How to optimize your Google Shopping product feeds for Black Friday
Posted on November 12, 2018 (Last Updated: September 14, 2022)
Black Friday is a crucial time of year for many retailers. The natural spike in demand and knock-down prices from suppliers means that customers will be more willing to buy more shopping items than on a typical day. For you as an e-commerce business, preparation for the Black Friday Sale means planning, creating, and optimizing your product feeds so that you can take advantage of all the opportunities Black Friday has to offer online retailers.
With a lot at stake, you need to be sure that you're leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the optimization of Google Shopping product feeds. As Friday 25th November is fast approaching, we've prepared this detailed guide on how to fully optimize your Google product feed in preparation for Black Friday and the following Cyber Monday.
1. Check how often you are updating your Shopping feed
What is the recommended frequency of shopping feed updates? Some might debate it, but most likely, the general recommendation would be once per day. However, the Black Friday is another thing. During a busy period like this, it is mostly recommended to make more than one update per day.
Your main goal with the data feed optimization is to ensure the latest and most accurate stock levels and the latest sales prices to increase sales and avoid penalties for displaying incorrect listings on shopping channels.
Top reasons to update Shopping Feed more than once per day during Black Friday:
- Rapid changes to pricing. Even though you have decided what your pricing should look like during the sales season, you might change your mind if you realize that your competitors are significantly ahead of you.
- Ensuring the up-to-date product stock. What we love about Black Friday is how fast items are sold. Besides the satisfaction from work done, for e-commerce stores, it also means constant monitoring of the stock quantities and timely updates of the data feed to reflect an actual number of products. Promotion of out-of-stock products costs you money for clicks and customer satisfaction. On-time stock updates are probably the most important aspect of Black Friday campaigns that require more frequent updates than once per day.
- Add-on of a new stock to your inventory. Depending on the sales volume, you might want to add more products to the inventory line along the way.
- Hourly special offers. Even though Black Friday is a special offer in itself, you might have planned a more sophisticated promotion plan with extra incentives or special offers per particular hour. In this case, you also need to update your data feeds more frequently.
What should you do now? Check how frequently your feed is currently being updated in your feed marketing platform, and consider scheduling more frequent updates during the busy days surrounding the Black Friday period.
For multi-channel sellers, it's vital that updated stock levels, pricing and promotions figures are sent out at regular intervals.
How do you simplify the frequent data feed updates?
The answer is automation. Luckily we live in a world where we can automate most repetitive tasks. Stock levels, pricing, and promotions figures can be updated automatically at a scheduled time without merchant's constant involvement. See how to schedule frequent feed imports.
2. Optimize Google Shopping images
People love the visual aspect of searching for information - we remember them much better than text, which we mainly scan in search of keywords. Additionally, in the e-commerce universe, where people can't touch an item and try it on, pictures are the main reference point for buyers to evaluate a product and match it with their expectations. However, besides the importance of product images being precise and attractive, there are also rules imposed by Google, and they are not only about a product's angle.
The importance of meeting Google’s requirements for Google Shopping images is equal to the one of data feed updates, as the disparity could lead to rejection of product images or/ and disapproval of ads.
What are Google’s requirements for Google Shopping product images?
- Size Requirements
First things first, check the sizes of your images. Google's minimum requirements for image size are the following:- Non-apparel images: at least 100 x 100 pixels
- Apparel images: at least 250 x 250 pixels
- No image larger than 64 megapixels
- No image file larger than 16MB
- Precise display of a product
While Instagram promotions or video ads undoubtedly need staging for products, Google Merchant Center is not the case. For Google Shopping images, products must be displayed clearly with minimal or no product staging at all. If images contain additional elements, Google Merchant Center will likely reject them.
Below, you can see examples of what is accepted by Google and what is not.
- Demonstration of all products
Do you, among other things, sell products in a bundle? Good choice. It's a good marketing strategy, especially during sales campaigns.
But you should be careful here. If a product is a bundle, all its components must be presented on the product image to make it clear to buyers what they are buying.
Here are some good examples of bundle product images.
What if a merchant has multiple Google Shopping images?
The general rules of Google Shopping images apply for multiple product images in the same way as if a store has one picture per product. What online retailers should be aware of in case of multiple images is how they submit URLs within the feed.
When working with one image, retailers submit its URL with the [image_link] attribute. And it is required for all products. If you want to include several images for an ad, you need to choose the main one that you still submit with the image link [image_link] attribute. As the next step, you submit all the rest in the additional image link [additional_image_link] attribute.
Check-list for Image Optimization
- Make a clear product picture with no staging and extra elements (unless it is a bundle).
- If you sell multipacks, show a single unit of the product. You can later add more images of a multipack using the additional image link [additional image link] attribute.
- Check that all images comply with size requirements.
- Ensure you send the highest quality images.
- Watch out for and avoid watermarks or promotional text on your images.
- Frame your product in the image space. It should take up no less than 75% and not more than 90% of the image space.
- Use a solid white or transparent background for your product images.
- Don't scale up an image or submit a thumbnail.
Additionally, to make your products stand out in Facebook product listings, you can add a logo, savings, and campaign branding to your images. To simplify the customization of ad images, we developed an Image Transformation tool that can automatically add custom designs and filters to product images. It empowers users to emphasize the visual expression of the ad, creating a greater connection to the viewer via the addition of logos, promotions, company branding, and much more.
The image transformation tool is ideal for spicing up your Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday product images on social media product ads.
See it in action.
3. Check product page URLs
You want your product URLs to be all correct and working every day (on Black Friday particularly) as it will be crucial to get the best results for your seasonal sales. Exporting a feed with broken URLs will obviously be detrimental to your sales and could make you miss out.
7 top things you need to ensure for product URLs to be approved by Google Merchant Center account:
- Make sure your landing page is mobile-friendly;
- Your URLs should always start with http or https;
- Make sure you use a verified domain name;
- Ensure that your URL can be crawled by Google (check that a robots.txt file is configured correctly);
- Replace any symbols or/and spaces with URL encoded entities;
- Don’t require users to register or leave an email in order to see information about your products;
- Comply with all legally required redirects.
Use this list as a checklist to go through your product page URL before starting the sales campaign.
4. Ensure you have correct unique IDs
Unique product IDs are essential in optimizing feeds and improving performance in Google Shopping. If your product has a GTIN ( Global Trade Item Number) from the manufacturer, you must submit the product with its GTIN.
GTINs might sound boring and some retailers might falsely believe that GTINs are only for the matter of bureaucracy, but this isn’t true. GTINs actually make product ads easier for customers to find. Thus, ensuring the correctness of GTINs is extremely important for ads’ performance.
What are the main unique product identifiers?
When we talk about Google Shopping, unique identifiers include Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs), and brand names. If you are interested in details, you can check the Google Merchant Center's article on different types of GTINs.
Not all products have unique product identifiers. If your product doesn't have one or all IDs, you must mention it in your product data. In this way, you don't risk having your product listing disapproved. However, if you have UPIs, ensure you don't mistype them in the system. UPIs make your ads richer and easier for customers to discover.
For your feed to be always approved, you'll need to check all Unique IDs to ensure there aren't any duplicates or mistakes. Consider running a Data Feed Audit on your feed to check if all your IDs are unique.
5. Check your Black Friday Pricing
During the sales seasons, you better keep an eye on your product pricing. It’s better to double-check rather than make a mistake and lose a significant amount of revenue.
As with your URLs, check your best sellers first - consider using filters from within Google Analytics to search for miss-priced items valued at 0. If you use WakeupData Connect, you can also filter miss-priced items out with the filter “price = 0” to make sure they will never reach your Google feed - it will keep your products from being disapproved.
During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is recommended to include variations of your top performing products - in order to gain greater dominance of the search impression share.
But beware, many users get rejected by quoting a higher price on their landing pages than displayed in their ads, so check that this isn't the case for you.
If you want to take it up a step, you can introduce price monitoring to your product feeds. WakeupData has recently launched a product that will allow you to monitor your competitor's prices and use that information in your product feeds. Check out WakeupData Actions for more.
6. Optimize your Shopping Feed Titles
The product title is one of the most powerful mechanisms that can influence your product sales. The great thing about it is that you, as a merchant, can easily control it, and it doesn't require extra resources to test various product titles.
The trick to finding the best product title is a clever balance of SEO keywords for the Google algorithm and descriptive attributes for buyers. It is important to include all the most significant descriptive attributes to ensure a higher CR. It shouldn't be too long, though, as Google reads only up to 150 characters of your product title. All the rest would be simply lost, so why give it an effort?
The most common descriptive attributes that e-stores are using for their ads are the following:
- Title / Collection
- Product Type
For Google ads, product titles should always contain the brand at the front of the titles. Further, there are also recommendations on the order of the attributes. Usually, it should look like this:
Rather than: "Red Waterproof Jacket North Face Men's"
More efficient on Google: "North Face - Waterproof jacket for men - Red - Medium"
In this table, you can see the most common recommendation of attributes combination depending on the industry:
When writing product titles, make sure the title reads well! It should make sense and not just be keyword soup! You should also avoid using EXCessivE CAPItaliZation - which can easily go unnoticed but can be detrimental to your sales. Similarly, watch out for HTML and other encoding artifacts which can get left over in your feed. These are common when commas, apostrophes, and ampersands have been used but not decoded properly. For more detailed optimization tips, check out our blog post dedicated to optimizing your titles specifically for Google Shopping.
Many merchants raise the natural question of how they can efficiently update titles of hundreds of products at once. That’s a very pertinent question, indeed.
Typically merchants can optimize product titles in two ways:
- By manually editing each title
- By applying dynamic rules to groups of products
The first one is no piece of cake when a store works with multiple products. Luckily, a few simple rules can be set up to quickly update product titles across your entire data feed - saving you a lot of time, hassle and stress! See how you can update product titles at WakeupData.
7. Consider adding Google Custom labels
While standard product attributes let you add vital additional information for Google to present your products in the right searches, sometimes you need more data to manage your campaigns.
This is where Google custom labels saves the day.
Google custom labels are frequently used when online merchants want to group products in their campaigns. Google Merchant center allows you to choose and allocate values of a merchant's choice for all merchants' products. Most often, custom labels are used to indicate that products are seasonal, on clearance, best or low sellers, with low or high margins, and produced in a particular year.
With the help of these values, e-stores can better monitor their campaigns, report on their results, and, importantly, adjust bidding in your Shopping campaign at the needed time period. Sounds appealing? Find out more about Google custom labels.
For example, our client previously struggled with achieving ROI increase as the standard product categorization was not driving enough sales. With Custom labels, they could emphasize seasonal products and increase their sales. See the whole story.
The complete solution
If this checklist feels somewhat overwhelming, or you just want a simple and effective way to get a visual overview of your feed for Google Shopping - check out our product feed audit.
It is a free service that offers a complete analysis and feedback of your entire data feed. Get an overview of IDs, titles, images, GTINs, and pricing, and take a few simple steps to ensure your data is fully optimized and ready for Black Friday.
Click the link below to get started, or request a WakeupData Demo to learn more about how the platform can help you get ready for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales..