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Do Free Google Shopping Lists Benefit Anyone?

In a week plus, free listings have occupied 48% of Google Shopping listings. When compared to paid listings’ 13% space (excluding horizontal scroll), free lists seem to have made a quantum leap.
Google’s Commerce President, Bill Ready, explains that there are ‘threats’ to retail. Therefore, ‘digital commerce has become a lifeline for retailers’. As a spokesperson, he wants everyone to know that Google is there to help during this pandemic.

And since Amazon now dominates Google in product search, a closer look reveals that the switch to free listings by Google is against Amazon’s commerce takeover.

The question is, who gets to smile now that you can pay your way into your customer’s hearts anymore?
We took a look at several listings on Google Shopping. Here is some good news – businesses that focus on keyword relevance and brand authority will be happy with our findings.
Who are the winners with free Google Shopping lists?

There is no doubt that some businesses will find the adverbial silver lining in this move. Indeed, if many companies do the right thing, they too can join the winning group. For example, businesses abroad that are not yet affected by the update can come out on top, provided that they get ahead of the move. Here are a few of the winners with free Google Shopping lists:

1. Retailers with structured and curated data of their products.

You can benefit from Google Shopping’s free listings if:
1. You’ve got a Google Merchant Center account.
2. You’ve set up a feed for your products, or your product pages have valid structured data.
3. You’ve selected ‘surface across Google’ in your Google Merchant Center account.
5. You have confirmed from an audit that:
You’ve got valid structured data.
You update product attributes automatically.
Your products can be listed.

2. Authoritative brands

Authoritative brands always have the upper hand in their domain. Like a pack of dominoes, their dominance pushes many to the top of search engine rankings, making their product listings come up tops.
Furthermore, brands that sell directly to consumers and keep product reviews are delighted with the switch to free listings. Their product listings sit on top of the rankings.

3. Online retailers that know the inner workings of keyword relevance

Customers use different keywords in their searches. However, only businesses that have aligned their products’ names and descriptions to these keywords are reaping from free listings. This means you need a target keyword strategy or a ‘Preferred Landing Page’. You’ll choose unique keywords for your content pages, and ensure your products match those keywords. The alternative keyword strategy is to use generic listings. However, this would lead to a level field, and who knows what another retailer might get the upper hand?

Who are the losers with free Google Shopping lists?

With every update, there are always winners and losers. Here are a couple of people that won’t be too pleased with free Google Shopping listings:

1. Online retailers that do not know how to use keywords to their advantage

Getting the best out of online commerce requires you to use the right words. Therefore, if your customer’s search is for ‘boots’ and your product listings say ‘sneakers,’ you would not get much from this Google Shopping update. You have to use the right words or your rankings will suffer. Understanding Google’s algorithm and how consumers search is also key to getting the most out of free listings. For example, if you have a site with many country locations, then your product pages should align with searches for those locations. Also, confusing, duplicate, or misleading product titles will not help your cause. This applies to all search engine related projects, not just Google Shopping. Your page’s content marketing strategy and SEO plays a decisive role in determining your listing rank.

2. Businesses that do not implement structured data in their product pages

Google crawlers understand markup language like this. Therefore, your product images and data should be in this format. Without wrapping them in markup, consumers will not be able to find your product on the search engine’s shopping feed. The good news is that you do not need to be tech-savvy to structure your data. Your ecommerce site’s framework will do most of the job for you. All that will be left is for your developers to add attributes like rating, name, image, and pricing. The research standard and keyword list we have mentioned above also apply when structuring product data. Messy and improperly structured data will not do you much good.

3. Amazon Merchants

Amazon merchants are another set of people that are gutted with free Google Shopping listings. Most of them get massive paychecks as middlemen on Arbitrage and Alibaba without understanding marketing or brand building. They often get away with this lack of foundational knowledge because they push goods out as quickly as they get them. However, this void is being exploited by those who constructively create product pages to take their audience. If Google Shopping’s traffic increases (which will lead to a dip in Amazon traffic), these merchants will be the most affected.

How to make the most out of Google Shopping’s new update

Online retailers will undoubtedly have to adjust a few things about their business to suit the new update. Here are a couple of moves for a better strategy:

1. Ensure you audit your structured product data. Make sure no stone is left unturned

This should be your first step. Without a properly structured product data, you cannot get the most out of Google’s shopping listings.

Here are a few resources that should help you grasp site audits in no time:

(we can insert links to your site here e.g. Site audit strategy 101What should I expect from site audit deliverables?)

2. Brush up your feed

Your current listings on Google should be selling as much as your paid ones. If they aren’t, then check your feed. However, if you still can’t find the reason after doing this, you need to touch up your titles and descriptions. Ensure they match the phrases and words people search for on Google.

3. Build your authority

As we mentioned earlier, the authority in any domain gets the fat chunks. Every other retailer has to settle for what they leave behind. Another move you should make in response to the free listing update is to build authority. But how does one do that?
If you need tips on building authority, then take this from Matt Cutts – there is no fast lane to becoming an authority in Google. You need to figure out a killer user-engagement and content strategy that your consumers would love.

In conclusion

Google Shopping’s free listings update levels the playing field for online retailers. It is an excellent update for businesses that have put in time and effort into making their product visible. Now, they can sell directly to their customers rather than through Amazon, which won’t reveal much about their customers. Free listings have also created retailers’ an opportunity to find out how much direct interactions convert a potential customer. Unfortunately, not everyone is on the winning side. If you want your business to get in the ring and get the most out of this Google shopping update, you need to get your listings sorted out. Let us know if you need a hand with that!