Google Shopping Update Gives Ads For Free

5 min read

Avatar Ellie Harris

30th April, 2020

Digital Agency,News,Our Ethos,SEO

Consumers are shopping online now more than ever. In fact, Google Trends shows that Google recently received a record number of searches this month for interior design, online shopping, home baking and even toilet roll – which is the highest any of these items have been searched before in history. 

During the Coronavirus pandemic, households aren’t just shopping for household essentials, but also for clothing, toys and crafts to keep the kids occupied and also for homeware goods and materials for redecorating the home. Online commerce has created an opportunity for businesses to reconnect with their consumers, when otherwise they may be struggling. With physical stores closed down worldwide, retailers have found digital commerce to become their only lifeline. 

Google Shopping is a service that allows consumers to search, compare, and shop for products across different retailers who have paid to advertise their products on the Google Shopping platform. Google Shopping now drives around 76.4% of retail search ad spend, which generates 85.3% of all clicks on Google Shopping ads or on Adwords.

Over the last few days, Google has since announced a new Google algorithm update. Listings on Google Shopping will soon become free for all retailers to advertise their products on the platform. This may come as a shock to many, but Google has revealed that this update has been in development for some time, but they have since accelerated their plans to support retailers impacted by the COVID-19 shutdowns. 

Google explains that, due to an increasing number of struggling businesses that could no longer afford to pay for Google Shopping listings at this time, they hope this decision will provide relief for many businesses for a healthier retail ecosystem.

When Will Free Listings Begin?

Whilst this update was originally in the pipeline for some time, it has been fast-tracked since many businesses worldwide have taken a hit to sales and operation as a result of the pandemic.

Free listings will begin in the United States at the end of April 2020, and unfortunately for those of us in the UK and the rest of the world, we may not see this update being rolled out until the end of the year. Google is initially testing this in the US but is planning to expand this globally thereafter.

What Will This Mean For Retailers?

For retailers, this update will mean that rather than having to pay for their products to appear in Google Shopping campaigns, they will soon be given free exposure to millions of consumers who are searching on Google for products each day. Site owners primarily focusing on organic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) with a small budget can now use Google Shopping for the very first time.

This also means that retailers who are already using Google Shopping to advertise their products will now be able to save money on listing fees, which has come at no better time than now. However, it does mean there will be an increasing amount of retailers joining the platform, leading to a spike in competition. This also means that retailers are going to have to really think about how to make their ads as effective as possible!

The update is designed to support retailers who are less discoverable online but still have stock ready to ship to consumers. This will provide retailers with free exposure which they may never have experienced before. It’s great for smaller businesses that want to add this source of revenue without paying large amounts for listings.

For those retailers who are falling behind, free listings will provide them with a good starting point to understand their own visibility and how the mechanics of optimising their products should work. Whilst they may have been able to do this before the update, they are now able to do this for free.

What Does This Mean For Consumers?

For consumers, Google hopes this update will provide a multitude of options when browsing through the Google Shopping feed. If you’re a regular user of Google Shopping, you may find that sometimes it can be somewhat static, particularly if you’re searching for a very niche product and discover an unhelpful small selection of products. After the free listings come into play, we do expect this to significantly change.

If you’re a PayPal user, you’ll also be pleased to know that Google is in discussion with them over creating an integration partnership, which means we may expect to soon see an option to pay with the fast-moving online payment system. This will mean faster checkouts, streamlined payment methods, and more support with the PayPal resolution centre.

What Does This Mean For Other Online Marketplaces?

Every conversation you have about e-commerce most likely references Amazon. So, there’s no surprise that Google is planning to roll out this update with fears concerning competition between the two retail giants. 

This change is a huge win for retailers selling their products online and consumers who buy online. Therefore, it becomes a direct attack on Amazon and eBay. It’s thought that this update is part of an evolution to better compete against Amazon in product search.

Why Use Google Shopping?

If you’re new to Google Shopping or haven’t yet used it or any other form of pay per click advertising, you should know that there’s no better time like the present to begin listing your products. For those of our clients who are already using the platform, they are finding themselves with better visibility, better quality leads, broader reach, and higher conversion rates, allowing them to stand out from the crowd.

It also provides you with better knowledge on which products are best performing and can make it much easier to optimise ads and manage your workflow by being on top of any promotions you are running.

It’s worth understanding that the products you see on a search page will still be paid, but when you click the ‘shopping’ tab, most of these listings will be free. It is important to note that some listings will still be paid, giving higher priority for users to view.

Google Shopping can be thought of as a marketplace with billions of products waiting for consumers to grab and buy, so there’s no surprise why many of us love the platform so much. If you’re not using Google Shopping, you should be!

How Can Digital Ethos Help?

At Digital Ethos, our team understands that Google is constantly changing and updating their system and algorithms. We use a proactive approach that requires us to keep up with these changes or risk falling behind. This is why we adapt our high-quality approaches to all SEO campaigns and keyword movements for all clients.

If you have any queries or further questions that weren’t answered above with regards to this Google Shopping update, please don’t hesitate to contact us today by calling us on 0333 772 0189 or dropping us an email at

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