Google have announced plans to rollout free listings into Google Shopping. This is a significant update – presenting a huge opportunity to list products on the platform for free.

Way back in 2002, Google Shopping was known as Froogle and was originally free to use, so this move will bring back memories for many of us.

It then re-branded to Google Product Search and finally Google Shopping in 2012, switching to the paid-only service that year.

Phased Rollout for free Google Shopping

Free Google Shopping listings will initially go live in the US at the end of April, with a global release later this year.

The free listings will be displayed much like the organic search results that we are so used to. Paid shopping ads will be listed in the upper most positions and above the free natural shopping listings below.

These will show within the Shopping tab on Google.

Existing paid ads will be augmented automatically, enabling them to benefit from the new free listings in addition to these paid ads already running.

Google offers free Google Shopping in 2020

Opportunity to get ahead of the game

This news presents retail businesses a huge opportunity to get ahead of the game.

Retailers will be able to list all their items and drive added visibility to their stores. Of course, given the challenges we face today, these organic shopping listings will hopefully benefit many smaller companies and make their products more visible as an increasing number of people browse online.

It’s important to remember that Shopping listings support physical retail stores as well as online ecommerce.

With the rollout being phased, UK retailers have the chance to get prepared for this now.

Testing new products and messaging

Managing Google Shopping is complex. We currently help businesses optimise their paid campaigns to invest budget in the right products and maximise ROI and volume of sales.

With free listings the opportunity will grow. We will be able to optimise the free listings together with the paid.

Testing products using labels, or tags, allows us to structure your campaigns and run tests across new products, or those with greater priority.

Higher priority products, which convert well and generate high ROI, should be promoted with paid listings. Meanwhile, new items or perhaps lower value products could be tested first in the free listings.

We can also test messaging between products and across the Shopping listings to determine which performs best and how to maximise your visibility.

Product data and schema mark-up

An important part of Shopping management is to feed Google with correct and optimised product data.

Currently, most product shopping data is contained within a feed, which is sent to Google using the Merchant Center. Product pricing, titles, URLs, descriptions, images, stock status are all crucial to creating accurate and up-to-date shopping listings.

By optimising this data and ensuring its completeness, we can drive highly relevant traffic whilst complying with all shopping requirements.

As Google moves to introducing more and more automation, it is crawling this product data directly, so it’s vital product pages contain full schema mark up.

This is likely to play an important role in this new rollout so that Google can list items using its web crawl, rather than relying on data fed from specific feeds.

Google partnering with PayPal and Ecommerce platforms

Google are also furthering their support and direct integrations for many ecommerce platforms.

With a closer partnership with PayPal, Google are likely to provide the ability to purchase directly from Google results pages.

Optimisation across paid vs free listings

Data insights will become more important – as will tracking this added visibility from organic shopping activity.

Measuring the impact of the new free listings, and managing the overlap between paid and free, will offer the opportunity to balance both of these results.

This is an exciting opportunity for both small and larger businesses, and certainly a significant change to the paid-only Shopping ads that have become so familiar.