On Tuesday, Google announced some BIG news for small businesses.  In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Google is overhauling its Shopping results to show free listings.  Since 2012, businesses had to pay to show products in the Shopping results, but starting next week it’ll be free!

Here’s what Bill Ready, President of Commerce, said on Google’s blog:

Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.

Wait a Minute, Are All Google Ads Free?

It’s important to clarify that this change is specific to Shopping Ads.  This does not affect text ads in Google Search, Display ads, Remarketing ads, YouTube ads, or mobile ads.

The change is only for the Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on Google’s Shopping tab of the search results.  For example, when I search for “logitech headset” in Google and then click on the Shopping tab underneath the search bar, then I see the following products:

The products listed in the screenshot above are advertising in Google Ads using Product Listing Ads.

Starting next week, businesses not advertising in Google Ads will be eligible to show their products on this page.

What If You’re Already Advertising in Google Ads?

If you’re already advertising in Google Ads using Product Listing Ads, then you may not need to do anything. Click here to double-check your settings and ensure your products will be displayed on the Shopping tab for free.

Now, you may be wondering how this will impact your ad campaigns? Will it help because you’ll now get free clicks?  Or will it hurt because non-advertisers will now steal your clicks?

Great questions!

I can’t predict the future, but I would wager that this will not have a tremendous impact on existing ad campaigns.  The reason is that Google is not changing the results on its first page.  For example, when I searched for “logitech headset” earlier, then I was first presented with the following products on the first page of Google:

Do those product images look familiar?  They should because they are the same products that were at the top of the Shopping tab screenshot earlier in this post.

Advertisers will continue to show their products at the top of Google’s first page while the free listings will be a click and a scroll away.  For that reason, I don’t expect advertisers will notice significant changes.

How Do You List Your Products for Free in Google’s Shopping tab?

If you’re not already advertising in Google Ads, then there are a few steps you’ll need to complete to make your products eligible in the free Shopping listings.

The first step is to create a Merchant Center account if you haven’t already.  Then, as you’re setting up your account in Merchant Center, you need to opt into surfaces across Google.

If you already have a Merchant Center account, then log in, click on “Growth” in the left navigation, then click “Manage programs” and select “Surfaces across Google”.  This will make your products eligible for the free Shopping listings.

Of course, you’ll also need to add your products to Merchant Center using a product feed.

Do You Need Help Setting Up Your Product Listings?

To help businesses take advantage of these new free product listings, we just launched a new service called Shopping Product Optimization.  If you need help, then we will set up your Merchant Center Account, set up and optimize your product feed, and ensure your products are eligible in Google’s new free Shopping listings.  This is a one-time project and the fee will depend on your e-commerce platform and the size of your product feed.

Click here to get a custom quote.