OLD - BigCommerce Google Shopping Steps

Step 2. Creating Your Google Product Search Data Feed in BigCommerce

For most people, setting up Google Product Search ads is a real hassle. Not only do they have to create a product feed using Google's specifications, but they have to maintain those feeds, resubmitting them on a regular basis. Fortunately, BigCommerce has made the entire process much easier. We'll show you where to get the information on setting up your Google Product Search feed in Shopify and explain some of the parts that may be confusing ...
  1. Login to your BigCommerce admin panel, click on the Marketing tab, and then click on Google Product Search Feed.
  2. You will see a message that tells you that you have not yet set up your products for use with Google Product Search Feed. Click on the Learn how to Setup your Products for Google Products Search link, which will take you to the BigCommerce Knowledge Base tutorial.
Helpful Tips Mapping Your Categories: The following tips should help in the 'Category Mapping' section of the BigCommerce tutorial:
  • Take your time to make sure that you have picked the best possible category for your products. Most of the time, if you choose the right series of categories and subcategories, you can get an exact match or one that is awfully close to the category your products are in. You may have to back up a couple of times and choose different categories or subcategories to find the right path; though, things aren't always where you think they would be (Ballet Bars is listed in the Dancing subcategory of the Sporting Goods category, for instance). If you can't find the exact category you are looking for, don't pick a specific one that doesn't apply to your category's products unless you think people looking in that subcategory will also be looking for the products in your category. Instead, just leave it set to the more general category and click Save & Exit.
  • Remember that you need to map every single category, including your subcategories!
Enabling Your Products: The following tips should help you better understand some of the aspects of the 'Enabling your products' section of the BigCommerce tutorial that may be a bit unclear:
  • Different niches have different requirements as far as product feeds go. Be sure to read Google's Summary of attribute requirements so that your feeds are not rejected. Also make sure that you read Google's Unique product identifiers specification so that you include the extra attributes they may require if you are selling things like media, clothing or books.
  • Unless you have just a few products in your online store, it is much faster to export your products and work with them in a spreadsheet than it is to edit them one at a time in your Big Commerce admin panel.
  • Many of the things that Google requires in a feed are already taken care of by the default BigCommerce feed. If you are editing your product feed with a spreadsheet, the only things you will be adding things to are the columns on the far right of your spreadsheet that have the 'GPS' (Google Product Search) prefix. In most cases, you will only need to add things to the 'GPS Category' column and either the 'GPS Global Trade Item' or the 'GPS Manufacturer Part Number' columns.
  • Because people sometimes put products in more than one category and the Google feed specification only allows a product to be in one category, BigCommerce cannot automatically assign your category names to your Google product feed. If you are adding products to the Google Product Search feed one at a time in your BigCommerce Control Panel, you will have to select one and only one category for each product to apply to your feed. If you are editing your feed in a spreadsheet, the best thing to do is to copy everything from row 2 on down from the 'Category' column and paste it by clicking on row 2 of the 'GPS Category' column. Then, scroll down through them one at a time and make sure that there is not more than one category assigned to a product. If there is, pick whatever one is the best one in your opinion for that product.
  • For all products, Google requires at least 2 of the three unique product identifiers: Brand, GTIN and MPN.
    • Brand – This is automatically picked up in the feed from your 'Brand Name' column, which is on the left side of the spreadsheet. If you have not specified a brand for your products in that column, you'll probably need to do so (unless you know both the manufacturer's part number and its GTIN). If you are selling products that don't have brand names, use your website name or an abbreviation of it as the brand name.
    • GTIN – Although they aren't necessarily the same exact thing, for the purposes of this feed, the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) would be a product's UPC code. If you know it, it would go in the 'GPS Global Trade Item Number' column.
    • MPN – Technically speaking, the MPN (Manufacturer's Part Number) is the unique product identifier that a manufacturer assigns to a product for the purposes of ordering it. With some manufacturers, the MPN is often the same as the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). If they don't have a different MPN, just use the SKU. Although they aren't necessarily the same exact thing, for the purposes of this feed, they can be. If you are selling generic products that don't have SKUs, make one up (you are the "manufacturer", after all). You can copy and paste the product data from the Product Code/SKU column on the left side of your spreadsheet into the 'GPS Manufacturer Part Number' column or enter them individually if you know the actual MPNs.
  • All of the other columns in the GPS column are optional except for the very last one: 'GPS Enabled'. Please be sure that the 'GPS Enabled' column has a Y in it for every product you want to enable for Google Shopping. If the other GPS columns are applicable and you want to fill them in, you can if you want to; it will make your products appear more often for very specific searches.

Step 3. Uploading Your Data Feed

Now that you have created your data feed, you still need to upload it. Please read the following article in the BigCommerce Knowledge Base to see how to upload your product feed file:

How do I submit my product feed to Google Product Search?

Step 4. Setting Up Your Product Search Listings in Google AdWords
Now, at long last, it is finally time to get your products listed on Google Shopping. To do that, you will need to have an AdWords account and link it to your Google Merchant Center account. Link Your Google Merchant Center Account to Your Google AdWords Account In order for your product listing ads to show, you must link your Google Merchant Center account with a Google AdWords Account. You can add multiple AdWords accounts to the same Merchant Center account. If you don't yet have an AdWords account, skip ahead to the Setting Up A New AdWords Account section below.

  1. In your Merchant Center account, click Settings, then AdWords
  2. Enter your AdWords Customer ID (CID), which you can find at the top of your AdWords account when you're signed into it.
  3. Click Add
Now you will need to sign into your AdWords Account to complete the Setting Up A Product Listing Ad Campaign instructions (below). Setting Up a New AdWords Account They have made setting up a new AdWords account pretty simple via Google Merchant Center.
  1. Click the big blue 'Get Started' button at the top to set up a new AdWords campaign.
  2. Fill out the basic settings for your account: set your time zone, enter the currency that you will be using to pay with, and name your campaign. Note: Bids and account budget default to the minimum amount (which you can change in the next step).
Setting Up A Product Listing Ad Campaign Even if you already have an AdWord campaign running, you will want to set up an entirely new campaign for your Product Listing Ads. To do that, log into your Google AdWords account. If it does not take you to the 'Campaigns' tab automatically, click the 'Campaigns' tab at the top of the page. Within the 'Campaigns > Campaigns' tab, click the green 'New Campaign' button. Then, in the various sections on this page, do the following:
  • General - Before you name your new campaign, first select 'Search Network Only' under 'Type' and then select the 'Product listing ads' radio button to the right. Now, go back up and name your Campaign something that will identify it to you as your display ad campaign for this website (you'll see why we told you to do the other two steps first if you rushed ahead and did not do this in the order we have laid out).

  • Networks - Scroll down to 'Networks' and uncheck the 'Google Search Networks – include search partners' box. If you leave this checked, your ads will show up in all kinds of non-targeted places, which we do not recommend.

  • Desktops & laptops, mobile devices and tablets - Click 'Let me choose' and leave the 'Desktop and laptop computers' box checked and also check the 'Tablets with full browsers' box, leaving the 'Mobile devices with full browsers' unchecked. Again, this is our recommendation, especially at the beginning. People tend to shop from computers and tablets and browse aimlessly from mobile phones. You will be paying for every click so you want to make sure that when someone clicks a product listing, they are doing so from a device that they are more likely to be making a purchase from. This will help you gauge your ad spend at the beginning. If you find you are not getting enough clicks, you can add the mobile devices later but should only do so if you are using a shopping cart platform (like BigCommerce) that is optimized for mobile devices. Definitely monitor your clicks and conversions to see which devices are resulting in sales and which ones are not so that you can adjust your campaign settings accordingly.

  • Locations – Choose where you would like your product listings to be displayed (we normally pick just the United States).

  • Languages – Select 'English' (the default) unless your website is in another language.

  • Bidding and budget – Select 'I'll manually set my bids for clicks' (you don't want Google deciding how much you'll pay, do you?).

    • Default Bid: Enter the default amount for bids that you do not specify elsewhere. Obviously, there's no way we can give you a clear-cut answer on how much you should bid because it's different for every product niche. We would suggest looking at what the minimum page 1 bid is for a regular text ad for your most popular product and setting your Display Ad bid at half that price. If you don't want to do that, start at $0.25. After a few days, you should be able to see what the average position is for your various products and adjust your bid up or down from there.

    • Budget: Enter the maximum you wish to spend per day on all product listing ads combined. We recommend entering $20-50 here if you're just starting out with PLAs. It's kind of a "safety net" in case you set something up wrong and your ads get way more exposure & clicks than you intended.

    • Ad Extensions – By default, the checkbox next to 'Product' that says 'Extend my ads with relevant product details from Google Merchant Center' is checked, as it should be. Underneath, there is an 'Extensions' section where you will need to click the drop-down arrow and select the Google Merchant Center account that this campaign will get its products from (this is your product feed file).

    • Advanced Settings – We normally skip this section, which allows you to schedule start dates and end dates for campaigns as well as the hours of the day and days of the week you want to target. You can certainly play with these advanced settings if you'd like to, but we usually don't.

    Once you're finished with all that, click the 'Save and continue' button. You should now be on the 'Create Ad Group' page. You can set up many different Ad Groups and even assign certain product types to them. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will only be setting up one Ad Group and assigning all of our website's products to it. On this page, fill in the following fields:

    • Ad Group Name – Call your Ad Group anything you think will help you remember what is in it. In this case, because all of our products are being displayed, we might call it 'PLAs - Doghouses - All Products'.

    • Create an ad – If you feature something like free shipping on all or select products or are running a sale, you might want to highlight that by entering text into the 'Promotion' box here. Something like 'Free Shipping on All Dog Houses This Week' or 'Special 10% Off Coupon Code: SAVE10PERCENT' would be examples of good promotional copy. Don't worry about keywords here because Google doesn't pay attention to ads for SEO anyway. You want to put something actionable here, not something generic like 'Satisfaction Guaranteed'. Keep in mind that there is a 45-character limit so keep it short and sweet and DO NOT USE ALL CAPS!

    • Auto Targets – By default, this is set up for all of your products. For now, leave this box checked to apply to all products (you have to anyway, at this point).

    • Ad Group Bids – We already set up a default bid on the previous page, so that default bid shows up here for our Ad Group. You can have several different Ad Groups and have each one with different bid amounts. To change the bid from the default, simply type in the amount you would like to bid for each click in this particular Ad Group.

    Click the Save ad group button to finish. You are now done with all of the basic settings for your product listings ad. There are quite a few advanced things that can be done from here but, as we said at the beginning of this tutorial, its purpose was merely to show you how to set up a basic product listing ad (surely you are exhausted by this point). One last thing... Google has created a tutorial video that shows you how to set up a product listing ad. It's not all that detailed (hence the reason we felt the need to write our own detailed tutorial), but it does go over the basics. You can find that video here.

    Advanced Bidding Tips for Google Product Listing Ads

    In order to keep this tutorial as simple as possible, we showed you how to set a universal bid for all of your products. In practice, though, you'll very rarely want to do that. You'll typically want to have different bid amounts for different products or categories, largely based on how much profit you make for each group of products. Check out the Pro's Edge box immediately below to learn how to set up unique bid amounts for specific groups of products within your product feed file, which can save you A LOT of money! 
  1. Login to your BigCommerce admin panel, click on the Marketing tab, and then click on Google Product Search Feed.
  2. You will see a message that tells you that you have not yet set up your products for use with Google Product Search Feed. Click on the Learn how to Setup your Products for Google Products Search link, which will take you to the BigCommerce Knowledge Base tutorial.

Pro's Edge: Google PLAs Advanced Bidding Guide

Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are, perhaps, the very best value in the realm of paid advertising. Because pictures of your products and the price appear in the Google search results, customers already know what they are getting and what it costs, so conversion rates are considerably higher than they are for regular AdWords ads. They also tend to cost around half of what clicks do for regular AdWords text PPC ads. In the expandable section immediately above, we went into great detail about how to set up a basic PLA campaign for all of your products. While that certainly will get your products appearing, listing everything for the same bid price will have you bidding far too much for some product types and far too little for others. Fortunately, there is a way to modify your bid prices on different items so that you are not paying the same PPC amount for $30 accessories as you do for $600 major items in your store.

Since most people are using our recommended shopping cart, BigCommerce, this tutorial will show you how to vary the bids for different products while still using the product feed that BigCommerce creates for you. We'll assume for the purposes of this tutorial that you already have your Google Merchant Center account set up, already have an AdWords account set up, and already have the default setup for Product Listing Ads (i.e. all of your products listed for the same bid amount). If you are not already at that stage, go through ALL of the steps in the expandable section above BEFORE continuing on with this tutorial. The only place you will need to make any changes is in your AdWords account. But you may want to also have your Merchant Center account open in a separate tab so you can see precisely how individual products' categories appear to Google. Before we get started, you'll need to familiarize yourself with a few terms...

  • Campaign - In this case, the campaign is for our Bird Cages Now website and it is the Product Listing Ads campaign, which we have called 'BCN Product Listing'. We might have other campaigns for that website such as a regular AdWords text ads campaign or a re-marketing campaign. We might have multiple websites and run one or more campaigns for those sites, too.
  • Ad Group - With Product Listing Ads, bids are set in AdWords at the Ad Group level. By default, there is only one ad group when you set up your Product Listing Ads and it includes every product in your store that you have chosen to make visible (indicated by a 'Y' in the very last 'GPS Enabled' column of your BigCommerce product feed file). So that we don't get it confused with our regular AdWords ad groups or Product Listing Ads for other websites, we have named the default Product Listing Ads group for all of our products on Bird Cages Now, 'BCN PLA – All Products'.
  • Auto Targets - Auto Targets are conditions that automatically trigger a bid amount. By default, your initial ad group was set up with an Auto Target of 'all products'. There are several other more specific things that can be targeted, which we will show you momentarily.

The higher your bid price, the more likely it is that your product will show up in the Google Shopping ads at the top of page one of the search results. Right now, all of our products on the Bird Cages Now website have the same exact bid: $0.40. What we want to do is set the bid a little lower for the small cages where our profit is less and a little higher for the large cages that we make much more money on. 40 cents seems about right for our medium cages, at least for the Avain Adventures brand. We also want a catch-all bid that is extremely low for things like cage covers because we don't make nearly as much money on those items but they still bring people into our website where they just might make a larger purchase. For things that we don't want to bid on at all (like feeder cups), we'll just change the entry in the last 'GPS Enabled' column of our BigCommerce feed file to 'N' and those products won't even show up in our feed. In addition to having different prices for the three sized cage groups, we have decided we want to bid slightly more for our Avian Adventures cages than our A&E brand because we make a little more profit on the Avian Adventures line. Here is what we have decided we want our maximum bids to be for our seven product groups:

Avian Adventures Small Cages .30
Avian Adventures Medium Cages .40
Avian Adventures Large Cages .50
A&E Small Cages .25
A&E Medum Cages .35
A&E Large Cages .45
All Products .10

Now, before we show you how to set up different bids for different groups of products, it's important that you understand how Google works. As you probably have figured out by now, Google is a for-profit company. Like all companies, their goal is to make as much money as they possibly can. When it comes to deciding what bid they are going to use for your product listing ad, there is only one thing to remember. Google will always pick whatever will make them the most money. So, even though the Avian Adventures Small Cages will appear in the 'All Products' group, because they have a higher bid in the 'Avian Adventures Small Cages' group, Google will use the higher bid price of 30 cents whenever products from the 'Avian Adventures Small Cages' group are shown.

Changing the Bid for your Default All Products Group

Before we set up new product groups, we're first going to change the bid we already have in place for our catch-all 'All Products' group.

  1. Login to your AdWords account and click on the Product Listing Ads Campaign for your website. In our example, we would click on the 'BCN Product Listing' Ad campaign (see Image 1 above).
  1. You should only have one ad group set up at this point. Click on the bid price in the Default Max CPC column next to your Ad Group name and change it to your "catch-all" bid price for all products. In our example, we would change our bid price from $0.40 to $0.10 for the 'BCN PLA – All Products' group.

That's it! You're done changing your low-ball default bid price.

Creating New Product Groups

Now it's finally time to do what we came here to really do... assign different prices for different products!

  1. You should still be in the Groups tab for your Product Listing Ads campaign. If you aren't, click your PLA campaign name to get to the right place.
  2. Click the green New ad group tab, which will take you to a page where you will enter the basic information for your new Product Group.
    AdWords New ad group tab
  3. Enter the name for your first new Product Group in the 'Ad group name' field. In our example, it will be 'Avian Adventures Small Cages'.
  4. The promotion field is optional and this is where you would list a short blurb about a sale or discount coupon. We'll leave it blank for now.
  5. Uncheck the 'All products' box in the 'Auto targets' section. You do NOT want all products to be in this group!
  6. Enter your maximum bid in the 'Default bid' field. In our case, we want to bid $0.30 for the 'Avian Adventures Small Cages' ad group.
  7. Click the blue Save ad group button.

Adding an Auto Target for your Ad Group

We're almost done adding our new ad group, but we haven't told Google what type of products we want to have in the ad group yet. After saving your Ad Group in the last step, a new page will appear, asking you to add a product target. Click the Add product target button, which will take you to a page where you can enter one or more auto targets for your new Product Group.

Now, before we get into how to add one or more targets for your product group, we need to first explain what an auto target is and what types of targets are available for you to use. Targets are specific things in a feed that you can use to narrow down product types like the brand or the category they are in. Auto targets are conditions that will automatically trigger your product bid to be selected (hence, the name "auto target"). There are technically 6 auto target types that can be used with a Google Product Listing Ad feed and you can define up to three targets for each ad group. Unfortunately, because of the way that feeds are constructed in BigCommerce, only four of those target types can be used with BigCommerce (and really only three that you would likely ever use). The six types of targets are:

  • id - This is the product ID on your BigCommerce store, which should be in column B. Unless you are going to set up a Product 'Group' for each individual item, you probably won't ever us the Product ID as a target. If you only want to list a few products on Google Shopping - especially if you want each one to have a different bid price - you might consider using the Product ID. Otherwise, it would be a nightmare setting up, monitoring and adjusting proices for hundreds of different Ad Groups because you had to set up an Ad Group for each product.
  • product type - This is the target that the vast majority of people will be using. The 'Product Type' is really the actual category you have "mapped" to Google Shopping in your BigCommerce store (it's the second to last column on the right in your BigCommerce product spreadsheet and has the column heading 'GPS Category'.) Essentially, if you use this as a target, any product in this category on your store will have the same bid price.
  • brand - This is a another target that you might use effectively. You can use it to target one price for one brand and another target for another brand. When combined with the 'Product Type' target, it allows you to specify what category and brand a product needs to have to trigger that bid price. We'll be doing that in the upcoming example.
  • condition - You'll probably never use this target, since there are only two values that can exist here - 'new' and 'used'. I suppose if you are selling new items and used items, it would be a great target to use. Obviously you would want to bid more for new products that you would be charging more for.
  • adwords labels - Unfortunately, there is no 'adwords labels' column in a BigCommerce product spreadsheet, so you cannot take advantage of this very powerful target. If you have no problem creating your own feeds and manually uploading them constantly, creating an 'adowrds labels' column allows you to label any product any way you want. You could create a label for products under $100, another label for products under $200, etc. and label each product one by one with one of your custom labels. It is beyond the scope of this tutorial to show you how to create your own Google Product feed; though, if you elect to go the manual feed route, you can visit the Google Feed Specification page and try to decipher the Google instructions.
  • adwords grouping - This is similar to 'Adwords Labels' but it is more retrictive. Nobody really ever uses this target because Adwords labels are far more flexible. Like Adwords labels, there is no column for this in the BigCommerce product feed, so there is really not much sense in discussing this target any further.

For our Bird Cages Now website, we are going to set two targets for each product group: 1) Brand and 2) Product Type. First we'll select the Brands target from the drop-down list. Then, we'll enter the brand name exactly as it appears in our Google Merchant Center feed. After doing that, we'll click the + Add another link to ad our 'Product Type' auto target. The labels you add as targets must match the names as they are displayed in your Google Merchant Center feed exactly or your listings will not appear! This is why it is a good idea to have Google Merchant Center open in another tab. Sometimes, things are formatted differently there than they are in your BigCommerce spreadsheet. To see exactly how a product's feed is formatted in Google Merchant Center, click your website account's display name (in our case, 'Bird Cages Now') and then click the Products link on the left. All of the products you have ads running for should display there. Click on any product name to see exactly how your feed appears to Google (you may have to scroll down the page a little bit). Although the 'Brand' is formatted normally, you will notice that the way the Product Type appears in your Merchant Center feed is definitely different than it is in your BigCommerce spreadsheet if your product is listed in a subcategory (this is the 'GPS Category' column in BigCommerce). Subcategories in Google Merchant Center feeds are always listed in the heirarchy separated by right arrow brackets ('>') with a space on each side of the arrow. Our small bird cages are listed on the BigCommerce 'GPS Category' spreadsheet like this: Bird Cages By Size/Small Bird Cages. In Google Merchant Center, that same subcategory listing appears like this: Bird Cages By Size > Small Bird Cages. You need to enter it the way it appears in Google Merchant center with the right-arrow brackets. After you have added one or more targets for your Product Group, it is always a good idea to click the Validate button to make sure no formatting errors have occurred. Our finished auto targets for the small Avian Adventures Bird Cages looks like this...

Once you have validated that your targets are correctly formatted for your Product Group, click the Save button. You will be taken to the Auto Targets tab for the Ad Group you just created. If you ever need to edit a target you can do it from here by clicking on the actual auto target name in the table. You can also add more auto targets by clicking the + Add product target button. click on product target That's it! Now every time a search query happens that our Small Avian Adventures Bird Cages qualify to be listed for, Google will see that we want to bid more for these than the low bid in our All Products group and because of that, it has a much better chance of showing up on page one in the Google Shopping ads. Now we just need to create a new ad group and targets for the other five Product Groups we want to set bids for by repeating the above steps. After that is done, we will be bidding more on the products we make more money on and bidding less on the products that aren't as profitable. This is much better than a "one size fits all" bidding strategy, isn't it?

Some Final Things to Consider

We should add one final bit of advice. Although we are by no means advocating changing the categorization of your store in such a way as to make it more difficult for people to navigate, because of the way you need to do this with BigCommerce, you might need to make some changes to your category structure in order to bid the way you really want to. One thing you might consider doing is creating a whole separate "Shop by Price" category and listing it at the bottom of your category list. That way, people can still navigate your store as they normally would, but they would have the option of using the Shop by Price category, too. Then, you could really target your bids by the price of items and not just by whatever category they happened to be in. Another thing you could consider doing is creating subcategories within each category that might better group products by price.