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PLAs: 5 Feed Management Tips

Published: May 18, 2016

Author: Neeraja Koneru

Product Listing Ads (Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, etc.) are taking up more and more SERP real estate. But we constantly see issues with ads that haven’t been optimized to make the most use of their space – or even to show up at all. Below are five tips to ensure better PLA performance.

1.    Optimize Titles

Product titles in your shopping feed are one of the most important ways to determine what search queries your products will show for. Google reads these titles left to right, so inserting keywords and identifiers in your title will not only help you show up for more relevant searches but will also increase your CTR by more clearly presenting your product to the customer. The following are some tips for how to optimize your titles:

  1. Use Search Campaign Data: Look at top-performing keywords and search queries in your search campaigns to identify trends behind the searches that perform well. For example, if you’re noticing a lot of searches that include product color or size in them, include those attributes in your titles.
  2. Do a Competitor Analysis: Look at what your competitors are doing. If you notice most of your competitors starting titles with the brand or model name/number, for example, you’ll want to mimic that in your titles as well.
  3. Take Advantage of Keyword Planner: Utilize the keyword planner to see what terms related to your products are the most searched and ensure those keywords are present in your titles too. For example, if you’re selling HVAC units and the keyword planner shows that queries that have BTUs in them get a lot of searches, you’ll want to include that information in your title.
  4. Work Left to Right: Insert important keywords earlier in the title as Google reads them left to right when determining what queries to match your products to.

Finally, A/B test different titles to ensure you’re making data-driven decisions. Duplicate the product whose title you want to test along with all attributes (price, description, Google Product Category, etc.) a few times in your feed and keep all the attributes the same except the item ID and Title to set up a controlled test. You can then pull a product ID report from the “dimensions” tab and filter by relevant product ID to see how each title performs.

2.    Utilize Custom Labels

Custom labels are a great way to group products in your shopping campaigns based on any attribute you’d like. These should be used to group similar products together into categories smaller than product types either based on performance or product similarity. You can then use these custom labels to further break out products and control bidding within your Shopping campaign(s). Following are some popular custom labels (however, you can choose any attribute you want to be a custom label):

  1. Model numbers – multiple varieties of products under each model level. For example, if you’re selling Ray-Bans, you might want the following custom labels around various model names: Wayfarer, Clubmaster, Aviator, etc.
  2. Inventory level – High, medium, & low attributes. This is especially useful if your inventory levels tend to fluctuate frequently.
  • AOV/Margin
  1. Best-selling products

You can have up to 5 custom labels starting with “custom_label_0” through “custom_label_4.”

3.    Take Advantage of Merchant Promotions

Merchant promotions are a great way to showcase sales/promotion codes you offer on site. They show up as a hyperlink right under the image of your shopping ad. Upon clicking the link, the customer will see more information about the promo as well as a code they can use to redeem:
To set up merchant promotions, you can set up a promotions feed. If your promotion code only applies to certain products, you’ll need to create an additional column in your general product feed that indicates which products the promo applies to.
An alternative to creating a separate feed for promotions is to create relevant promotions in your Merchant Center and include an attribute in your general product feed to indicate which promotion ID applies to which product. When you create the promotion in the Merchant Center, you’ll be able to include start and end dates, a title, a description of the promotion, and finally the code for that promotion.

4.    Indicate Sale Pricing

Let’s say you have products that are on sale via strikethrough pricing and not promo codes; you’ll still need to reflect the sale pricing in the feed. Insert a column “sale_price” and include the updated pricing for relevant products. You can also include a “sale_price_effective_date” column for sales that are running for a limited amount of time. If sale pricing is present on the landing page but not in the feed, your products will get disapproved because of incorrect pricing information in the feed. Here’s a quick Google one-sheeter on updating sale pricing in your feed.

5.    Don’t get Bogged Down on Descriptions

While product descriptions are important in conveying information to a potential customer, tests have shown that changes in descriptions won’t have much impact on overall performance or what searches you show for. Titles are far more important when it comes to keyword matching and CTR, so don’t waste too much time optimizing your product descriptions. That being said, it’s generally best practice to avoid making your descriptions overly long as you’re likely to lose customers’ attention as they get longer. Looking at how your competitors have their descriptions laid out is a good starting point.

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