Google’s announcement

To stimulate digital commerce and compete with Amazon’s record-breaking customer sales since the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Google has announced it will make significant changes to its e-commerce platform.

On April 27, Google implemented free online product listings on its Google Shopping tab. This throws a lifeline to brick and mortar retailers who are struggling to reach customers and pay for advertising during this time – regardless of whether they currently advertise with Google. The change will continue to roll out globally until the end of 2020.

Hundreds of millions of Google shopping searches are made daily for food and clothing essentials and speciality items such as toys and sporting goods. Google anticipates that free listings will help more merchants selling all types of products to connect with an even wider range of consumers.


Free product listings in Google Shopping

Google Shopping has exclusively featured paid ads, until now. Image: Screenshot


Since 2012, the variety of products available through Google Shopping have exclusively been paid advertising. This year’s new feature provides huge opportunities for retailers and advertisers to be more competitive. Google shopping with free listings will allow other retailers to gain free exposure – presenting an incredible opportunity to get ahead of the game.

Advertisers now have the chance to strengthen their brand presence with increased visibility on both paid and organic listings. Homebound shoppers using their PC or mobile devices can now explore products from more stores, especially ones they may never have heard of. And with 33% of NZers saying they will shop online more frequently post COVID-19 (source:globalwebindex.com), it’s very important to have a strong presence on this channel.

What free listings mean for your business

Google’s free listings are going to change the Google Shopping landscape. Image: Pixabay


Previously, each time a user clicked a Google Shopping product listing to a merchant’s website, the merchant would pay a fee. Now, any brand or retailer can list their product for free on Google, offering greater flexibility in how they promote their full inventory across Google.

Google Shopping currently partners with BigCommerce, Shopify and WooCommerce platforms to provide a more streamlined experience for merchants. Paypal – a powerful online alternative to Apple and Amazon – has also jumped on board to help new merchants selling on Google. Merchants can now link their PayPal and Google accounts to facilitate a simplified payment process and potentially increase sales.

If you’re already selling on Google Shopping

Existing Merchant Centre users will benefit from the free listings update too.

If you’re an existing user of Merchant Centre and Shopping Ads, you may already be eligible to take advantage of free listings. Head to the Surfaces Across Google program to opt-in to free shopping listings.

Paid campaigns will continue to appear in ad slots and operate in the same way as Shopping Ads, however, your account will be supplemented with listings for free. Paid listings will continue to be displayed at the top of the page and unpaid (organic) listings will be displayed below, within the Google Shopping tab.

Also, most items shown in organic Google shopping results will now display based on relevance, rather than bids.

If you don’t have Google Shopping running

An existing account is not required to sell with Google. If you don’t already have Google Shopping up and running, Google will continue to streamline the onboarding process over the next few months, with the aim to have the US set up by the end of May, and the rest of the world by the end of 2020. Head over to Google Merchant to set up your free business listing and get selling!

How Search Republic can help

The Search Republic team offers expert SEO and SEM guidance to help small and large NZ and international businesses compete in the digital world.

Reach out to one of our knowledgeable team to ask more about Google Shopping and see how to enable your business to take advantage of this free listing opportunity.

See more from our blog for the latest Google shopping news and industry updates. Discover up-to-date articles about writing effective text ads and ranking for featured snippets to help drive more traffic to your site.

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