Optimizing Google Product Feeds

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Optimizing Google Product Feeds.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How granularly do you optimize the “product_type” category? Do you tend to see better results the granular it is?

  • As granular as I can get…I often create a new product type taxonomy…even if there are 1000’s of products. – Matt Umbro
  • Product_type is an opportunity to explicitly tell the algo what the product is…if you are granular you can match torso queries. Product_type can also be used to create product targets easily so the more granular the better- Dave Schwartz (@davesch7)
  • I have seen good results with very granular product_types but also with more general categories. – Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
    • Curious, how so with more general categories? – Matt Umbro
  • To me, product types are ad groups, segment accordingly. – Matt Umbro
  • Granular = Good. The more detailed the better the returns. – Andrew Baker (@AndrewBaker72)
  • Unless a solid bidding strategy is setup with the right negatives the ALL bucket will trigger regardless of granularity. – Courtney Demko (@courtdemko)
  • Granular product_type can also help you when you apply product filters! – Alexander Dao (@the_dao_jones)
  • Honestly, since I target individual products haven’t found use for cat targeting. Not sure how can get more granular than that? – Kirk Williams (@KECreate)

Q2: What is your philosophy for writing product feed titles and descriptions?

  • Study your SQRs! If there are things in your titles and descriptions that you never see in an SQR, its probably extraneous. – Dave Schwartz
  • The most important terms and keywords go first. Don’t KW stuff but including more can grab more traffic. – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • You have to have unique titles & descriptions. Prioritize attributes in order of importance. Match consumer intent. – Alexander Dao
  • Stripped down SEO KW titles with buying words and product benefits included. Depends on the product though. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • It’s a balance of having specific product titles and more generic keywords in your titles…need both. Kind of like SEO page titles! – Matt Umbro
  • Ensure important kws are listed first in the title and description. – Courtney Demko
  • Do you ever use an MPN or SKU in the title? – Gabe Garcia (@gmgarcia)
    • For the most part, no. – Matt Umbro
    • I use the SKU in the title if the product is searched that way, ie. designer dress style numbers. – Janine Monico (@JanineSEM)
    • If it’s a technical product where someone could be searching for that MPN I would. Car parts, air-conditioner motor. – Jesse Semchuck
    • For me depends upon if that SKU is known query used for the product by the consumer. – Kirk Williams
    • Depends on the indsutry – if searchers need a specific part for a specific fit, I’ll include it. – Cathy Nguyen
  • Can depend on each product, generally needs to be balance of brand/SKU & kws that distinguish products, especially variations. – Kirk Williams
  • Be as specific as possible as well as unique for each category/type. – Christina Hall
  • If your products have child variations, use those titles and desc as an opportunity to optimize for different keyword phrases! – Cathy Nguyen (@skipcattt)
  • Make sure you name the category as well – just having Brand and Product Line doesn’t cut it if you want more than brand traffic. – Dave Schwartz
  • We have found that shorter descriptions work MUCH better. Keep it to the main keywords/product name. – Tally Keller (@tallykeller)
  • Also, keep titles around 60 – 65 characters or they will get truncated in the shopping results when showing as a list! – Matt Umbro
    • We’ve found that 35-50 chars is the sweet spot. – Dave Schwartz
      • Amen! Those are the characters you can see predominantly on the SERP. – Alexander Dao
      • Agree. <50 for sure. – Tally Keller
      • Usually PLA on SERP only displays 25-30 characters before truncating, essential to optimise first few words of title. – Andrew Baker
  • Does anyone use a copywriter for the feed titles and descriptions? – Matt Umbro
    • It’s important to leverage technology to scale but have human input and Q/A. Copywriter can’t write for 1MM SKU’s! – Alexander Dao
    • We do all of our optimization in house. – Cathy Nguyen

Q3: How do you deal with product variants in the feed (ie: shirts with many sizes or colors)?

  • We include variants in both title and description. We found color to be extremely important for a few key categories. – Alexander Dao
  • Titles and Descs should all be unique…use item groups to bucket but make sure you have Size/Color of each SKU in the title. – Dave Schwartz
  • Make sure Product Variants fields are filled out accurately and that the title represents each variation as well. – Kirk Williams
  • Adwords_grouping or label with the style number so it filters all color and size variations. & incl colors in titles & desc. – Janine Monico
  • Use a Product Item Group Identifier and provide all required product variant attributes for the feed. – Andrew Baker
  • Show all variants and let adwords decide. – Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
  • Include color and size variations in Titles. – Courtney Demko
  • Also ensure where possible to take the visitor to the specific product URL eg the right colour. Size is OK though. – Andrew Baker
  • Does anyone tend to only include the variant with the lowest price? – Matt Umbro
    • No, the variant for the lowest price may not always be the most relevant product. – Harris Neifield
    • Tried that w/ mixed results. – Neil Sorenson
    • I’d be concerned you’re then not reaching multiple searches for the other variations. – Kirk Williams
    • Include it for all. We use negatives to show the right product! – Alexander Dao
    • We include all variants. We also include variant special pricing. But, it’s not easy even when it’s automated. – Gabe Garcia

Q4: How actively do you monitor (and correct) errors that are seen in Google Merchant Center?

  • Campaign alerts for zero impressions and other red flags. – Harris Neifield
  • As often as realistically possible. Correcting them is a different story with lack of information & direct support help. – Kirk Williams
  • Daily (same as AdWords)… we get notifications of every scheduled upload with or w/o errors. – Andrew Baker
  • I only correct errors that are critical or could impact the product being viewed. – Jesse Semchuck
  • All the time! you have to make sure that your feed quality stays high and don’t get shut down by google. – Dave Schwartz
  • Daily! You have to reconcile all errors right away. Data Quality issues can bring down your account. – Alexander Dao
  • Set up time to review merchant center whenever new feed uploads or changes to the feed are made. – Christina Hall
  • Address the errors right away, put the warnings on the list of things to address with the next feed update. – Janine Monico
  • It’s odd to me that Shopping/PLAs are rapidly taking over PPC ecom in traffic/rev generation but support is nearly non-existent. – Kirk Williams
  • MUST AUTOMATE (weekends, sick days, vacation, etc). Don’t rely on manual checks of merchant account. – Harris Neifield
  • Daily, for sure! To check impression levels and fix up product disapprovals/data quality issues that might result in suspension. – Cathy Nguyen
  • Reviewing feed errors has to be one of the most important tasks…PLAs now account for majority of revenue in many accounts. – Matt Umbro
  • Pay special attn to price/inventory mismatches…that’s where people get in the most hot water. – Dave Schwartz
  • Feed quality is massively important, deal w/ issues immediately. Imagine it as Quality Score, you wouldn’t sit on a 3/10 KW. – Andrew Baker
  • I can only imagine Google also is seeing the shift and is scrambling to implement, but it’s currently the Wild West! – Kirk Williams
  • Also pay attention to broken URL’s, images, and any major formatting issues. – Alexander Dao
  • Also, for pharmaceutical related products you need to CONSTANTLY check the approved and banned products. – Matt Umbro
    • Agree, pharma requires special vigilance. I had an energy client get many ads banned for pharma violations. – Harris Neifield
      • Problem is that text ads cost too much for some pharma clients…PLAs are more cost effective but get shut down! – Matt Umbro
        • Pharma is mega pricey yes. PLA’s have less competition, so that’s one way to control costs. – Harris Neifield
  • As a UI, Merchant Center is a joke, ridiculously slow. It’s long overdue a complete overhaul. – Andrew Baker
  • What percentage of time do you spend on optimizing or fixing individual product feeds or campaigns? – Gabe Garcia
    • As much time as needed…PLAs are the bread and butter of ecomm campaigns. – Matt Umbro

Q5: Do you utilize separate images in your product feed. What is the benefit(s) of having more engaging product photos?

  • Use Custom Pics on Site & in feeds! A product where comp uses stock imagery can be VASTLY set apart with unique image. – Kirk Williams
  • If you’ve got ’em definitely use ’em. being able to stand out from stock mfct photos is huge. – Dave Schwartz
  • Test different images & add multiple images, either different angles or showcase different color/size etc. Good for CTR/CVR. – Christina Hall
  • Images to have a bigger impact on CTR. Differentiate from stock images.Titles/Desc have an impact on CTR and match rates. – Alexander Dao
  • Like anything, need to determine if work involved in getting seperate images is worth it. I’ve seen unique images lead to higher CTRs, not necessarily more conversions though. – Matt Umbro
  • We’re planning to send separate images. Lingerie products get disavowed because of the images. – Gabe Garcia
  • Where possible the image should be unique and work well as a thumbnail PLA sized image. – Andrew Baker
  • CTR is going to fuel everything else so you want to try to maximize it. – Dave Schwartz
    • Agreed, thus the necessity to target high converting products and website CRO. – Matt Umbro
  • We use watermarked images on site but pull raw image to the product feed (to meet guidelines), safeguards our unique images. – Andrew Baker
  • PLA is such a visual thing it’s got to be worth while getting the images right. – Rob Watson (@robpwatson)


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Alexander Dao (@the_dao_jones)
• Andrew Baker (@AndrewBaker72)
• Cathy Nguyen (@skipcattt)
• Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
• Courtney Demko (@courtdemko)
• Dave Schwartz (@davesch7)
• Gabe Garcia (@gmgarcia)
• Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
• Janine Monico (@JanineSEM)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Kirk Williams (@KECreate)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Rob Watson (@robpwatson)
• Tally Keller (@tallykeller)

Optimizing PPCChat Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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