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The best way to get an e-commerce sales funnel flowing well on Google Shopping is to understand how this new shopping service works from the consumer’s side. This means experiencing the other side of Google Shopping with “Buy on Google.” When you go through the shopping experience the way your buyer would, you can see better what needs to be presented to them to nail the conversion.
What a shopper sees when looking to Buy on Google
When a shopper is using a standard Google search to look for a product they want to buy, and if that product is listed with a merchant who’s part of the Google Shopping Actions program, the Shopping tab on their search results page (SERP) will feature a pop-out of a mini product listing, with direct buying options.
Elsewhere on their SERP, under the main “Search” tab, they will see:
(1) Sponsored ads related to their keyword. They are not always relevant, but big e-commerce players can often bid high enough to “own” keywords for popular products even if it isn’t the main thing they sell. That coveted top position is what matters most to them. They want shoppers to come over and browse for other products.
(2) Google product listing ads with full-color images, showing prices but without feature details or an “Add to Cart” option on the same page as with “Buy on Google.” PLA’s link to the seller’s own store, and any transaction takes place there.
(3 A list section called “People also ask…” which contains full-sentence queries drawn from common Google searches using that keyword. Each query also has a drop-down answer drawn from a “featured snippet” of text from a website where the search crawler has found a relevant match. In voice searches, these featured snippets take on a greater degree of importance because voice queries, unlike text queries, are usually expressed as full sentences. When a Google voice assistant hears a query in the form of a fully stated question, it strives to return a result that directly answers that question.
(4) Organic results with text links and short descriptive snippets, called “meta descriptions.” In the last section of the page, they will see the traditional, organic search results from vendors who’ve worked hard to use that keyword effectively so that it will appear on page one of a SERP. Here, a good meta description of your site can also attract a shopper’s interest in clicking through, with phrasing like “world’s largest selection of…” or “new discounted items every day.” But you’ve got to fit a metadescription into 154 characters or less.
How a shopper reacts to shopping search results
As you can see, Google SERPs have gotten a lot more complicated since the days when everything was an organic search result. Now, a shopper has multiple features on the page vying for their attention. But their goal is to get quickly as quickly as possible to a page that has the product they want, at the best price and shipping terms they can find. So let’s walk through how they will react to all these choices.
Shoppers with a keen eye will recognize sponsored ads (It says “Sponsored” in faded letters at the top), but if it’s not obvious that the sponsor is selling their desired product, they’ll move on.
The next thing that will catch their eye is the full color images of the product they want, but they have to click on each one individually, go to the seller’s website, look at the shipping terms and stock availability, and then set up an account on the merchant’s page — or a guest checkout, if offered. There are a lot of buying frictions with this option.
If they haven’t fully researched the product or its usage, they may spend a little time on the “People also ask…” section. This is why, when setting up your category and product pages on your selling platform, you should use a content-driven approach that includes full sentences that can answer some of these most commonly posed queries. This will give you a huge leg up in voice searches, too.
Most online shoppers don’t get past the first SERP page, and rarely give more than a glance at organic listings, unless those have a compelling meta description like with the examples given above.
How Google has reshaped the shopping experience in Search
BUT, if they select the “Shopping” tab, as seen here, they’ll be taken directly to a page of items for sale, with all the full color images and more product details to help them make their selection. All merchants who maintain product listings in Google’s Merchant Center will have their listings shown here, whether they participate in Google Shopping Actions only, Google Ads only, or a combination of the two.
A shopper who’s still researching might linger on that “People also ask…” section. Answer those research queries with the best, most relevant information, and you’ve lured them in. They will click over to your store. Or, when they navigate over to the Google Shopping tab, they will look for your offering there because you gave them a knowledgeable answer to their question, and you will therefore seem like the most trustworthy seller among the competition.
If you perform well as a seller and acquire a record of good ratings, Google will reward you with a featured popout containing that coveted “Add to Cart” button. When the shopper clicks on that, they can add it to a universal cart of other items they’ve found while shopping on Google, and check out using Google Pay in a single transaction without any further frictions of multiple store accounts, entering their shipping and billing information, etc. With Google’s new commission-free policy, you won’t even have to pay them a cut of the sale.
My mission at Shoppingfeed is explaining how to leverage e-commerce platforms and SaaS technology to e-merchants who just want to run their business and make more money.
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