By Jor­dan Sil­ton, SEO Strate­gist

There has nev­er been a short­age of prod­ucts for sale on the inter­net, but those prod­ucts are now start­ing to be read­i­ly avail­able in the search results. Google, Yahoo and Bing all have their own shop­ping engines, the most pop­u­lar being Yahoo! Shop­ping. A lot of peo­ple use these shop­ping aggre­ga­tors, but even more go direct­ly to the search results to find a web­site that sells the prod­ucts they are inter­est­ed with. Search engines have had to adapt to meet the intent of user queries, and with the intro­duc­tion of uni­ver­sal search, Google was the first to tai­lor the for­mat of search results to the pre­dict­ed user intent, and four years after the ini­tial press release, we now see live Twit­ter feeds, videos, images, mp3s, local results and more, direct­ly avail­able from the main search por­tal.

Although there are many uni­ver­sal ele­ments in the search results, local results and prod­ucts have come to the fore­front. Go ahead and search Google for any prod­uct you can think of. You’re most like­ly going to see an image of that prod­uct and some loca­tions near­by where you can buy it. There are many ways prod­ucts have changed the land­scape of search, but there are two main ways any e-com­merce busi­ness in the Unites States should be lever­ag­ing prod­ucts in their paid ads: prod­uct exten­sions and prod­uct list­ing ads. Both ad for­mats require a Google Mer­chant Cen­ter account. The first step to get start­ed is cre­at­ing an account and upload­ing your prod­uct feed.

Product Listing Ads

Product Extensions

Prod­uct exten­sions are, exact­ly as the name implies an exten­sion of tra­di­tion­al paid search ads. Using the “Ad Exten­sions” tab with­in your AdWords account, you can link your Google Mer­chant account on a cam­paign by cam­paign basis. When you enable prod­uct exten­sions, Google will iden­ti­fy key­words with­in your account that sig­nal intent to view a prod­uct, and a plus box will appear. When expand­ed, the plus box dis­plays images, titles, and prices of rel­e­vant prod­ucts. We have found that prod­uct exten­sions increase CTR of paid search ads. Prod­uct exten­sions can appear in tan­dem with oth­er ad exten­sions such as loca­tion exten­sions, phone exten­sions, and sitelinks exten­sions.

Product Listing Ads

Prod­uct list­ing ads oper­ate sep­a­rate­ly from paid search ads. Although they are con­trolled by AdWords, prod­uct list­ing ads they do not use key­words to dis­play ads. Up to three prod­uct list­ing ads can be served per page and are locat­ed in the top right cor­ner, above the paid search ads on the side of the page. There are many advanced tac­tics you can use to seg­ment your prod­ucts for prod­uct list­ing ads, but at min­i­mum, your feed must con­tain the fol­low­ing attrib­ut­es to be eli­gi­ble for prod­uct list­ing ads: id, title, descrip­tion, con­di­tion, price, image_link, link. If you are look­ing to dri­ve more traf­fic to your site that is specif­i­cal­ly inter­est­ed in your prod­ucts, prod­uct list­ing ads typ­i­cal­ly gen­er­ate a high­er ROI than tra­di­tion­al paid search ads and will give AdWords cam­paigns addi­tion­al reach and expo­sure.

Google devel­oped this infor­ma­tion­al video to pro­mote prod­uct list­ing ads and prod­uct exten­sions, but don’t take their word for it – test it your­self!