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Google Shopping Free Listings: An In-Depth Guide

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Google Shopping Free Listings: An In-Depth Guide

Whether you run an ecommerce or brick-and-mortar retail business, chances are you’ve heard a thing or two about Google Shopping.

But what is Google Shopping, exactly? Is it worth using? And, if so, how should you use it?

This post will cover all the fundamentals of Google Shopping and explain everything you’ll need to get up and running on the world’s most popular retail search engine.

So let’s kick off with some basics.

What Is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a comparison shopping engine provided by Google that allows consumers to research, compare, and purchase products from a broad range of online vendors.

Products listed on Google Shopping often appear as ads within regular Google Search results, usually inside a carousel at the top of the results page.

Users can also access the platform by heading directly to the Google Shopping website or by selecting the Shopping tab in Google Search.

Google Shopping organizes millions of products and reviews into an easily searchable and visual format, making it easier for consumers to find the right product at the best price. Shoppers can also use the platform’s many filters to refine further their product searches, including by price range, location, or brand.

Moreover, product listings that include the Google Cart icon can be bought directly through the platform (so that shoppers don’t need to visit third-party stores) and come with a Google-backed guarantee for additional peace of mind.

How Does Google Shopping Work?

Merchants must submit a file known as a product feed to Google to have their products featured on Google Shopping.

The product feed contains all the relevant data from the merchant’s inventory, including product titles, descriptions, images, and prices.

Google’s algorithm processes this data to surface the merchant’s products whenever users search for related product queries.

When users click on one of these product listings, they’re taken to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase (provided the item can’t be bought directly through Google Shopping).

Until April 2020, merchants had no option but to pay for product listings in Google Shopping.

Since then, however, Google has introduced free product listings within the Google Shopping tab and Google Search.

Google Shopping Ads

Screenshot from search for [xbox one series x], Google, October 2022

You can pay for more prominent product listings by creating Shopping ad campaigns in Google Ads.

As with other ad formats, the placement of your Shopping ads is determined in an ad auction, and you get charged on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis.

Unlike traditional text ads, Google Shopping ads are visual, showing an image of the product and information like title, price, and shop name.

They can appear within the Shopping tab, Google Search, Google Images, and on Google Search Partner websites.

google search result for xbox one

Google Shopping Free Listings

You can now list your products on Google Shopping for free, just as you can list your website on the Google Search index without needing to pay.

Of course, free listings don’t enjoy the prominence of sponsored listings, but they do appear across the Google ecosystem, including on the Shopping tab, Google Search, Google Images, and YouTube.

Here’s an example of free listings appearing on Google Search within a product knowledge panel:

google result for xboxScreenshot from search for [xbox one series x], Google, October 2022

Should I Be Listed On Google Shopping?

In short, yes!

Here are some of the major ways Google Shopping can benefit your ecommerce or retail business:

Greater Product Visibility

Powered by the world’s most popular search engine, listing your products on Google Shopping can significantly boost your customer reach.

Moreover, using the service allows your brand to appear several times within a single Google Search results page, thereby multiplying your exposure to potential customers.

For example, if you combine free and paid Google Shopping listings with traditional Search ads — and your website ranks organically for the query in question — Google could display all four in the search results simultaneously.

Exposure To Users With High Purchase Intent

Naturally, users that head directly to the Google Shopping platform generally do so intending to buy something. So it’s a no-brainer to try to get your products listed for free on one of the world’s most popular storefronts.

Moreover, free and paid Google Shopping listings only appear in Google Search if they are deemed to be a relevant match for the user’s search intent.

Visual Appeal

Shopping ads are more eye-catching than their text-only counterparts.

Whenever users search for a specific product or conduct some research to find out what colors, styles, and sizes are available, they are more likely to find results that feature actual product images useful.

This, in turn, can translate into more clicks and higher conversion rates.

How To Add Products To Google Shopping

Now that you’re up to speed on the basics of Google Shopping and how it can help your business grow, let’s look at what you need to do to get set up on the platform.

1. Create A Google Merchant Center Account

google merchant center dashboardScreenshot from Google Ads & Commerce Blog, October 2022

The first step towards listing your products on Google Shopping is to set up a Google Merchant Center account.

This will serve as a central hub where you can manage how your product catalog appears throughout Google.

The setup process is pretty self-explanatory.

You’ll be asked to provide some basic business information, choose how you want your customers to check out (e.g., on your website or through Google), and be instructed to verify your website.

You’ll also be given the option to opt-in for free product listings!

2. Create High-Quality Product Images

We’ve already seen how product images play a central role in Shopping ads, which is why you need to ensure all your product images are of high quality.

This means each image should present the product clearly and accurately using a clean background.

So be sure to avoid any image overlays, image borders, or multicolored backgrounds. You should also stick to one product per image unless the product is part of a bundle.

3. Upload Your Product Feed

The next step is to submit your product feed. As we mentioned earlier, the product feed is a file that lists all the products you want to promote through Google Shopping.

You can format the product feed in a spreadsheet, giving each product its own row and specifying the product attributes in different columns.

You can find a template data feed within Google Merchant Center.

Here are some of the attributes that Google will need to generate both paid and free product listings:

  • Identification: Such as a stock keeping unit (SKU) to uniquely identify the product.
  • Title: An accurate, top-level description of the product.
  • Description: A more detailed description of the product.
  • Availability: Specifying whether the product is currently available.
  • Price: Detailing how much the product costs.
  • Link: Specifying the URL of the product landing page.
  • Image link: A URL to the product’s main image.

Once you’ve completed your product feed, upload the file to Google Merchant Center.

After submitting your product feed to Google Merchant Center, each product will be assigned a product status: Active, Pending, Disapproved, or Expiring.

You can find instructions on how to check your product statuses, as well as a detailed breakdown of each status and what it means, here.

For more guidance on creating and uploading your product feed, check out this video from Google:

Note: Each file is limited to a maximum of 100,000 items by default. (Although you can modify this by sending a request.)

4. Link Your Google Merchant Center And Google Ads Accounts

To promote your products through Google Shopping ads, you’ll need to set up an Ads account (if you haven’t already) and connect it to Google Merchant Center.

Click the Account linking option within the Google Merchant Center settings menu to link both accounts.

Then, click Link account beneath the Google Ads section.

5. Set Up Your Google Shopping Campaign

Once both accounts are linked, you’ll need to create a Google Shopping campaign.

You can set this up in either Google Merchant Center or Google Ads. Here’s the process for the latter:

  • Select Campaigns, then New Campaign.
  • Choose your campaign objective and select Shopping under Campaign type.
  • Specify your campaign settings, such as campaign name, locations, bidding strategy, daily budget, and campaign schedule
  • Choose which type of ad group you want to build for your campaign (a Product Shopping ad group is best for Google Shopping newcomers)
  • Name your ad group, specify your maximum CPC bid (or cost-per-engagement bid if you choose a Showcase Shopping ad group), and save!

Final Thoughts

Google Shopping provides consumers with a simple yet powerful way to discover the products they want at the best price, all in one place.

Not only does the platform save shoppers from the hassle of visiting different online stores one by one just to find the right deal, but it also empowers them to make better-informed buying decisions by neatly collating various product data and customer reviews.

For ecommerce and retail businesses, Google Shopping offers the potential to reach a huge audience of highly-motivated customers.

Moreover, Google’s recent decision to open up the platform to all merchants, free of charge, has created an unprecedented opportunity for businesses like yours to acquire new customers at minimal expense.

With that said, it’s time for you to seize this opportunity and start making the most of Google Shopping within your own business, whether you start with free listings, Shopping ads, or both.

Happy selling!

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Why Every Marketer Should Be On Reddit

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Why Every Marketer Should Be On Reddit

In its nearly 20 years of existence, Reddit has built a robust, dynamic, and highly engaged community.

It has cemented itself as not only one of the key influencers for the internet culture we have come to know today, but also as one of the top 10 social media sites in the world, with more than 500,000 monthly visitors across more than 100,000 active communities.

Despite its size and influence, marketers have long avoided, overlooked, and failed to establish a presence on what is arguably one of the most influential social media sites today.

To be fair, Reddit has always been known as one of the hardest communities to have marketing success with, requiring months (if not years) of dedicated commitment to actually being a part of the community and engaging with your audience through meaningful, genuine, and honest interactions.

To many, that is just too much risk and too much work, but let’s be honest – most amazing things take risk and hard work. And for all of you who put in that work to be successful on Reddit, you already see the payoff it brings.

Regardless of the reasons, marketers who continue to overlook Reddit’s potential are missing out on an extremely influential community with ideal targeted demographics, where authenticity and genuine connections lead to valuable information, positive branding, and marketing success.

Not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at Reddit!

Reddit Stats You Cannot Ignore

Reddit users are dedicated to their use of the platform, with a reported 82 million (16.4%) of its 500 million users visiting the site daily, sharing over 1 billion posts, with over 16 billion comments across 100,000+ active communities, making it easily one of the top visited and most active sites in the United States today.

The user base is so loyal that they spend, on average, 20 minutes on the platform each day (and over 45 minutes a day for long-time users of more than 7 years) and, in many cases, are inactive on other social platforms.

This makes Reddit one of the only places to actually get in front of this massive audience, with 32% being inactive on Facebook, 37% on Instagram, 41% on TikTok, and 53% on X.

When it comes to demographics, a 2019 survey concluded that the overall Reddit audience was majority male (59%), ranged in age (36% aged 18-29; 25% aged 30-49), and well educated (42% college degree; 31% some college) making them an ideal audience many businesses looking for success.

They also helped Reddit improve revenues by 21% to $804 million in 2023, with a global addressable market for advertising estimated at $1.4 trillion by 2027.

Thought by many to be mostly a North American audience, Reddit claims more than 50% of its traffic comes from international users, a rather impressive climb from its earlier years.

It is important to remember, though, that Reddit is a platform that allows communities to grow and thrive, so those demographics change from subreddit to subreddit.

If that isn’t enough to grab your attention, surveys have found that 75% of users find Reddit a trustworthy source for making purchasing decisions.

For years now, it has been included heavily and prominently in Google search results, which have become even more visible due to reports following their inclusion in SGE results and with Google’s recent $60 million a year deal with Reddit to have real-time access to Reddit content and to use its content to train Google’s future AI models.

Speaking of Reddit’s visibility in Google’s search results, let’s take a closer look at why that deal is so important, especially to search marketers.

Reddit In Google Search, SGE, And Google’s Reddit Deal

For years, Reddit results have been prominently displayed in Google’s search results – so much so that users have even started adding the term “reddit” to the end of their search queries.

So often, you will see Google suggest search lines with the term “reddit” prefilled at the end.

Screenshot by author from search for [are purple mattresses good], Google, May 2024

Even without selecting the query that includes “reddit,” you will notice Reddit’s prominent placement in two places: discussions and forums, and Reddit sitelinks, which are both just below the ads and the first organic result.

Reddit resultsScreenshot by author from search for [are purple mattresses good], Google, May 2024

This was amplified by Google’s recent Helpful Content Update (HCU), which allowed platforms like Reddit and other forums to show up more frequently in search results,

Reddit’s ability to be helpful in satisfying a user’s search for information is so successful – in combination with reported shortages in new content for AI models from all major platforms – it is not surprising Google struck a deal with Reddit to show its content faster in search results and to use the content in training future AI models.

Since news of the deal between Reddit and Google was reported, there has been a lot of additional focus on Reddit’s visibility in Google’s search results.

Experts throughout the search industry report an increase in not only the total visibility of Reddit going up within search but also the speed at which a Reddit post is indexed and shown to users.

Google responded to concerns about Reddit showing up more in search results, saying that “some of the SEO folks who tend to be vocal on this platform (X) really dislike seeing more forum content in our search results. But actual searchers seem to like it. They proactively seek it out. It makes sense for us to be showing it to keep the search results relevant and satisfying for everyone.”

Google responded to concerns of Reddit showing up more in search resultsScreenshot by author from X (Twitter), May 2024

Although disputed by Google, Roger Montii wrote about one report of Reddit content being indexed within five minutes.

ChatGPT to Surface Reddit Content

Adding to the deal Reddit made with Google, it was recently reported that OpenAI has partnered with Reddit to surface their content in ChatGPT, adding to the clear value that both OpenAI and Google see in Reddit’s content today and in the future.

Of course, this has sparked a lot of interest in companies of all sizes. They want to figure out how their brands can participate and succeed on Reddit in hopes of increasing their visibility in Google’s search results, SGE, and ChatGPT and building their brand’s visibility amongst one of the most influential audiences on the internet today.

**Quick warning: Reddit requires genuine, long-term engagement and a strategy for success. So, I would definitely advise individuals and businesses to avoid trying to game, spam, or blindly jump into marketing on Reddit and take the time to really understand the platform, its audience, and your place of value within its communities.

Let’s look at how some major brands have been successful on Reddit in the past.

noosa Yoghurt

Noosa Yoghurt’s 2021 back-to-school campaign on Reddit was a great example of tapping into niche audiences to create engaging, user-driven content.

To capitalize on Reddit’s community of vocal yogurt enthusiasts, noosa launched a Flavor Poll that invited Redditors to upvote their favorite noosa flavors in the comments. This created a sense of community and interactivity around what could have been a standard poll.

Noosa Yoghurt’s 2021 back-to-school campaign on Reddit.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

After tallying the upvotes, noosa published a Promoted Post that showcased the results using a sleek custom infographic, highlighting the community’s favorites while also giving the brand important insight into consumer preferences.

Noosa published a Promoted Post that showcased the results.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

The results:

  • 49% increase in brand recall among Reddit users who were exposed to the campaign.
  • 30% increase in brand favorability.
  • 39% increase in purchase intent (15X the typical lift observed in the food vertical).
  • 50+ billion monthly views.

Sony Pictures Germany

To drum up excitement around the release of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” in Germany, Sony Pictures Germany crafted a Reddit campaign that combined organic and promoted content to engage the platform’s robust fan communities.

The brand created a Reddit account under the protagonist’s name, u/MilesMorales, and used it to share exclusive content directly within Spiderman-related subreddits.

It also organized an AMA with the German voice actor Miles Morales to create a more personal connection with fans and promoted video posts featuring the movie trailer to amplify the excitement.

Sony Pictures Germany crafted a Reddit campaign.Screenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

The results:

  • Sony Pictures Germany achieved a click-through rate (CTR) that was 344% higher than that of its standard paid media.
  • 831 upvotes.
  • 618,000 impressions.
  • The film remained No. 1 on the German movie charts for three consecutive weeks.

It is important to note that promoting your content and your brand on Reddit is definitely not the only value Reddit can bring you and your business.

Reddit is an amazing place to get honest feedback.

Whether you are trying to figure out what your target audience wants from your brand, test out a new feature or concept before investing and launching it openly, or even just to have continued open communication with your customers to support them and keep them connected to your brand, Reddit can help you succeed in an amazing way.

Transamerica Helping Reddit Make Dollars Make Sense

Transamerica’s campaign on Reddit is a great example of a company identifying an opportunity to connect with its target audience on the subreddit /r/finance.

This allows the company to better understand its customers’ needs and focus on content creation and future marketing plans.

Transamerica’s campaign on RedditScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

Aligning itself with its audience by demonstrating awareness of the topics around personal finance happening in the subreddit, as well as acknowledging the Redditors working at the company, it asked what topics it could create “specifically for the reddit community” around the topic of finance.

It stayed involved and engaged throughout the campaign, responding to threads and maintaining a lighthearted and sometimes humorous tone.

Transamerica’s campaign on RedditScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

After getting all the feedback it needed, it created content around the more popular requests, going as far as branding and designing them similar to Reddit.

IRA vs 401K venn diagramScreenshot by author from Reddit, May 2024

It even took the time to individually comment a link to the published content on its site, bringing attention back to the overall campaign and the content it created.

This campaign was 10 years ago, and it is still referenced as a core example of engaging on Reddit as a brand in a respectful, thoughtful, and meaningful way.

Why You Should Be On Reddit Wrapup

TL;DR: If your brand has something meaningful to say and is interested in truly connecting with your audience, then yes, you should be on Reddit.

These successful brand campaign examples showcase Reddit’s power when used correctly. With research to understand the specific communities you want to reach, Reddit can have exceptional performance compared to other channels.

The stakes are high to get it right because Reddit communities can be highly negative toward self-serving promotion. But if you put in the effort and solve people’s needs and problems, Reddit has the potential to be a high-performance channel.

Edit: Updated daily active users figure based on Reddit’s Q1 Earnings Report

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No Algorithmic Actions For Site Reputation Abuse Yet

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Looking up at an angle at the Google sign on the Head Office for Canada

Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, has confirmed that the search engine hasn’t launched algorithmic actions targeting site reputation abuse.

This clarification addresses speculation within the SEO community that recent traffic drops are related to Google’s previously announced policy update.

Sullivan Says No Update Rolled Out

Lily Ray, an SEO professional, shared a screenshot on Twitter showing a significant drop in traffic for the website Groupon starting on May 6.

Ray suggested this was evidence that Google had begun rolling out algorithmic penalties for sites violating the company’s site reputation abuse policy.

However, Sullivan quickly stepped in, stating:

“We have not gone live with algorithmic actions on site reputation abuse. I well imagine when we do, we’ll be very clear about that. Publishers seeing changes and thinking it’s this — it’s not — results change all the time for all types of reasons.”

Sullivan added that when the actions are rolled out, they will only impact specific content, not entire websites.

This is an important distinction, as it suggests that even if a site has some pages manually penalized, the rest of the domain can rank normally.

Background On Google’s Site Reputation Abuse Policy

Earlier this year, Google announced a new policy to combat what it calls “site reputation abuse.”

This refers to situations where third-party content is published on authoritative domains with little oversight or involvement from the host site.

Examples include sponsored posts, advertorials, and partner content that is loosely related to or unrelated to a site’s primary purpose.

Under the new policy, Google is taking manual action against offending pages and plans to incorporate algorithmic detection.

What This Means For Publishers & SEOs

While Google hasn’t launched any algorithmic updates related to site reputation abuse, the manual actions have publishers on high alert.

Those who rely heavily on sponsored content or partner posts to drive traffic should audit their sites and remove any potential policy violations.

Sullivan’s confirmation that algorithmic changes haven’t occurred may provide temporary relief.

Additionally, his statements also serve as a reminder that significant ranking fluctuations can happen at any time due to various factors, not just specific policy rollouts.


FAQ

Will Google’s future algorithmic actions impact entire websites or specific content?

When Google eventually rolls out algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse, these actions will target specific content rather than the entire website.

This means that if certain pages are found to be in violation, only those pages will be affected, allowing other parts of the site to continue ranking normally.

What should publishers and SEOs do in light of Google’s site reputation abuse policy?

Publishers and SEO professionals should audit their sites to identify and remove any content that may violate Google’s site reputation abuse policy.

This includes sponsored posts and partner content that doesn’t align with the site’s primary purpose. Taking these steps can mitigate the risk of manual penalties from Google.

What is the context of the recent traffic drops seen in the SEO community?

Google claims the recent drops for coupon sites aren’t linked to any algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse. Traffic fluctuations can occur for various reasons and aren’t always linked to a specific algorithm update.


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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

WP Rocket, the WordPress page speed performance plugin, just announced the release of a new version that will help publishers optimize for Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), an important Core Web Vitals metric.

Large Contentful Paint (LCP)

LCP is a page speed metric that’s designed to show how fast it takes for a user to perceive that the page is loaded and read to be interacted with. This metric measures the time it takes for the main content elements has fully loaded. This gives an idea of how usable a webpage is. The faster the LCP the better the user experience will be.

WP Rocket 3.16

WP Rocket is a caching plugin that helps a site perform faster. The way page caching generally works is that the website will store frequently accessed webpages and resources so that when someone visits the page the website doesn’t have to fetch the data from the database, which takes time, but instead will serve the webpage from the cache. This is super important when a website has a lot of site visitors because that can use a lot of server resources to fetch and build the same website over and over for every visitor.

The lastest version of WP Rocket (3.16) now contains Automatic LCP optimization, which means that it will optimize the on-page elements from the main content so that they are served first thereby raising the LCP scores and providing a better user experience.

Because it’s automatic there’s really nothing to fiddle around with or fine tune.

According to WP Rocket:

  • Automatic LCP Optimization: Optimizes the Largest Contentful Paint, a critical metric for website speed, automatically enhancing overall PageSpeed scores.
  • Smart Management of Above-the-Fold Images: Automatically detects and prioritizes critical above-the-fold images, loading them immediately to improve user experience and performance metrics.

All new functionalities operate seamlessly in the background, requiring no direct intervention from the user. Upon installing or upgrading to WP Rocket 3.16, these optimizations are automatically enabled, though customization options remain accessible for those who prefer manual control.”

Read the official announcement:

WP Rocket 3.16: Improving LCP and PageSpeed Score Automatically

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