When searching for a product to buy on Google, you might have seen a tab below Sponsored results that shows additional product listings. Those are free shopping listings that any seller can set up free of cost to promote their products and drive sales. Today we’ll discuss how to set up these listings so sellers can make use of a free marketing option.

In the Shopping tab, ads show at the top in the Sponsored section and these ads cost money to run. However, if you are hesitant about investing money in Google Ads, you can always set up these free listings to avoid the high CPCs (Cost-per-Click) on Google.

Where Do Free Listings Show?

Free listings show in multiple placements:

  1. Shopping Tab

  1. Google Search

  2. Google Images

  1. YouTube

Eligibility for Free listings

To find out if you are eligible to show your products in free listings, go through Google’s Policies to confirm that you are not in violation of any of them.

Prohibited content includes counterfeit products, dangerous products (like drugs and weapons), products that enable dishonest behavior (for example, hacking software), and inappropriate content.

There is also a category of restricted content that’s allowed to be promoted but with some limitations. These products are not eligible to show to every user in every location. The products in this category include adult products (sex toys, lingerie, etc.), alcohol, gambling, and healthcare-related products.

What do you need to set up free listings?

You will need to have a Google Merchant Center account. Whether you want to run Shopping ads or Free listings, this the program needed to upload your product data.

You will also need a product data feed. This can be created in a number of ways:

  1. Using Google Sheets.
  2. Using a data feed tool like Feedonomics or DataFeedWatch.
  3. Using an app like Google sales channel on Shopify

There are pros and cons to each of these options. You will need to determine which of the options is the best suited for your store size. If you have less than 50 products and the availability/price doesn’t change frequently, a Google Sheet can suffice. If you have more than 50 products and do not want to go for a paid app/tool, then your ecommerce platform’s feed app will suit your purposes.

How to set up free listings?

You need to set up your Google Merchant Center account first. Visit the website and click on Get Started. You will need to add your business information, choose where your customers complete the checkout process, and your email preferences.

You will also need to add your phone number and verify it in business settings, and claim and verify your website. There can only be one Google Merchant account linked to a website so this step is necessary when setting up your GMC.

The last step is to go to Shipping and Tax settings and set up the correct information.

Setting up your data feed

If you are using Google Sheets to create a data feed, then you will need to ensure that the following attributes are present in your feed:

  • Id
  • Title
  • Link
  • Image Link
  • Price
  • Description
  • Availability
  • Condition
  • Brand
  • Gtin or MPN

This is the data that will appear in front of the customer on Google so make sure that everything gets correctly listed. Export your data from your website so that you have all these attributes listed in Google Sheets. Fill this data in a Google Sheet for each product on your website. This is what a sample feed will look like:

Next, upload it in Google Merchant Center. In the left tab, go to Products > Feeds. Click on the + sign under Primary Feeds. 

Add your target country then select the language your feed is in. Now select the destinations you want your product data to appear in. Since you want your feed to appear in Free listings, check that box. Next, name your feed and choose Google Sheets. Google will open a pop-up where you will sign in to your account and pick your feed from your drive.

Submit your feed and check after it’s done processing to see if there are any errors. If there are, resolve them.

Your product feed has been uploaded.

Uploading Feed through Shopify’s Google channel

The Google channel in Shopify automatically syncs your products with Google Merchant Center. It is convenient to use if you have hundreds or thousands of products in your store because it can save you from manually creating and updating the feed whenever prices change or something goes out of stock.

  • Go to Shopify app store and install the Google sales channel
  • Once you have added the app, click Connect Google Account, and then select your Google account.
  • Select your Merchant Center account.
  • Choose the target market and language.
  • Select Manually set up shipping settings in Google Merchant Center if you have already added Shipping settings in GMC. If not, choose the automatically import settings option.
  • Click save.

Your products will be synced to GMC and if approved, will be eligible to show on Free listings.

How to check performance of free listings?

Go to the Overview page on Google Merchant Center, you will see a Performance graph for free listings. Click on Dashboard to look at your clicks, impressions, and CTR data. You will also get the option to segment your data by brand, product, country or product category if you want more insights about your listings.

To get conversion data, you will need to link your Google Analytics to GMC. You can do that by clicking on the settings icon then going to Conversion Settings. Make sure that Auto-tagging is enabled then link your Google Analytics property below that option.

You’re all set. You can view your performance and see how your free listings are getting traffic and sales to your website. To get more traffic, you can optimize your product feed to rank for more searches. We have a few blogs on the topic which you can use to make your products stand out.

  1. Optimizing Product Titles
  2. Optimizing Product Images
  3. Using Shopping Bundle Attribute 

Follow these best practices to have a great feed that helps you against your competitors.

Questions? Ask below.