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10 Simple Tactics to Optimize Your Google Shopping Campaigns

Creating the perfect data feed is not enough to successfully advertise your products on Google. It’s a step in the right direction, but you also need to create a Google Shopping campaign in Google Ads (formerly AdWords) and then optimize it. This will increase your sales and help avoid wasting your money on products that don’t perform well. 

In this article we’ll take you through the 10 most important steps that any one just starting out needs to know. 




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10 Simple Tactics to Optimize Your Shopping Campaign


1. Optimize your product feed

2. Optimize your campaign structure 

3. Divide products into ad groups

4. Top vs. Other 

5. Find your winners and losers

6. Exclude unprofitable products

7. Add negative keywords

8. Sub-divide negative keywords

9. Bid adjustments 

10. Don't make drastic changes

Expert Bonus Tip: Bid Higher for Selected Search Queries
Track the changes you make

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1. Optimize your product feed

The first step to better Shopping ads is to optimize your product feed. This is where Google will take the data for your products to display your ads. 


Why is it important?

The easier you make it for Google to ‘read’ the information about your products, the better chance you have of showing up for the right customers. Everything needed might already be somewhere in your file, but just not in a way Google can easily translate it. 


Where should you start?

If you’re new to optimizing data feeds, there are a few attributes to focus your attention on first. 



The element of Shopping ads that immediately stands out are the images. Yes, there are the rules and regulations of Google that you should follow, but you’re able to optimize your images beyond that as well. For example, you can do regular A/B testing (especially with lifestyle vs. stock photos) to see what performs best with your audience. 




Product titles

While images might automatically catch shoppers’ attention, product titles also hold their own weight. Peak interest by putting the most important words first. Get a more in-depth look into creating the best titles with our 8 tried and true tactics




Getting the price right can also impact the quality of your ads. Making sure that Google is pulling the correct price is crucial. To avoid common Merchant Center errors, make sure things like price and currency are up to date and formatted correctly. 


Of course, you can always take advantage of a feed solution like DataFeedWatch to fully optimize your entire feed




2. Optimize your campaign structure

Creating an optimized campaign structure is one of the most crucial steps to setting you up for success in the long run. But if you’re just starting out, it can be hard to know exactly what that means. 


Your goal is to have as much control over your ads as possible. That way you’re able to bid differently for different products. While this isn’t possible from the start, there are ways to segment and organize your products so that you can. 


You don’t want to have one bid for all your products because different products have different profit margins, some products are more popular than others, some have very different conversion rates, etc.


That is why Google Ads enables you to divide your products into different groups. Like we mentioned earlier, you can divide them by category, brand, condition, Item ID, product type and custom labels.


How to divide your Google Shopping campaign structure

Step 1: Start with one product group - 'All products'. Click ‘Edit’ and select the attribute that you would like to use to divide your products. 






Step 2: You will see the list of available values - all of them are pulled from your data feed. You can create separate product groups for some of your values (use '>>') or for all of them at once (use '+').






Step 3: Now you can subdivide these new product groups once again. Just edit them and select attributes that you would like to use. You can repeat this process many times. Here is an example of a campaign structure: Category > product type > item ID






Once your campaign has the correct structure, you need to set bids. Google Ads automatically adds a new product group called 'Everything else'. As a result you can use a different bid for one particular product within a category, brand, product type etc., and another bid for all other products (Everything else) in this group.



Subdivide Google AdWords Campaign




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3. Divide your products into ad groups

You’ll need another way to control the bidding on your ads since you won’t be able to do it by keyword. Instead, you can organize your products using ad groups. Your ad groups are like different departments in a store. The other key concept here is to make sure the ads that are triggered are as relevant as possible. 


You might have seen that you already have your first ad group from when you created your campaign.


Here’s how you can create additional ad groups: 


Sign into your account
Go to the page menu and select ‘Ad groups’ 
Click on the + button 
Choose ‘Select a campaign’ and choose where your ad group will go
Name your ad group
Set the bid 
Click ‘Create’ and you’re all set


Now you’re ready to divide and then subdivide your products. If you have multi-level categories in your feed, you need to use each level separately.


To add a product group for Apparel & Accessories > Jewelry > Bracelets you need to create a group for Apparel & Accessories first, then divide it by category to create a group for Jewelry and subdivide it again for Bracelets. That may look tricky, but it’s quite easy. 


Which attribute should you use to divide your products? 

It depends on your campaign. If all your products have the same Google category, this attribute will not be helpful; using the product type may be better. On the other hand, if you sell items manufactured by Nike, your brand group may contain T-shirts, shoes and sport equipment.


The good news is that you can divide your products using one attribute and subdivide them again using another one. Hence, subdivide your products by brand to create a group for Nike, and subdivide it again by product type or category to add separate product groups for Nike T-shirts, Nike shoes and Nike sport equipment.


Or do it the other way around: divide your products by category or product type and subdivide again using your brands. Last but not least, it’s a good idea to create product groups with comparable numbers of products inside.


Download The Ultimate Google Merchant Center Handbook


4. Top vs. Other

It may sound surprising, but increasing your bids is not always a good solution. That could just end up as wasted ad spend. Interestingly, some products may perform much better when they aren’t shown at the top of search results. 


If you’d like to see if this is the case for some of your products, go to Segments -> Top vs. Other and compare conversion rate, CPA and other important metrics between Top position and other positions.







Please note that this data is available for ad groups but not for product groups.




5. Find your winners and losers

Some of your products are going to perform better than others. This is really valuable information to have about your ads so that you can make adjustments accordingly. ‘Winners’ are products or product groups that bring you many transactions. ‘Losers’ provide you with many visits, but no transactions. You probably want to sell your products, not just show them, especially since you have to pay for every single click.


Identifying your winners and losers will help you to boost your sales and decrease your CPA.


How can you do that? 

Go to the Predefined reports (formerly Dimensions) and to ‘View: Shopping’. Select an attribute that you would like to use to look for your winners and losers.





If you are searching among individual products (item IDs), it is a good idea to customize columns and reflect the structure of your campaign (add product type, brand etc. to your columns). This way you will know which product group you should modify to set separate bids for winners and losers.


Filtering your products will help you to find losers in an easy way. Please note that you should adjust your filter to your campaign and market. A T-shirt with 100 clicks and 0 conversions is a loser, but it may not be for a luxury watch.


Note that not only a product without conversions may be a Loser. If cost per conversion is higher than your profit margin, you are wasting your money as well.


Once you know your winners and losers, go to the ‘Product groups’ tab and adjust your bids for them. If they are not in your campaign structure yet, you need to create separate product targets for them first. Just subdivide your categories, brands, product types etc.


Bid more on winners and bid less on losers with high cost per conversion. Items with many visits and no transactions should be excluded.




6. Exclude unprofitable products

You can stop advertising your losers in an easy way – just exclude them from your campaign. All you need to do is edit your bids and mark these products as excluded.


Alternatively, you can use a data feed tool like ours to identify losers with a similar filter and remove them from your feed with a single click.


There are some other times when you may want to do this, for example when you know that certain products aren’t going to be popular. For example, if you have some summer items, it’s probably safe to say that they’re not going to be getting you a lot of conversions in winter. 


Another time you’ll want to exclude products is when they’re out of stock or the items that are left are in an uncommon size or color. 


If you’re using a 3rd party data management tool like DataFeedWatch, you can set up a dynamic rule that automatically excludes these items.


Download The Ultimate Google Merchant Center Handbook


7. Use negative keywords

Negative keywords are the silent heroes of your campaigns. Unlike with Text ads, you can’t define keywords that will trigger your product ads to show. All queries are pulled from your data feed. However, you can limit the searches for which your ads will show by adding negative keywords. Negative keywords tell Google which search terms should not trigger your ads.


Let's say that you sell silver bracelets. Someone who is looking for a gold bracelet probably will not buy your products, but he may click your ad. And if this keeps happening, it could really hurt your ad spend budget. As a solution, you can add 'gold' as a negative keyword so his ‘gold bracelet' query will not trigger your ad to show.


You can add negative keywords for the whole campaign or each ad group separately (more on that next). Just go to the 'Keywords' tab, scroll down to Negative keywords and add your values.


How to find the right negative keywords 

Google Ads allows you to check search terms that have triggered your ads to show. You can use it to find queries that bring you many visits but no transactions. These are the kind of costly clicks that you want to avoid. 


Luckily, you can 'exclude' them in an easy way - just add them as negative keywords.


  • Go to the 'Keywords' tab
  • Click on Details > Search terms > All
  • Select terms that you would like to use 
  • Add them as negative keywords.



8. Subdivide negative keywords

Did you know negative keywords can get even more specific? Your negative keywords will fall into two categories: universal negatives and ad group negatives. Subdivide them and you can have even more control of whether your products show or not. 


Universal negative keywords are the ones that you absolutely never want to trigger your ads. Period. 


On the other hand, negative keywords set at an ad group level aren’t so cut and dry. These are the ones you can set up to not show in a given ad group, but allow it for others. Google always says it best, “keywords at the ad group level prevent specific ad groups from showing ads for specific queries”. 


The benefit of doing this is that you can increase metrics like conversion rates while also preventing you from competing with yourself.








9. Bid Adjustments

As you probably know, some clicks are worth way more than others. By using bid adjustments you can have more control over who sees your ads and when. Let’s go over a few types that will be useful for your Shopping ads. 



By using the location bid adjustment you can control how often shoppers are able to see your ads based on geographic location. This can be helpful if you’re advertising in more than one area and you know that the competition in a particular city is higher. In that case, you could increase your bid if those sales are really important to you. 



Let’s say you notice that the majority of your sales are coming from desktop computers, second from mobile devices and third from tablets. In that case you can adjust your bidding based on the device that’s being used so you don’t waste your ad spend. 



Your ads may be performing better at certain times of the day or week, depending on where and what you’re selling. The reports tab enables you to check the performance for day of the week or hour of day. This data may be really useful, since it may occur that your cost per conversion is much higher at weekends or at night. 


To check it, just go to Reports and then to View: Time >Day of the week (View: Time >Hour of day)


If you want to differentiate your bids for days/hours, you need to create the ad schedule first. Go to the 'Settings' then to 'Ad schedule' and create a new schedule.


Important: if you want to set different bids for hours, you need to add one day multiple times with different periods of time.


Once your schedule is ready, you can increase/decrease bids in an easy way.

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10. Don’t make drastic changes

While it can be tempting to try and make a ton of changes all at once, this isn’t the best course of action. Google Shopping campaigns are sensitive. A small adjustment of your bid may have a big effect on your performance. Hence, except for excluding your losers, you should not make any drastic changes. 


Here is a good practice: do not increase or decrease your bids by more than 20%.


Do that for product groups that bring you no more than 20% of your traffic. For example, if your campaign gets 1000 clicks within a certain period of time, adjust your bids only for product groups with up to 200 visits in total.


You also need to be able to easily track if the changes you made are benefiting you. If you make a lot of changes at once, this will be more difficult. Consider using A/B testing with your campaigns to ensure that you’re making the smartest changes possible. 


Download The Ultimate Google Merchant Center Handbook


Expert Bonus Tip: Bid Higher for Selected Search Queries




One of the best kept secrets in the world of Google Shopping is that you're able to target keywords!


This allows you to bid higher for the search queries that are most valuable to you (and lower for the others). It's a pretty advanced technique, but one that's very effective.


Here is how to do it:


  1. Identify the search queries that are most valuable to your business. You can find these by looking through your search terms report.

  2. Create an exact copy of your existing Shopping campaign.

  3. Exclude the list of valuable search queries from one of the campaigns.

  4. Increase the max CPC in the campaign that doesn't have the negative keywords, and decrease the CPCs in the one that does.

  5. Change the campaign priority setting of this "valuable" campaign to Low and make sure the other campaign is set to "Medium". That tells Google which campaign to pick if two campaigns have the same products. (This is the tricky part!)

That's it. You might need to go through the previous paragraph a few times to grasp how it works. But when it clicks you'll have access to one of the most valuable Shopping tactics!



Back to The Top | Dennis Moons | Store Growers


Track the changes you make

You need to be sure that you are doing the right things. Increasing your bids does not always bring you more conversions. Decreasing your bids does not always lower your cost per conversion.


There is an easy way to check whether the changes you have made were successful or not. Wait one or two weeks after your adjustment to get sufficient data. 


Check your performance for the last 7 or 14 days and compare it to the previous period. Clicking the on the date at the top right hand corner of the screen enables you to compare your data for selected performance metrics.







If you are not sure which bids you have adjusted, you can check them in the Change history tab. What's more, you can even revert your unsuccessful changes with a single click.



Let's sum it up!







If you were nervous about kicking off your Shopping ads before, you shouldn’t be now! If you get lost, come back to these 10 tips and use them as your guide. It all starts with your campaign structure and how you organize your ads from there.

Read more about How to Improve Your Google Shopping Ads:



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