Google has almost finished stripping away the free components of its Product Search listings, and very soon it will have completely transformed into a strictly for-pay service. The full roll out is due by this coming October, and it’s important, to say the least, that any online retailer who wishes to remain proactive and successful in using the service understand what this change is going to mean for them.

Early Bird Rewards

The best thing your company can do is to get on board as soon as possible. The Changeover is set to coincide with the holiday shopping season, and it’s important to avoid any speed bumps, or overcome them at the least, before that time. Google is offering incentives for retailers making the early leap over to their Product Listing Ads model, specifically:

  • All merchants who create Product Listing Ads by Aug. 15, 2012 will automatically receive a monthly credit for 10% of their total Product Listing Ads pend through the end of 2012
  • Existing Google Product Search merchants can receive $100 AdWords credit toward Product Listing Ads if they fill out the form at the following link before August 15, 2012. CLICK HERE

Clean Shopping Feeds

One of the new requirements is a cleaner shopping feed. By doing this Google hopes to increase result relevance, and weed out unreliable sites that are more focused on traffic than customer satisfaction. This primarily means that retailers need to ensure that their inventory is up to date, with current and accurate pricing, and accurate product details. Only then can retailers have a chance to show up in results from Google Shopping.

Re-Shape Bidding Strategy

Google analysts expect that the influx of advertisers will be accommodated by a corresponding increase in relative ad space, which in theory will drive down the average CPCs. However, there are those in the opposite camp that argue that average CPC will actually increase as more competitors are forced into the paid side of the site. As more crowd in, some predict that there will be an increase of 10-15% in CPC to simply maintain position.

Regardless, companies need to plan for either outcome. This will most likely result in more time spent with Adwords for those going their own way. Companies using agencies need to ensure their analysts keep close attention to how well product ads perform in the new shopping arena.

Maintain Your Quality Score

Quality is the name of the game with Google paid search. Retailers can no longer afford to ignore their quality score. This also, incidentally, emphasizes keeping their shopping feeds clean and up-to-date. The benefits of a high score are not insignificant; it often results in lower CPC and much higher traffic. Having an effective bidding strategy, coupled with landing page relevance and high CTR can help to insure a high quality score.

Take Advantage of Google’s Trusted Stores Program

As Google shopping expands, the company also expects to greatly push its Trusted Stores program. Designed to lead customers to superior retailers, and offering a $1000 purchase protection for all sites in the program, this badge will great increase flow to you page. Google does require that any merchants in this program follow their myriad standards of excellence, including clearly posted Privacy, Return, and Shipping policies, as well as Terms of Service.

Google offers an endorsement to any retailer that meets these requirements and are accepted in the program. The Approval badge is then displayed on sites landing page, and allows customers to hover over the icon and examine performance stats. This is a free service, and a valuable one to consider. The interest form is linked HERE, and Google will contact you with information on how to move forward as the program expands.

Resistance is Futile

Google remains the first and often last stop for most online shoppers, and as gatekeeper, has decided to begin taking its toll. Like it or not, the free ride is over. But there is nothing stopping online retailers from continuing to enjoy there accustomed success in this new world. To stay ahead, one always needs to roll with the punches. The important thing to remember is to stay flexible, and most of all, proactive.