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Do you know what really grinds my gears?

Google’s Merchant Center.

Sure, it’s an incredible tool, and essential to every eCommerce business trying to grow sales online.

But seriously, it’s a pain. First, you have to figure out how to export your products in a very specific format (which is no small task, even if you’re a Shopify user).

Then you have to upload that feed in order to set up Google Shopping campaigns.

Then you have to set your budgets, launch, analyze, optimize, etc. etc. etc.

By the time you hit step two, your feed is out of date. You ran out of your top seller. You’ve updated the image. You’re slashing prices. Before you know it we’re back at step 1.

Ok, rant over. Let me catch my breath before I break down these beautiful inventions called Data Feed tools. It’s time to get rid of any Data Feed roadblocks preventing you from Google Shopping greatness.

Why Use a Data Feed Tool?

If you’re wondering what a data feed tool is and why you should be using one, let’s take a quick step back and catch you up to speed.

All Google Shopping campaigns require a Merchant Center data feed to list all of the products you’re selling, along with some defining characteristics of each of the products. Yellow Mickey Mouse t-shirt Size Small. Adidas Men’s Yeezy Boost 350 “Oxford Tan”. You get the idea.

Google also requires all Google Shopping advertisers to update their data feed at least once every 30 days to keep in-stock and out-of-stock products up to date. For most e-commerce businesses, 30 days between updating their data feed is an eternity. Companies that have products going in and out of stock frequently should be updating their feeds much more frequently (Google allows updates to happen up to 4 times in a single day).

Updating your data feed can be a royal pain in the ass—we talk about the best ways to do it manually in our e-commerce guide to Google Shopping—and this is where data feed tools come into play. They essentially make it easier to manage your Google Shopping data feed (and other comparison shopping engines like eBay or Bing Product ads) by automating a lot of the manual work that goes into updating it.

Today we’re going to walk you through the best Google Shopping data feed tools on the market today. Let’s dig in!

The 4 Best Google Shopping Data Feed Tools

1. GoDataFeed – www.godatafeed.com

GoDataFeed is considered by many to be king of the castle when it comes to data feed tools. It’s integrated with many comparison shopping engines (CSEs) in addition to Google Shopping, so it gives you flexibility if you’re also serving ads across Facebook, Bing, and 100 others.

GoDataFeed uses a “single point of integration” to make it easy for advertisers to import their product catalogs, and it automates daily feed submissions to Google Shopping. It also gives you tools that will alert you when there are issues with your product feed.

Pricing — Pricing ranges from $29 per month for 1 CSE feed and up to 1,000 SKUs, to $499 per month for unlimited CSE feeds and 25,000 SKUs.

Free Trial Status — GoDataFeed offers a 30-day trial for you to kick the tires and determine the value.

Supported Platforms — Shopify, Volusion, Magneto, Bigcommerce, 3dcart, WooCommerce, Yahoo!, Netsuite, Miva, Oscommerce, ShopSite, Spark Pay, XCart, ZenCart, FTP, and HTTP

2.  SingleFeed – www.singlefeed.com

SingleFeed‘ insists that categorizing your products in Google Shopping is inherently confusing. They definitely aren’t wrong, it’s one of the most common mistakes we see when optimizing Google Shopping for e-commerce clients.

In addition to making it easy to automate daily feed submissions to Google, Singlefeed also works to help you correctly categorize your products. Their team of library scientists has created a “mega-taxonomy” which helps to identify the proper category and sub-category for each product in an advertiser’s data feed. They then have a team of specialists spot-check each product to ensure it’s in the best feed—a fantastic final touch to keep things optimized.

Pricing — Pricing ranges from $99 per month for Google Shopping only feed integration and up to 10k SKUs, to $199 per month for all CSEs and up to 50,000 SKUs. Custom pricing is available for companies with over 50,000 SKUs.

Free Trial Status — SingleFeed does not offer a free trial, but live demos are available.

Supported Platforms — Vendio, Volusion, Magneto, American Eagle, Yahoo!, Commerce V3, Miva, Oscommerce, MaxEXP, OrderDynamics, and XCart

3.  feeditor – www.feeditor.com

feeditor is the new kid on the block, but it does offer some pretty interesting incentives for advertisers looking to simplify their data feed management. Interesting features include a list of 500 scripts you can leverage to optimize your shopping feeds and all pricing tiers including unlimited CSEs.

Data nerds take note: feeditor makes creating custom reports and dashboards pretty straightforward. The more insight you have into how certain products perform over others, the better your optimizations will be over time.

Pricing — Pricing ranges from $99 per month for unlimited CSE feeds and up to 2,500 SKUs, to $3,000 per month for unlimited CSE feeds and 1,000,000 SKUs.

Free Trial Status — feeditor offers a 14 day free trial for users looking to test things out

Supported Platforms — Shopify, Magneto, Bigcommerce, and Shopzilla

4.  Feedonomics – www.feedonomics.com

Feedonomics has some of the most powerful data feed automation technology on the market today. It’s able to spot inconsistencies across product titles, check for broken links and images, alert you of poor performing products, and make using multiple CSEs a snap with “bulk category mapping”.

If you’re looking for more hands-on support, Feedonomics has you covered. It has training and consulting tiers to help provide you with the tools and knowledge to be successful on Google Shopping and other CSEs. They are great options if you’re looking for something that’s not too complicated or too simple.

Pricing —Custom pricing will be sent to you after filling out their quote form. It will range from the number of CSE feeds you need to include, and the number of SKUs in your inventory.

Free Trial Status —  Feedonomics does not offer a free trial, but they do offer a free shopping feed audit. They also offer month to month pricing, so you can cancel at any time.

Supported Platforms —Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, Volusion, Yahoo Stores, Opencart, 3dcart, osCommerce, WebCollage, Amazon Webstore, Digital River, GSI Commerce, AdVantShop, Woo Commerce, PrestaShop, IBM Websphere, Virtuemart, Gumroad, Xt-commerce, Intershop, Zen Cart, ATG Commerce, X-Cart, Shopware, Ecwid, MyCommerce, WP eCommerce, CS Cart, NopCommerce, NetSuite E-commerce, and many others. View the full list here.

Note that, although this list is in no particular order,  we do love GoDataFeeds’ mix of ease-of-use and reasonable pricing quite a bit. Regardless, integrating with any of these Google Shopping data feeds tools will save you the time and energy it takes to manually update your data feeds.

Did we miss one of your favourite Google Shopping data feed tools? Do you have reviews of the above tools that you think we should know about? Let us know in the comments below! 

Running Google Ad campaigns without conversion tracking set up is like going through a corn maze blindfolded. Sure, you might make it out the other side, but you’re not going to know which steps led you in the right direction.

Properly tracking your ad performance with conversion tracking will help you make better marketing decisions, resulting in more leads, and more revenue. It will also help you determine your return on ad spend (ROAS) making it a no brainer for every business advertising on Google.

Today we’re going to walk you through the easiest way to get conversion tracking set up in under 5 minutes.

Let’s get started!

  1. Navigate to the conversions section of your Google Ads account, start by clicking the + button at the top left corner.
  2. From there, choose an action. Today, we’re tracking a phone number conversions on your site. Select Phone number and click Continue.
  3. Here’s where you’re going to enter all of the information about this specific conversion. This includes setting up a name, selecting a value (in the case of call conversions, this isn’t necessary), selecting 1 for the count, and 60 seconds for the call time.
  4. Next, is a conversion window. This is the time from when someone interacts with your ad to when they complete a conversion. You’re able to select whatever best fits your business; our best practice is 30 days, including conversions. Be sure that the box is checked so you’re able to see conversions in your campaigns.
  5. Finally, we have attribution model. We typically recommend selecting position based, but this can change depending on your needs.
  6. Next is the tag setup. This can be tricky, as you have three different options to choose from.
    1. You can install the tag yourself with the code, which will give you the global site tag that needs to be put across your entire site. Note: without the global site tag, conversion tracking will not work. Populate the phone number, enter it exactly as it appears on your site. Note: If the phone number is not the exact way it appears on-site, the conversion tracking will not work.
    2. Create your conversion snippet and place the code on every page of your website that the phone number appears. Next, configure call extensions. Here, you’ll have the option to email the tag directly to your webmaster. Enter the phone number and email address and Google will send all of the instructions over so you don’t have to worry.
    3. Google Tag Manager is the third way to set up conversion tracking. It’s also our personal favorite. GTM is a container tag that sits on your website and can house multiple other tags. (such as Facebook, and LinkedIn)

All you need to do is make sure you have Google Tag Manager on your site.

First, copy the conversion ID and the conversion label. Put these into Google Tag Manager.

Enter the phone number and it will automatically do everything else for you. Finally, after you’ve decided how you want to implement your tag, click next, and then done. Once you click done, you’ll see your conversion action populate on the conversion screen. Your tag will display as unverified until Google is able to verify that your tag is on the site. Don’t be nervous if this takes a few hours. Once you do see conversions coming in, you’ll see the repeat rate of all conversions which will show the conversion value if there is any.

And that’s how to set up a conversion in Google Tag Manager!

If you sell your goods online, you really ought to advertise them to would-be customers via Google Shopping ads. That’s because Google Shopping is the internet’s version of window shopping (remember when that was a thing?) It allows users to sneak glimpses of a product before taking the partial plunge of entering your store—or in this case, your website.

With traditional Search and Display ads, users have to manually click on your ads to get the relevant information they may need before purchasing one of your products. On the other hand, Google Shopping campaigns immediately put your products in front of ready-to-buy audiences across devices while prominently showcasing key product information like manufacturer, style, price, and most uniquely, a photo of what’s for sale.

By displaying the important information to a user before they even click, you avoid surprises (like sticker shock and misused keywords) that would normally cause them to bail before a purchase, increasing your conversion rate, and lowering errant spend on unqualified clicks.

But as with all things Google Ads, if you wanna convert with the big dogs, you’re gonna have to put in the initial work. Worry not, advertiser friends, we’ve got you covered—please enjoy our step-by-step guide to setting up your Google Merchant Center account and launching your first Shopping Campaign.

Step 0 – Set Your Marketing Goals

Before you so much as graze your laptop’s mouse, take a step back and consider what you hope to gain from your nascent Google Shopping advertising efforts. Given that this is an e-comm guide, we’ll assume maximizing sales is the ultimate objective. But like all things Google Ads, there’s a process to be followed, and results likely won’t be instantaneous.

Rather than walk in with unrealistic expectations, jot down a long-term CPA or ROAS goal, based on actual numbers (cost of your product, expected ad spend, etc.). This gives you something to optimize for. Allow a couple of months for these goals to become attainable.

If you’re super impatient, it could be helpful to think of noteworthy milestones you look forward to hitting: that first sale, the point where you are breaking even on ad spend (you gotta walk before you can run, and you gotta hit a 1.0 ROAS before you can become an e-comm mogul). Things like that.

Step 1 – Getting Started With Your Google Merchant Center

To generously paraphrase Sheryl Crow: “the first step toward running shopping ads is the most tedious.” Setting things up correctly in Google Merchant Center takes time and attention to detail, but once you get it right, you’ll be reaching engaged, relevant, and ready-to-buy users within an hour or so.

The Merchant Center is where your product data feeds live—aka that giant “spreadsheet” that contains all the products you sell. Each product should be listed along with a number of attributes that help shoppers find exactly what they are looking for:

It’s super important to fill out as much information about each product as possible because Google Shopping ads are largely automated. Unlike Search campaigns, the ads for your Shopping campaigns will be automatically generated by Google using the information in your data feed and served to users based on how their searches match up to that data, too

What does that mean for you? It means you don’t have to spend any time writing ads, and you don’t have to come up with any relevant keywords. But it does mean you should give Google as much information as possible right off the bat. To paraphrase Sheryl once more, if “all you wanna do, is sell some stuff,” then Shopping ads are sounding pretty, pretty good right about now!

How to Set Up Google Merchant Center

Getting set up with a Merchant Center account is a multi-step process—so let’s get started:

  1. Open Your Merchant Center. Once you’re there, log in with the same Gmail email you use to sign into Google Analytics & Google Ads.
  2. Begin the setup process by filling in your store name and website URL. Fill out your ‘Contact Details’ section and click ‘Continue’.
  3. The next page will ask you to review and accept the Merchant Center Terms and Conditions. Click ‘Continue’.
  4. The last step in the Merchant Center setup is to verify your website URL and “claim your website.” You can do this through an HTML file upload, adding an HTML tag, or connecting your Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager information. Click ‘Finish’ and you’ll be taken to your Merchant Center Dashboard.
  5. Once you land on your Merchant Center Dashboard you will be able to submit your data feed, promotions feed, and more.

Step 2 – Understanding Google Shopping’s Required Data Feed Attributes

The most successful Shopping campaigns start with a perfectly filled out data feed. There are lots of different attributes that you can include in your data feed, so today we’re just going to cover the ones that are absolutely necessary.

ID – The ‘id’ is the identifier of the item. According to Google, the identifiers for each item have to be unique and cannot be reused between feeds for the same country in the same language. For example, you’d want to use ‘ada123US’ for sales within the United States, then ‘ada123UK’ for sales within the United Kingdom.

Title – The ‘title’ refers to the title of the item. Google recommends including the colour and brand in the title to differentiate between products. For example, ‘Women’s Purple Nike Sneakers’.

Description – The ‘description’ is how you explain the item to potential customers. It’s important to use this attribute to explain the item’s most relevant characteristics. This information won’t show up in your ad, but helps influence which search terms your ad will appear on—don’t be afraid to hit the character limit! More information means greater specificity, which in turn means less errant spending and a higher CTR!

Link – The URL that directly links to your item’s page on your website, (it’s also referred to as a landing page). The product on this page needs to be identical to the product in the ad.

Image link – The URL of the item’s image. This is the first image a user will see on product detail pages.

Condition – The current state of the item. You must select 1 of 3 options: new, refurbished, or used.

Availability – The current availability status of your items. This will indicate to users that your items will be delivered within a reasonable amount of time. You must select 1 of 3 options: pre-order, in stock, out of stock.

Price – The cost of the item. The price needs to be featured prominently on the image link/landing page.

Brand – The brand or manufacturer of your item. This information is important from a buying standpoint to assess quality.

GTIN – The Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) of your item. The GTIN can consist of one of the following formats: UPC (in North America / GTIN-12), EAN (in Europe / GTIN-13), JAN (in Japan / GTIN-13), ISBN (for books), or ITF-14 (for multipacks / GTIN-14).

MPN – The manufacturer part number (MPN). This is used to differentiate a manufacturer’s products from one another. This allows customers to search for your product by MPN. Note: In order for the product to be approved by Google Merchant Center, your product will need two of these three elements: Brand, GTIN, and MPN.

Identifier Exists – The attribute is used when unique product identifiers or GTINs do not exist. For example, custom handmade goods like scarves or wallets would have an ‘identifier exists’ attribute with a value of ‘FALSE’.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it covers everything you need to hit the ground running. Be sure to check Google’s guide for a deeper dive into key attributes for your data feed.

Step 3 – Submitting Your Merchant Center Data Feed

Your Merchant Center data feed powers the information in your Google Shopping campaigns– and is widely considered to be the biggest pain in the ass when it comes down to Google Shopping.

The good news: of all the ass pains in the digital marketing universe, this one’s ultimately not that major.

It may be occasionally annoying, but the biggest hassle is making sure your information as current as possible. If an item goes out of stock, update your feed. If you just snapped some fresh new photos of your items that look amazing, update your feed. If you just received a fresh shipment of Yeezy Boost 350s, for the love of god update your feed!

Running On Empty GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

You get the idea.

Once you’re logged into your Google Merchant Center, go to the products tab on the sidebar on the left. Now click ‘Feeds’ and press the giant blue “plus” button to upload your first feed.

After you enter your country and preferred language, you’ll be presented with four ways to upload your feed to the Merchant Center.

1. Google Sheets

Build a custom Google Sheet that feeds the Google Merchant Center by following the steps below:

  1. Once you’ve selected Google Sheets and hit ‘continue,’ generate a new sheet from a template. Optional: select an existing Google Sheet if you already have one set up
  2. Hit save
  3. Grant access to Merchant Center
  4. Go back to the Merchant center and go to the products tab on the left-hand menu
  5. Click the Feed tab and locate your feed.
  6. Under input method, you’ll see it says ‘Google Sheets.’ Click open.
  7. Fill in the data
  8. Return to the Merchant Center and hit “Fetch Now” to upload your new data

2. Direct Upload

Direct Upload is the easiest way to upload your data feed to Merchant Center if you’re starting out for the first time. You will be able to upload files from SFTP, FTP, Google Cloud Storage, or manually. Note that this will only work for files under 4GB.

Leveraging FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Upload and SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) are effective options if your business contains a diverse product library. While the two are very similar, SFTP uses encryption to secure your data while it’s being transferred while FTP upload does not.

To utilize the Direct Upload feature, follow the steps below:

  1. Once you’ve selected the ‘upload option,’ enter the name of your feed file. Note that your file name must be exactly the same as the file you submit to the Merchant Center.
  2. Click ‘Upload a file now’ (optional)
  3. Drop your file or browse for your file. Maximum 4GB. Optional: click ‘upload as test’ to see if the file is working!
  4. Voila! You are done!

3. Schedule Fetch

The key to Direct and FTP is staying organized. Make a list, check it twice, have some candy canes (or a bag of gelt, it’s 2019, after all). Just make sure you keep your data feed current.

At a minimum, your feed needs to be updated once every 30 days, but the best rule of thumb is to update it after any big change to your inventory/business (items in stock, items out of stock, etc.)

This can get exhausting if you have to update multiple times throughout the week, which is a big reason why businesses turn to Schedule Fetch.

Schedule Fetch takes the burden of constantly having to update your data feed manually by allowing you to create an upload schedule that’s hosted on your website.
To create or edit a schedule for your data feed, follow the instructions below:

  1. Upon selecting the ‘schedule fetch’ option, enter the file name that will be fetched.
  2. Select the fetch frequency along with the fetch time.
  3. Enter the url to the file. If it’s password protected, enter the username and password to grant Google access to it.

4. Content API

For more technical users, the Content API feature allows users to programmatically manage their Google Shopping from the customer level to the product level. Users can build their own software or use 3rd party software and link to the Merchant Center to automate the entire process.

Learn about how to get started in Google’s developer tutorial.

Step 4 – Setting Up Your Google Shopping Campaign

Once you’ve built your store’s foundation, you’re ready to start building out your Google Shopping campaign. And honestly, this is the really easy part.

To get your Google Shopping campaign up and running, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Google Ads
  2. Under the campaigns tab, click the blue ‘plus’ button to create a new campaign
  3. Select “shopping”
  4. Choose a campaign goal. If you’re a seasoned advertiser, click “create a campaign without a goal” for full customizability.
  5. Now fill in the following information:
    • Campaign Name: Name your campaign something easily identifiable like “Shopping Campaign.” You can edit this later
    • Merchant: The Merchant Center account that you want to link
    • Country of Sale: Where your products are sold
    • Inventory Filter: Create a filter to specify which types and the number of products you will sell within this campaign.
    • Bidding: Choose a bid strategy.
    • Daily Budget: How much money you’re willing to spend daily on this campaign
    • Campaign priority: check out our guide on how to successfully use campaign priorities.
    • Networks: Select Google Search Network and/or Google Search Partners. We recommend you keep it solely within the Google Search Network. You don’t want to show up on other sites.
    • Devices: Appear on computers, mobile devices, tablets, and more.
    • Locations: Which countries you want your ads to show.
    • Local inventory ads: Customize this option if you want to specify which products are sold in individual local stores.
  6. Save and continue!
  7. Select the ad group you wish to create:
    1. Product Shopping Ad: These are hassle-free product ads that are automatically created. We recommend this for the newbies!
    2. Showcase Shopping Ad: These group related products together into one ad. Read our guide to Showcase Shopping Ads to find out more.
  8. Click save
  9. Celebrate! You crushed it!

How to Use Product Groups to Increase Google Shopping Sales

The real power of Google Shopping comes from the flexibility you can achieve by setting bids at the “Product Group” level. “Product Group” refers to the subset of your product inventory that you are able to define clearly. And if you’re more familiar with the conventional Search campaign structure, think of Product Groups as a hybrid between a set of keywords and an ad group.

For example, let’s say you’re the owner of an online store that sells electronic equipment. It would be in your best interest to set up your account by having “Product Groups” organize your inventory. You could break your products out by things like “brand” name, “product type,” or even something custom and fancy like “margins.”

Product groups can be used to organize your inventory at a high level, but can also be used to drill down to the individual product ID.

This flexibility is important because it allows you to control bids across groups of items or individual items within your inventory. This way, you’re not forced to bid the same amount on those old-school Sony Walkmans as you would on a gently and ergonomically curved 72” smart TV that automatically reads excerpts from Stephen King novels to you instead of playing commercials. Would that we could, advertisers. Would that we could.

In any case, we’ll walk you through how to properly set up “Product Groups,” as well—but first, let’s first take a look at the 8 “Product Groups” options you can choose to leverage.
The 8 Product Group Categories

Each one of these “Product Groups” (except for “Item ID”) can be layered on top of one another based on your organizational preference.
To help set the scene a little bit, we’re going to use our example from earlier. Let’s say you’re the owner of an online store that sells electronic equipment.

One way to break down your “Product Groups” could be starting with “Category”, then breaking things down a little further by “Brand”, and finally rounding out the breakdown by “Item ID”. This allows for some basic organization, and the ability to adjust your bids at 3 specific levels (“Category”, “Brand”, and “Item ID”).

When adjusting bids across “Product Groups”, it’s important to note that any bid set at the breakdown level will trump the bid “above” it. For example, if you set a bid for an individual product at the “Item ID” level, that bid will trump the bid placed at the “Brand” or “Category” level. If you set the same bid for every item under a specific “Brand”, that bid will trump the bids set at the “Category” level.

It’s this control over Product Group bids that separate the good from the great advertisers on Google shopping.

How to Organize Your Product Groups for Google Shopping

Now that you understand why breaking out and organizing your product groups is important, let’s take a look at how to set it all up in your Shopping campaign.

  1. Open Google Ads
  2. Select the campaign with the product groups you would like to edit
  3. Click into the ad group. Note that in some cases, you will see product groups while clicked into campaigns.
  4. Select the product group and click the ‘plus’ next to it.
  5. Click ‘Subdivide’ and choose the product attribute you want to subdivide by
  6. Click the checkboxes of the subdivisions you want to apply.
  7. Click ‘review bids’ if you’re done subdividing your product groups.
  8. Click save!

Once you get back to the “Product Groups” tab you’ll notice that “All Products” is now subdivided by the attributes you selected. Once your product group is subdivided, you can begin to adjust your bids for each product group by clicking in the MAX CPC column next to each product group name.

This flexibility around adjusting bids give you more control by allowing you to do things like increase the bids on products with high price tags and good margins, and lowering the bids on the products with low price tags and poor margins.

Segment Your Bids Using the Priority Funnel

The biggest challenge with Shopping Ads (besides setting them up) is that you can’t bid per keyword. Instead, Google automatically selects which of your products show up for certain search results. (This is why every third sentence in this blog post was something to the effect of “MAKE SURE YOU SET UP YOUR PRODUCT FEED.”)

The only way you can control your budget preferences is to place your bids on the product-group level. So what you’re doing is bidding on a bucket of keywords that your product might show up for. This means segmenting your bids is a difficult task because you can’t bid higher or lower based on keyword search volume.

That said, you can hack the system by using priorities and negative keywords to funnel search queries. Learn how in our Google Shopping Ad Priority Guide.

Don’t Forget to Follow the Google Merchant Center Guidelines

Google would allow you to sell crusty, used socks via a Shopping campaign, as long as you set up your Merchant Center account to hawk said used socks properly. To avoid getting on the wrong side of Google Law, just follow these simple guidelines:

Add Promotion Ad Extensions

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the—admittedly many—guidelines you’ll need to adhere to, you can start to get a little showier with your shopping ads. Search ads aren’t the only ones capable of running with promotions ad extensions. And just like with Search ads, Shopping ads’ performance can improve by running them with promotions, or an automated extension.

But unlike Search ads, you can’t just hop in the Google Ads interface and conjure them into existence. You’ll have to make that happen within Google Merchant Center. But before you do, make sure your promotion fits Google’s definition of a “promotion.”

If you want to feature a promotion with your Shopping ads, there are certain parameters the deal has to fall within. They can:

To create one of the above promotions, within Merchant Center you simply click on “Merchant Promotions” on the left-hand side of your screen; click “Promotions,” then click the blue “plus” icon. And from there, Google really holds your and the rest of the way. (How nice!)

If you’ve handled that particular Google Shopping hurdle, there are a handful of additional automated extensions you can opt your way into, like product ratings, customer reviews, and local inventory ads.

Wrapping It Up

If leveraged effectively, Google Shopping can be the most impactful AdWords tool for e-commerce businesses. It will take you a tiny bit of effort to get every piece in the puzzle working properly, but it’s absolutely worth it.

Remember to set up your Merchant Center account before you do anything else, and follow our instructions to organize your product groups correctly. Once all the heavy lifting is over, small tweaks to product bids and keeping up with the product feed will be the only things you’ll need to worry about. Well, that and counting all of those sweet, sweet conversions you’ll be seeing.

There are almost too many decisions to make when setting up your AdWords account for the first time. How much money should I spend per day? Are my bids high enough? Do I start with Search, Display, or Search Network with Display Select? The list goes on and on.

One of the most common mistakes advertisers who are new to AdWords make is not fully utilizing the available keyword matching options. Selecting which words you want to trigger your ads is deceptively difficult to get right from the start, but makes a heck of a lot more sense once you understand what keywords are and how they work.

What The Hell Are The AdWords Match Types? 

Keyword match types are parameters that can be set on your keywords to control which searches trigger your ads to appear. There are 4 different keyword match types in AdWords: Broad Match, Broad Match Modifier, Phrase Match, and Exact Match.

Each match type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s incredibly important to understand the circumstances in which you should use one and not the other.


Broad Match

Google makes it easy to find customers via keyword traffic. All you have to do is add in your targeted keywords, click save, and BOOM! you’re off to the races. Your keywords are placed in Broad Match by default, which can be problematic once you understand how Broad Match keywords work.

Broad Match, as its name suggests, is the keyword match type that allows you to reach the widest audience. When your keyword is Broad Match, your ads are eligible to appear whenever a user searches any word in your key phrase, in any order. It also allows misspellings and synonyms to trigger your ads to appear. For example, if you use broad match on the keyword “women’s hats”, your ad might show when a user searches for “men’s hats”, “women’s scarves”, or “girl fedoras”.

The wide reach of Broad Match keywords will increase the number of clicks you see on your ads, the problem is that a lot of those clicks may be coming from irrelevant traffic.  (In fact, broad match keywords is one of five default settings in your AdWords account that could be lowering your ROI.) If you decide to stick with default broad match keywords, it’s important to check the Search Terms Report to ensure you’re not spending money on keyword traffic that is irrelevant and not converting.

Broad Match Modifier

The Broad Match Modifier match type is one of our favourites because it gives you the crazy reach of Broad Match keywords, but allows you to be more restrictive around the specific queries that will trigger your ad. It’s the mullet (business in the front, party in the back) of the match type world.

Broad Match Modified keywords work by appending a ‘+’ to the specific word in your keyword phrase that you want to lock in place. When you lock a word in place, you are telling Google that you only want your ad to show when that word appears in the search query. The query can be in any order, but that one word needs to exist in it somewhere. To use the example from earlier, if you use a Broad Match Modifier on the keyword “ +women’s hats”, Google can show your ad when a user searches for “women’s fedoras”, “hats for women”, or “women’s clothing”, but will not show your ad when a user searches for “men’s hats”.

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Phrase Match

Phrase Match is another one of our favourite match types because of the balance of control and reach that it gives you as an advertiser. Your ad will only appear when a user searches for your exact keyword phrase, in its exact order, but maybe with some additional words at the beginning and the end of the query.

As with most things in AdWords, it’s way easier to see how this works in action, so let’s take a look. If you use the keyword “women’s hats” in Phrase Match, your ads are eligible to show for users searching for “red women’s hats”, “women’s hats for weddings”, but not for “women’s blue hats” or “hats for women”. We like using Phrase Match on two-word keyword phrases

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Exact Match and Close Variant Matching (2017 Update)

Exact Match used to be the most restrictive match type option in AdWords, and the match type option we found ourselves using the least.

It used to be the case where Exact Match keywords only triggered ads when the exact keyword phrase you targeted was searched. I mean, that’s the definition of exact, isn’t it?

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Google implements close variant matching

Google realized that advertisers were missing out on huge opportunities on people misspelling and abbreviating variations of the designated keywords, making Exact Match a very ineffective strategy. They then fixed the issue, so those small variants to search queries still triggered ads, although the keywords weren’t necessarily an exact match. This is called “close variant matching.”

In early 2017 Google announced that they’ll take things a step further, disclosing that exact match keyword ads will now be triggered when phrases are reordered and when function words are added, removed, or changed.

Negative Match

Choosing what NOT to target can be just as important as choosing what to target. Negative keywords prevent your ads from showing up for search queries that have nothing to do with your brand.

If you’re selling bacon, you don’t want to show up for queries looking for the Bacon Bros.

Now there are three types of negative keywords:

Negative Broad Match is the default setting that stops your ad from showing if all the negative keywords are searched, regardless of order. For example, the negative keywords “dog hat” will prevent your ad from showing up when “cute hats for dogs” is searched.

Negative Phrase Match stops your ads from showing if the search includes your exact keywords. Order matters! If your negative phrase match keyword is “dog hat,” your ad will not show up for the search query “cute dog hat” but will show for “hat dog.”

Negative Exact Match prevents your ads from showing if the search query is exactly your negative keyword. This means, your ads will show if extra words or phrases are added. The negative exact match keyword “dog hat” will prevent your ads to show only when someone searches exactly “dog hat.”

If you’re feeling stuck, read our guide on how to set up negative keywords.


If you’ve made it down this far, you’re now a keyword match type expert! If you have any questions, please feel free to drop a comment below or tweet at us @resellhub. We read every tweet!

Why don’t kittens like to go to the mall? Because they prefer cat-ologues. Why don’t people like to go to the mall? Because we prefer the internet.

Our preferences around HOW to shop on the internet have changed, too.

Last year, 16.1% of e-commerce sales were assisted by Google Shopping ads – up a whopping 78% from 2015.

If you’re not generating a significant portion of your sales from Google Shopping, you’re missing out. While you wait to take Google Shopping seriously, Google is busy improving click-through rates and driving more sales for its advertisers.

Today, we’re talking about an advanced tactic to give you a massive competitive advantage on Google Shopping that we guarantee will lower costs and improve returns on your Google Shopping Ads. It might sound too good to be true, so choose where you’d like to start and we’ll break it down for you:

What is a Shopping Ad?

Shopping Ads are ads that appear on top of the Google Search Results page when someone makes a product-related search on Google. They’re unique because they showcase four major product descriptors in the ad: product image, product title, price, and store name.

Shopping ads look something like this:


Instead of the typical keyword bidding process where advertisers choose what searches they want to appear for, Google will display Shopping Ads for products they deem to be relevant based on the advertiser’s description of their product. These descriptions are documented in a merchant’s product feed (learn more about product feeds here).

If you haven’t set up shopping ads already, read our eCommerce setup guide for Google Shopping.

What are the Advantages of Shopping Ads?

There are two major advantages to shopping ads: Visibility and Quality Control.

Visibility: Paid results take up the entire screen for a product-related search on mobile, and better yet, Shopping Ads always show at the top. If that isn’t sweet enough, your ads will have images! These will undoubtedly stand out from the wall of text below it #moreImpressions #moreClicks #moreSales.


Google claims that Shopping Campaigns have helped multiple advertisers double or triple their standard click-through rates.

Quality: A product’s name, a high-quality product photo, and its price are the things an informed shopper needs before making a purchase decision. Shopping ads provide relevant information that expedites the buying process for qualified leads and deters unqualified leads from ever even clicking.

What are the Disadvantages of Shopping Ads?

Setting up your shopping feed can get a little tricky, that is… if you’re not following our Shopping Campaign setup guide.

Another issue is that you can’t bid on keywords individually (but that’s no excuse to not be aware of all the keyword matching options available in AdWords.) Instead, Google selects which of your products show up for certain search results.

The only way you can control your budget preferences is to place your bids on the product-group level. So what you’re doing is bidding on a bucket of keywords that your product might show up for. This means segmenting your bids is a difficult task because you can’t bid higher or lower based on keyword search volume.

Let me explain. Let’s say three search queries were made:

“Running Shoes”
“NIKE Lunar Glide Running Shoes”

If we were bidding on keywords for Text Ads, our campaign performance for each search result would vary. However, with a Shopping Ad, we bid the same amount for all three queries, which means you may be overpaying for generic search terms like “shoes” and underpaying for long-tail search terms like “Nike Lunar Glide Running Shoes.”

Why Long-Tail Keywords Matter

Different search queries indicate varying levels of intent to purchase. For example, someone searching “shoes” is likely looking for any kind of shoe, without a certain brand or product in mind.

However, someone searching “Nike Lunar Glide Running Shoes” knows exactly what they want, thus they have a higher chance of converting as long as your ad provides the information and price that they need.

These longer, more specific long-tail keywords have lower search volumes but indicate higher purchase intent. So naturally, we’d like to rank higher here. BUT, since we can’t bid on keywords with shopping ads, we’ll have to hack the system and adjust our bids through negative keywords and priority settings.

What Are Priority Settings?

As previously mentioned, Google selects the most relevant products within your shopping feed to show up after a search is made. However, you can rank your campaigns by priority. So, if more than one product qualifies to show, the campaign with the highest priority will always enter the auction first, regardless of how much you are bidding.

You can set each of your campaigns to have one of three priorities: low, medium, or high.

How to Use Priority Settings to Segment Your Bids

Let’s revisit our previous example and say we want to sell Nike Lunar Glide running shoes. We want to bid higher on the specific search queries and bid lower on the more generic ones.

The way we do this is by building out a funnel and filtering out more specific keywords via negative keywords.

Start by building out 3 campaigns of the same product, all with different priority settings – one high, one medium, and one low like this:


The first campaign is a generic, non-branded campaign with a high priority setting. As we mentioned before, if all our campaigns qualify, this will be the first to show due to the high priority setting.

Include negative keywords like “running, basketball, or Nike,” which will prevent more specific search queries to match and let Google show the campaign with the 2nd highest priority. Your bids should be lower here because your chances for conversions on highly competitive and generic terms are also low.

The second campaign is a more specific, non-brand campaign with medium priority. The only negative keyword we’ll use here is the brand. This campaign will capture more specific search queries, but the branded negative keyword will push down branded searches to the next campaign.

And lastly, the third campaign is a very specific, branded campaign with a low priority. This long-tail campaign has no negative keywords because it will capture the most specific long-tail search queries after the first two campaigns filter out the more generic searches. The more specific the query, the higher chances for conversions, so we are going to go ahead and bid the highest here.

How a Search Query Moves Down the Funnel

To recap: Let’s say someone searches “Nike Lunar Glide Running Shoes.”

  1. All 3 campaigns qualify to enter the auction.
  2. Google surveys the highest priority campaign for entry.
  3. The negative keywords “Nike” and “Running” force Google to pass and consider the medium priority campaign.
  4. The negative keyword “Nike” prevents the ad to match and pushes it down to the low priority campaign.
  5. The long-tail keyword with high purchase intent matches with the lowest priority campaign, which you bid higher for.

Thanks for Reading!

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please share it with your friends. If you have any questions, please feel to tweet at us @resellhub or drop a comment below. We answer every comment!

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