Google Ads For eCommerce: A Complete Guide

Melissa Rodriguez
Published on Dec 12, 2019

Google Ads For eCommerce: A Complete Guide

For eCommerce businesses, Google Ads is a no brainer.

With over 3.5 billion search queries a day, and nearly 90% of market share, most of your existing and prospective customers are on Google’s search engine. 

As an eCommerce retailer, you’re most likely looking for a marketing channel that offers an easy way to quantify your ROI, and an opportunity to get granular with your data.

Traditional marketing channels like TV and radio advertising are a shot in the dark. You might not have time to wait for SEO to kick in. A strong Google Ads strategy will get you results, and revenue immediately. According to Google, advertisers make $8 for every $1 they spend on Google Ads. 

And your competitors are most likely on Google Ads. Type the name of the type of product you sell, and if you see ads at the top or bottom of the search results page, you need to jump in. Your loss is their gain!

On top of Facebook ads, Google Ads is a powerful addition to any eCommerce retailer’s marketing strategy. The sheer amount of data available and options can make it an overwhelming prospect.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s what we’ll be going over:

Table of Contents
Part 1: Overview of the Basics
Part 2: How to Strategize
Part 3: Important Things to Note
Part 4: Setting Up Google Ads Campaign

Part 1: Covering the Basics

In this section we’ll cover the following (skip to the next section if you already know this part!):

  1. Google Search Ads
  2. Google Shopping Ads
  3. How Google Ads Work

1. Google Search Ads 

Google search ads are the most common ads you’ll see on Google. They are text ads that appear at the top and bottom of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Your ad is displayed in the same format as normal search results (e.g. headline and description) only with the text “Ad” listed next to it.

These campaigns are highly effective because they target users searching for the exact products and services you offer. You also have access to a ton of data, so you can quantify your ROI and optimize your campaigns.

Text ads are made up of a headline, display URL, description, and extensions (if available).

google ads for ecommerce

Extensions expand your ad with additional info to entice users to click on your ad. Extensions are found to increase your CTR and overall ad performance.

Formats include:

  • “Call” buttons
  • Location information from Google
  • Additional text beyond what is in the headline and description
  • Links to other pages on your site

Trigger for Ads: Keywords or Target Audience

2. Shopping Ads

Google Shopping Ads are extremely popular with eCommerce retailers. Google Shopping ads are displayed at the very top of a SERP, above text ads and search results. On mobile, they take over the screen. Seeing as mobile has overtaken desktop, and more and more customers shop on their mobile devices, placement on Shopping ads will put you at an advantage.

Shopping Ads feature the most appealing elements for shoppers: an image, product description, and pricing. 

google ads for ecommerce

Product Shopping ads are individual product ads, created automatically with information from your Merchant Center account. 

Showcase Shopping ads group multiple related products into one ad.

To start, create a Merchant Center account and upload your product data.

Why use Shopping Ads?

  • More qualified leads. By including a photo and pricing information on your ad, you’re inviting more qualified clicks.
  • Easy campaign management - No keywords. Shopping Ads run on the attributes you provide for each of your products. 
  • A broader presence - especially when combined with search ads. 

google ads for ecommerce

Product Shopping ads are individual product ads, created automatically with information from your Merchant Center account. 

Showcase Shopping ads group multiple related products into one ad.

To start, create a Merchant Center account and upload your product data.

Why use Shopping Ads?

  • More qualified leads. By including a photo and pricing information on your ad, you’re inviting more qualified clicks.
  • Easy campaign management - No keywords. Shopping Ads run on the attributes you provide for each of your products. 
  • A broader presence - especially when combined with search ads. 

Trigger for Ads: Product Feed

3. How Google Ads Work

Google Ads are Pay-Per-Click (PPC), meaning you’ll only pay for the clicks you receive. 

For your ad to be shown, you need to establish a bid - in other words, tell Google how much you are willing to pay to be shown for a particular keyword. This amount is called a Cost-Per-Click (CPC). 

CPC benchmarks vary widely by industry, and by your competition. Keywords relating to your brand name are always inexpensive (due to low competition). In some industries (especially in the health care sector) you can see CPCs at $15 or more. According to Google, the average CPC on the platform is $2.69.

google ads for ecommerce

With each Google search, an auction happens. Google finds all the keywords that match the search, and the ads targeting certain keywords, a product feed, target audience, etc. After filtering out targeting options like location or demographics, Google will wind up with eligible ads to show.

How does Google decide which ads to show? Google takes a look at the Ad Rank of each eligible ad. 

Your Ad Rank = CPC Bid x Quality Score

Notice that a hefty CPC bid alone doesn’t win you a position at the top of Google. Google takes your bid into account along with your keyword’s Quality Score.

google ads for ecommerce

A quality score (1-10) is composed of 5 elements:

  • Your Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
  • How relevant each keyword is to its ad group
  • The quality and relevance of your landing page(s)
  • Your ad text’s relevance to the landing page and/or the user’s search
  • The past performance of your account 

Google Ads is highly scalable. If you set up your campaign properly and it’s converting at a good level, you can increase your budget and get even more conversions. 

Working with a low budget? Optimize your campaign for those five elements above and you’ll see performance improve, without spending a penny more.

Part 2: Google Ads for eCommerce - How to Strategize

Now that you have the basics covered, we’ll delve into strategy. Before you create a campaign in Google Ads, you need a plan that will save you precious time and budget. In this section we’ll cover the following:

  1. Goals and Objectives
  2. Determining KPI
  3. Remarketing
  4. Competitive Analysis
  5. Keyword Strategy
  6. Landing Pages

Let’s dive in!

1. Set a specific goal or objective.

Answer these questions before every Google Ads campaign: 

  • What sales target(s) do you want to achieve?
  • What is your net profit margin on products you want to sell with Google Ads? (Some products may not be worth promoting with Google Ads)
  • How much is each click worth to your website?
  • What is each sale worth to your website?

The answers to these questions will determine how to set your bids and know whether or not Google Ads is the right platform for this campaign.

Make the ideal segment of your target customer.

Answer these questions when developing your customer persona(s):

  • What do your customers have in common? Age? Gender? Geographic location?
  • What products are they buying? Most high-spending customers usually purchase mainly from one or two categories.
  • Why are they buying what they’re buying? What problem do your products solve for a customer? This will unlock the customer’s purchase intent.

This will help you with location and demographic targeting that will boost your ROI.

2. Determine your KPI.

Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are your measure of marketing success. They show whether or not your tactics on Google Ads are working. They’ll also help you make smarter campaign decisions based on data. 

Common KPIs to measure in Google Ads:

  • Click-through Rate (CTR)
  • Keyword Performance
  • Cost Per Click (CPC)
  • Conversion Rate
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
  • Quality Score

Tracking just one KPI alone won’t do you much good. Tracking your campaign’s CTR doesn’t mean anything if those clicks aren’t converting. Likewise, tracking your conversion rate without taking other considerations (like Quality Score) into account means you won’t be able to diagnose your campaign as easily if it stops performing.

What to track? Think about what success will look like with your campaigns. Pay the most attention to your bottom line return - or the quality of customers you send to your website. Resist the urge to focus solely on vanity metrics like clicks or impressions. 

3. Remarket to your audience.

Paid ads are all about making the most of the data you have collected. To do so you need to remarket to the newfound audience that you have generated. Do not retarget someone who recently converted. Instead, focus on users who have viewed a product or added a product to their cart.

google ads for ecommerce

You can do this dynamically by setting up audiences within Google Ads. The user will be able to see the product they just saw on your website later on as they are surfing the web. This is a low-cost way to stay top of mind with your newfound website visitor and potential shopper. 

google ads for ecommerce

Determine a cut off of a week or two depending on your results you can make time frame adjustments and this is also a good time to show them special offers and discounts. Lastly, when remarketing on Google Ads, be sure to limit the number of times a user will see your ad per day (impressions).

4. Analyze the competition.

One of the keys to a successful Google Ads campaign is being well aware of what your competition is doing and how you can do it better. Analytics tools like SpyFu offer data on your competition’s paid search ads campaigns on Google. Keep track of your progress with powerful eCommerce metrics.

In addition, data from Google Shopping campaigns is important when running an eCommerce store.

google ads for ecommerce

A quick way to see what the competition is doing is by going to Google Shopping and doing some reconnaissance searching. This paints a picture of what your user will be searching for and what they will be shown when they search for a given product you may be selling. With that in mind, take a look at where other retailers are selling their products. Is it Walmart and eBay? Perhaps small local shops?

To get a more behind the scene look at what your competition is doing, take a look at the auctions insights report for shopping campaigns within Google Ads. This offers three different statistics: 

  • Impression share
  • Overlap rate
  • Outranking share

You can generate reports with the data you are looking for and even segment results by time and device.

Another interesting tool provided by Google is Shopping Insights, which gives you trend data and the ability to compare one product’s popularity to another. By using all these tools, you will be better prepared to run ads up against your competition. The more you know about your products and market, the greater your chances of success.

5. Focus on your keyword strategy ( for Search Ads)

Keywords are everything to search ads. Your CPC will be determined by which ones you choose to target, and the maximum bid you set for each. A good choice of keywords can spell the difference between a profitable campaign a non-profitable one.

google ads for ecommerce

When coming up with your list of keywords for your campaign, take note of:

  • Keywords corresponding to different categories on your website
  • Words used to describe each of your products.
  • Words your customers would use to describe your products.

How to find the right keywords:

  • Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool.
  • Use the Google SERP to see what keywords your competitors are using in their ads. Look at searches relating to your keyword for more ideas.
  • Use your website data, accessible through Google Analytics.
  • Use search engine marketing software like SEMRush.

In Google Ads, you should always focus on customers that are one step away from making a purchase. This will keep you from paying for clicks that don’t result in a purchase.

Once you understand the purchase intent of your customer, get to work on creating keywords that target that intent.

6. Use landing pages relevant to your campaigns.

The landing page experience is paramount to your Google Ads success. A good, relevant landing page will bring down your CPCs and increase your Ad Rank.

Follow these best practices to ensure a good landing page experience:

  • Offer useful, relevant content, by making sure what you’re selling on your landing page is directly in line with what you were selling in your ad. 
  • Foster trustworthiness on your site, by being open about what you sell and making it easy to contact you.
  • Make it easy for users to browse your site, by prioritizing important content above-the-fold, and making it quick and easy for your customer to order.
  • Make sure your landing page and website load quickly.

Part 3: Important How-To’s

In a perfect world, your Google Ads campaigns are precisely optimized and you want to spend every penny you have because the return on investment is mind-blowing. But since you cannot simply turn a campaign on and start printing money, you have to figure out a starting point. This could be a daunting task.

You are a big player in determining the budget for your ad spend. Determine what your business can afford to spend on advertising. The industry standard is to invest 10% of your revenue back into marketing spend. 

What your competitors are spending makes a difference on how much you will need to spend. For example, your competitor spends $30,000 a month advertising 2,000 products. Let's say you have the same 2,000 products but can only spend $10,000. Luckily, $10,000 would be enough to see results with a properly optimized campaign, 

But you want to win, not just get by

To win, go through your 2,000 products and advertise your best-selling ones and ones with the least competition online. There will be low-hanging fruit that you can capitalize on which competitor A is missing out on. 

Testing what works and what doesn’t with a certain set of products will allow you to use a smaller budget and scale-up. Be sure to let the ads run for some time so you can analyze the data.

Once you have started running ads, Google will tell you how often your products are showing compared to the competition (your impression share). Make note of how much is lost to rank and budget, two factors that affect impression share.

Part 4: Set Up a Google Search Ads Campaign for Your eCommerce Website

Setting up Google search ads campaigns for your eCommerce site can be tricky. There are plenty of things you need to take into consideration. In this section, we'll go over the following:

  1. Goal
  2. Targeting
  3. Budgeting
  4. Ad groups
  5. Keywords
  6. Ad creation
  7. Analytics
  8. Testing

Here is how a Google Ads campaign is structured:

google ads for ecommerce

1. Choose your goal.

If you’re getting started in Google ads, it may be wise to pick a goal and have some of the functionality highlighted for you.

google ads for ecommerce

For Search and Shopping campaigns, stick to the first three options:

  • Sales
  • Leads
  • Website visits

Sales are most appropriate for eCommerce retailers. The Sales goal highlights features that will be useful to marketers who want to sell products through Google.

2. Target your locations.

Google Ads allow you to target your campaigns to any geographic region you want:

  • Countries
  • Regions within a country
  • Radius around a specific location

google ads for ecommerce

Location targeting will help improve your ROI, since you’ll be targeting areas where your target customer is. Use your target customer research from your strategy to set this.

3. Set your budget and maximum CPC bid.

A budget in Google Ads will set a spending limit for each campaign. Set a daily budget you’d be comfortable spending per day. Depending on how your bids are managed, you may not spend your entire budget per day. 

Set your maximum CPC bid as the most you’d be willing to pay for a click on your ad. Successfully managing your bids will maximize your ROI and ensure you’re getting the most clicks for your budget.

Feeling unsure about how to set your bids? Learn about Google’s automated bidding options, which can save you time in exchange for a little less control over your bids. 

4. Create ad groups.

Ad groups are how you organize your ads. These ads contain specific targets. Ecommerce sites may find it helpful to base their ad groups on specific categories.

For example, an online music store might use these ad groups:

Ad Group 1: Guitars

Ad Group 2: Drums

Ad Group 3: Brass Instruments

Each ad group would contain the keywords, ad copy and landing pages that pertain to that ad group. This will allow you to keep all your data organized.

5. Choose your keywords.

After you’ve done the appropriate keyword research mentioned earlier, now you can add these keywords to your campaign. You have four ways to format your keywords, to drive the traffic and clicks you really want.

Broad Match: A keyword that will attract searches related to the topic in any way. This is the broadest method, and useful for driving impressions and search data to analyze

Example: tennis shoes

Modified Broad Match: Similar to Broad Match, only the keyword must be included in the search query. But the keywords can appear in any order. Required words are preceded by + symbols.

Example: +tennis +shoes 

Phrase Match: A keyword phrase in quotes that must be included as part of a search query. More targeted than a modified broad match.

Example: “tennis shoes”

Exact Match: The most targeted form of keyword. This keyword should only trigger search queries containing what is included in brackets, and nothing more.

Example: [tennis shoes]

6. Create compelling ads.

A quality ad not only attracts the user’s attention but ties in perfectly with your landing page. A well-performing ad will help greatly with your Ad Rank and bring CPCs down. Non-relevant ads earn fewer clicks or might not show up at all. 

google ads for ecommerce

Some best practices from Google:

  • Write genuine, compelling ad copy that focuses on the benefits to the user.
  • Put extra focus on your headlines, as those will be what the user notices the most.
  • Try for at least three ad extensions that add more value to your offering.
  • Add 3-5 ads per ad group, each with variations on your CTA and language.

According to a Wordstream study, the highest performing CTA for eCommerce ads is “Get,” followed by “Buy,” “Shop,” and “Try.”

7. Measure your success.

When your campaign is off the ground, plan to check on and tweak your campaign every day until you get results. Once it does, you can check in once a week.

    • Track your campaign metrics based on the KPIs you set.
    • Look at your keyword bids. Google will tell you if your keyword bid is too low for your ad to appear. Make sure the right bids are showing up at the right times.
    • Calculate your profit. Are your ads actually making money? Calculate how much it costs to make a sale in Google Ads by looking at the “Cost / Conv” metric. If the value of a product is lower than what it costs to run the campaign, some changes are in order.
    • Review Google’s suggestions for improving your campaign. Some may not apply to your goals for the campaign, but they can also point out some quick, easy fixes you can make to improve your campaign immediately. Google specifically hones in on underperforming ad groups or keywords with low-quality scores.

google ads for ecommerce

8. Test Consistently 

With all the data at your disposal, Google Ads is made for testing. On a regular basis, analyze the data from each ad group, and take note of what performs well. 

Since your budget is set up on the Campaign level, adding extra ad groups won’t affect your daily spend. Create new ad groups targeting on the demographic or location information that performed the best. Add more ad variations, based upon ads that perform well, and disable the ones that don’t. The possibilities for optimization are endless. 

Work With the Pacific54 Team

Google Ads may not be rocket science, but most can agree that managing a successful campaign takes a lot of time. You can spend days perfecting the right combination of keywords, ad creative, and targeting. And the more data at your disposal, the more opportunity for testing you can (and should) take advantage of.

If you’re a busy professional, or you’re managing lots of accounts, you may employ a “Set It And Forget It” strategy. You might not be paying attention to your campaign, but your competitors are paying attention to theirs. Your competitors’ gain is your loss.

If this sounds like you, Let Pacific54 handle your Google Ads strategy and campaign setup for you. From setting up your eCommerce platform to social media strategy, our team of digital marketing experts will work with you each step of the way.

Drop us a line and we’ll be in touch with you.

One Response to “Google Ads For eCommerce: A Complete Guide”

  • Anthony Idle says:

    I’d add a caution about just running Shopping ads without optimising your feed and especially titles.

    Also take care with Smart Shopping. For small retailers it makes sense to turn on full auto.

    But for large ecommerce businesses you have to take into account multiple channels and you might have emails going out at +90, +120 and =180 days then remarketing ads running between these for a week on and off.


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