Google Shopping Now Free

6 November 2020

It was announced back in April 2020 that Google Shopping would become free to use as opposed to only having paid listings. This was initially launched in the US, and it has now become free globally.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping allows e-commerce advertisers to list their products on the Google Shopping platform. Especially for product-related searches, this is a big deal as the results usually appear on top of the paid text ads and organic listings.

The visual aspect of the Google Shopping ad (it’s a picture as opposed to text) and the digital real estate (Google Shopping ads push both paid text ads and organic listings down) means that being first on Google Shopping could lead to highly qualified traffic, ready to make a purchase.

It’s important to note that the free Google Shopping ads do not include the initial search engine result page (SERP). It’s the Google Shopping page that follows a click that will contain the free ads.


What Does Free Google Shopping Mean?

The Google Shopping feature is part of the Google Ads platform and, before this announcement, was on a pay-per-click (PPC) costing model. The initial Google Shopping ads on the initial SERP are still paid for and some of the premium positions on the Google Shopping result page.

Advertisers can now load up their products in the Google Merchant Centre, connect it to Google Ads, and enjoy free listings.


Why is Google Offering Free Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is Google’s play to stay relevant in retail searches. Ecommerce has grown year on year substantially, and although Google is dominant as the default search engine for anything else, it saw that the likes of Amazon were catching up.

Essentially, Google’s earning model is based on attracting advertisers to the platform. These advertisers want to pay for the last click before a purchase is made.

As consumers use Google for their research but flock to platforms like Amazon for their final digital touchpoints, Google sees its unique selling point eroding.


How is Google Improving Google Shopping?

This is why substantial effort for the last few years is going into evolving the Google Shopping offers. We have seen Google make headway in and testing local inventory, more dominant positions on the SERP, offering less product-focused ads, allowing comparison engines on its platform, and even experimenting with providing basket & checkout infrastructures to websites that don’t have that themselves. With the effects of the global pandemic in 2020, seeing in-store footfall and sales drop, and increased necessity for e-commerce, Google deemed it the right time to roll out free Google Shopping listings.


How to Get Started on Google Shopping

Most e-commerce retailers would have already been on the platform or at least thinking of it. Now is a great time to either expand operations or to start. In most cases having a product feed that is tied into your webshop or inventory system would be a good start, but you could go as low-tech as having a simple Google Sheet.

There are plenty of free resources online to help companies get started or get an expert to come in and set things up.