Google Shopping

How to Optimize Your Google Shopping Campaigns (2024)

65 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 31 October 2022

Google Shopping optimization is a pretty fancy word to throw around. But what does it actually mean?

To me, it means taking action to get closer to your goals. These goals can be a certain revenue, profit, return or ad spend, or a number of clicks.

The exact tactics to achieve them depend on where you are in your optimization process.

In this article, I’ll show you the various levers you can pull in your campaigns to reach your goals.

All of these are tactics I’ve tested with my own campaigns or those of my clients.

The great thing about Shopping Ads is that Google does most of the heavy lifting for you.

You create a shopping feed, depending on whether you are using Standard Shopping or Performance Ma, this feed is automatically transformed into ads that match with relevant search queries.

But this ease of use also turns Shopping Ads into kind of a black box, and it’s unclear what else you can do to improve your results.

Google’s default recommendations aren’t surprising: increase the CPC and/or raise the budget.

google shopping campaign limited budget
Should you just raise the budget? Or is there something else you can do?

But blindly raising the cost per click immediately cuts into your profitability.

So let’s explore some more effective things you can do!

We’ll start with basic optimization tactics and slowly make our way to the more advanced ones.

Note: We also have a dedicated guide on Performance Max optimization.

1. Adding negative keywords

In Google Shopping you don’t need to add any keywords. But you have the option to add negative keywords to make sure you don’t show up for certain search queries.


First, let’s take a look at which search queries your ads are actually appearing for. You can find these in the Search Terms report:

This report shows you all the search queries that people have used for before they clicked on your product listing ad.

A) Irrelevant search queries

The lowest hanging fruit are the irrelevant search queries. These are searches that don’t have any value at all for your business.

These can be searches for products you don’t sell: children instead of adult sized clothes for examples. Or colors or variations of a product that you don’t stock.

These clicks are the equivalent of throwing money in the trash. So add them to your negative keywords to make sure you don’t pay for these searches anymore.

In our analysis of the Google Ads of Away Travel, we saw that their Shopping ads were showing for a couple of search terms that weren’t good matches:


These are people looking up the allowed luggage dimensions for the airline they’re traveling on. These aren’t very likely to purchase a suitcase.

So this brand would be smart to look at the performance for their ads on these search terms and potentially exclude them from their campaigns.

Besides these irrelevant searches, you’ll find other search queries in this report that are not completely useless, but where it is more difficult to say if you should be paying for these clicks.

B) Competitor search queries

Competitor search queries are searches that include a competitors name together with an interesting keyword:

google shopping competitor keywords amazon

The above search terms report for one of my clients shows exactly this.

They sell consumer electronics and face fierce competition from players like Amazon, Walmart & Target. The report above shows the generic searches + amazon.

As it turns out, the searches that include Amazon aren’t completely worthless.

In the report, you can see ok click-through rates and even a sale. But in this case, it is a valid question to ask whether we should keep advertising on these searches. For this limited set of keywords, the total ad spend was $58.76 and revenue was $69.99. That’s not even close to breaking even.

In this case, we’ve excluded “amazon” for a couple of specific product categories where we couldn’t make it profitable.

Check in your own account if it makes sense to advertise on these competitor search queries. But if you’re hurting for profitability, you probably want to add these competitors as negative keywords.

C) Very generic search queries

Another group of queries you’ll see in the search terms report of your shopping campaigns are very generic search queries:

google shopping search terms report generic search queries

The search terms report above shows a couple of those very generic search queries. Look at the clickthrough rate of that first one: 0.02%!

It’s a keyword that’s not irrelevant, but it’s just one of the most generic descriptions of the category of one of the products that we’re selling.

Here is another example of that:

google shopping generic search queries example

If you were selling a unique microphone with a specific use case, imagine being in the above line up. The chances that your product is exactly what the person is looking for are pretty slim. And even if they click through, they probably won’t buy.

Compare that to sites like Amazon, Walmart or Sweetwater. They just want to get their foot in the door, because they know that once people click over to their sites, they get a huge catalog of related products they can sell you.

Very low clickthrough rates will also reflect negatively on the quality score of your product ads, which is why you want to avoid these.

So if you’re in a competitive niche, you probably want to stay away from those short-tail keywords with huge search volumes. You can add them as negative exact matches to your search campaign.

This will be a lot of work at first because you’ll see a lot of similar keywords popping up. But just keep adding these high volume/low intent keywords and their volumes will drop.

While at first, it seems you can only exclude specific keywords from a campaign, in the next section I’ll show you how you can actually target specific search queries. Just like you do with Search campaigns.

2. Google Shopping campaign structure

Campaign structure deals with how you organize your different campaigns. How many do you have? Which products are included and where? How many ad groups do you have? Etc.

Campaign structure gets to the heart of effective Shopping campaigns. A good campaign structure enables you to bid on the products AND search queries that are most valuable to you.

In what follows, I’ll explore the 4 most common campaign structures.

Structure 1  – One undivided campaign

The first one is that there is a single campaign, with one ad group and one product group that contains all of your products.

This effectively means that every product and every search query is equally valuable to your business, as there is no one to distinguish between them.

This is far from ideal for your optimization efforts, all you can do is raise the max CPC for all products.

If you’re making enough money and can’t be bothered to invest more time to get better, you can leave it as it is. In all other cases, explore the other options below!

Structure 2  – One campaign with multiple products groups

The next logical step is to start breaking out different product groups based on some of your products’ attributes:

google shopping product groups attributes

Google Shopping allows you to subdivide your product groups based on Category, Brand, Item ID, conditionproduct type, channel, channel exclusivity, or one of five custom labels.

You can also create multiple levels. For example, you first subdivide all your products based on product type, then you divide them by brand and on the third level by Item ID.

This campaign structure allows you to set bids based on the category, brand or individual product level Item ID).

This is the most common campaign that I see. It keeps things simple but allows pretty granular control.

If you’re not happy with the default attributes to subdivide your campaign on, you can use custom labels to add extra information into your feed.

With a lot of clients, I add price or margin information in these custom labels. That allows me to bid more aggressively for higher-priced, higher-margin products while keeping bids lower for the less profitable ones.

Structure 3  – Multiple campaigns with different products

Just like you split the product groups, you can also create a campaign based on the attributes we’ve discussed above.

To do that, you need to jump into the settings of your newly created campaign and use an Inventory Filter to only include part of your product offering.

google shopping campaign settings inventory filter

This means you can have separate shopping campaigns based on a brand, product type, or category.

Another one I’ve often seen and used is using a custom label to create a campaign that only contains your bestsellers.

The biggest advantage of multiple campaigns is that you can set a specific budget for each campaign. That means that you can allocate 80% of your budget to your bestsellers, and 20% to your lesser products. If they’re all mixed into a single campaign it is harder to control this budget.

If you want to expand your campaigns to another country, you’ll also need to use a separate campaign.

Structure 4  – Multiple campaigns with the same products

Having multiple campaigns with the same products allows you to target a specific set of search queries with each one.

Yes, you CAN target search queries with Google Shopping campaigns. It’s also called search level query bidding.

The biggest advantage of this setup is that you can set different max CPCs based on how valuable a search query is to you.

The most common use case for this is to split branded search queries from generic search queries. You can bid aggressively on the branded search queries, while sharply reducing the max CPCs in your generic shopping campaign.

This is a great alternative approach to excluding them from your campaigns.

google shopping branded vs generic campaigns

The example above is 2 campaigns for the same brand, one is a campaign that targets branded search queries, the other one targets generic queries.

Check the difference in CTR & CPC between the two. If you wanted to reach the same result with one campaign, the overall profitability would be a lot lower because your average CPC would be a lot higher.

Pro tip: If you use this campaign structure, be sure to get your campaign priority settings right. It’s an essential part of getting the keyword filtering to work correctly.

Here is an example of how beauty brand Glossier structures their Google Shopping campaigns:

glossier google shopping campaign structure

First, the company has split its campaigns depending on the brand: Glossier and Glossier Play (a sub-brand). Next, the campaigns are divided by country. One level deeper the campaigns are split into branded (B) and non branded (NB) queries.

3. Bid optimization for Shopping Ads

Once you’ve set up your Shopping campaigns and got your campaign structure right, most of the optimization work will be about getting your max CPCs to the right level.

High enough that you’re getting enough clicks, but not too high that you’re hurting your profitability.

This might sound simple, but it actually is pretty hard to do right.

So let’s start with an easier challenge 🙂

When to raise your campaign budget?

If your campaigns are profitable and Google indicates that you’re being limited by your budget or that you have a low impressions share, you can raise your budget.


The Budget simulator will show you the budget Google Ads recommends, and its impact on your campaigns. In this case, they estimate that an extra €10 per day will get me 153 extra clicks.

Remember that these graphs are only a simulation. If you do raise your budget, keep a close eye on the results in the days and weeks after to make sure that you’re still making enough.

If you’re using an automated bidding strategy (I’ll explain what this means below), changing the overall budget will require Google to re-adjust to this new spending level.

But very often, Google won’t spend the budget that you’ve set. In that case, the only way to get more traffic is to raise the max CPCs.

When to raise max CPCs?

At first, you might need to raise your max CPCs just to get more traffic in the door.

You’ll need the data to be able to do all of the Google Shopping optimization described in this article.

The next moment to raise your CPCs is when you’ve got profitable sales coming in, and you’re looking to bring more of them.

That said, you will reach a ceiling for your max CPCs. And for some products, you might hit it pretty quickly.

I have a client that has a conversion rate of 7% in his online store. But we’ve maximized the traffic to his store, to increase beyond would mean we have to raise the CPCs to a level that would eat into the profits. So we’re stuck capped out at about 50% of all potential impressions.

If you run into this problem, you’ll get a few ideas on how to break through in the next sections.

How to set max CPCs?

This is the realm of bid strategy, the logic behind why you would increase or decrease the max CPCs for a specific product in a specific campaign.

It boils down to two basic choices:

  1. Do everything yourself. Set bids on the product level, dig through the reports, watch the metrics closely and adapt accordingly. It’s a lot of work, but the right move when you’re just starting out.
  2. Hand (some) of the controls to Google. This is done with Smart bidding strategies. The automated part means that Google decides how much to charge you for a click.

An important disclaimer here is that Google doesn’t care about your profitability. Their focus is on getting you to spend more. So blindly going into these automated bidding strategies might have bad results for your business.

In this section, we’ll explore how to find a balance in this tricky situation by going over the pros and cons of the different bidding strategies.

  1. Manual CPC

The manual option I described earlier is called “Manual CPC” meaning that you manually go through your product groups and adjust the CPCs based on what you see.

An example:

In one of your campaigns, you see that a specific product sells well, but it doesn’t get many clicks. If you increase the CPC by $0.1, you might get more clicks. Then a couple of days later you check if that increase had the desired effect.

Google Shopping bid stratgies
Other bidding strategies for Google Shopping

The other options described below are automated bidding strategies. Here you’ll leverage some of Google’s AI skills.

2. Maximize clicks

With the Maximize clicks bidding strategy, you’re giving Google the reigns. They will set CPCs in order to get the maximum possible clicks.

Google knows exactly which products/clicks are the cheapest, so that’s where they will shift your budget.

Since my goal is to sell more, I want the clicks to go to the products that have the highest likelihood of converting, not to search queries which happened to be a couple of cents cheaper.

You can use this strategy to get some data when you’re starting out. But I would stay away from it.

3. Enhanced Cost per click

The Enhanced cost per click or ECPC bidding strategy is very similar to Manual CPC, but Google has the freedom to raise the max CPC that you indicated if it thinks a specific click will result in a sale.

The technical details that Google provides are pretty vague, but they claim to use extra information about the likelihood that a user will convert to adjust your bid.

Enabling ECPC and choosing optimization for conversions or for conversion value

When optimizing for conversions, ECPC tries to keep your average cost-per-click (CPC) below the maximum CPC you set, including bid adjustments. 

In Shopping campaigns, ECPC aims to increase conversions while keeping the overall spend the same.

With optimizing for conversion values, you can prioritize high-value conversions and assign different values to various conversion actions. This feature is available for Search and Shopping campaigns. 

By optimizing for conversion value, ECPC helps you get more value for your ad budget.

4. Target ROAS

With the Target Return on ad spend or ROAS bid strategy, you’ll set a conversion value that you would like to achieve for every dollar/euro/yuan you put into your campaigns.

google shopping target return on ad spend ROAS

As shown in the screenshot above, a Target ROAS of 450% means that for every $1 I put into this campaign, I want to make $4.5 back.

Emphasis on want. Just because you want or need to make that return, doesn’t mean it will be possible.

Maybe for the above ROAS, I can only make 2 sales per month from this campaign.

While with a ROAS of 300%, I might be able to make 50 sales.

You don’t know beforehand, that’s why you need to be on Manual or Enhanced CPC for a while. Google Ads recommends at least 50 conversions in the last 30 days before you activate this strategy. 

That also allows you to establish a baseline to compare the results of the automation.

This is an automated bidding strategy, so Google Ads will need time to get it going and process any changes you make to the campaigns.


If you get this working, your job just becames a lot easier.

This doesn’t mean you should run this campaign on auto-pilot. Automation changes, promotions or new competitors can cause big changes.

So be sure to monitor these campaigns and put the necessary alerts in place.

Pro tip: To do the above, there are a ton of optimization software tools on the market that can help with this. A lot of them use techniques like AI & machine learning to improve your results.

They make big claims, often are expensive and I have yet to see them provide adequate ROI. So, don’t believe any promises and test it out for yourself.

4. Competitive intelligence in Google Shopping

All of the work described above (and below) can really help your campaigns.

But your campaigns don’t exist in a vacuum. Things that your competitors do or don’t will have an impact on your results.

Seeing how you stack up and what they do better can give you more ideas to improve your own campaigns.

So in this section, I’ll show you what information is out there, and what to pay attention to.

Google Shopping performance by vertical

If you’re new to Google Shopping (or even advertising in general), these Shopping benchmarks below can give you an idea of what competitors are doing.

Mass Merchant$581.31%4.65%4.14
Office Supplies$1040.87%3.23%3.60
Pet Care$211.34%3.81%1.25
Sporting Goods$1121.29%2.71%6.07

You can check our Google Shopping benchmarks here.

Will your numbers look exactly the same?

Probably not. But knowing if you’re in the same ballpark can indicate more fundamental problems with your merchandise or website.

Search impression share metrics

The Search impression share is the percentage of search results that your product listing ads appeared in compared to all the potential search results they could have appeared in.

A 100% search impression share (IS) means your advertisements appeared every time someone searched for a relevant keyword.

The two reasons why your ad might not show every time someone searches for your product are insufficient budget & low ad rank.

To see this in your Google Ads account, go to the Campaigns tab, select the Columns icon, click Modify columns, Competitive metrics and add Search Impr. share, Search Abs top IS , Search Lost IS (rank), and Click share, then click Save.


Let’s break down all of these columns and discuss what you can learn from the numbers in the above screenshot.

  1. Search Impression Share

As I mentioned above, this one is the key metric. It indicates what percentage of searches you are appearing for. It depends on your approach what number you want to hit.

With a search impression share of 100% your ads show up for every related search, but maybe that’s not really profitable.

The great thing about splitting your campaigns based on the type of search query is that you can control the impression shares of these different campaigns.

You could, for example, maximize the impression share of the branded queries while keeping the IS of the generic campaign at 25% because it’s not profitable.

2. Search Absolute Top Impression Share

Absolute top impression share (Search Abs top IS in Google Ads) shows you the percentage of searches that took the top slot of all the products listing ads. That’s the product highlighted in pink below:

The absolute top impression share when searching for “sonos one” query

Google decides the order of the products depending on price, reviews, relevance, etc. That top slot is often reserved for a well priced best seller.

It doesn’t make sense to try and be there for every product, but in some cases it is interesting.

3. Search Lost IS (rank)

The Search lost IS shows the number of impressions you miss out because of low ad rank. That can be because your CPC is too low, or a case of your quality score being too low.

To explain why this is happening, you need to know a little bit about the Google Ads auction system.

🛠 Quality score in Google Shopping
For every single search that happens on Google, they identify which advertisers want to appear and what advertisements they want to show (which image, title, description, landing page, etc.). From all this data Google calculates a Quality Score.
This score indicates how relevant Google thinks your product listing ad is to the search query in question. This is common knowledge for Google Search campaigns, where you can see the actual score that Google gives you.
But in Shopping, they don’t give you a score. What you do have is the Lost impression share (rank) metric.
In Google Search, Ad rank is calculated by multiplying the max CPC with the quality score. That means that products with a high-quality score but a small bid can compete with a low-quality score product that has a high bid.

If your Lost impression share (rank) is high, you have a couple of options when this happens:

  • Improve your ad rank by raising your bid
  • Refine search queries that your product listing ads appear for, this will improve your CTR which could raise your quality score
  • Improve the data quality of the product feed you submit to Google (more about this further down the article)

This is where the biggest potential is for most campaigns, but it is also the hardest part to get right. This is because you can’t directly influence this Quality Score.

4. Click share

The last of the search IS metrics you can find in Google Ads is Click share. This is the percentage of clicks that your ad got when it was shown.

You can use click share to spot searches where a high impression share isn’t translating into more traffic. This might indicate that your ad is less relevant for that search query, or might indicate a pricing difference.

Auction Insights

The competitive metrics described above give you information on how your account or campaigns are doing, the Auction Insights report shows you how you stack up against your Google Ads competitors.

google shopping auction insights report
Example of the Auction Insights report for a Google Shopping campaign

This report, available on the account, campaign and ad group level will show you which other advertisers are advertising on the same keywords then you are.

I’ve already covered the Impression share above, so let’s look at what other interesting things you can take away from this report.

For this specific campaign, you can see that Etsy takes the majority of the Impressions. Etsy is advertising in about 70% of the impressions where this advertiser’s ad is showing (= Overlap rate). This advertiser is ranking higher than Etsy’s ads in 24% of the cases where both ads show (= Outranking share)

Be sure to look at this report for different time frames, it allows you to monitor the evolution of your competition or the impact of your optimization work.

If you see a lot of big players in the report like Amazon, Etsy, Walmart, Target, you know it’s going to be hard to match them budget-wise. So instead of blindly raising your budget & CPC and hoping to out-do them, you can try to figure out which product categories or brands they are spending hard on.

Do this by running this Auction Insights report for different campaigns or ad groups.

Benchmark CTR & CPC

The Impression share metrics and Auction Insights report will tell you what is happening and who is doing it, not why it’s happening.

That’s something that the benchmark metrics will tell you.

Benchmark CTR, Benchmark Max. CPC, and Benchmark product price difference tell you “how other advertisers’ Product Shopping ads are performing for similar products”. (definition from Google)

You can add these as extra columns in the Product Groups overview:


In the screenshot above I’ve also added the Avg product price column from the Shopping section.

The first caveat is that Google always wants you to spend more, so these metrics would be perfect to push you to do so. So use them as indicators, not targets or goals.

Let’s look at two brand product groups in the example above:

Brand 1:

The max CPC in this product group is €0.33, a bit below the Benchmark max CPC of €0.37. The CTR of 5.02% is more than double the Benchmark CTR. That means the products are doing pretty well.

The Benchmark product price difference indicates that we’re slightly more expensive than other products. From a ROAS point of view, it’s also far exceeding our goals, so perhaps we could even raise the max CPC higher to capture more impression share.

Brand 2:

The max CPC here is €0.3, well below the Benchmark max CPC of €0.52. The CTR of 3.83% is also well above the Benchmark CTR of 1.59%.

The Benchmark product price difference shows that we’re slightly cheaper vs competitors selling the same products. These three metrics indicate that if we increase the spend, we could probably capture more impression share in a profitable manner.

These metrics are available for each product group. So if you are only using a single product group, consider subdividing it to get a better idea of the performance of each product.

6. Shopping Feed Optimization

If you’ve done all of the above, your Google Shopping campaigns should be in good shape. But even then, you might not be able to hit the numbers you need.

So in this section, I’ll tackle the last piece of Google Shopping optimization: your product feed.

Before you implement any of the things below, all of the errors and warnings in Google Merchant Center should be fixed. Especially around product identifiers.

The next step is about improving the data in your feed to increase your visibility and competitiveness.

Product title optimization

Product title optimization is all about making sure that you’re showing up for the more relevant search queries.

Having a good title can really improve the visibility and CTR of your products.

Besides merely adding them, it’s also important to keep the structure of your title in mind.

Here is a search for “best fish oil pills”:

Importance of the structure of the title

The first product listing ads doesn’t mention the word fish oil at all. They do mention Omega 3 (which is the active ingredient in fish oil). That could have an impact on its CTR for these searches.

The lesson here is to pay attention to the product title cutoff. The exact character limit is always shifting but try to keep it as short as possible.

To get more in-depth insights on how to improve your own product titles, check our original research on the topic!

Or watch this video below:

Competitive prices

A lower price improves the quality of your product feed for your customer (it’s a better offer) and for Google (people will click your ad more often).

But of course, there is a clear limit on how low you can and should go. Often prices are already as low as you can go.

As described above, low click shares or low click-through rates can indicate that your offer (which includes your price) is less attractive than that of competitors.

That’s why keeping an eye on the pricing strategies of your competitors can be really helpful.

Here a screenshot from a tool called Prisync. It shows how this retailer ( in yellow) stacks up against its competitors:


In this case, the retailer sells the product for €22.50, while other retailers sell the same product for €16.95. That’s a pretty big gap and will have repercussions for Google Shopping.

The ad with a product price of €16.95 will have a much higher CTR which leads Google to show it more often. Because of the lower price, the conversion rate for that product will also be higher.

This is information that is partially visible with the product price benchmarks mentioned above, but looking at it a bit deeper for your top products is well worth the time.

But it’s not just the product price that matters, it’s the full price, including shipping costs.

Some retailers are sneaky and will leave out shipping or “handling” costs from their product feed and merchant center. This will make their prices a lot lower and get them more visibility and clicks in the Shopping results. Sometimes they get away with it, other times not.

If you see a competitor not communicating shipping costs (and stealing clicks from your ads, here is where to complain to Google:


That link is located at the bottom of the Shopping tab of the search results.

Product image optimization

Getting new product images is expensive, so before investing you need to be sure that it will be worth it.

In Shopping, product images need to be simple and clear.

But if everyone is doing the same, all ads look the same. If you have different images available, consider adding a different style:

ASOS images stand out in Google Shopping

Having the shoe at an angle, Kohl’s ad stands out a little. These are little tricks that don’t require a new shoot, but you might need some Photoshop tweaks.

Improve product descriptions

This one comes up a lot in google shopping optimization lists. But it’s not clear if this has a big impact on the actual Shopping Ads.

From my own experience, if you have solid SEO optimized product descriptions, they will help you for keywords that might not be included in the product title.

So can double-check your Search Terms report to make sure you have the top keywords in there.

Note: the product description isn’t visible in the actual ads, it does show with the Free Listings.

6. Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) providers – EU only

If you’re selling within the European Union, you can get a 20% discount on your cost per click.

That’s a direct result from the $4 billion fine that the EU gave Google for unfair competition in the Shopping Ads. To rectify the situation, Google had to allow other comparison shopping providers in its ad carousel.

Here is what that looks like:

Multiple comparison shopping service provides in EU

For that to work financially, Google skips its 20% service fee it usually charges for advertisers that use their system.

CSS providers could in theory pocket that 20%, but no one would switch. So instead most of them charge a flat monthly fee (€20-50) and pass the 20% CPC savings straight to the advertisers. These providers often have a marketplace where they take affiliate commissions.

Switching over from Google to a CSS provider is pretty simple. You need to make a switch in Google Merchant Center so the new provider can access your product feed.

Comparison Shopping Service providers are different depending on the geography/language. Check Google’s database for one that seems suitable to you.

Next steps

Working your way through all of the optimization tactics described in this article will bring you amongst the top advertisers on Google Shopping. That doesn’t mean that the work is done.

To remain competitive, constant tweaks are needed, especially when it comes to bidding and monitoring your competition.

Google continues to make changes to the Google Shopping platform. So staying on top of new features or possibilities can help you get an edge over competitors that neglect this part.

My premium training course

If you like this article but want to dive into even more detail on Google Shopping optimization? Check out my Google Shopping course. In this series of video lessons, you’ll go from scratch to having the first sales come in via your Shopping campaigns.

The feedback so far has been really great so I encourage you to check it out!

Dennis Moons

Dennis Moons is the founder and lead instructor at Store Growers.

He's a Google Ads expert with over 12 years of experience in running Google Ads campaigns.

During this time he has managed more than $5 million in ad spend and worked with clients ranging from small businesses to global brands. His goal is to provide advice that allows you to compete effectively in Google Ads.

Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


65 responses on "How to Optimize Your Google Shopping Campaigns (2024)"

  1. […] dig into your product feed and solve those annoying errors so you can get to the fun part of running your Shopping campaigns and watching the sales come […]

  2. […] Optimizing Google Shopping campaigns is a subject in of itself. But to keep track of what you’re changing and how you can accomplish certain goals you’ll need to be an analytical person. […]

  3. […] Optimizing Google Shopping campaigns is a subject in of itself. But to keep track of what you’re changing and how you can accomplish certain goals you’ll need to be an analytical person. […]

  4. […] dig into your product feed and solve those annoying errors so you can get to the fun part of running your Shopping campaigns and watching the sales come […]

  5. […] When the first clicks and other data start rolling in you can further optimize your shopping campaigns. […]

  6. Connally says:

    Thank you for clarifying what all of these terms mean and how they relate/impact the campaign itself.

    Great article!


    1. Dennis says:

      Glad to hear that you were able to use this article to get a better understanding about your campaigns!

  7. John Thomas says:

    Its a very interesting post. Its surely will help me in my work, thanks for the post.
    John Thomas

  8. em says:

    great article although i dont have the option to add search lost (budget)

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Em,
      Yeah recent changes have removed that option. But there is a way to quickly calculate this yourself:
      Take your Search impression share and subtract the Search lost (rank) from it.

      That will give you the impressions you’ve lost due to a limited budget!

  9. Wow, I couldn’t figure why 1 product group seemed to be getting all the clicks. I was shocked to see the search terms it was showing for – especially when other product groups are better suited for some of the keywords. I will re-check my title tags, but I’m certain most of them have been optimized for specific keywords (using a great SEO tag manager app on Shopify)…could the alt tags on the photos be influencing this?

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Sharon,
      That’s pretty annoying indeed.

      The search queries that Google Shopping is matching your products to are based on the information you provide in your product feed:
      – product title
      – product description
      – product categories

      Besides that, it will also use the product identifiers to match it with synonyms and related keywords that other stores are using.

      For example: your product title is “Excelsior notepad ruled” while another advertiser calls is “Excelsior notebook”.

      So to track down what’s going wrong: check what data are coming through in your feed via Google Merchant Center, update your product information to avoid certain search queries & add negative keywords to exclude those searches.

      Check this article to learn more about shopping feeds:

  10. […] After you’ve taken care of that, you can get deeper into the google shopping optimization. […]

  11. Hi, Dennis. I just wanted to say thanks for putting this article together with tremendous detail. I’ve been using Google Product Listing ads for a couple of months now with some success. I always felt I could be doing better and this has certainly helped.

    With the competitive metrics I was disturbed by the fact that my ads were showing less than 50% of the time. However, when benchmarked against competition I found that there weren’t doing much better.

    My one concern is trying to work into the content phrases or keywords that users are searching for versus the ones I’ve already selected. A lot of times I find that searchers are abbreviating terms which I’m not comfortable doing in my advertisements or product pages. Thoughts?

    1. Dennis says:

      Thanks for your kind words John 🙂

      If you’re running regular text search ads there are many things you can do to specifically address these abbreviators. But with Google Shopping there isn’t much you can do.

      I’ve found that Google has gotten pretty smart at these kind of keyword variations. So I would look through your Search Terms report to see if these abbreviations are there.

      If they are, you can rest assured that your product ads are appearing.

      If they aren’t, there are ways you can include these kind of keywords without putting them out there. You could edit the product description you send through in your feed to add some extra text. But this is a pretty cumbersome process so I would see if it is really necessary.

  12. This is an old blog post but still, have relevant information to optimize Google shopping campaigns.

  13. Melody says:

    Hi Dennis, why there aren’t any search terms data on my keyword tab….. I am really confused and can’t figure out. sad…

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Melody,
      Strange indeed! The Search Terms report doesn’t display all of the search queries your ads appeared for, only a selection of them. So if your data range isn’t big enough, you sometimes see an empty report.

      So I would try to make the data range that you selected larger. Go for 30 days or a months. Then if you have 20-50 clicks, you should see some data in that report.

      Let me know if that works!

      1. Melody says:

        Hi Dennis, thanks for your quick response!
        I suppose you’re right. My campaign has just run for 2 weeks. I tried to call Google shopping staff, and they told me there’s not enough data.
        Now what I got is 28K impression and 177 clicks, no conversion. CPC $0.6. I uploaded 16 products on my website. ALL the product titles and descriptions have been re-writed. What else can I do to improve impression and CTR ?
        Thanks for your time.

  14. Lachu Mohan says:

    Great article. Now I know to optimise PLA.

    1. Dennis says:

      Glad you found it useful Lachu!

  15. james says:

    really great post – i have gone through and checked off everything – thanks

    1. Dennis says:

      Thanks a lot James 😊

  16. David Morrison says:

    Great article- found it really useful- thank you, Dennis!

    I have a fairly simple question. When running through my item ID’s and have items that are spending but showing no ROAS- should I exclude these or do they still offer some value? For eg, have an item spending $15 but returning no ROAS. Has 16.23% clickshare and 17.57% search impression share. Should items like this be excluded or could there be value in these?

    A very simple question but am still learning the ropes and keen not to waste any spend that doesn’t result in a return. Wondering if any value in these and what action I should take. P.S. these items all spending within Max CPC. I set.

    Thanks and thanks for really great article.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi David,
      Good question!
      You don’t want to spend on items that don’t generate any sales.
      I can’t give you exact values as it depends on a lot of things (website, industry, product, price, competition, etc.).

      Some suggestions:

      • look at a long enough time scale: not every product will sell in every month
      • make sure you have enough clicks to base your decision on
      • try to find out which search queries are triggering this product (maybe it’s appearing a lot for generic category searches)

      But if it’s dead weight or you’re hurting for profitability, cut them.

  17. Sean says:

    Hi Dennis. Thanks for this great article.

    Is it normal for shopping ads to show your ad in the “All” search results but when you go to Shopping tab, your store is not there? If so, why should it be like that? Thanks again for this informative article.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Sean,
      If that’s happening something isn’t 100%.

      You want to be on the “all search results” as that gets the most visibility. But for people drilling down on the offers, the specific Shopping tab is also valuable.

      Similar products often get clustered on that tab, so try to see if your listed as one of the stores mentioned.

      If you’re not appearing there, double check your products identifiers (gtin, brand, mpn). Because that’s what Google’s uses to consolidate different vendors selling the same product.

      Hope that helps!

  18. Hi Dennis

    Great article.

    I was wondering how google shopping feed would disapprove items in my feeds and allow my competitors to list on google shopping.

    Is there a way I can use or copy their feed.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Vinai,
      I would dig into the reasons why your products are getting disapproved and try to fix those:

      • problems with gtin/brand/etc.
      • policy violations

      Only in very rare cases have I discovered competitors that with creative workarounds to a Google policy.

  19. Very Useful information for people running shopping Ads. Thank You for sharing.

  20. Sylva says:

    Hi Dennis,

    Here is the thing, I cannot spend my advertising budget.But if I raise the click price, I can’t make a profit.
    Half years ago, I was able to spend my budget and get a lot of hits. Later I tried the smart bidding method, but it didn’t improve my business because the budget couldn’t be spent. So I reused the previous manual bidding method. Now I can only spend a third of the budget and get a third of the clicks, which has been going on for 3 months.

    I’m very upset. Can you give me some advice?

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Sylva,
      You’re not the only one in this situation.

      My answer is two-fold:

      • Make sure you’re using search query level bidding
      • Use custom labels to put the products forward where you can afford to be more aggressive
      • Improve your website: any increase in conversion rate, average order value or repurchase rate will allow you to raise your CPCs
      • Branch out to other networks (search, bing, etc)
  21. Smoothstack says:

    How would I increase my Search Impression Share without bidding too much? My Boss doesn’t want to invest a lot in PPC as he sees it as a waste of money. Or should I enlighten him on how Ads works and benefits of it?

    1. Dennis says:

      That’s not an easy thing to overcome, as PPC comes with a learning curve where you will be spending more than you’re back in sales. I’ve found that digging a bit deeper into what the competition is doing helps to see that there are real downsides to not compete.

      Maybe try to get enough budget for a test for 2-3 months and see where you can take it. In that case, I always try to maximize the Impression share for a specific set of products + search queries. Choose the ones that will have the best return, and convince your boss that way.

  22. efustan says:

    thanks for sharing its very helpful for me

  23. Sohyun says:

    Very comprehensive information. Thank you for this article!
    My campaign doesn’t have enough impression due to high lost impression rate. My products are pretty specific, so I put brand name, product name. I don’t know how to improve search impression and display impression of my shopping campaign. Any advice?

    1. Dennis says:

      Instead of focusing on the overall search impression share, considering splitting your campaign based on search queries.

      Then you can focus your efforts on growing IS for brand/product search queries, without overspending on more generic ones.

  24. Angela says:

    Thanks for the article Dennis!
    A quick question: Let’s say that we created a campaign with a product group regarding smartphones –> brand –> item ids. If in a week the updated feed in Google Merchant Center contains more skus (item ids), will these skus be added in the product group?

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Angela,
      Yes they would be in the same product group, but grouped on the “Everything else in PRODUCT GROUP NAME” line. You can then break them out to show the performance per item id.

  25. Grace says:

    Hi, Dennis,
    very impressive article. May I ask you a question that hung me up for a long time!
    We have a product that has 4 variant, the variants have the 99% same function and outlook , only 1% different. And one variant is very profitable in google shopping ads, while others are not. how do I spam the other variants to login in ads.
    I can’t release 4 variant product list in shop due to some other reasons to solve this problem, is there other better way to fix this problem?


    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Grace,
      If you have multiple variants, it’s the one with the highest initial CTR that Google will favor, especially if they are similar.

      You could force some additional visibility by raising CPCs for these items, that might give Google a push to start showing them more equally.
      Hope that helps!

  26. Grace says:

    Thanks Dennis!
    Understand !
    Would you pls give some suggestions for optimizing google smart shopping. It seems we can do nothing to optimize on it. right?

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Grace,
      For Smart Shopping, there is very little we can do.

      Besides from upping the budget, the product feed optimization tips in this article could help.

      We’ll need to wait and see how Google further develops this campaign type, but I’m not very hopeful about it 🙁

  27. Multiple feeds can be a strategy to reach slightly different audiences with the same landing page. Here’s a test we ran to reach pet owners, dog owners and cat owners:

    1. Dennis says:

      Thanks for sharing this Eric!

      It would be interesting to put them into their own ad groups to compare the search queries between the products. And see to what extend this setup really targets different keywords.

  28. Amna Sheikh says:

    Very Informative Post Dennis! First time I have read such a detailed and impressive guide on google shopping optimization and learnt a lot from it. I hope I will be able to improve my campaign!

    1. Dennis says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post Amna!

  29. Zach says:

    I’ve been in advertising for 5 years, spent over $100MM with Google, but am new to Google Shopping. I must say — WONDERFUL article. Every aspect covered with a great lens of simplicity + awareness of Google’s motives.

    I’d 100% link to this if had the means to!

    1. Dennis says:

      That’s great to hear from a Google Ads veteran like yourself Zach, thanks 🙂

  30. Thanks Dennis,

    I used your method and really effective. My sale has increased 10X.

    I appropriate for sharing.


  31. Tami says:

    Thank you so much for this article. We’re a small business just getting started with Google Shopping Ads and barely breaking even. We know this can be a profitable channel for us if we manage to get it right, but it’s so confusing knowing where to start. Excited to implement the strategies in this article and see where it takes us! Do you have a recommendation on how long we should wait between each change? I know with Facebook ads the system gets unhappy if you make too many back-to-back changes… thanks!

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Tami,
      That mainly depends on your bidding strategy. If you’re using an automated bidding strategy like Target CPA or Target ROAS, Google is doing a lot of the automation for you (a lot like Facebook). So each time you make a significant change to your campaigns, Google will have to recalibrate.

      But if you’re running on manual or enhanced CPC, it’s you that is supposed to do the calibration. When I’m on of these bidding strategies, I’ll make changes and give it a few days to see the actual impact.

      I hope that helps!

  32. Loris says:

    Nice article!

    Is there any reason why I can’t see the tab “Competitive metrics”?

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Loris,
      These are extra columns that you have to add to your reports. Just click “Modify columns” on top of the report page.

  33. Sor says:

    Hi Dennis,

    Hopefully you’re still replying to messages!

    I’ve been using PLAs for over 2 years now, but have always been a conservative bidder.

    In terms of benchmark max CPCs, do you feel that bidding competitively high, brings in the same or more value in terms of conversions? Or is it still about finding the sweet spot and balance between spend and conversions?

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Sor!
      Starting out (without much info over how well a product/product group will perform) I look at that Benchmark Max CPC as the place where most of the action is happening. If we need to start out below that, that’s not a problem but I know not to expect the clicks and sales that could come at the benchmark level.

      When you have been running your campaigns for a while, you have a lot more information on how accurate the Benchmark CPCs actually are. If you are seeing good returns, and have been bidding below the benchmark, I would experiment with bids that are more aggressive. In some cases this has resulted in a nice increase in sales/revenue, other times the campaigns just become more expensive without appropriate gains in terms of revenue.

      But as you said, the most important thing is balancing spend and conversion value.

      1. Sor says:

        Thank you for your reply, Dennis!

  34. Satinderjeet Singh Bal says:

    This will increase your sales and help avoid wasting your money on products that don’t perform well. Great info you have shared here.

  35. Micky says:


    Nice artikel, clear information and a nice layout. However i have one question. What is the best practice to have a good quality score and CTR. Does the CTR of one of the ad groups effect the score of a different ad group in the same campaign? Or do they all have different score?

    1. Have different ad groups for product groups within the same campaign?

    2. Or Make separate campaigns for different product groups?

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Micky,
      Since Google isn’t giving any information about quality scores for Shopping, most of what I’m telling you are my own takes. (I usually try and extrapolate what happens in Search)

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the extra effects of the other products/products groups or different ad groups. Just try to make your products show for as relevant queries as you can, which will improve CTRs.
      Hope that helps!

  36. Andrew says:

    Any clue how to see if you’ve toggled the default networks options after the campaign is running? I can’t seem to find super clear locations/directions.

    1. Dennis says:

      Hi Andrew,
      You can see which networks are switched on in your Campaign settings.
      You should see Search partners and Display Network there.

      To see your performance, you can click segment > network on most reports inside of the Google Ads interface. That will break down your performance by network.

  37. Warten Weg says:

    Your article on optimizing Google Shopping campaigns was insightful and practical. I found the 8 optimization techniques, especially the advice on negative keywords and campaign segmentation, very valuable.

    Thanks for sharing your expertise; I look forward to more of your content.

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