How to Set Up Google Shopping Ads for E-commerce Businesses

Passion Digital Passion Digital 22/03/2021 6 minutes

Are you looking to dip your toe into e-commerce for the first time? The Google Shopping platform could be a great opportunity for you to find relevant consumers who are in a ‘shop now mindset’. Our PPC Specialist Luke is on hand to walk you through how to set up Google Shopping ads for your business.

What are Google Shopping Ads?

If you’ve ever wondered how to showcase your products in those highly visible and nicely visual top spots of Google’s results page, Google Shopping is your answer.

Google Shopping is a fantastic way to give your e-commerce business the best chance of gaining highly relevant traffic from users who are actively interested in your products. This type of ad format also allows you to include key attributes for your products, alongside the price and engaging product images.

Naturally, providing these key decision making factors before someone clicks on your ad is one of the main advantages of shopping ads (also known as Product Listing Ads). They help you show the right product for a user’s search query to drive pre-qualified traffic at the right stage of a consumer’s journey towards purchase.

Here at Passion, we have a dedicated team of PPC (Pay Per Click) specialists who’ve spent countless hours helping our clients build the highest quality feeds. We work directly with our clients to tailor their feeds to their individual business needs and priorities, forming a strong foundation from which to build highly effective Google Shopping campaigns that support wider e-commerce strategies.

How to Set up Google Shopping Ads

If you’re new to all of this, here’s a checklist we’ve created to help get you started with Google Shopping.

Creating Your Product Feed

Feed Source

The very first thing you’ll need to do is determine what type of product feed will work best for you and how you can create this. You can ask yourself (or your developer) a few questions to help get you started:

  • Do you have a large product inventory or just a few products?
  • Would an automated or manual shopping feed suit you best?

Smaller inventories don’t always require an automated feed, but if you choose to go with a manual feed you should consider…

  • Do your prices change frequently?
  • Manual feeds require manual adjustments every time a price is changed as they need to reflect what is on the product’s page
  • There are a number of required attributes that you’ll need to provide, such as product title, description, link, image link, price… and so on…

If an automated feed suits your business best…

  • What is your website built on / what CMS do you use?
  • Does your website / CMS have a direct integration with Google Merchant Center? For example, Shopify has a direct (API) integration with Google Merchant Center.
  • If not, does your site have an exportable XML feed already, or do you need a plugin to create this? For example, a CMS such as Magento may require you to use a plugin to ‘build’ a feed template to publish a usable product feed for Google Shopping and other marketplaces.

Google Ads & Google Merchant Center

Create a Google Ads account

Your campaigns will all be created and managed within Google Ads. You’ll need to create a Google Ads account and link it to a Google Merchant Center (GMC) account to start creating your campaigns.

Make sure your product feed includes attributes for categories – you can use these to create dedicated campaigns for each category.

Create a Google Merchant Center account

Follow these steps:

  1. Create a Google Merchant Center account
  2. Link this to your Google Ads account
  3. You’ll need to verify your ownership of the website to fully activate your GMC account
  4. Create a new feed – depending on how your feed is set up, you’ll need to select the most appropriate format
    1. Manual feeds can be hosted in Google Sheets – there is an option for this and an option for file upload
    2. Automated feeds can be API based (Content API), or pulled from a URL (Scheduled Fetch)
  5. With Scheduled Fetch, you can select when your product feed is crawled by GMC – be sure to set this shortly after any product feed publishing / regular inventory updates are made so the most up-to-date data is pulled through to GMC
  6. Once the feed has been pulled through to GMC, you can review your overall product feed health within Google Merchant Center

Further down the page, you might see something like this:

This provides a summary of the types of warnings and errors in your product feed, which you can download as a report (green square in image highlights where you can find this), leading directly on to…

Product Feed Optimisation

Feed Optimisation

Initially, your focus should be on making sure you’re meeting the requirements to serve shopping ads. The Diagnostics section in Google Merchant Center will highlight issues with your feed to be fixed.

Depending on how you’ve decided to create your feed, there are various ways to approach this.

  • Manual product feeds are exactly that; you’ll create your feed in a spreadsheet that you can manually update as required. You can make changes to this type of feed, simply, without the need to edit anything on your website, which can be very useful when testing different titles and descriptions.
  • Automated product feeds can often require you to either change attributes on a products page or within your CMS; these attributes are then automatically reflected the next time your feed is published.

When using automated product feeds, we tend to recommend using a Feed Optimisation Tool, such as DataFeedWatch or Shoptimised. These tools essentially take the original product feed and create an editable copy, via a series of rules and manual edit options. This means your site can remain as you initially intended, but you can tailor the content and attributes featured in your Product Listing Ads.

Top tip: take advantage of Custom Labels – these can be anything you like and are a great way to categorise products within Google Ads, allowing you to truly customise how you group products.

Once your Custom Labels have been pulled through to Google Ads via GMC, you’ll be able to select these as a subdivision option when structuring the product groups within your campaigns and ad groups:

If you’re not going down the Smart Shopping route – which is well worth a try – Custom Labels are also available as Inventory Filters. You can set a filter in your campaign settings to only include items that meet certain requirements (attributes). This is super useful if you want to split your campaigns out by something like Bestsellers / Not Bestsellers:

(Hopefully, Google will introduce this feature for Smart Shopping campaigns, as it’s a really nice way to simplify structuring…hint hint!)

Product Titles and Descriptions are essentially your keywords

You should be featuring the most important selling points of your products in your product titles and descriptions.

Don’t focus on sounding fancy – cluttering your descriptions with why you think the product is brilliant won’t help you here. You want to make sure you’re meeting the customer’s search intent – if you’re selling a 40cm Gold Necklace… say that. Don’t say it’s a beautiful accessory that’ll transform your neckline. While we’re sure it will, Google isn’t giving awards for an attractive use of language.


Of course, if you’re investing money in driving traffic to your site, you’re going to want to know what’s selling and delivering a strong ROI / ROAS.

Having accurate e-commerce tracking through something like Google Analytics will enable you to determine which products and campaigns are driving efficient transactions with strong conversion rates, enabling you to prioritise your spend accordingly.

Manual Bidding vs. Smart Shopping

This is a big question and the honest answer is you’ll probably need to test both.

We’ve had lots of success in the past with manual bidding but have also recently started to utilise Google’s Smart Shopping and the use of automated bidding more, with incredible success.

Ultimately, taking the time to create the highest quality shopping feed possible and future proofing your campaign structure will place you in good stead to kick start your e-retail business.

Need some help?

If this is all starting to sound like something you’d rather someone else was looking after for you, get in touch. We are one of the top search engine marketing agencies and our PPC team is always willing to help.