Now, several months later, while many sellers have taken advantage of the new opportunity to reach more customers on Google, many are yet to do this, and many still aren’t fully aware of the benefits of the program or how to get involved. With the launch of our new Google channel for Codisto Channel Cloud, we figure it’s the perfect time to break down everything you need to know about Surfaces Across Google and how it can help you grow your brand.
Surfaces Across Google… What is it?
Product listings on Google are nothing new. But previously, sellers catalog data populated into a Google Merchant Center account was used for ads, and for a time, the terms “Google Shopping” and “Product Listing Ads” were one and the same, with paid placements for sellers’ products in Google Merchant Center (GMC) being shown as part of Google Ads campaigns on search results pages and on the dedicated “Shopping” tab.
With Surfaces Across Google, product data populated in GMC is no longer just used for paid ads, but also makes your products eligible to be discovered by shoppers on a range of different Google surfaces with free placements, often alongside paid ads, but served based on relevance to the customers search behaviour alone, unlike ads, which rely on a combination of relevance and paid bidding.
In a nutshell, Surfaces Across Google makes product searches on Google a little more like the Amazon marketplace experience, with a range of products from multiple sellers being matched to a customers search with product details, images, pricing and shipping options all in one place for easy comparison.
So what are these ‘surfaces’ that your products can be shown on?
The Google Shopping Tab
Whilst not the only surface offered as part of the program, the one that offers the most opportunity for sellers to get their products discovered is the Google Shopping Tab. Yes, it’s been there for a while, but if you haven’t yet noticed, there’s been a lot of changes to the shopping tab as part of the Surfaces Across Google program.
No longer just for paid product ads (although they still do appear in the mix), the Google Shopping Tab is now made up primarily of detail rich, free-to-list organic product listings. This is a great place to showcase your products, and unlike product listings on Amazon or eBay, they are surfaced for free without any hosting or commissions to Google.
Shoppers interested in your products will be sent to your online store from your listings to complete the checkout process, and in the US and France, customers can even buy directly from your listings on the Google Shopping Tab with ‘Buy on Google’ universal checkout, a feature expected to roll out to more and more countries soon.
You’re no doubt aware of the product ads that Google displays on search results pages. For now, these premium placements at the top of the SERP are mostly reserved for paid ads, but with the Surfaces Across Google program, organic listings are eligible to be shown (and occasionally do) alongside paid ones. As Google continues to tweak their search product, you can likely expect to see organic listings be given increasing prominence alongside paid ads on search pages, as Google continues to strike the right balance between monetizing their search page real estate and providing a search experience that isn’t dominated by paid advertisements.
Whilst not the first place people go to buy new products, the Google Images tab presents a really interesting opportunity not just for sellers to showcase their products to in-market customers, but for Google to improve their ability to index and serve relevant image results for text-based searches.
Unlike the comparatively simple keyword matching process for serving organic results on the standard Google Search tab, matching images with text searches can be a challenging task even for the world’s most powerful search algorithm. In order to match a text or even voice search with the most relevant images, Google relies on publishers of image content to pair those images with detailed text descriptions so their algorithms know what the image is, and how someone might search for it.
Google wants images backed up with detailed descriptions to create a quality image search experience, and what better source of detailed text-based information about images than the meticulously crafted titles and descriptions that sellers publish alongside images for their product listings? This makes Google Images and GMC a match made in heaven, and in return for giving Google all the information they need to show the best, most relevant images for product related searches, Google will tag your images as products and publish them with a direct link to purchase from your store.
Google Lens takes this one step further, with mobile users to capture images with their cameras and search for similar or related images on Google, including products that are part of the Surfaces Across Google program.
How do I list my products on Surfaces Across Google?
For your products to be eligible to be shown on Surfaces Across Google, you will need a Google account (such as a Gmail account) and a Google Merchant Center account populated with your product catalog from your online store. If you have run Google Shopping campaigns through Google Ads in the past, or have a physical retail business registered with Google, you may already have a GMC account. If not, it’s easy to create on for free with Google.
To populate a new GMC account with your products, you will first need to claim your online store domain and verify it, as well as add conversion tracking code to your site, and then create a product feed to be uploaded to GMC at regular intervals with up-to-date product information from your catalog.
Sound complicated? Don’t worry, if you’re using Codisto Channel Cloud, all you need to do is create your GMC account and Channel Cloud will automatically verify your domain and implement the necessary conversion tracking across your site, and automatically populate GMC with your product information and keep it updated with real-time uploads any time your product information (such as inventory, pricing and titles) is changed.
Populating your GMC with your basic product information will make your products eligible for most Surfaces Across Google, but for the Google Shopping Tab, you will need to provide extra product information to create the content-rich listings displayed there, otherwise known as ‘Enhanced Listings’ for Google.
For most sellers, this means adding extra fields like description, product identifiers, availability and others to your product feeds and keeping them regularly updated. For Channel Cloud sellers however, creating enhanced listings eligible for the Google Shopping Tab and ‘Buy on Google’ checkout (where available) is as simple as mapping those extra fields from your online store catalog and letting Channel Cloud automatically sync them with GMC.
With Codisto Channel Cloud, you can list and promote your products on Google alongside global Amazon, eBay and Walmart sales channels, directly from your online store, all from one powerful multichannel app.
- Powerful listing automation across three unique listing modes.
- Full real-time sync for inventory, pricing and product details between all connected sales channels.
- Receive sales channel orders directly in your ecommerce platform with fully-integrated multichannel order flow.
- Codisto Channel Cloud is ‘launch ready’ meaning there is no re-platforming and no data source migration. Stick with your existing ecommerce platform, add Codisto Channel Cloud and sell more today!
The new Google Channel is available now through Codisto Channel Cloud for Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce, and new and existing merchants can connect to Google and start listing their products at no additional cost.