Google Shopping – UK Changes for 2013

Jessica Milner

Contact Jessica
Connect via LinkedIn

Google Shopping – An Overview

Google Product Search currently gets its listings from Google crawling the web or by retailers submitting product data and feeds through the Google Merchant Centre. Historically, Google has never charged for being in its shopping search engine since it began in December 2002 and was called Froogle.

Google’s transition to a paid inclusion model is a radical departure from the company’s original stance eight years ago:

Because we do not charge merchants for inclusion in Froogle, our users can browse product categories or conduct product searches with confidence that the results we provide are relevant and unbiased”.

In the new business model only merchants that pay will be listed. It’s the first time Google will decommission a search product that previously listed companies for free. The company says the change will improve the searcher experience. Google believes that by moving to an all-paid model, it will have better and more trustworthy data that will improve the shopping search experience for its users.

Sameer Samat, Vice Present of Product Management for Google Shopping says

“This is about delivering the best answers for people searching for products and helping connect merchants with the right customers…We believe a commercial relationship with partners is critical to ensuring we receive high quality product data, and with better data we can build better products”

However the transition is also likely raise new worries that Google may further cut free listings elsewhere.

In particular, Google says advertisers will provide data feeds or create product listings through Google AdWords, in campaigns that are set to run on Google Shopping. It will work very similarly to how Product Listing Ads work now. Merchants won’t bid on particular keywords but rather bid how much they’re willing to pay, if their listings appear and get clicks or produce sales. Getting a top ranking will depend on a combination of perceived relevance and bid price.

In addition, Google Shopping will incorporate Google Trusted Stores badges into the listings, for those merchants who participate in the program. Google has already been trialing the use of these within AdWords.

What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is one of the largest online shopping comparison sites.

It is a platform that allows e-retailers to promote their products to consumers who can search, compare and click through to purchase.

Changes in Google Shopping


Through a Google Merchant Centre account online retailers are able to display their products for free in organic listings.

Retailers can also pay to display Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to increase their outreach using their Google Adwords account.

The image below shows the current free Product Search Listings on the Google Shopping tab.

From February 2013:

Google Shopping will require retailers to ‘pay to display’ their products by creating PLAs in an Adwords account linked to a product data feed in the Google Merchant Centre account.

The image below shows the changes that will be made to the search engine results page, which will only display Google Shopping sponsored (paid for) ads and they will be grouped in one box, this is also known as a ‘unit’.

The Google Shopping page will mirror the US model and display a yellow box to the right which will explain that this is now a commercial site, and all listings (all paid for) will be listed below, as shown in the image below.

To help explain further how the shopping model is changing, the diagrams below illustrate  how product listings currently operate on Google, and how Google Shopping will work from February 2013.

Summary of Changes:


February 2013

What are the financial changes to Google Shopping?

  • The new Google Shopping model will charge on a CPC basis.
  • Retailers can apply a maximum bid to product target groups or individual products, through their Google Adwords account.
  • Google will determine ranking based on what bids advertisers choose instead of imposing a minimum CPC rate.

  • Position for specific key phrases will be decided byYour bid
  • How relevant Google deems your product to be for a specific search query – Just like Product Listing Ads today.

Key Take Outs

  • Trial of new Google Shopping model in the US has been successful
  • Google has announced it will be rolling out similar changes across ten more countries, including the UK.
  • From February 2013, Google will change from free Google Shopping listings to a new paid for programme.
  • This will be based on Product Listing Ads, another Google Advertising tool.

Are you an online retailer? Do you currently use Google’s product listing pages?

As Ecommerce SEO specialists we work with our clients daily to ensure that all sources of traffic are optimised.

Get in touch for a free consultation to consider your current strategies.

Further Reading

Free Website Audit

Let's get started

We offer free website audits where we can delve into the issues on your website. Book yours today!

Find out more

About Events

We hold various events and training days at the Digital Hub - Mosaic. Find out more.

Free Website Audit

Let's get started

Computer with website audit example on the screen

What our client say...

“Richard and his team took a lot of time out of his day to come and visit us, see our products, see what we’re about and understand our industry. The results, they speak for themselves really.”

Chris Brady
CEO & Founder
1 Stop Spas