How to sell on Google Shopping — A complete guide

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One in five shoppers starts their product search on Google. This makes Google second only to Amazon when it comes to product searches—and gives sellers a great opportunity.

Google Shopping is the umbrella term covering the different tools and programs that Google provides to help online stores reach shoppers. But how does Google Shopping actually work?

This guide will demystify the ecosystem that is Google Shopping and help you navigate the various programs and opportunities Google offers your business. To get you going, we’ll be covering the following:

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping refers both to Google’s comparison shopping network and to their advertising platform. Since the same term is used to refer to both, it can get a little confusing. Here’s how it works:

Google Shopping: the comparison shopping engine

When we refer to Google Shopping, we’re actually talking about two interconnected platforms. One is Google’s comparison shopping engine (CSE).

Screenshot of Google Shopping comparison options
Google’s comparison shopping engine.

Here, shoppers can search for any product and compare prices and models from various sellers. From a product listing, shoppers can click through to the merchant website. Or they can check out directly on Google if the product is eligible for Buy with Google. This feature lets shoppers complete the entire purchase process without ever leaving Google Shopping.

Essentially, this part of Google Shopping works as a product research and discovery hub, with many tools and features available to smooth the path to purchase.

Google Shopping: The advertising platform

The other side of Google Shopping is the search engine’s advertising platform.

Google Shopping ads displayed
Google Shopping ads appearing on the Google search results page.

Shopping ads display product details—image(s), star ratings, promotions, local availability, and more—to customers across Google domains. These ads appear on relevant searches on Google, as well as relevant pages on partner sites and Google properties like YouTube and Gmail.

Google Shopping ads uses a cost-per-click (CPC) model (also known as pay per click), which makes it an affordable way to drive traffic to your store. Since you decide how much you pay when a shopper clicks on your ad, you can optimize your advertising strategy to maintain low costs while driving sales. The ad platform also provides you with a lot of control over when and where your ads appear (more on that later).

Organic search traffic takes a lot of time, effort, and luck to build, especially for ecommerce. Google Shopping gives you a shortcut to reaching relevant shoppers with your product all across the internet.

How to set up Google Shopping

There are two steps you must take before you can use any Google Shopping program.

First, you must sign up for a Merchant Center account. The Merchant Center is the beating heart of Google Shopping. This is where you’ll add and manage your products, set up tools and programs, and track product performance.

Google Merchant Center overview page
Merchant Center allows you to add products, manage tools, and track performance.

Signing up for Merchant Center is very easy—all you have to do is enter some basic information about your business.

Once your account is created, you’ll need to verify your website. You can do this in one of two ways: through an existing Google product installed on your website (such as Search Console or Analytics) or by adding a specific tag to your website’s code. This allows Google to ensure the store belongs to you.

Once you’ve verified your website, you’ll have access to all the features of Merchant Center. Your next step is to add your products.

How much does it cost to sell on Google Shopping?

Until recently, the Google Shopping tab contained only paid listings via the Shopping Ads service, but now the majority of search results are actually free listings exposed via Surfaces by Google!

In response to COVID-19, Google announced on April 21, 2020, that eligible retailers can list products on Google Shopping for free.

 

Like every other major marketplace, Google Shopping Actions takes a percentage commission for each transaction made (since they are processing the order). However, Surfaces by Google is basically a free advertisement that sends shoppers back to your website to purchase.

Essentially, if you want to expose your products to shoppers via the many Google Shopping destinations, the real cost is time.

After you get your product catalog into Google Merchant Center, and your products are exposed to hundreds of millions of shoppers, you can then decide if you want to invest more money in paid ads via Shopping Ads to further promote your products, in addition to the free services.

How to upload products to Google Shopping

GoDaddy Marketplaces’ multi-channel listing software makes getting onto a new sales channel faster and easier than ever before. With just a few clicks, you can push your Marketplaces product catalog to Google and be ready to go.

The new (easy) way to list products on Google Shopping

Marketplaces lets you connect all the channels on wish you sell in one simple, intuitive interface, so you can avoid overselling and streamline your fulfillment.

Google Shopping sales channel options

After you select Google Shopping, provide a channel nickname, then enter your Google Merchant ID.

Not sure where to find your Google Merchant ID? It will be on the top right corner of your Merchant Center overview page:

Google Merchant Center user ID

Before connecting your account, you will have the option to enable Google Shopping Ads and Google Shopping Actions. Don’t worry, this does not mean you’ve agreed to spend any money on ads. It just enrolls you in the services, so if you decide in the future to spend money promoting your products, you can do so!

If you choose to disable these options, you can always enable them later in your Google Channel Settings.

By default, you will be registered to list your products on surfaces across Google, meaning they will appear for free in search results around the web.

Once you click “Connect Your Account”, a popup will appear, asking you to grant GoDaddy Marketplaces access to your account. Click “Allow.”

If you have multiple Google accounts, you will first need to select which Google account you are connecting to Marketplaces.

Once your account is connected, Marketplaces will begin importing any existing listings from your Google Shopping account.

That’s how easy it is to connect to Google Shopping with Marketplaces! Once that is done, you simply visit the All Products page in your Marketplaces account to do final prep to list on Google Shopping.

If you have enabled surfaces across Google or Google Ads, you will need to make sure that your Store Product URLs are included in your product information before you start building listings. Without these, Google won’t know where to direct customers to purchase your products.

You can find the Store Product URL field in the Edit Product page. You can also add Store Product URLs to your products in bulk, using a Product CSV file. Marketplaces will send these URLs to Google automatically whenever listings are published.

Just like the other marketplaces you sell on, Google listings are best built using Templates & Recipes. When listings are published, GoDaddy Marketplaces will send your product information to every Google Destination that you have enabled. You do not need to create separate listings for each Destination.

You will notice a Destination column in your Google Listing’s Manager, which lets you know which Destinations currently have active listings.

And that’s about all there is to it! Not only can you publish listings to Google Shopping quickly and easily with Marketplaces, but any changes you make to your products in Marketplaces will update automatically on Google, as well as on any other marketplaces you have connected to Marketplaces.

The old (difficult) way to list products on Google Shopping

Google relies on uploaded product feeds to populate its search results. So before you input your products, ensure that your product data and photos are optimized for Google Shopping.

Follow Google’s image guidelines to ensure product imagery is high-quality and that the photos will be accepted. Learn more about taking perfect product photos.

The following instructions will help you understand all of the data you’ll need to have in order to effectively submit a spreadsheet of data to Google. There is a lot you’ll need to gather, so if you choose to go this route, prepare to spend some time. Here’s a complete list of the information you’ll need to provide in a feed.

Basic product data

This information lays the foundation for both Google listings and ads, so not only is it important that the data be correct, but everything you submit should be of the quality you want a customer to see.

  • id (required): the product’s unique identifier, often a SKU or stock-keeping unit
    • 50 characters max
  • title (required): the product’s name, which should match its name on the item’s landing page
  • Include a distinguishing feature, such as color or size, for variants
    • 150 characters max
  • description (required): accurately describe the product and match the copy from the item’s landing page
    • 5,000 characters max
  • link (required): the item’s landing page
    • The URL should start with http or https
  • image_link (required): the URL of the product’s main image
    • Image file must be a JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, or nonanimated GIF
    • At least 100 x 100 pixels for non-apparel products
    • At least 250 x 250 pixels for apparel products
    • Image must be smaller than 64 megapixels or 16MB
  • additional_image_link (optional): URL for another product image
    • Must meet the same guidelines outlined above
  • mobile_link (optional): product’s mobile-optimized landing page

Price and availability

Information about your products’ prices and availability also appears in ads and unpaid listings. Keep in mind that Google will need to be kept informed if your prices or inventory change often.

  • availability (required): the product’s availability, which should match what’s on the item landing page
    • Supported values: in stock, out of stock, preorder
  • availability_date (optional): date a preordered item will be available
  • cost_of_goods_sold (optional): all the costs associated with the sale of a single product, including material, labor, freight, or other expenses
    • Submitting this information will provide you with insights about certain metrics, including gross margin and revenue generated
  • expiration_date (optional): the date you want your product to quit appearing in search results
  • price (required): product’s price and currency, which should match what appears on the item landing page
    • If you’re a U.S. or Canadian seller, don’t include tax
    • For all other countries, include value-added tax (VAT) and goods and services tax (GST)
  • sale_price (optional): the item’s sale price
  • sale_price_effective_date (optional): the date rang for which the product’s sale price applies
  • unit_pricing_measure (optional unless required by local regulations): measure and dimension of product without packaging
  • unit_pricing_base_measure (optional unless required by local regulations): item’s base measure for pricing
    • Supported units:
      • Weight: oz, lb, mg, g, kg
      • Volume US imperial: fl oz, pt, qt, gal
      • Volume metric: ml, cl, l, cbm
      • Length: in, ft, yd, cm, m
      • Area: sq ft, sq m
      • Per unit: ct

Product category

These attributes are used to organize ad campaigns and override Google’s automatic product categorization when needed.

  • Google_product_category (optional): This is what Google uses to classify an item in its official taxonomy. Google uses a breadcrumb-like string to create subcategories to home in on and index products more efficiently.
    • Example: Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Outerwear > Coats & Jackets
    • These categories and subcategories already exist in Google’s system, but you have the option to customize your own; if you choose to customize this attribute, you can put a product in one category only at a time
  • product_type (optional): This section allows sellers to use their own product attribution terms. If you find Google’s taxonomy doesn’t quite cover the keywords you create or use for your products, you can cover the gap with the product type.
    • Example: Home > Women > Dresses > Maxi Dress
    • 750 characters max

Product identifiers

This data distinguishes the items you’re selling and helps match search queries with your products.

Unique product identifiers are assigned to each product by the manufacturer, so if you sell the same product as another retailer, the identifiers will be the same. Not all items have unique product identifiers, but some common ones include Universal Product Code (UPC), Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPN), International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN), and brand names.

  • brand (required for all new products except movies, books, and musical recordings)
    • Only use your store name as the brand name if you manufacture the product or if you sell white-label products
    • 70 characters max
  • gtin (required for all new products with a GTIN assigned by the manufacturer)
    • 50 numeric characters max
  • mpn (required if the product doesn’t have a manufacturer-assigned GTIN)
  • identifier_exists (optional): Use this section to indicate whether unique product identifiers are available for the product
    • Supported values: yes, no

Detailed product description

These attributes identify particular product characteristics that people commonly search for, such as color and size.

  • condition (required for used or refurbished products): the condition of the item at time of sale
    • Supported values: new, refurbished, used
  • adult (required): indicates a product that contains sexually suggestive content
    • Supported values: yes, no
  • multipack (required for multipack products in Australia, Brazil, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the US): Submit this attribute if you’re selling a set of products as a single unit
    • Example: a package that contains 10 stickers
  • is_bundle (required for bundles in Australia, Brazil, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the US): indicates that a product is a merchant-defined custom group of different products featuring one main product
    • Supported values: yes, no
    • Submit “yes” if you’re selling a custom bundle of different products that you created and the bundle includes a main product
      • Example: a snowboard that comes with boots and bindings
    • age_group (required for all apparel items that target Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US): demographic for which the product is intended
      • Supported values: newborn, infant, toddler, kids, adult
    • color (required for all products available in different hues) item’s color(s)
      • If the item features multiple colors, list the primary color first.
      • 100 characters max
    • gender (required for all apparel items in feeds that target Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US, as well as all gender-specific products): the gender for which the product is intended
      • Supported values: male, female, unisex
    • material (required if necessary to distinguish product): item’s fabric or material
    • pattern (required if necessary to distinguish product): item’s pattern or graphic print
    • size (required for all items listed as Apparel & Accessories > Clothing and Apparel & Accessories > Shoe) item’s size
    • size_type (optional, for apparel products only): apparel’s cut
      • Supported values: regular, petite, oversize, maternity
    • size_system (optional, for apparel products only): country of the size system used by your product
      • Supported values: US, UK, EU, DE, FR, JP, CN, IT, BR, MEX, AU
    • item_group_id (required for Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US if item is a variant): identifying term for a group of products that come in different versions

Shopping campaigns and other configurations

The data in this section is used to control how product information is used in ad campaigns.

  • ads_redirect (optional): URL used to specify additional parameters for product page
    • 2,000 characters max
  • custom_label_0-4 (optional): label the seller assigns to an item to help organize bidding and reporting in Shopping campaigns
    • examples: sale, clearance, holiday, seasonal
    • 100 characters max
  • promotion_id (optional, but required for promotions in Australia, France, Germany, India, the UK, and the US): an identifier that allows sellers to match products to promotions
    • 50 characters max

Destinations

Specifying destinations in your product feed allows sellers to control where their products can appear. For example, you could indicate that an item appears in a remarketing campaign but not a Google Ads campaign.

  • excluded_destination (optional): setting to exclude a product from participating in a specific type of campaign
    • Supported values: shopping ads, Shopping Actions, display ads, local inventory ads, surfaces across Google, local surfaces across Google
  • included_destination (optional): setting to include a product in a specific type of campaign
    • Supported values: shopping ads, Shopping Actions, display ads, local inventory ads, surfaces across Google, local surfaces across Google

Shipping

Consumers consider shipping costs when making purchasing decisions, so it’s important to submit accurate information.

  • shipping (required): item’s shipping cost
    • Supported prices: 0-1,000 USD
  • shipping_label (optional): label seller applies internally to product to help assign correct shipping costs in Merchant Center account settings
    • This value isn’t displayed to shoppers
    • Examples: same-day, oversize, only FedEx
  • shipping_weight (optional): item weight
    • Supported weights: 0-2000 lb for imperial, 0-1,000 kg for metric
  • shipping_length, shipping_width, shipping_height (optional): length/width/height of item
  • transit_time_label (optional): label seller applies internally to product to help assign different transit times in Merchant Center account settings
    • This value isn’t displayed to shoppers
    • Examples: from Atlanta, heavy package, fragile
  • max_handling_time, min_handling time (optional): longest/shortest amount of time between order placement and shipment
    • This value isn’t displayed to shoppers
    • For items that ship same day, enter 0

Tax

These attributes are used together with what you’ve submitted in Merchant Center to provide accurate sales tax costs.

  • tax (required): item’s sales tax rate in percent
  • tax_category (optional): category that classifies product by specific tax rules

Create a product data feed

To begin adding your products, you must first create a product data feed. This feed informs Google of all your products and their data, which allows the search engine to pull the correct information and display it properly.

Google Merchant Center feed

You can create a product data feed by selecting “Products” and then “Feeds” in the left-hand menu of your Google Merchant Center account.

Primary feed with a blue plus sign

Then, select the blue plus sign icon.

You’ll be prompted to enter your country and language. Then, you’ll need to name your product feed so it’s easily identifiable.

Naming your primary feed in Google Merchant Center

Next, you’ll select your input method. You can create your product feed via Google Sheets, a scheduled fetch, upload, or content API. If you’re new to Google Merchant Center, Google recommends using Google Sheets.

Once you’ve made your decision, you’ll have the option of selecting an upload schedule. This should reflect how often your inventory changes. Google recommends setting it to update daily.

Now that your product feed is created and named, you’ll be returned to the product feeds section of Google Merchant Center. Select the feed you want to add products to so you can begin inputting information.

Google Sheets options with Open link under each

We’ve opted to create our product feed in Google Sheets and begun filling it out, as illustrated below.

Editing feed in Google Sheets

Once you’ve input data about all the products you want to sell on Google Shopping, submit it to Google Merchant Center.

As you can see, the steps above are not nearly as easy, convenient, or powerful as having all of your products in one system, managing all of your marketplaces, keeping things in sync.

Join the thousands of sellers big and small who use GoDaddy Marketplaces to help them grow their multi-channel ecommerce business, and see just how easy it is for yourself.

Get started on Google Shopping today

Now that you know how to get products on Google Shopping, it’s time to get started so you can get your products in front of millions, maybe even billions, of potential customers.

Ready to get started? Connect your website to Google Shopping today!

Stacey Hartman
Stacey Hartman has been with GoDaddy since 2007, working as a product professional throughout the company. Outside of work, she enjoys playing with corgis, traveling, gaming, reading, and baking award-winning cheesecakes.