4. How to Set Up Key Products for Google Ads 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 to boost the profit of your current campaigns by using the array of tools from Google.
The Four Horsemen to Set Up Google Shopping and Performance Max
Google has an armoury of weapons to help you win the advertising war against competitors.
Google Shopping and Performance Max campaign types uses a combination of two platforms:
- Google Ads: Controls most of the levers that let you optimise results. Most of your time is spent here to gain insights, set budgets, and change your targeting settings.
- Google Merchant Center: Referred to as “MC”, the Merchant Center is where you upload and optimise the feed. The platform helps you shape the feed to satisfy Google’s guidelines. Also inside are programs and reports to boost the performance of shopping ads.
To start you need a Google Ads and Merchant Center account. There are two additional accounts I recommend you set up:
- Google Search Console: Informs you of the website’s performance within the search results. Search Console has information about how Google’s bot sees the store, backlinks, and organic search traffic. One reason Search Console matters for Google Ads is the structured data from your website reported in the tool affects your product data. Secondly, page speed affects the quality score of search ads so the Core Web Vitals report flags page speed issues to fix. Thirdly, when the tool is connected to Google Ads, it lets you see what keywords the website ranks for in organic and paid search, letting you improve both your paid and organic search strategies.
- Google Analytics: 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 set up an account, invite you to it via email, and direct you to enter billing details. The account is yours.
Go to the Google Ads URL. Use your primary Google account login for ease of access. Follow Google’s on-boarding process. Skip the guided setup if you want to create the account then campaigns prior to inputting billing details.
If you have several businesses or different Shopify accounts, use a Google Ads account for each then create a Google Ads Manager account to house multiple accounts.
Google Ads Conversion Tracking for Shopify
I have done over one hundred audits of Shopify stores using Google Ads and am shocked at the number of businesses who fail to set up accurate conversion tracking. Can you imagine Elon Musk hoping a SpaceX ship lands on Mars with no meters, navigation systems, or other instruments of measurement? It’s ridiculous. You cannot venture into the realms of online advertising hoping for success without measurement.
Google have three ways to setup conversion tracking in Shopify:
- Google Analytics by importing your transaction goal.
- Google channel in Shopify. The most common option chosen by merchants.
- Google Ads conversion code. This can be setup using scripts through the order status page, Customer Events, Google Tag Manager, or third-party apps.
I recommend the third option of the Google Ads conversion code. It proves to be accurate most often across client accounts. I’ve also created a template solution that you can use, which contains all the latest tracking features to help campaign performance. 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
A Merchant Center account is easily created 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 by Google.
You also need to provide a variety of business, tax, delivery, and returns information to get your Merchant Center account ready so your ad campaigns can run.
In the event you use the Google channel in Shopify, these next few steps for the Merchant Center are unnecessary.
In Merchant Center, click the cog icon then “Business Information”. Fill in every field. This information is used to set up 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 since the brand name appears everywhere in shopping ads.
- Type the business address and phone number. If you don’t have a business address, leave it blank. The address information is used in Local Inventory Ads and other Merchant programs. The phone number is required to verify your Merchant Center account and won’t appear to any customers.
- 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, but they help customer satisfaction.
- Under the “Website” tab, type your website address. 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 the website. You’ll see how to do this in the upcoming setup of Google Search Console.
- Under the “Branding” tab, upload two logos. These are used in ads. Both files need to be in PNG, SVG, or WEBP 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.
- Select your brand’s main colour and accent colour. Make the main colour the same as the background of the logos just uploaded. The accent colour can be the primary colour of your brand or white.
- We now want to link Merchant Center to Google Ads in order to pull all the 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 of your products.
Your feed is the most essential element to success on Google Shopping. Accurate and complete information ensures your products match reality and helps them get found by users.
Unlike Google Search, Google Shopping does not use keywords. Instead it matches the elements in your feed to the search term. To help Google show your products to the right searches, you must include as much relevant information in the right places.
The feed not only helps Google, it also helps people find the product they want. People will look at the image, title, and price before clicking the ad.
If a searcher clicks a shopping ad 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 bounce in frustration 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 Shopify, so the feed is not only free from errors but filled with persuasive, rich data that drives sales.
The tax section in Merchant Center is important if you sell in the United States. If you don’t, you can 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 make your product prices accurate.
- In Merchant Center, click the cog icon then “Sales tax”.
- In a new tab, open the Shopify admin. Go to “Settings” > “Taxes and duties”.
- If “” is checked in Shopify, within Merchant Center select “Configure no nexus for all states”.
- If “” is unchecked and a tax rate is set up in Shopify, enter the same tax rates as Shopify within Merchant Center.
For more help, see Google’s documentation on tax settings.
Delivery and Returns
Your delivery settings, like tax settings, show the right price for products in the shopping ad. The delivery and returns information you provide also appears in ads.
In the Shopify admin, go to “Settings” > “Shipping and delivery”. Then in Merchant Center, click the cog icon then “Delivery and returns”. Set up shipping tables in Merchant Center that mirror your Shopify shipping settings. An accurate handling time, delivery time, and shipping rate creates the right expectation with users.
You’ll need to set up at least one shipping table for each country you want to target in Google Shopping or Performance Max. 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 set up in Merchant Center.
Should your shipping be more complex by depending on product weight, city, or other factors, leave the shipping table blank 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.
Once your product feed is set up, the delivery tab in Merchant Center reports on the number of products with a delivery cost. I suggest you click “Data verification” to see what third-party tool you may use to verify your delivery times. Alternatively, the “Automatic delivery improvements” feature enables machine learning for the most accurate delivery times for users to help conversion rates.
Returns are typically easy to set up as most businesses have a blanket policy for products. A return policy helps people make a purchase decision, especially for fashion, by showing your policies on your ads and listings to possibly help ad performance. The returns tab in Merchant Center like the delivery tab, will report on products with a return cost or return policy associated with them.
3. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is jammed with useful information to boost your exposure and sales via Google. Most of the data bolsters your SEO strategy.
The tool helps advertising by giving you access to the “paid and organic report”. You discover how often the store’s pages show in Google’s free organic results and for what search terms. The report only tracks keywords from search campaigns, not shopping or Performance Max campaigns. Search Console lets you spot keywords the website is ranking for in Google search results, then you can use those keywords to optimise your shopping feed.
Shopify Google Search Console Verification to Verify Merchant Center Account
- 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 choose 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 Google Analytics for Google Ads?
Good data is vital to optimise your shopping campaigns. The most important source of data outside of Google Ads is Google Analytics.
When Google Analytics is linked to Google Ads, you can create custom audience lists to use in a handful of ways that boost profit. Furthermore, when Google Analytics and Google Ads are linked, bonus data is revealed about your campaigns in each account.
Once Google Analytics 4 is linked, in Google Ads you are able to add three columns to your reports: % engaged sessions, events/sessions, and avg. session duration (seconds). Each are proxy metrics to estimate whether underperforming keywords, search queries, or ads may drive sales when clicks, but poor conversions, come through.
In Google Analytics you get to see all the data about your campaign visitors that you normally see for other channels—and additional data points like costs and paid queries. Secondly, Google Analytics lets you slice and dice data for greater insight to inform your marketing strategy.
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 Google Ads, from the top go to “Tools and Settings” then “Linked accounts”.
- Locate “Google Analytics (GA4) & Firebase”. Click “Details”.
- Select the property you want to link to the Google Ads account. Click “Link”.
- Enable “Import Google Analytics audiences after linking”. This enables “Personalized Advertising” within the Google Ads and Google Analytics link.
- Activate the “Apps and web metrics” option. You may have to wait five minutes up to a few hours, for the option to become available.
- Modify your columns to use three new metrics: % engaged sessions, events/sessions, and avg. session duration (seconds).
The last setup we need in analytics is to configure audiences.
Must-Use 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 shopping campaign. You can remarket on the display network to whatever segmentation of audiences you dream of. Machine learning in Performance Max uses audiences to find new people similar to those in the audience. 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 legally possible. You want to get your audiences set up now then use an appropriate time period to meet your goals.
- In Google Analytics, from the left click “Configure” then “Audiences”. You may see two audiences created called “All Users” and “Purchasers”.
- Click “New Audience”. You have a few options to create new audiences.
- Predictive audiences. Create predictive audiences that are made eligible once your analytics tracks at least 1000 purchases. There’s users who are likely to make a purchase in the next 7 days, purchasing users who are likely to not visit your property in the next 7 days, and more.
- Non-purchasers. Include Users when: no conditions. Temporarily exclude Users with the event “purchase”. Membership duration is set to the maximum limit.
- page_view (7 days). Include Users when the event is page_view. Membership duration is 7 days.
- page_view (30 days). Include Users when the event is page_view. Membership duration is 30 days.
- page_view. Include Users when the event is page_view. Membership duration is set to the maximum limit.
- add_to_cart (30 days). Include Users when the event is add_to_cart. Membership duration is 30 days.
- view_search_results (30 days). Include Users when the event is view_search_results. Membership duration is 30 days.
- Google has suggested audiences for ecommerce that are dependent on event data in your setup.
- Add the audiences to your campaigns. If your analytics audiences aren’t available in Google Ads, you may have to wait a whole day after their creation for them to sync.
How to Segment Your Own Audiences
Use predictive analytics audiences, but also know how to segment in analytics then create your own audiences of value. To get you going, let’s analyse the behavioural differences of purchasers compared to non-purchasers.
- In Google Analytics, go to “Explore”.
- Create a new blank exploration.
- Expand the date period to at least a month or as far back as the collection of good data was set up. The greater the time period, the more accurate your upcoming analysis will be.
- Under “Segment Comparisons”, add “Purchasers” and “Non-purchasers”. If you don’t have these segments created, create them by including or excluding users with the “purchase” or “ecommerce_purchase” event.
- Under “Values”, add “Sessions per user”, “Views per user”, “Average engagement time per session”, and “Transactions”.
You can now see how customers spend time on the store compared to those who do not buy:
It’s time to create an audience off this data that groups people who behave like purchasers but do not buy:
- Click “Configure” > “Audiences”.
- Create a new custom audience named “Non-purchasers like purchasers”.
- Set the membership duration to the maximum limit.
- Set three “Conditions”:
- Include users that have the “page_view” event with the parameter “engagement_time_msec”. Set the metric to be between the “Average engagement time per session” for purchasers and non-purchasers. Make the condition greater than. The metric is in milliseconds. There are 60,000 milliseconds in 1 minute.
- Add another condition with “And” logic. Include users with “Session number”. Set the metric to be between the “Sessions per user” for purchasers and non-purchasers. Make the condition greater than.
- Exclude users when they trigger a “purchase” event. Whether you select “Temporarily exclude users when” or “Permanently exclude users when” doesn’t matter.
Well done. You’ve just made an audience of highly interested non-buyers to help your ad campaigns. You will learn how to use audiences in a later chapter on optimisation.
Now that all four horsemen are set up, the next step to great Google Shopping or Performance Max campaigns is the feed. It’s time to learn the best way to set up 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 Set Up Key Google Products for Ad Growth
- 5. Your Google Shopping Feed in Shopify
- 6. Google Shopping Campaign Structure
- 7. Performance Max Campaigns
- 8. Optimise Your Google Shopping Campaigns
- 9. Google Merchant Center Programs
- 10. Expand Beyond Google Shopping