soon, either. With the introduction of Surfaces across Google, companies can reach untapped markets they may have never accessed before.
Google Images could become a fantastic source of traffic, too. In 2018, Google Images accounted for nearly a quarter of all Internet traffic. Imagine how many more shoppers you could convert every year if Google was putting your product in front of them when they searched Images. Just optimize your product descriptions for Google Images, check the box for “Surfaces across Google”, and enjoy the new – completely free – customers.
Then, consider the growing influence of Google Lens. Though it was only introduced back in 2018, it reached 50 million users by October 2019. If you’re not currently connecting your inventory to Surfaces across Google, that’s a lot of potential customers who will never see – literally – your products even though that may be exactly what they’re looking for.
Surfaces Across Google are highly targeted
Finally, one of the most important reasons to optimize your company’s site with Google across Platforms is because the searchers you’re targeting represent qualified traffic.
As an ecommerce company, the last thing you want is to attract “tire kickers” to your site. This is the type of visitor who may click all over your website but has no real intention of buying. Aside from the fact that they represent no profit, they can also make it difficult to effectively track how well your marketing is working. If enough of them regularly visit your site, you may start making changes that actually hurt your sales.
This is why so many ecommerce companies invest in paid ads that target searchers who are clearly ready to make a purchase.
It’s also why Surfaces across Google is so exciting. Google is treating them a lot like Product Listing Ads. So, aside from the fact that they will very much look like shopping ads – something a shopper would be more likely to click – their algorithm will also be fueled by information surrounding search patterns and behavior.
As a result, by using Surfaces across Google, it’s far less likely that you’ll be attracting searchers who would rather shop around than actually make a purchase.
Who can sell on Surfaces Across Google?
The great thing about this powerful new resource is that Google is opening it up to anyone.
Literally, all you need in order to take advantage of Surfaces across Google is:
- A webstore
- A Merchant Center Account
- A product feed with Structured Data Markup
All it takes for your product feed to qualify is the following attributes:
If your inventory includes apparel or accessories, Google has a list of best practices for providing Surfaces with helpful information. It includes this list of attributes:
- size_type, size_system
It’s also a good idea to add the availability attribute to your products. If you leave it out, Google may not include your products on every surface it would otherwise qualify for.
Don’t forget about the canonical attribute, either. If you have a specific page you want Google to display for a certain product line, include a canonical_link attribute to make sure it’s the one that receives extra exposure.
How to get started
There’s absolutely no reason your company should forego the benefits of using Surfaces Across Google. It’s probably the easiest way to immediately increase the number of shoppers you can bring to your site and it’s completely free.
No other opportunity compares for ecommerce companies.
If you don’t already have a Google Merchant Center account, there are two ways to change that, so you can begin leveraging the power of Surfaces.
The manual route
The first option for setting up your Google Merchant account is to do it the old-fashioned way. This means uploading your entire inventory with a flat file (e.g. csv, xml, txt).
For each product, you’ll need to submit a:
- Product ID
- Link to Product Page
- Image Link
You’ll also want to review Google’s data specification requirements by category, as some of your products may require extra information.
As you can see, this approach takes a lot of work, especially if your current inventory isn’t organized for all these attributes. It’s even harder if you regularly introduce new inventory. You’ll need to manually update the list again and again, so you’re not attracting shoppers with empty promises.
The automated route
Then, there’s the automated route using GoDataFeed. Our platform will standardize your product feed’s data regardless of its source, format, or even its size. All it takes is a few clicks.
With rule-based optimization, you can enhance any or all of your products at scale. No need to go through your products one-by-one or modify your actual source data.
Best of all, with GoDataFeed, your inventory is ready for Google Merchant Center, Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, and any other ecommerce platform where your customers shop.