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How to Sell on Google for Free: A Guide for eCommerce Merchants

It’s now free for merchants to sell products on Google.  Yes, you read that right.  But before you get all excited thinking you can save a ton on advertising costs read on.

Allowing merchants to list their products for free in Google Shopping was something the search giant planned to roll out at a later date.  However, they cited the current COVID-19 situation as the impetus to accelerate their plan in an attempt to help business owners – specifically those who don’t have the ad budgets to list their products.

With physical stores shuttered, digital commerce has become a lifeline for retailers. And as consumers increasingly shop online, they’re searching not just for essentials but also things like toys, apparel, and home goods. While this presents an opportunity for struggling businesses to reconnect with consumers, many cannot afford to do so at scale.

Bill Ready
President, Commerce at Google

As the program begins to roll out, searchers who click on the Shopping tab on a Google search results page will be presented with listings that are “primarily … free listings … regardless of whether they [the merchant] advertise[s] on Google.”

It’s important to note that this is not a replacement for paid Google advertising.  Paid listings will continue to appear in ad slots and will operate in the same way as Shopping Ads do today.

For existing Merchant Center and Shopping ads customers, there are a few things you need to do in order to take advantage of the free listings program:

Verify Your Opt-In Status with for Surfaces across Google
In order for your products to be listed for free within Google Shopping, you must opt-in to the surfaces by Google program.  If you’re an existing advertiser, chances are you have already completed this step, but it’s good to verify it.

In order to do so, log in to the Google Merchant Center and select “Growth” then “Manage Programs.”

If you see “Active” as the status for Surfaces across Google, your products are eligible for free listings.

If you do not see “Active” as the status for Surfaces across Google, continue the steps to opt-in and activate the program.

Don’t Stop Your Paid Advertising!
You may be thinking this is a great opportunity to cut expenses and take advantage of these free listings.


This program is designed to supplement your paid ads.  Consider these free listings to be in the same category as your organic search listings.  You’re grateful for the free traffic organic brings you, but that traffic is never close to the amount you derive from pay-per-click ads.  The same applies here.

I’m not Participating in Google Shopping, What Do I Do?

Good question!  For those of you who do not currently list your products in Google shopping, there’s no better time than the present to start.  However, this is a process that requires a few moving pieces.

Step 1: Create a Google Merchant Center account by following the instructions here.

Step 2: Create a data feed for your products.  Google provides documentation on how to do this, here.

If you are a BigCommerce or Shopify store owner, you can find apps that do this for you in the platform’s app stores.

If you’re a Yahoo! Store owner, you will need to create your own feed or use a 3rd party feed service such as our Feed Wizard.

Feed Wizard is designed to take your item data directly from your Yahoo! Store and format it into a Google compatible feed.  There are many complexities associated with creating a compatible feed and making sure it’s accepted by Google.  Feed Wizard makes this process seamless (and more importantly – painless) for the Yahoo! Store owner.

Step 3: Once your feed is created, it’s time to submit it to Google to have your listings appear!  If you’re doing your feed yourself, you may encounter errors the first time you submit and will need to work around those before having a successful submission.  You will also need to resubmit your feed each time you add, remove, or update the products on your website.

If you’re using an app or our Feed Wizard service, these updates are done automatically on a regular basis, which is why we highly recommend not going the DIY route.

If you have questions about Google Shopping or would like more information on Feed Wizard for Yahoo! Store, please fill out the form below.

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