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Google Shopping Ads Guide & 10 Strategies To Help You Optimize Your Campaign

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July 8, 2021 (Updated: February 9, 2023)

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Since its official launch in 2012, the Google Shopping ads campaign has attracted advertisers and shoppers alike. Shopping ads account for over 60% of retailers’ paid clicks, making them a leading advertisement technique. These ads have delivered some of the highest return on ad spend of any paid channel for clients. With new metrics under development every so often, Google ads have improved and evolved steadily and are now smarter and easier to set up.

What Are Google Shopping Ads?

As a retailer in the modern tech space, you can use Google Shopping ads for advertising your online and local inventory, for increasing traffic to your site or brick-and-mortar store, and for converting leads to sales. A Shopping ad is a promotion piece containing product information like the merchant’s name, image, and price. The ads are created from the information you submit to Google Merchant Center and are displayed to online users who are already shopping for similar products.

Shopping ads, also known as product listing ads (PLAs), are product advertisements that appear in Google search results. They appear in Google’s standard search results, the shopping tab, in the price comparison shopping service, on search partner sites, and on Google & YouTube Display Network.

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Google Shopping ads are run by both Google Ads and the Google Merchant Center. When you set up a campaign, you will manage your bids, make optimizations, set your budgets, and gain insights on Google Ads. However, your product feed is stored in the Google Merchant Center, along with your sales tax and shipping details.

Why Should You Use Google Shopping Ads?

Many shoppers start their product search on Google, so using the platform for advertisements gives you an upper hand to interact with potential customers. Unlike text-based ads, where you write the keywords and ad copy manually, Google does all the work for you. Its algorithms will extract data from your store automatically and curate ads for your products, as well as matching them with relevant search queries.

Although Shopping ads require a bit of time to set up, you don’t have to put in much effort after the initial setup. Let’s go over some of the top benefits of running a Google Shopping ad campaign.

It’s the best way to appear at the top of Google search results

Google Shopping ads account for 65% of all Google ad clicks and 89% of non-branded Google Search ad clicks. Here is a snippet of a search result page to understand why this is happening.


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As you can see, there is very little room left for organic results. Search ads aren’t spared either because they are getting pushed further down the page.

Shopping ads get the premier spot on the search results. Their visual design is likely to attract the majority of the clicks. While more clicks translate to more profit for Google, it also favors retailers.

Intent vs. interruption

Advertising is historically known to be interruption-based, like ads that pop-up during YouTube videos. You may not even be interested in buying the products that pop up.

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On the contrary, Google ads are intent-based, meaning they show up when people are actively looking for a solution. The click and conversion rates for these ads are much higher. That is evident in the cost per click for Shopping ads, which is 10 times more than that of a YouTube ad.

Show vs. tell

If you want to buy a product, wouldn’t you be more inclined to purchase if you saw an image rather than just text? No matter how good of a job you do with a search ad, you can never beat the benefits a shopping ad offers. Google ads will even sway clients who weren’t sure of what they were looking for because they learn so much about a product, such as the types, models, prices, and colors.

How To Set Up a Google Shopping Ads Campaign

  • Open your Google Ads account.
  • Create a new campaign.
  • Select your goal, which is often to make sales.
  • Choose shopping as your campaign type.
  • Select your linked Merchant Center account and the country associated with the account.
  • Set your budget, bidding, targeting, and campaign adjustments on the next page.
  • Save data, confirm the settings, and launch.

How To Optimize Google Shopping Ads

There is more to running a successful Shopping ad campaign than creating the perfect data feed. While that’s a significant step in the right direction, you need to optimize your campaign to increase sales and avoid wasting money on poorly-performing products.

1. Optimize Your Product Feed

Google takes data from your product feed and displays it on your ads. Therefore, it should be well optimized for the best results. If Google has an easy time “reading information about your products,” the algorithms increase the chances of showing the correct information to customers.

Many retailers have everything Google needs on their feeds, but there is no easy way for Google to translate it. Here are some attributes that an adequately optimized data feed should have:

  • Images: An outstanding Shopping Ad should have well-designed images. Although there are rules and regulations that Google requires advertisers to follow, you can optimize your pictures beyond that as well. For instance, do the standard A/B testing to determine the one that will perform best with your audience.
  • Price: Getting the price factor right is vital in determining the quality of your ads. Ensure Google pulls the correct price by ensuring that the currency and price are up to date.
  • Product titles: Although images catch the shopper’s attention right away, product titles play a critical role too. Put the most important words first to hook your target audience.

2. Optimize Your Campaign Structure

It helps if you aim to have as much control over your ads as possible. That will enable you to bid differently for various products. Although this isn’t possible from the start, you can segment and organize products to increase your power.

Since different products have varying margins, you wouldn’t want to place a uniform bid for your products. That is why there is a provision on Google Ads that allows users to divide their products into different groups.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on dividing your Google Shopping campaign structure:

  • Step 1: Start with one product group. Go to “All products,” then click “edit” and pick the attribute you want to use to divide your products.
  • Step 2: The list of available values will appear, all pulled from your data feed. You may progress to create separate product groups for some of your values. Use (+) or (>>) depending on the number of values you wish to select.
  • Step 3: Now, you can categorize the new product groups again. Edit them and pick the attributes you want to use. You can repeat this process many times.
  • Step 4: Once your campaign is well structured, you should set bids. Google Ads automatically creates a new product category labeled “everything else.” You can use a different request for a particular product within a category, product type, or brand.

3. Categorize Your Products Into Ad Groups

If you cannot control the bidding on your ads by keyword, you will require another strategy. You can arrange your products using ad groups, which can be likened to different departments in a store.

Here’s the process of creating additional ad groups:

  1. Sign in to your account.
  2. Select “Ad groups” on the page menu.
  3. Click the + button.
  4. Pick “select a campaign” and pick where the ad group will go.
  5. Name your ad group.
  6. Set a bid.
  7. Click “create” when you complete the process.

You can now divide and subdivide your products. If you have multiple level categories in your feed, you’ll need to use every level separately. You can use any attribute to categorize your products.

4. Top vs. Other

Increasing your bid is not always a good option because you might end up wasting your ad budget. Some products may do better when they don’t appear at the top of your search results. If you want to compare your products, go to the segments page and then “top vs. other” and analyze the CPA, conversion rate, and other metrics between other positions and top positions.

5. Find Your Winners And Losers

Some of your products will perform better than others. You should have this valuable information about your ads to help you make the relevant adjustments. Winners are products or categories with many transactions, while losers have many visits but few transactions. Since the goal is to sell products and not merely show them, you need to adjust bids accordingly. Bid more on winners and less on losers. Consider excluding items with several visits and no transactions, especially if you are paying for every click.

6. Do Away With Unprofitable Products

To stop advertising products that don’t bring in revenue, you need to exclude them from your campaign. Edit your bids and mark the products as excluded. Alternatively, you can use data feed tools to identify losers and exclude them from your feed with a single click.

Another time you may want to exclude some products is if you know they won’t sell well. For instance, advertising swimsuits during winter may not be the best idea. It’s probably safer to exclude those products and re-introduce them during summer.

7. Use Negative Keywords

Using negative keywords is the unsung hero of your Shopping Ads campaign. As opposed to text ads where you need definitive keywords to trigger your product ads, all the queries, in this case, are pulled from your data feed. You can limit the searches for your ads using negative keywords to tell Google the search terms that shouldn’t trigger your ads.

For instance, if you sell women’s shorts, someone looking for men’s shorts will probably not buy your products. If the ad keeps showing up on the wrong searches, it will hurt your ad budget. To solve this, add “men’s short” as the negative keyword to prevent it from displaying irrelevant queries.

8. Subdivide Negative Keywords

You can use negative keywords on specific products or product groups. Usually, they are categorized into two:  universal negatives and ad group negatives. Divide them to increase your control on which queries your products will display. Universal keywords are the ones that you never want to trigger your ads. On the other hand, group negatives are for specific ad groups. The advantage of subdividing negative keywords is to increase conversion rates without competing with your products.

9. Bid Adjustments

Some clicks are worth more than others. Using bid adjustments gives you more control over who sees your ads and when. Some valuable types include:

  • Location: Using location bid adjustment helps you control how often shoppers can see your ads according to the geographical location. This is important if you are advertising in more than one region and you know that the competition in a particular area is higher. You can increase your bid if you value those sales.
  • Schedule: Your ads could be performing better at certain times of the day or week, depending on where and what you are selling. That way, you can set different bids based on the day or time.
  • Devices: If you notice that most of your sales originate from mobile devices followed by tablets and desktop computers, you can adjust your bidding based on the device in use.

10. Avoid Making Drastic Changes

Although you might be drawn to make all these changes at once, it’s not advisable. Google shopping ads are very sensitive, and a minor adjustment may significantly affect the performance. Therefore, apart from excluding your losers, the other changes should be gradual. Don’t increase or decrease your bids by over 20%. Make a small change and track the effect before choosing to make another one. Always use the A/B testing to ensure you make the best changes possible.

If you were nervous about launching your Google Ads campaign, now you have all the tools to run a successful promotion. This article features everything you’d want to know, from start to finish. Feel free to reference these tips any time!

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