Free Google Shopping listings come to the UK

If you work in ecommerce, you probably remember the news from April this year about Google opening up Shopping to offer free listings for merchants in the US



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Ben Wheatley, Business Director

Google Algorithm Updates, Paid Search (PPC)

4 Minutes

08 Oct 2020

23 Apr 2024

If you work in ecommerce, you probably remember the news from April this year about Google opening up Shopping to offer free listings for merchants in the US – a move that took many by surprise because it is such a fundamental part of any retail PPC campaign these days, but one that was spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic and a way to help retailers gain free exposure through the crisis.

Now, those listings are coming to the UK (as well as Europe, Asia, and Latin America) from mid-October, giving you a couple of weeks to get your listings set up and ready to take advantage of the “new” feature.


What do you need to do?

  1. Upload your product feeds to Google Merchant
    Center – if you’re already running Paid Shopping campaigns, this should already
    be set up!
  2. Opt-in to “Surfaces across Google” – either when
    you sign up, or by navigating to the Growth tab in your Merchant Center account
    and heading to “Manage programs”
  3. Monitor your feed health (either through a feed
    provider, or manual checks) to make sure your products are eligible to show
  4. Monitor your performance – there is a new report
    coming to Merchant Center soon where you’ll be able to see unpaid clicks!

And that’s it! The biggest part of this is going to be the same as with Paid Shopping campaigns – making sure your feed is eligible and in good health to get the maximum performance out of it.

Why do we care about free Google Shopping listings?

This is another step towards Google blurring the lines between paid-for advertising and organic listings – it’s the same feature, but it will be reported on differently. That means, for SEO teams, you’ll need to up your reporting and make sure you have visibility on how user behaviour is changing:

  • Have users started clicking on shopping listings
    more – paid or organic – because there is more choice/the feature is more
  • Have you seen fewer organic clicks through to
    category pages because users can more easily be served a variety of related
    products, see the images, prices etc. without clicking through to a landing

But as integrated teams, you’ll also need to work much closer together to understand how product information needs to be structured, both in the feeds and on the pages, and then go a step further and understand which products or product types are driving the best performance to focus in on your individual strategies and adapt as necessary.

You’ll also (or at least should) find yourselves working much closer with Product and Merchandising teams – training them on the information that’s needed when new products get uploaded to the site, when new ranges are brought in, and when sales run or products go out of stock. These things were primarily associated with the Paid Search and Business teams, but now they span into SEO as well.

Then you need to think about how this changes the setup of the results page. Currently in the US, the Shopping tab is mimicking the main results tab – ads top and bottom and organic listings in the middle, so we can assume a similar setup for the UK to begin with but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever, as we well know with how much the main result tab has changed over recent years. It is likely, however, that the PLAs seen at the top of main results page will remain ad-only space, but whether tests come out in the future to expand these listings, add more products, or blend them further with Organic results remains to be seen.

This move also makes things like structured data much more important to some people than it was before – if the feeds are powered by product data, the likelihood is the more you can mark the product up with relevant information, the richer the listing is going to be.

5 top tips to prepare:

  1. Get your feed in order – run a health check,
    make sure it is configured properly, and make sure your products are eligible
    for display against Google’s criteria
  2. Opt-in to Surfaces for Google – this is
    essential for the free listing eligibility
  3. Set up your reporting – understand what you want
    to report on and how, and which teams it applies to
  4. Get training sessions in with your teams – knowledge
    sharing is going to be so important as this rolls out to the UK
  5. Run a structured data audit to assess Product
    markup on the pages and resolve any errors

If you need some help getting your feed set up, or want a second pair of eyes to make sure you’ve got everything you need ready to go, get in touch for an audit or a consultancy and training package to make sure you’re ready to take advantage of this exciting new feature.