We run a lot of Google Shopping Ads at ZATO, and I even remember the days before Google Shopping was a paid offering. Things have apparently come full circle, as Google maneuvers a free option for Google Shopping products back into SERPs… and we and our clients are definitely not upset about this! It will be interesting over time to monitor and see the inter-play between the organic Google Shopping listings (cough, excuse me, “Surfaces Across Google”) and the paid Google Shopping Ads, however in the meantime, we need to make sure we have them ready to roll!
Here is a quick, “what you need to know” post on Surfaces Across Google (i.e., free Google Shopping listings in the organic SERPs).
Here is the email many of our Google Merchant Center Accounts received today in its entirety:
In this email we are pointed to a number of resources that give us a bit more information about this new “Surfaces Across Google” program. Some of the most important information:
Is “Surfaces Across Google” really free?
Yes, the organic Google Shopping Ads (or Surfaces Across Google) are free product listings in SERPs!
According to Google: “Just as we don’t charge sites to be part of the Google Search index, participating merchants are eligible to appear on Surfaces Across Google results for free.” (source: policy page. Hat tip to Duane Brown for sharing this link!).
Who Is Eligible for These Free, Organic Shopping Ads?
According to Google, accounts (in-line with Google’s policies, of course) meeting one of these two criteria can display on Surfaces Across Google automatically:
- If you have (correct) structured data markup on your product pages.
- If you submit a feed through Google Merchant Center.
What Are the Required Attributes for Showing Your Products on Surfaces Across Google
According to this Google doc, you will need the following attributes to become eligible for showing your products as these organic Shopping Products:
How Do You Confirm You Are Active for These Free, Organic Shopping Ads?
It’s pretty easy to hop into Google Merchant Center and verify whether your account has activated Surfaces Across Google.
You can do so by navigating to the Tools section of GMC and selecting the
Surfaces across Google link:
Once there, you will see whether your account is Active:
You can also investigate specific aspects of the program such as your Product and Business Information, and even enter in the Shipping Policy page from your website that Google may choose to use in some SERPs.
Is There Anything Else You Can Do to Help Surfaces Across Google?
While we’re still very, very early in the game here, there do seem to be feed related optimizations that can be done to assist Google in selecting the right products for the right search terms. In this case, we look to some of the recommended attributes used in Google Shopping. According to this helpful document on this new organic Shopping Ad program, Google suggests adding the following attributes to your feed for products. This certainly makes sense in assisting their algorithms, let’s say for instance that you add “down” as the Material attribute to your Comforter products. It stands to reason, that Google would be more likely to weight these products as more relevant when users search for “the best down comforter” after the fact!
The recommended attributes Google suggests adding are:
- item_group_id (for grouping product variants)
- color (primary color)
- additional_image_link (up to 10 additional images per product)
- size_type & size_system
- material (primary materials )
It will be interesting to see what happens with this over time, but it’s great to see Google adding something like this into the organic results. So ensure your products are showing and get rolling!