Free Google Shopping product listings now available

Since Google made its Google Shopping product listings freely available for US businesses back in 2020, they are now expanding their free display options to UK businesses. This will allow many more businesses that sell products online to list their inventory through the platform.

Free Google Shopping product listings coming soon

While Google say they have been working on these changes for some time, the global Covid-19 pandemic fast-tracked their plans. Bill Ready, President of Commerce at Google, said:

Available globally in mid-October, search results on the Shopping tab will consist primarily of free Google product listings, helping retailers to connect with more customers. Shoppers will be able to find more products from more stores, just in time for peak shopping season.

Google facilitates hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, so having the capacity to list your products, for free, within these surfaces could have major benefits for retailers.

If you already use Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of this change; your listings will automatically show up at no cost. We are making the onboarding process as easy as possible for retailers who are new to this over the next weeks and months.

What does this mean for online retailers?

Since 2012, Shopping has worked purely on a paid model. As a result, this meant that it’s been more of a ‘closed shop’, with only retailers prepared to pay having their products listed in the Google Shopping tab. For many eCommerce businesses, it’s been a staple part of their digital marketing strategy.

It’s a sales channel we use at Kanuka Digital to great effect to help our clients increase online revenue. In 2020, we saw an average Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) of 900% on Google Shopping campaigns that we manage across many different sectors, from DIY to Beds and Car Accessories.

Now the free Google Shopping product listings opens up new opportunities for all online retailers. It will also have an impact on shoppers and advertisers alike:

Why now?

As Bill Ready said, a significant driver in this decision is the unprecedented times we find ourselves living in. Opening this up to all merchants will enhance Google’s offering and its appeal to both sellers and consumers.

And then there’s Amazon. By limiting products available in Google Shopping results to only those retailers who are willing to pay, this puts Google at a significant disadvantage compared to Amazon and other marketplaces.

How will the new free Google Shopping listings work?

One of the first questions Google faced was understandably about the distribution of paid product ads vs free listings.

Paid shopping ads will appear at the top and bottom of the page on the Google Shopping tab, just like they do currently on the main search results tab. The main Google Search page is not changing, and the carousels of product listing ads (PLAs) will continue to consist of ads only.

Free Google Shopping product listings coming soon | How eCommerce businesses can take advantage
Carousels of product listing ads (PLAs) on the main search results page will continue to consist of ads only.

Merchants that want to ensure continued prominent visibility in the search results will continue to pay for ads. However, this will be more competitive with more products eligible to show.

We expect that there may well be layout experiments in the future. For example, see how Amazon already sprinkles sponsored products ads throughout its search results pages.

How to become eligible

All retailers can show their products across Google for free. To become eligible, you must follow the required policies to show products on surfaces across Google. Additionally, you must meet one of the following criteria:

How do I list my products on Google Shopping?

You don’t need a Google Ads campaign to participate. However, you do need to create a Google Merchant Center account and upload a product data feed. Sellers must opt-in to “surfaces across Google” to be eligible for organic visibility.

A product data feed is simply a spreadsheet of data information about your products that Google uses to create your listing and match it to relevant searcher’s queries. Each product in your feed will need to have at least the following standard attributes:

Current retailers with their products already in Google Merchant Center can opt their products into these free Google Shopping listings. This can be done by selecting “Surfaces across Google”.You can view the performance of these free listings within Google Merchant Center under the “Performance” tab.

How will my product listings be displayed?

The following are examples of how your product listings will appear on various Google surfaces.

Google Images


Integrations with eCommerce providers

Google have promised to continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months. For example, Google will partner with PayPal to allow merchants to link their accounts.

Google also pledged to continue working closely with their eCommerce partners, like WooCommerce, Magento and Shopify, to help merchants:

a) better manage their products and inventory.

b) make digital commerce more accessible for businesses of all sizes.

What’s the wider impact on search marketing?

It’s definitely worth noting for eCommerce marketers how this change will add new opportunities to organic product SEO efforts.

For retailers that rely heavily on shopping campaigns, and haven’t been prioritising SEO, now is the time to start revising that strategy. As a result, this will bring PPC and SEO teams even closer together. Building ‘one’ view of search means, regardless of whether things are paid for or organic, you’re ready for the changes that Google consistently throws our way.

There are still some unknown factors. If these are truly organic results, how will they be ranked? That remains to be seen. Although, with the right search engine marketing strategy in place, this is a good opportunity for eCommerce retailers.

Get in touch

If you would like to have a chat about using Google Shopping to list your product inventory, drop us a line and we’d be happy to help.

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