Optimizing Google Merchant Center

By Nate Ende, Vice President, Trinity Insight

Google Merchant Center is a goldmine of incremental traffic just waiting to be tapped. Through the optimization of your product data file, in conjunction with the proper deployment of your feed in Google Merchant Center, retailers can achieve tremendous growth within this no-cost traffic segment. Looking to improve your Google product feed performance? Follow this three step methodology.

Step 1: Feed and Data Export Review

The most vital aspect to performing well in comparison engines, especially the no-cost Google Merchant Center, is the quality of data for which you export from your eCommerce platform. Many eCommerce businesses operate on technology that does not allow for best practices with feed creation. Limitations on the ability to export category and product attribute data lead to bloated and non descriptive feeds and product listings rarely render on the first page of a shopping engine result.

The first step is to conduct a comprehensive audit of your current data feed. In reviewing your current data feed, identify optimization areas that represent “low-hanging” improvements such as non-descriptive standard fields, duplicate content, multiple URL’s being listed for the same products, and especially pay attention to any errors or warnings the feed channel provides.

Tip: Within Google Merchant Center, it’s important to properly categorize your products as well as leverage standard attributes whenever possible.

Google Merchant Center’s product type taxonomy can be found here, however if you can’t find a category that accurately describes your product, “extend the taxonomy to express the desired level of detail”

Step 2: Feed Optimization

Upon identifying the areas of the feed that can be improved, it is now up to your technology analysts to make the necessary changes to the data file. Typically at this stage, a combination of human capital in conjunction with technological work are needed. The human element is responsible for making the required changes to the feed in terms of categorization, feed clean up, and new content integration. Make sure you have reliable resources and systems in place to manage the technical aspects needed for each engine that you’re interested in deploying. Not relevant for GMC, but highly relevant for other engines such as Shopping.com that sell clicks on a CPC model, narrow your spending to only active products in your file, your business will cut waste from your CSE budget by eliminating low converting products.

Tip: Prioritize your list of improvement opportunities and make your changes incrementally and to a subset of products then monitor the results separately.

Running multiple changes on the same set of products will make it more difficult to identify how much of an impact each change made. If resources allow, it is possible to run unique changes across multiple subsets of products to cover more ground. After evaluation, take the information gained from these iterations and begin combining them to create a successful recipe for elevating the overall relevancy of each channel’s specific feed.

Step 3: Monitoring

The last step is to tag all product URLs with parameters to ensure complete tracking in your analytics tool. Configure your analytics to take this tag structure and provide weekly reporting of visits, sales, conversions, and top product performance within GMC or other comparison locations. Pay close attention to the bounce rate of these visitors, especially on CPC channels as this could indicate irrelevant products incorrectly being displayed on visitors searches.

Tip: If you are using an analytics platform that tracks utm_source and utm_medium, you can easily segment out this traffic in your reporting by placing simple querystring parameters at the end of each product URL.

Using the following: utm_source=[name of channel] and utm_medium=[channel type], will allow this traffic to be tracked as a specific source of traffic and save you time in designing your reports.

Example: http://www.retailerwebsite.com/productA.html?
utm_source=googlebase&utm_medium=CSE&utm_campaign=Shopping%2BEngines

If you are interested in learning more about Google Merchant Center and how Trinity Insight assists retailers with this opportunity, please email me at [email protected]

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