Getting shown at the top of Google search results is the ultimate goal for an ecommerce website.
Up until now, you either had to perform incredibly well from an SEO point of view to show top in organic search, optimise your site to feature in images or snippets, or pay to be featured in Google ads.
But, now Google has released Surfaces Across Google.
The new platform gives ecommerce sites the chance to appear in Google Shopping, Images and Search – for free.
Here we give you a guide through Surfaces Across Google to help you understand more about what it is, how it works and how you can get your products featured at the top of Google without the traditional ad costs.
What is Surfaces Across Google?
Surfaces Across Google is a merchant centre programme like Google Shopping Actions, Google Merchant Promotions and Dynamic Remarketing, that will let businesses get products from their Merchant Centre featured on search results in areas other than shopping ads.
But unlike Google Shopping Actions and other programmes, Surfaces Across Google allows businesses to get their products featured in places like Google images and search, for free.
This has been coming for a while after Google announced it would be making changes to how it displayed products back in 2019.
How to set up Surfaces Across Google
Getting set up is fairly simple.
If you’ve signed up for Merchant Centre yet, you can sign up for surfaces when you sign up for Merchant Centre by selecting it during the sign up process.
If you already are signed up to Merchant Centre, just click Growth in the navigation menu on the left, select manage programmes and select Surfaces Across Google.
Once you’ve set it up you just need to add a few key details:
- Your products (including product ID, title, description, availability, price, a link to the product page, image link and UPI)
- Verify your website
- Confirm that you own the website and URL you’re using
How will Surfaces Across Google work?
When people search for products that you sell, Surfaces Across Google will let them see the results from your online store in a number of “Google surfaces” like Google Images, Google Shopping and Google Search.
Which listing type you’re eligible to appear in will differ by country.
Enhanced listings for instance are currently only available in the US.
According to Google, to be eligible to use Across Surfaces you must meet one of two criteria they’ve set out:
- If your business submits a feed through Google Merchant Centre then you can use Across Surfaces by choosing the programme in Merchant Centre
- Your products will be automatically shown on Across Surfaces if you have structured data markup on your website without directly participating in the programme. You wouldn’t be shown on Google Shopping tab with this option
How much will Surfaces Across Google cost?
Any Google Merchant will be able to use it for free.
Is it free Google Shopping Clicks?
Yes. According to Google’s initial statement announcing the launch of Across Surfaces in the US, they said that “search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free product listings, helping merchants better connect with customers”.
So essentially your products can be shown outside of shopping ads for free and you won’t pay anything if a customer clicks through to your website.
This won’t replace paid and sponsored payments though and it is still advisable that consider these options as part of your ecommerce marketing.
In their statement, Google said: “The main Google Search page is not changing, and the carousels of product listing ads (PLAs) will continue to consist of ads only – so paid is still going to be a major part of search results.
How to track Shopping listings traffic from Surfaces Across Google
If you don’t set up tracking, then any traffic from Surfaces Across Google will appear in your reporting as google/organic in google analytics.
But you can segment this traffic if you want to get a clear view of how your listings are performing.
The first thing you need to do is create the UTM parameters that you’ll add to your feed to separate it from other traffic.
You just need to add the new UTM parameters to the end of your products’ links using Google’s Merchant Centre feed rules.
Then just re-process your feed and as long as you don’t have UTM tracking set to override auto-tagging in Google Analytics your traffic from Across Surfaces can be tracked separately.
Why do all this you ask?
Simple, if you identify traffic coming in direct from these listings you can also track user behaviour on your site after that initial click to get a better understanding of how customers use and move through your site to improve it, and your marketing.
Want to start using Surfaces Across Google but aren’t really sure how to get started?