As things stand, there are many different factors that come into play to decide where your products will be listed within the Google Shopping results pages, what order your product would be shown when competitors are advertising similar products, and the amount of exposure that your product(s) will gain across the day.
The most obvious differentiating factors to all the above has to be the bids and the budget, as these allow you to be more or less aggressive than the competition. But if Google is now taking these factors away, how will you be able to rank higher than your competitors?
While there is nothing provided by Google yet, I have a sneaky feeling that the following could become ways to make sure that your products are shown for the right searches...
Product Titles & Descriptions
If we take a step back a minute and think about what Google actually does, we can simply say that it's purpose is to show each user the most relevant page for their search query. So if we take this and apply it to a free Google Shopping advert, it's pretty safe to say that we should make sure that the product Title and Description are written in a way to make it the most relevant for the user's search.
From this, I would suggest using a jargon-free product Title, which clearly defines the exact nature of the product including details such as gender, size, dimensions, colour, brand and model/name to name a few, as Google will be able to quickly pick up on these terms and decide if they are relevant for the user's search.
Alongside this, I feel that Google will be taking a leap out of the SEO playbook when reading the product Descriptions, with its algorithms taking into account the length and quality of the product descriptive text (remember to always write for the reader and not the search bot) alongside identifying keyword density and keyword usage.
Solid Feed Attribute Setup
To have your products listed within Google Shopping, you need to provide Google with a 'feed', which is basically a list of your products and product attributes such as GTIN numbers, colours, and product price that Google uses to show your products for the right searches. Having your product feed set up correctly is already a huge part to play with Google Shopping, and I feel that this will only get more important when Google removes the need to bid for product position.
While I can not say for certain, but I feel that more areas of the product feed will be required, rather than the current state of optional, allowing Google to gain even more knowledge of each product to determine the relevance of it for the users search query. Who knows, Google may throw a curveball and introduce new feed attributes for each product to help gain more information about it.
We may even see that Google will require each product attribute to be 100% correct to allow you to show your product in Google Shopping, rather than allowing for a few cautions for products like we currently experience.
In a nutshell, feed attribution optimisation will most likely become a major factor in getting the maximum visibility for your products, with experimentation and testing to be put in place to discover the best setup possible.
Free Shipping & Free Returns
As more and more users are becoming accustomed to having Free Shipping and Free Returns as the norm, it would be no surprise to see Google favour products which tick both these boxes over products which don't. With all of us looking for a bargain, something as simple as offering free shipping and free returns already would naturally seem more appealing than other retailers who offer the same product at the same price but has additional shipping costs.
Not only would like help increase your total site visitors but would also help boost your CTR (click-through rate) which I am sure will be another factor taken into account by Google.
With an expected uplift in online retailers using Google Shopping, customers will want to be reassured that they are buying their products from a trusted retailer which makes the purchase transition as smooth as possible. From this, we could see that the need for 5-star reviews become essential for ranking highly in Google Shopping results, as Google would deem an online retailer with this in place more trustworthy (and therefore more relevant) to the user than a site with 0 reviews.
Google may even take this one step further, and only show products in the Google Shopping results from retailers who have X amount of 5-star reviews, making reviews an essential part to promote your products.
With Google now viewing all aspects of the internet with a mobile-first state of mind, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that this would become a major factor for the visibility of products in Google Shopping, where Google could favour websites with mobile optimised landing pages over non-mobile optimised landing pages.
Alongside this, I feel that Google will want to promote products which have a buttery smooth purchase journey, making the purchase of a product a pleasant and straightforward experience for the user.
Another factor that could come into play would be the page loading time (anyone else starting to see a strong SEO similarity here?) as this would seriously harm the page usability for the customer if they have to wait longer than what Google deems as fast.
Let's Sum It All Up
As everything here is just speculation at this point, it is pretty hard to know what will change in the approach for Google Shopping once Google removes bids from the picture, with this being a list of areas that I think would help with product positioning and ranking.
Google may even change their mind on the whole situation, deeming bidding to remain a really important part of their business model, scrapping the idea of removing bids altogether.
I personally hope that the change does happen, as it will allow retailers a new way to get their products in front of a much larger audience which will help boost sales and revenue (especially with the current state of many businesses at the moment who are struggling from the recent changes that Covid-19 have thrown their way).
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, my ideas, alongside what you think will be a factor in the changes to Google Shopping. Feel free to get in touch with me on social media or at email@example.com to start spitballing more about the upcoming changes to Google Shopping.
Ciao for now,