Google Shopping UK - No Longer a Free Service


February 2013

This month sees Google begin to phase out (free) organic Google Shopping listings in the UK, and steadily replace them with product listing ads that are paid for by merchants.


Google Shopping UK – No Longer a Free Service

This month sees Google begin to phase out (free) organic Google Shopping listings in the UK, and steadily replace them with product listing ads that are paid for by merchants.

It’s estimated that Google Shopping results brings in a global revenue of over a billion dollars for businesses and with Google Shopping phasing out organic listings last year in the US, it was only a matter of time before Google continued this process globally.




From February 2013, Merchant Centers will have to be linked with an active Adwords account, creating specific product ads in Adwords for each product they wish to feature on Google Shopping. These ads will be managed in the same way Google PPC search ads are, in that businesses are charged on a cost-per-click basis, with the management of the bids for these ads taking place in Adwords. How high the ads show in Google Shopping will depend on how high your bids are in relation to your competitors, and how relevant the information in your product listing feed is to your products you wish to feature.

The effect of this means that small businesses that were enjoying the fruits of free listings in Google Shopping alongside the well-known online stores and high street stores will now have an added cost to keep this privilege.

Google state that this shouldn’t be looked at as a cost, but as an investment. They believe that the change will result in higher quality and up-to-date product data, leading to higher quality traffic to merchants’ websites. In turn with this better quality data, Google believe it will help them improve their platform’s user experience, giving more relevant results for their searches and providing a better interface for merchants.

Merchants will be able to select which products to promote and have greater control over which of their products will feature, and how high they will feature, in search results. For example using data i.e. cost per acquisition and conversion rates from Adwords they can optimise the bids at product level, giving more budget, and exposure, for their best performing products. Further targeting is available in Adwords too in the campaign settings e.g. geographic targeting, which merchants can use to their advantage.

With the change to a paid service being a slow transition, those who have little to no experience of Adwords have time to prepare. In order to prevent losing out on sales after Google Shopping changes, react and prepare now and you can still have a profitable revenue stream using these steps:

Set up your Adwords account now and link it with your Merchant account.

  • Work out your potential costs in the new system and return on investment. Set an initial budget and review when you have enough data in Adwords to optimise your product listing campaign.
  • Analyse and identify your most profitable products in your product listing feed. You’ll want to allocate more of your budget to these products.
  • Allocate resources to setting up and managing your Adwords account, through an existing member of staff or outsourcing this work to an agency, such as us.
  • Make sure your product listing feed is accurate and up-to-date. Relevancy and constant maintenance of the feed plays a part in your product listing ad’s position in search results.

As mentioned previously, this transition has already taken place in the US, and whilst it was a move that was heavily criticised at the time, it’s seen a lot of success in the long run. Accurate data for Google and for users of the Google Shopping service has made an improvement, and for merchants the results of higher quality data in their feeds has resulted in better click through rates and conversion rates for their products. Google expect to see this level of success in the UK too.



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