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Google Shopping free listings coming in 2020

Google Shopping free listings coming in 2020

While the majority of people are asked to stay at home due to the coronavirus, many of us have turned to online shopping for everything from our essentials, to clothes, home improvement items and much more. As a result, many retailers are capitalising on their online shopping capabilities while others are learning how to make their business eCommerce friendly. Amongst all this, Google announced that they will make free listings available across Google Shopping, in a bid to compete with the likes of Amazon and Shopify. This is a welcome news for many businesses who currently do not have the extra budget to funnel into marketing but are desperate for new clients.

Free shopping listings are already available in the USA with Google saying that the rest of the world will follow by the end of the year. We have already seen free shopping listings appear in different countries albeit for only a few days at a time. Many guess that Google may launch it sooner rather than later to help businesses find customers online.

Who Can Use Free Google Listings?

Anyone who has uploaded their product feed to Google Merchant Centre and opted in to ‘surfaces across Google’. According to Google, opting in is easy: to opt in, select 'Growth' and then 'Manage programmes' in the left-hand navigation menu, and then select the 'surfaces across Google' programme card.

There is a list of items that are not eligible for Google Shopping, such as counterfeit goods, dangerous items (e.g. tobacco products, fireworks, recreational drugs, even herbal, etc.). Promotion of some items is restricted with specific rules regarding to the promotion of these to be followed, e.g. adult-oriented content, alcoholic drinks, copyrighted content, gambling-related content, healthcare related content.

How Do My Products Appear on Google Shopping?

If you already have a product feed, Google will use it to power the free shopping listings too. If you do not have a feed ready, you need to create one. It is a spreadsheet with information about your products that Google uses to match it to search queries. There are product attributes that you need to use, some are required while others are optional. Google divides the attributes in multiple categories from basic product data to delivery.

When building your product feed, make sure the attributes contain:

  • Id – this is a unique ID for each product. Use product SKU where available.
  • Title – name your product. This will be the main text shown in your listings. Max. 150 characters.
  • Description – an accurate description of your product without any promotional text. Max. 5,000 characters.
  • Link – Product’s landing page.
  • Image_link – Link to the product’s main image.
  • Availability – in or out of stock
  • Price – Product’s price. Needs to be accurate price from the landing page.
  • Brand - It’s required for all products, but films, books, musical recording brands.
  • GTIN - Global Trade Item Number. Often assigned by the manufacturer. Max. 50 characters.
  • Mpn – Manufacturer Part Number to be used if the product does not have a GTIN.

The more information about your products you provide, the better Google will be able to match it to search queries.

Optimising Your Product Feed

We work with a number of clients providing optimisation tips that improve their Shopping visibility. Optimisation will continue being of importance with the free shopping listings as it allows brands to promote even more of their inventory across Google Shopping.

  • Product Title – this is the main text that will appear in the shopping listings. It is also the one Google considers the most when raking your product. The title should reflect the title on the landing page, but it’s important to match it to the search queries as well. Titles can be changed, so if you find that a particular one is not working for you, test a new one.
  • Product Image - Visual type is the most common type of a learner and as such Internet user. This means that your product images should make an impact on the result pages. Do not be afraid of testing different images if you do not see the results you wish.
  • Product Description - Additional text below the product title. You should not stuff it with keywords as you do not want it to be spammy, however, this is the opportunity to include secondary keywords that Google will find relevant.

While you can utilise custom labels in product feeds, it appears that custom labels as well as ad-redirects will play no role in the Google Shopping free listings. However, the more information you provide for other attributes, the more relevant your products appear.

What About Tracking?

Google announced that reporting will be available for surfaces across Google. This means that you will be able to track the unpaid clicks in Google Merchant Centre in the Dashboard.

What Does This Mean for Google Shopping in General?

If you are a current advertiser, paid ads will still be displayed on top of the page as well as bottom. Free listings will take up the majority of the space in the middle.

In order to prevent advertisers losing their traffic, many shopping results, such as Gmail, YouTube, SERPs, etc. will still only feature paid listings.


Wunderman Thompson Commerce's CDM practice offers a dedicated Feed Management service: from comprehensive feed creation using our proprietary web-scraping technology, to feed optimisation, and channel integrations.

With experts account managers who live and breathe data, we ensure your data feeds are always of the highest quality and can advise you on how to make more of your product data. All of this means that you'll maximise your sales on Google Shopping and other key channels. Contact us to discuss how we can help.

Contact us today