4. How to Setup Key Google Products for Ad Growth
Be Ready to Profit from Google Ads
Google (and Bing and Yahoo!) don’t ‘owe’ any company traffic. If a company has to spend more on advertising on Google, in addition to investing in search-engine-optimization, that is not a violation of any law.
Marvin Ammori, an American lawyer best known for network neutrality and Internet freedom issues
Are you new to Google Ads? Go through all of this chapter. Are you running campaigns? There are still tid-bits of gold for you in this guide to make your current campaigns more profitable by using the full array of tools from the Google suite.
The Four Horsemen of Google Shopping
Google has an armory of weapons to help you win the advertising war against competitors.
Google Shopping uses a combination of two platforms:
- Google Ads: Control most of the levers that let you optimise for results. Most of your time is spent here to gain insights, set budgets, and change your targeting settings.
- Google Merchant Center: Also referred to “MC” for short, the Merchant Center is where you upload and optimise the feed. The platform helps you shape the feed to satisfy Google’s guidelines.
To start you need a Google Ads and Merchant Center account. There are two optional accounts I recommend you also set up:
- Google Search Console: Previously called Google Webmaster Tools, this informs you of the website’s performance within the search results. Google Search Console has information about how Google’s bot sees the store, backlinks, and organic search traffic. In Google Ads the tools lets you see what keywords the website ranks for in organic and paid search. This helps you improve both your paid and SEO strategies.
- Google Analytics: The platform provides several new metrics within Google Ads about user behaviour on your store. If a campaign has 0 sales and 200 clicks, and you see user time on store is less than 20 seconds, you know there is a miss-match between your ads and search intent. By setting up Google Ads and Analytics correctly, you also get the standard website data you want about your ad campaigns within analytics like the number of users, what pages they landed on, and how many pages they viewed.
Setting Up The Accounts
1. Google Ads
You firstly need a Google account. If you work with Digital Darts, we will setup an account, invite you to it via email, and direct you to enter billing details. The account is yours.
If you want to create the account yourself, go to the Google Ads URL. Use your primary Google account login for ease of access. Follow Google’s on-boarding process.
If you want to create the account then campaigns prior to inputting billing details (perfect for marketing teams that need to set everything up first), skip the guided setup.
I have done over one hundred audits of Shopify stores using Google Ads and am shocked at the number of businesses who fail to setup accurate conversion tracking. Can you imagine Elon Musk hoping a SpaceX ship lands on Mars with no meters, navigation systems, or other instruments of measurements? It’s ridiculous. You cannot venture into the unknown realms of online advertising hoping you succeed without accurate measurement.
Google Ads has two ways to setup conversion tracking in Shopify. The first option is with Google Analytics by importing your transaction goal. The second option is with the Google Ads conversion code using the global site tag.
I recommend you use the Google Ads conversion code because it proves to be accurate most often across client accounts. Refer to my tutorial on How to Setup Google Ads Conversion Tracking in Shopify to configure everything you need on the tracking front.
2. Google Merchant Center
The creation of a Merchant Center account is easily done like Google Ads. Visit merchants.google.com then sign up using your Google account. Complete the two-step prompt to configure your account and select your location before agreeing to the terms of service set out by Google.
You also need to provide a variety of information to get your Merchant Center account ready so your ad campaigns can run and do the best they can.
Click on “Business Information” in the navigation panel then fill in every field. This information is used to setup your account with some of it like your business name being shown in your shopping ads.
- Enter the name of your business or store. For starters, I recommend inputting your store name to get setup. Once conversions occur, you can alter your name within Google’s guidelines to potentially bolster sales.
- Type your website address in the Merchant Center account “Business Information” > “About Your Business” > “Website”. As the store you are setting up is on Shopify, it uses SSL technology. Include the
https://portion of the address. If this is a new account, you may see a message saying you need to verify your website. We will address this in the setup of Google Search Console (GSC). You need to claim the domain in Merchant Center by owning it in GSC.
- Type the business address and phone number. If you have neither, you can leave it blank. The address information is used in Local Inventory Ads and maybe other Merchant programs.
- In the “Customer service contact” section, enter the URL of your support page, customer support email, and customer support phone number. It is okay to leave these fields blank if you do not have any, but they help customer satisfaction.
- Upload two logos. These are used in some types of shopping ads, remarketing ads, and on the display network. Both files need to be in PNG or SVG format. For the 1:1 ratio image, I suggest you make it a simple version of your logo like an enlarged favicon, because it is often used in remarketing ads at a size of 32x32px. Do not include taglines in either image. The text will be unreadable in smaller formats and get declined upon manual review by Google.
- We now want to link Merchant Center to Google Ads as it is required to pull all the relevant feed data into your ad account. From the vertical three dots button at top-right of Merchant Center, select “Account linking”. Enter your Google Ads ID. The ID can be gathered from visiting your ads account.
- Go to your Google Ads account. Then from “Tools” at the top-right, click “Linked accounts”. Confirm the Merchant Center account link.
The products section of Google Merchant Center is where you upload your feed. A feed is a file listing all your products grouped by attributes like price, stock status, and title. Accurate information ensures your products match what they are and helps them be found by users.
Your feed is the essential element to success on Google Shopping. Unlike Google Search, Google Shopping does not use keywords. Instead it matches the elements in your feed to a user’s search. To help Google show your products to the right searches, you must include all relevant and important information in the right places.
The feed not only helps Google, it also helps people find the product they want. Searchers will look at the image, title, and price before clicking the ad.
If a searcher clicks a shopping advert for blue suede shoes, only to reach a page that informs them the item is more expensive than originally displayed in the search results, the person will be frustrated then continue their search elsewhere. A feed that violates Google Shopping policies will have your products declined. Even worse, your Merchant Center account can be suspended.
The next chapter of this guide teaches you everything you need to get your feed setup in an excellent manner.
The tax section in Merchant Center is important if you sell in the United States. If you don’t, you can select “Don’t configure tax at account level” then move onto your shipping settings.
If you do sell in the United States, you want to set your tax settings so they mirror your Shopify settings. The right tax settings makes your product prices accurate.
In Shopify, go to “Settings” > “Taxes”. If “All taxes are included in my prices” is checked, within Merchant Center select “Configure no nexus for all states”.
If “All taxes are included in my prices” is unchecked and a tax rate is setup in Shopify, within Merchant Center select “Configure tax and set up nexus”. Enter the same tax rates as what is in Shopify.
For more help, see Google’s documentation on tax settings.
Your shipping settings, like tax settings, show the right price for products in the shopping ad.
In Shopify, go to “Settings” > “Shipping”. Set up shipping tables in Merchant Center that mirror your Shopify shipping settings.
You’ll need to setup at least one shipping table for each country you want to target in Google Shopping. An accurate handing time, delivery time, and shipping rate creates the right expectation with users.
The method of configuring your shipping tables to reflect your Shopify shipping rates will vary. Google gives you carrier-calculated rates for some countries. Setup is also quick if you have a flat shipping fee.
If you have a couple of shipping rates based on product weight, these are also quick to setup in Merchant Center. Should your shipping be more complex by depending on product weight, city, and other factors, I suggest leaving the shipping table for now. Shipping settings can be passed inside the product feed later on. DataFeedWatch, which I’ll suggest in the next chapter for setting up your feed, lets you configure your shipping settings in bulk based on rules like product weight, location, and more.
3. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is jammed with useful information to boost your exposure and sales via Google. Most of the data helps bolster your SEO strategy.
It will help your advertising by giving you access to the “paid and organic report”. The report only tracks text ads, not shopping ads, but you will discover how often the store’s pages show in Google’s free organic results and for what search terms. You can spot keywords you are ranking for in Google search results, then use those keywords to optimize your shopping feed. To setup Google Search Console for Google Ads:
- Go to Google Search Console.
- Login with your Google logins. I suggest keeping it all under the one Google account for simplicity.
- Add a property by inputting the domain then clicking “Add A Property”. Validate with the “Domain” rather than “URL prefix” method. This future-proofs your verification more than the URL prefix method by validating all URL prefixes in one go. A URL prefix that contains
wwwis different in the eyes of Google and will provide different data compared to one that begins with
- Verify the website. If you chose to go your own way and verify through the URL prefix, you cannot do so with the HTML file upload method because Shopify disallows such files to be uploaded to a store. This tutorial covers the DNS method as it is required by the domain method. I think it is the best method because it doesn’t affect your Shopify theme. It protects you from an accidental removal of code used in other verification methods, thus keeping your Google verification live. When we previously used the meta verification method, we had multiple clients update their theme and remove the verification, which automatically pauses shopping ads because the Merchant Center account is no longer verified.
- Follow Google’s directions for the domain provider to verify the DNS. The process involves adding a TXT record to the domain. Google can do it for you with authorization for several domain providers such as GoDaddy and Name.com.
- Return to Merchant Center. Go to “Business Information” then claim the website you entered in the third step.
- The last step for Search Console setup is linking it to your Google Ads account. In your ads account, go to “Tools” from the top-right then “Linked accounts”. Under “Search Console”, click “details”. Link the website you entered in the third step.
4. Google Analytics
Why Use Analytics?
Data is vital to optimising your shopping campaigns. The most important source of data outside of Google Ads is Google Analytics. When Google Analytics and Google Ads is linked, bonus data is revealed about your campaigns in both accounts.
In Google Ads you are able to add four columns to your reports: bounce rate, pages per sessions, average session duration in seconds, and the percentage of new sessions. This engagement data is gold when you have clicks but no conversions coming through.
In Google Analytics you get to see all the data about your campaign visitors that you normally get from other channels—and additional data attributes like costs and paid keywords. Secondly, Google Analytics lets you slice and dice data for greater insight to inform your marketing strategy. One last benefit of linking up the accounts is you can also setup audience lists for remarketing and campaign bid modification.
How to Set up Analytics
I have fully covered the setup process elsewhere. Refer to my tutorial The Finest Google Analytics Setup In Shopify For Splendid Data.
When your analytics is setup, link the accounts together then configure the metric settings:
- In your ads account, go to “Tools” from the top-right then “Linked accounts”. Under “Google Analytics”, click “details”.
- Click on the Google Analytics account you want the ad account connected to. Use the analytics account setup for the store.
- Link all views that you want to have Google Ads data. In most cases you want to select all views.
- Import site metrics of your most accurate view. You can only select one. This is how you will get the various columns in Google Ads like bounce rate and average session duration.
- Save and you’re done. The last setup we need in analytics is to configure audiences.
Google Analytics Audiences
Audiences are used in many ways for Google Ads. You can overlay audiences in observation mode on all your shopping campaigns. You can overlay audiences in target mode on a shopping campaign to create a remarketing campaign. You can remarket on the display network to different audiences based on their behaviour. You will use similar audiences, which is Google’s version of Facebook lookalikes, to better acquire people that look similar to your customers. There’s a lot you can do with audiences.
We want to collect every visitor and customer—as soon as possible, for as long as possible. You want to get your audiences setup now and use an appropriate time period to meet your goals.
Fortunately for you, I have a template that instantly sets up the most important audiences. Use this template as your cheat-sheet for getting audiences setup for your Shopify store. Be sure to select “Google Ads” once you click the template link to make the audience available in the ad platform.
You’ll notice there are visitors and customer audiences of 540 days. This is the longest time Google Analytics permits a person to be in an audience. In the template is an audience called “Smart list“, which Google creates using machine-learning so you can target your users most likely to convert. I suggest you use it, but also know how to do basic segmentation in analytics to derive your own audiences of value.
In Google Analytics, expand the date period to at least a month. The greater the time period—assuming the right data collection methods were setup—the more accurate your upcoming analysis will be. Go to “Acquisition”. Towards the top, click “Add Segment”:
Google includes a bunch of default segments you can use. You can also import many types from the gallery. If you want to venture out on your own, I recommend you check out Avinash Kaushik’s “Occam’s Razor Awesomeness”. For now, select the “Made a Purchase” segment. You can now see how long your customers spend on the store when buying and how many pages they view:
Create an audience off this valuable data called “Non-purchasers like purchasers”. Go to “Admin” then “Audience Definitions” and “Audiences”. Create a new audience then go to “Conditions”. Use two attributes “Pageviews” (which is “Pages / Session”) and “Session Duration” (which is “Average Session Duration”). Enter values slightly less than the values you saw in your “Made a Purchase” segment. In this case, I’d enter “9” and “8” then select the “greater than or equal to” symbol (≥). Also enter in a transaction attribute of “0” to remove customers. Use “and” rather than “or” logic to ensure someone must meet the three criteria otherwise you will include disinterested click-happy people, idle visitors, and customers. Your audience should look like:
Click “Apply” then select “Google Ads” to make the audience available in the ad platform. Save the audience. You’ve just made an audience of highly interested non-buyers to help your ad campaigns.
With the template I provided, you now have a bunch of valuable audiences ready to use for Google Shopping and other ad types. You will learn how to use the audiences in a later chapter on optimisation.
The next step to have a great Google Shopping campaign is the feed. It’s time to learn the best way to setup and manage a crisp feed in Shopify. Do this and your campaigns will be more profitable.
- 1. The Power of Google Shopping
- 2. How Does Google Shopping Work?
- 3. How to Profit From Google Shopping
- 4. How to Setup Key Google Products for Ad Growth
- 5. Your Google Shopping Feed in Shopify
- 6. Campaign Structure
- 7. Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaigns
- 8. Google Shopping Merchant Center Programs
- 9. Expanding Beyond Google Shopping