Little Known Google Merchant Center Tips
I bet you didn't know there are now three (3) title field options within the Google Shopping product feed!
For those who need a refresher, or those just learning this, here are the three attributes Google allows you to submit for your product Title. It's important to submit as many optimized attributes as possible for your Shopping Feed, since that is how Google targets your products to the correct audience. The more relevant information you submit (that's the optimized part), the better the chance of finding the people purchasing your products.
In this article, we'll walk through the three title options, and discuss tips and best practices for each.
Here are the 3 current title attributes within the Google Shopping Feed
#1 Title (title)
Google Policy Link: Title
This attribute is your friend, the good ole Product Title. There from the beginning.
Much (digital) ink has been spilled on this Title, and optimizing it, but I'll point out a few things.
First, this is still your best bet for optimization. What you put in the title is a key part of Google's targeting algorithm, AND it is also almost always shown in every Product Ad so it can directly influence user clicks and interest.
That being said, writing a good title is somewhat of a dance. You want to get as many relevant keywords into the title as you can within the character limit of 150, but you want to ensure the most user friendly and relevant terms are in the front before things get truncated (typically under 70 characters).
What we like to do at ZATO, is keep a close eye on the actual search terms people are using to actually purchase (different from traffic!!) individual products, and then ensure those terms are at the front of a title.
Let's use the search term "Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon" as an example. There are some interesting product ads that show up here with different ways of thinking about the title.
- LEGO.com - it's interesting that LEGO still includes their brand in the title, even though their Brand is clearly visible in most variations of the Product Ad. Having your Brand first isn't necessarily always best practice, but it often is based on a number of factors like user intent, competition, etc. That being said, it makes sense to us in this instance that LEGO keeps their brand in this PLA (Product Listing Ad) Title since that is the core thing a user is interested in for searches like this since the LEGO brand is essential.
- Amazon.com - Amazon has a couple of listings here, and it's interesting to see the difference in titles. Both make sense to me, as an owner of five different variations of the LEGO Millennium Falcons! There are many, and Amazon is interested in distinguishing for the searcher which set they are looking at. This is especially important to a viewer like myself who probably has a specific set in mind. On the other hand, a viewer like myself will 9x out of 10 search for the specific model number as well since that is a crucial part of Lego sets, and you can see Amazon includes the model number in the far right listing. I often get asked whether model numbers/SKUs should be included in a Title, and my reply is always: yes if people actually search for those on this product. With LEGO, people do, so it makes a lot of sense to keep that in the title.
- Scheels - this title is so specific, that I wouldn't be surprised if they've kept an eye on their query reports to see how people search. They wanted to make sure they rank for the three important term groupings here: LEGO, and Star Wars, and Millennium Falcon.
- Walmart does a decent job here of keyword stuffing their title, but they miss the chance to put the Model number at the end (I looked at the non-truncated version of this listing down below on the page and it's not there) so they missed out on a good opportunity.
The key to thinking about Product Titles is to think how people are searching, as that will help form your titles for people viewing them (increased CTR) and the machine matching to more relevant search terms (increased Impression Share).
TESTING A TITLE
How do you know if your Title tests are working? This is especially tricky since Smart Shopping and Performance Max no longer include Search Term Reports. This is, in fact, one of the most frustrating aspects for me of this loss of data as it doesn't give us insight into Title Tests.
That being said, you can still test in one of two ways:
- Use Standard Shopping campaigns for products and test certain keywords in your products within Standard Shopping. Then, analyze the search terms for those keywords you added before and after the start of your test to see if you see an overall rise in impressions for those terms, increase in Impression Share or CTR overall with those terms.
- Test only a specific category or brand of product within SSC/PMax and measure overall changes in search behavior. This is difficult to ascertain, BUT if you keep an eye on this category changes versus the other categories without your test, and then monitor to see changes in user behavior, you should still be able to see if there has been a clear change tied back to that time. If not, then shrug your shoulders, your title test might not have mattered, and leave it alone (as long as it makes sense in your mind... common sense is still okay in marketing).
Let's move on to the other title attributes, these are lesser known overall by PPCers.
#2 Short Title (short_title)
Google Policy Link: Short Title
While the main Title has up to 150 characters, the Short Title is... actually the exact same length with up to 150 characters allowed! Google recommends only using up to 65 of those characters which is only 5 shorter than the 70 truncation of the normal Title.
These Short Titles will primarily show up in "browsy" experiences like Discovery Campaigns so make sure they're more readable and less keyword-stuffy. You may want to highlight the core aspects of the product rather than the variations.
I think it's worth using the Short Title if you have certain products you have really over-optimized to be more keyword-stuffed at the front of the title than readable. In these instances, having the Short Title will ensure a better looking ad for Discovery and other "browsy experiences" (if that isn't the most Googley phrase I've ever seen...).
My confession: I don't know if I fully understand the need for the Short Title attribute, so either I'm missing something big, or this is a bit of a redundancy that Google will eventually get rid of... especially as we discuss the next title option...
#3 Display Ads Title (display_ads_title)
Google Policy Link: Display Ads Title
Finally, we have the Display Ads Title. This may be a newer attribute for you, so keep in mind that the point of this title option is to best appear on some of the more visual, less text-heavy Display ads in which products may show along with a few short textual statements in the ad. Currently, Google notes this ad type is for Dynamic Remarketing campaigns only and I'm trying to confirm whether this means they are also applied to SSC and PMax campaigns in which the ads show in a dynamic remarketing format.
You have seen one of your Display ads for an individual product with one of your optimized titles that looked downright terrible from a design or visual context! These automatic display ads are made with Dynamic Remarketing campaigns so it's important to have both attributes (Title and Display Ads Title) set if you do a lot of heavy title optimizations.
In this instance, the display_ads_title is similar to the Short Title in that you're primarily thinking of user experience over algorithm gaming *ahem* I mean, algorithm training.
So, those are your three title options for Google Shopping Ads! I hope this has been a helpful post, let us know some of the Title Optimization hacks you have learned over time by sharing on Twitter or LinkedIn, and don't forget...
May the Auctions be Ever in Your Favor.