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Sell for free on Google? The news was already big but now it’s even bigger: the entire e-commerce ecosystem is now finally available for merchants to sell on Google for free. With the exception of Google Ads, which still charges on a PPC basis, every other type of listing is free of commissions. And in some cases, there’s not even a merchant processing fee on payment transactions.
After a slow rollout and a lot of testing and tweaking, Google is using its considerable muscle to challenge fellow FANG giant Amazon for greater market share in digital commerce, by eliminating the paywall and enabling merchants of all sizes to sell for free on Google.
Ways to sell for free with Buy on Google
It all starts with your Merchant Center account. (Don’t have one? Get the details and create one here.) This is where you upload and store all the product listing data used to populate the different parts of Google’s evolving e-commerce ecosystem described below. Once you have a product feed flowing into MC, you’ll be able to opt into the ones you want. Google has made the entire listing array free to merchants, whether the purchase occurs on their property or yours.
1. Free listings on the Shopping Tab and Mobile App
Buy on Google is available both in a mobile app and on the web. Users can search on this page for products by price or vendors, and compare online deals with ones offered by local brick and mortar stores. Product listings appear in a grid showing the offers for that product from all participating merchants who meet Google’s product listing standards.
Using these programs to maximum advantage takes some preparation, though. For the Shopping tab or mobile app, you must have your own online storefront. With Buy on Google (see below), a storefront isn’t even necessary. To appear in the free listing on the Shopping tab, your product listings must contain rich data about product attributes, high-quality images, ratings and reviews, and stock availability.
2. Standard Google Search
If you’ve provided the info in Merchant Center for rich snippets and structured data, your product pages will achieve higher rankings in a regular Google web search. They can display in both in-line search results text and display panels. Google is looking for visually enhanced experiences for its shoppers, and Rich Snippets are the preferred tool. If you use those, you stand a much better chance of having your product listing selected for a display panel.
3. Google Shopping Knowledge Panel
The Shopping Knowledge Panel is a special search unit that organizes specific product information into a small display containing links and linked offers by competing merchants, including their shipping terms. Previously, only paid ads populated this feature of Google Search but in late 2020, Google converted it to free listings. Shoppers can use this panel to comparison shop between various merchants – online or local.
4. Google Image Search
Products will also display on a results page on images.google.com, or on the images unit of a regular search page. If a prospective buyer wants to see what a product looks like through an image search, the results will also display Rich Snippet annotations beneath the image, along with a link to the product page itself.
Google Lens, another feature on images.google.com, features a clickable “lens” button on a larger image that brings up close-up images of the product with Rich Snippet annotations, and product tag callouts for discovering the product display page itself.
5. Surfaces Across Google
This is an opt-in item that you select from Merchant Center and apply to specific inventory listed there. With proper markup by webmasters, it will surface your products on any type of web crawl.
6. Buy on Google
Buy on Google is a way for merchants who don’t necessarily have their own storefront to sell directly to consumers through individual product pages generated from your Merchant Center listings. Google provides the checkout page and processes the payment transaction directly from the search results page.
Google is pushing hard into e-commerce, and it’s gaining customers by offering all of these opportunities free of charge to merchants.
When the buyer uses Google Pay, merchants keep the whole amount–there’s no transaction processing fee. Buyers can also use PayPal or ShopPay to buy on Google, but with those, the merchant will be charged a processing fee. To weight the scales in its favor as a shopping tool, Buy on Google products are given the highest rankings, below the paid ads.
7. Google Assistant
Buyers who want to shop by voice using the Google Assistant will see your free product listings on their results page, or hear about it in a vocalized response. With voice assistants, it’s especially important that your product tagging be as complete as possible. Rich snippets phrased in a way that answers a basic question about your product is another way to rise to top rankings in a voice search, because most often voice queries come in the form of a question.
The best way to ensure that you have rich data in play is to use a product feed syndication service. Shoppingfeed’s fluid tagging system and ProductGraph technology were specifically built for the future of shopping by voice.
Key benefits, besides the ‘Free’ part
Convenience + greater exposure to new customers
- Unlike with paid ads, there are no campaigns to manage. And no budgets to keep an eye on.
- You get exposure to anyone starting their buying journey with a Google search (as opposed to starting on a marketplace).
A quicker path to conversions, with less cart abandonment
- With Buy on Google, you get a “Google Guarantee” for quality and reliability, to assure against buyer hesitation.
- BoG manages your checkout with the buyer able to make a 1-click purchase through a Google Pay account.
They’re your customers — not Google’s.
You own the customer relationship and get to keep all their contact information for future marketing and sales offers.
Shoppingfeed was one of the earliest partners in Google Shopping. We can help set up your product listings in Merchant Center and make sure all your settings are correct to get started selling. And, in the same spirit, we offer access to the Google Shopping channel to our customers for free.
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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