How to make the most of unpaid shopping listings

At the end of April Google announced they were opening up Shopping results to include unpaid product listings within the Google Shopping tab.

In the post, Bill Ready stated

For retailers, this change means free exposure to millions of people who come to Google every day for their shopping needs. For shoppers, it means more products from more stores, discoverable through the Google Shopping tab. For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings.

Advertisers can be eligible to serve your products in unpaid shopping results on “Surfaces across google” which allows people to see product results from your shop on various Google surfaces, including Google Images and the Shopping tab for free.

The new placements are currently only available in the US, however Google plans to have rolled this out globally before the end of 2020.

What does this mean for Shopping Ads?

There have been no changes to the way Shopping ads are served on the Google search results page. Shopping ads will still continue to show in their usual placements in the carousel at the top of the main search results page. This simply means for existing advertisers, we can opt our existing product feed in to make products discoverable in the free listings too on the main part of the shopping results page.

Sounds like a no brainer..where do I sign up!?

It’s super simple to opt in to be eligible, and we’d recommend doing this even if you don’t currently serve the US market so your account is in prime position to begin serving when the changes are rolled out globally, where you should see a healthy boost to your organic traffic.

To opt in, all you need to do is head to the Google Merchant Center and select Growth > Manage programmes from the menu on the left, before enabling “Surfaces across Google”.


Reporting is currently pretty limited, with only clicks available to view by heading to the performance dashboard in GMC and selecting your desired date range, however as with all new launches we’d expect this reporting to be extended to all key metrics.

Feed optimisation

In order to match search queries to relevant products, feed optimisation is more important than ever. A high quality feed is imperative for running smart shopping, and with the feed now being used for organic placements as well as paid ads, there is no better time to ensure your product feed is in tip top condition.

Here’s 5 top tips to help perfect your feed:

  1. Frontload your product titles
    Make it easy for Google to match your products to top search queries and make sure you’re frontloading your titles to weight the most important information. We recommend Brand + Product Type + Attributes (Colour, Size, Material)
  2. Be detailed with product descriptions
    Google actually allows up to 5000 characters in feed descriptions, but we’d recommend aiming for a minimum of around 750 characters of high quality product information. Make sure you’re using key search terms in the descriptions and include all the important attributes such as size, material, pattern and any special product specs and USPs.
  3. Use high quality images
    Make sure you’re using the high resolution, quality product images that fully display the product to capture attention and make them stand out. You can even submit multiple product images using the “additional_image_link” product field. Using this field allows a carousel of images to be shown when a user hovers over the product and can show more detailed aspects of the product or different views.
  4. Make sure you’re using the correct and most detailed Google product category
    It’s essential to make sure your feed is using Google product categories as products without are shown for less relevant searches. Be sure to try and use the highest depth of product category possible, and if possible use end categories. The full taxonomy list of Google product categories can be found here.
  5. Use Merchant Promo’s
    Make use of merchant promotions which can be built by going to Marketing > promotions from the left hand column in GMC. These are a fantastic way to make your product stand out in shopping placements by offering discounts, free gifts with purchase or free delivery.

Have you opted in to serve on surfaces yet? If so, let us know if you’ve seen a boost to your organic traffic!