Can You Use Specific Keywords In Google Shopping?

Can You Use Keywords in Google Shopping?

Several months ago I began working with a new client. He had been running Google Search Campaigns for a few years, but was just getting started with Google Shopping.   On our second call the client understandably said, “I would like my products to show in Google Shopping for the exact same keywords that have converted in Google Search”.

Although not as easy as turning on and off a magic switch, in this article we are going to look at differences using keywords in Google Search compared Google Shopping and even more importantly some of the ways advertisers can manage their Google Shopping product listings to appear for desired keywords. * Also, don’t miss the limited time offer I have for Your Store Wizards customers at the bottom of this article.

Keywords in Google Search

In general, advertising in Google Search is much more straightforward than Google Shopping.  An advertiser loads their Campaign with their list of keywords; creates ads (or multiple ads if using best-practices) and launches their Campaign.  Google then uses their proprietary algorithm to run a real-time auction using a combination of an advertiser’s bid and quality score to determine in which position (aka ad rank) an advertiser’s ad will appear under sponsored ads on the search results page.

Of course this is an oversimplified explanation of how Google Search works for certain. There are different match types, for example, an advertiser can use to boost their quality score and subsequent ad rank as well as other factors that go into determining in what order an advertiser’s ad will appear.  One of the most important factors is match type which currently includes broad, phrase, exact and broad match modifier. For information on each match type and how to best use, read my blog post – Properly Using Keyword Match Types In Google Advertising).

Keywords in Google Shopping

However, what about Google Shopping?  In Google Shopping, first an advertiser must submit their product feed to Google Merchant Center and then once their products have been approved to list in Google Shopping the question is: how can an advertiser control what search terms their products will display?

For Google Shopping, Google automatically pulls keywords they deem relevant directly from an advertiser’s title and the product descriptions that have been submitted within the advertiser’s data feed as loaded into Google Merchant Center.

So although advertisers cannot control keywords with Shopping in the same straightforward manner as in Search, you do have options in controlling which terms your products will and will not appear.

Before we control which search terms you want to add or eliminate from displaying your product, it is important to know exactly which terms are triggering your items to appear.  In order, to view these products we need to review the Search Terms Report.

To view the Search Terms Report:

  1. Navigate to the Campaign or Ad Group within your account that you want to view.
  2. Click on the ‘Keywords’ tab.
  3. Click on the ‘Search terms’ sub-tab.

Once in the Search Terms report you can easily manipulate the data by adding and removing columns and sorting data.  Personally, I prefer to sort data by impressions with the highest number of impressions to the lowest.  This way I can instantly discover which user queries are displaying my products the most often as well as which are driving the most traffic via clicks and pushing ad spend. Note, you want to make sure you are looking at enough data.  I typically recommend as a rule of thumb at least looking at a minimum of two weeks of data.

Armed with this information, we have several ways that we can control which search terms our products appear.

Firstly, is with the use of negative keywords.  Negative keywords prevent our products from displaying for various search terms.  The ‘Negative keywords’ tab is located just to the left of the ‘Search terms’ subtab.  Negative keywords can be added at either the Ad Group or Campaign level and just like the Search keywords, Negative keywords support a variety of match types including: broad, phrase and exact match types.

Negative keywords once added will prevent your products from appearing for corresponding searches containing negative keywords.  For example let’s say you sell t-shirts, if you add the negative keyword: “Cheap” as a negative phrase match, your products will not be eligible for display for a user query “cheap t-shirts”. This is a simplified example, of course, and you will need to look at what search terms are currently driving your traffic to discover the relevant negative keywords that should be added. But, blocking search queries that aren’t producing conversions or are highly irrelevant is a quick and effective way to boost your profitability of your Google Shopping campaigns.

Note, there are several ways to add negative keywords.  Besides adding at an Ad Group or Campaign level, you can also add negative keywords to multiple campaigns by using the Campaign negative keywords function located in your Shared Library.

The second way of determining which keywords will have your products appear without increasing bids is by changing keywords located in the title and/or description.

Is there a certain keyword(s) that you would like your product to appear for, but they are not? (This is what was happening with my new client). If this is the case you should ensure that the keyword is contained in the product title, product description or both.

Remember, that Google uses keywords in the title and description of eligible products along with an advertiser’s bid to match products with user queries.  So if a certain keyword is not contained in the product or title then an advertiser should not expect for their products to be appearing for searches using that particular keyword.

Also, remember, that Google is using information provided in the data feed not from your website.  Although, usually the same, it is possible to create a new fields for products and titles that contains data (in this case keywords) that does not exactly match what is displaying for product and title on your website and then map those fields for the title and product descriptions.

Quick warning, you don’t just want to ‘keyword stuff’ or use keywords that you would like to appear for, but aren’t related to your products, because another piece of the Google Shopping algorithm is quality score.  If you begin listing for user queries through the adding of keywords that are not highly-related to your products, users will quickly hit the back button once landing on your product and return to the Google results page.  This is called a bounce and a high bounce rate will lower your quality score and can negatively affect not only that product, but all products contained in your account.

Summary:

Many advertisers mistakenly think that all they need to do is raise their bids for their products and they will appear more often in Shopping results.  While this is somewhat true, it is more essential for advertisers to understand what search terms they are currently appearing and why those search terms are causing their products to appear.  Once you grasp this understanding of how the whole system works, it is much easier to optimize your products to appear more often for more desired keywords all while many times spending less.

Good Luck & Happy Marketing!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author and certified online marketing strategist with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Find more information on Andy Splichal visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read his blog, blog.trueonlinepresene.com.

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