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!