6 Steps to Optimize Google Product Listing Ads

Yoav Maor / May 7, 2017


The value of Google Product Listing Ads is officially undeniable.

According to Search Engine Land, product listing ads now accounts for 43 percent of all retailers’ Google search ads and 70% of non-brand clicks as well.

google shopping statistics

The question is, however, are PLA’s right for every eCommerce merchant, and how do you create or optimize Google Product Listing Ads that will get you the results you are looking for?
Larger feeds get better exposure, so merchants that sell a limited number of products (less than 500) may find it difficult to get a significant degree of visibility using PLA’s.

Additionally, given that the pricing for product listing ads follows the same format as PPC pricing, eCommerce merchants that operate on small margins may need to keep their bids too low to allow their ads to be visible enough to be cost effective.
If your website is still “rough around the edges”, it might also decrease the visibility of your PLA’s – ensure your website is fully functional and ready before utilizing PLA’s.

To get started using Google Product Listing Ads, you will need to have a Merchant Center Account which is connected to an AdWords account. (Google provides step-by-step instruction here on how to do this).
Once your accounts are linked, you can create PLAs through your AdWords account. For guided step by step instructions on how to create PLA’s click here (this will take you to directly to your AdWords account).
Creating Product Listing Ads is only half the job, now you need to optimize your PLA for success.

Follow the 5 steps below to help optimize Google Product Listing Ads and get the results you are looking for!

Step 1: SEO Optimize Google Product Listing Ads

Some of the same strategies that work well for SEO purposes can be adapted to your PLAs.
Since they (PLAs) do not rely on keywords, your control over when and where your PLA ads will be displayed is limited.
By optimizing Google PLA’s, specifically the product title to include brand name, color, size, style, etc. you can create a far more effective PLA.
See the images below as an example of an optimized Google Product Listing Ad product title compared to one that is not. Which one would you click?

seo google product listing ads

Step 2: Be Negative

Negative keywords are a key component in ensuring optimized Google PLA’s.
You may not be able to select keywords which cause your PLA to display, but you can (and should) select keywords which will result in your PLAs NOT displaying.

As an example, if you are selling only men shoes, you would add [-woman], [-female], [-children], [-kids] etc. to your negative keyword list.
Any search queries containing your negative keywords will “disqualify” your PLA from showing.
Negative keywords can be used at the campaign level or added to specific ad groups. This will allow you to further target your audience and prevent wasteful clicks that do not convert.
This will allow you to further target your audience and prevent wasteful clicks that do not convert.

Step 3: Feed the Google 

Your data feed is quite literally the sustenance of your PLAs and should be uploaded to Google on a daily basis to ensure relevance and accuracy.
Daily updates can also help Google see you as a merchant who provides consistent and reliable data (which Google likes to see).
This can result in better ad placement and create a better experience for your customers, as the ads they see will always be an exact match to the information on your website.
The image below shows how you can set up scheduled fetches (in your Merchant Center) to have Google automatically pull data for your feed:

google pla feed

Step 4: Image is Everything

Use relevant images and photos, ideally images and photos which differentiate your products and optimize Google Product listing Ads.

Additionally, make sure that your images are sized correctly.
Notice that in the image below, the highlighted ad on the left the photo immediately draws the user’s attention.

In comparison, the “stock” photos the other ads use do not.
The highlighted ad on the right shows an example of an image that is not correctly sized, resulting in the image being cut off. (For more details on sizing images for AdWords campaigns, click here)

google pla star ratings

Step 5: Reviews & Ratings

Some PLAs will display a star rating and review count – which can really make a PLA stand out (see the example below).google pla customer reviews The ratings and reviews are aggregated from multiple sources including your own website, editorial sites, users, etc.

For your PLA to show ratings and reviews, you need to have at least three reviews on a single product and 50 reviews across all products.
Your customers are not likely to leave reviews on their own – make sure you incentivize your customers and make it easy for them to write and post reviews.
Once you have enough reviews to be eligible to have them displayed, you will need to ask Google to add the reviews – they will not do it on their own.
Including customer reviews greatly increases consumer confidence and may increase your conversions by as much as 30%!

6. Ensure GTIN’s Are Included And Up To Date

As of 2016, GTIN’s are now required for all Google Shopping listing products.
They are an important aspect of ensuring that as a retailer, you are complying with all the rules and regulations that Google has laid out.
One way to ensure that you have proper, unique GTIN’s is with the Sigmento authenticator.
Sigmento can convert any product identifiers from across the web (ASIN, UPC, etc) to your unique GTIN code.


There you have it.
For eCommerce retailers, Google Shopping has rapidly become a go-to marketplace to sell and promote products.
To properly optimize Google Product Listing Ads, implement our step-by-step guide and start to see results and conversions coming in quicker than you can handle!

Want to learn more about how Sigmento can assist with your Google Shopping initatives? Sign up now!

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