Back in 2009 Google started beta testing Product Listing Ads allowing advertisers to show their product inventory, as listed in their Google Merchant centre account, as a sponsored ad based on a person’s search query.

It was earlier this year that Google stopped providing free clicks via Google shopping and forced advertisers to pay for clicks if they wanted their products to appear in the shopping listings.

Now that advertisers have to pay for these clicks they should obviously make the most of their product feeds to try and get the best return on investment. And here are three tips on how to do so…

1. Ensure the data is the best quality it can be

When creating a product feed it is best to provide as much information as you can and be as detailed as possible so that Google can ‘read’ / index your products correctly and therefore show them for the most relevant searches.

Try to create user-friendly titles and descriptions that describe exactly what the product is, include information such as colour, materials, details that are important to the consumer.

Also think about where you place the important keywords as titles are limited by characters and could be truncated, so put the important terms at the beginning of the title.

Be sure to use high quality images within your feed, ideally 800×800 pixels, and include as many of the recommended attributes as possible.

There are also things that should be avoided when creating a product feed, for example avoid using block capitals, stuffing descriptions and titles with keywords or having text in images.

2. Keep the data as fresh and up to date as possible

As stock levels and items are usually constantly changing within e-commerce stores the data feed needs to be as up-to-date as possible to ensure that it is displaying the most accurate information and that the prices and availability that a user sees in the listing is mirrored on the site.

This should be at least every 30 days but ideally every 2 weeks or even more regularly if prices change or items go out of stock etc.

Within Google Merchant Centre you can schedule the feed to automatically upload on a weekly, monthly or daily basis to ensure that the data is as fresh and accurate as possible.

3. Make sure the feed is processing correctly

Within Google Merchant Centre you can view the item errors and warnings that are affecting the products and therefore correct them. Top errors that advertisers make are; missing shipping or tax information, wrong URLs, unknown Google product category value etc.

Critical errors can be found in the ‘Data quality’ section of Google Merchant Centre. Common issues including crawl errors, such as image crawl errors and 404 errors, missing unique product identifiers and price and availability information.

Making sure you minimise the number of errors and warnings in the feed can increase the number of searches your products are eligible to appear for and their position, so can improve overall performance of your ads.

One final tip, before you get started with PLAs remember to think about your campaign strategy based on your business goals. Once you have defined targets for your products you can optimise your bids to get the most value out of your budget. Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions about Google PLAs.