Will I have to change my products and update my website to use Google Shopping?
This depends on how good your product listings are to start with. The way Google Shopping works is that Google looks at your product titles and descriptions, it looks at the data inside the product (things like colour, brand size etc), and based on that information it decides when to show your Google Shopping ad.
As an example, if you sell leather satchels with one model called the ‘Cambridge’, one model called ‘Oxford’ and one called ‘Brent’. If you’re product titles on your website say ‘Brent in Blue’ or ‘Oxford – Black’, Google hasn’t got a clue what that product is.
Now hopefully you mention ‘leather satchel’ in your product description, but it’s the title that has the biggest influence on the quality of your shopping campaigns.
Therefore, in that instance yes, it would make sense to rethink your product titles and change your product titles to say ‘The Oxford Leather Satchel in Black’, or ‘Black Oxford Leather Satchel’.
Now some of you might be thinking that you have 100’s or 1000’s of products on your website and you don’t want to have to update every single product title before you can start doing Google Shopping. For example, you might sell t-shirts with names like ‘Crewneck slouchy, grey’ – with many hundreds of variations!
Fortunately, there are feed management platforms where you can import the product data from your website before putting it into Google’s Merchant Center. Inside the platform you can dynamically update any element of your product. Eg if the category is ‘t-shirt’, then it will add ‘t-shirt’ to every product title. Similarly, if the category is ‘baseball caps’ then it will add ‘baseball cap’ to your product title if it’s not already in there.
This data is then pushed into Google Merchant Center, and your shopping ads will then say ‘Crewneck slouchy t-shirt – grey’.
You can do some quite complicated changes based on various elements of your product feed, and that’s how you get round having to manually update every single product on your site in order to be effective at Google Shopping.
Something to bear in mind is that while it’s good to be able to change titles inside merchant center, this doesn’t help your SEO. If you sell t-shirts and don’t mention ‘t-shirt’ in your product titles, then those pages are not likely to rank very well.
It’s a business decision whether putting the effort into making the changes on your website will be worth it in the long run in order to improve your SEO and Google Shopping.
One thing you must remember is that if you make dynamic changes to products in a feed management platform, then decide to update your products on your website too, then you need to tell whoever’s managing the feed so they can make the necessary adjustments. Otherwise you could end up with products in your google shopping campaigns that have titles like ‘Grey slouchy t-shirt t-shirt’!