Again, online shopping is the theme on which Google focuses, dedicating two different interventions to owners of e-commerce sites: on the one hand, the pages of offers are now free for all retailers, so as to allow online stores to easily highlight promotions and discounts in search results. On the other hand, the search engine team shared a guide with 5 best practices to optimize their promotional pages, namely Urls dedicated to specific sales events, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Best practices to optimize promotional pages
As the Google guide explains, these pages are shown in SERP in a carousel when sales events start – currently active only in the United States and operating for events with sales that are limited in time, but with prospects of extending the functionality.
According to Alan Kent, Search Relations, every day on Google “there are over a billion shopping sessions” and “there is a huge increase in interest in Black Friday and Cyber Monday bidding requests on Google during the holiday season”. Since last year, the company has “continued to refine and improve the carousel of promotions, expanding its use to other popular sales events such as Labor Day and Memorial Day sales”.
How to optimize the e-Commerce site’s pages for sales events
The first advice to get the most out of the carousel of offers – and more generally to maximize opportunities to be identified by users – is to create pages for each of the sales events for which the site will activate promotions.
Kent then reminds us the optimization tips for e-commerce pages on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, six tips to follow revealed last year, namely:
- Create dedicated pages for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Reuse the same URL every year.
- Create pages in advance so that Google can index them.
- Follow the best SEO practices
- Link to the sales page from the home page.
- Include a high quality image.
The five best practices according to Google
Now is the time for more general information about the optimization of all pages related to special promotional events, useful both to look for visibility in SERP and to appear in the carousel of Google offers. These are 5 pretty intuitive and simple best practices to follow:
- Create a dedicated page for each promotional event.
As mentioned, Google suggests creating offers pages for all special promotional events, not just Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Include the event description in the page title.
The example to follow is “Black Friday Offers 2021”: the title of the page is often incorporated in the text shown in the carousel of Google offers.
- Adding an image that is relevant to the sale
Adding a featured image can help buyers understand the offer, and in general the use of images is always one of the suggested practices for optimizing e-commerce and product pages. For example, says Kent, we can show products on sale or include a banner text that highlights special offers or discounts: although Google usually discourages the insertion of banner text into images, the may, however, help on the offers pages, provided that any text in an image is relevant to the text content of the page and provided with an appropriate alt text attribute. On the technical side, to minimize the crop in the carousel of offers it is recommended to set the proportions of the image in the range from 4:3 to 3:4.
- Enter the text describing the event in the page’s content
This kind of attention can help Google to correctly identify the page as relevant to a specific sale.
- For “surprise” offers, always include general information in advance.
If sales details are only revealed on the day of the event (as is commonly the case for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but not only), it is important to include in advance general information so to allow to Google to understand that the page is relevant. Subsequently, it is appropriate to ask Google to scan the updated page again, to increase the probability that such contents are indexed progressively.
A further extra tip is, in addition to creating offers pages, register promotions in Google Merchant Center to bring out offers on multiple platforms and spaces on Google.
New tools for e-Commerce sites on Google
In addition to optimization tips, there are new opportunities for retailers who are already starting to prepare for the holiday shopping season: at an experimental stage limited only to the United States, In fact, Google launched new sections in its search results to showcase promotions, implement tools to highlight promotions and expand reporting abilities in Google Merchant Center.
These new tools serve to “bridge the link between business seeking consumers and companies seeking to promote their products,” writes Matt Madrigal, VP/GM of Merchant Shopping, especially in conjunction with two major shopping seasons, back to school and winter holidays.
Google has therefore decided to offer retailers (only in the United States, for now) more tools to reach customers looking for business: when it comes to shopping, in fact, people are increasingly looking for ways to save money. In the last year, reveal statistics of the American giant, searches for “discount code” have increased by 50% and consumers are always looking for products that offer the best value-for-moneyprice, while companies seek ways to maximize the exposure of their products with offers and promotions.
The first intervention concerns the introduction of a section to directly put the offers on display in the Google Shopping tab: for example, says the article, if we look for “backpacks” we can see this new section with offers related to our interest, that organizes and shows in one place backpacks at competitive or discounted prices from retailers throughout the Web.
Google then has a new system to highlight offers in the shopping tab of search results: during queries related to a product, the user will see appear in the Shopping tab lists of products at competitive or discounted prices from retailers on the Web.
Starting from October, in particular, users who make purchases on Google Search will be able to browse and discover the most popular live offers in major retail moments such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday: When people search for deals during these big sales events (such as “Black Friday Deals” or “Cyber Monday Sales”) they will see a new section highlighting relevant offers, along with other related sales information.
List of free deals in Merchant Center
Last year sales on Google became free for merchants, recalls Madrigal, and now there is another step forward: Promotions and offers uploaded to the Merchant Center will automatically be shown to interested buyers in relevant queries in the Shopping tab, regardless of whether companies advertise on Google.
In practice, the promotions can be highlighted in the free listings in the Purchases tab and, to do so, the retailer must access the promotions tab in the Google Merchant Center and select those that want to appear in the free listings (or, alternatively, supported by advertising expenditure).
In the upcoming months, then, offers will also begin to appear on the main page of search results, and will be shown based on factors such as the discount itself, the popularity of a product, the popularity of the site on which it is listed and more.
This change means that companies will have a greater opportunity to move inventory, increase sales, attract new customers and build brand loyalty during major shopping events and during holidays.
Customizing promotions in Google Merchant Center
Google has also provided another feature to allow merchants to attract new customers and highlight their promotions.
Another update in the Merchant Center allows retailers to customize their promotions and, in particular, to indicate whether an offer is only available to new customers (for instance, indicating in the title that the promotion provides “10% discount for new customers”). These promotions will be shown to everyone, but only eligible buyers, who meet the criteria specified by the retailer, can actually access the promotional price.
Expanded the report on best sellers
News coming for merchants who have activated market information within the Merchant Center, who now have access to the best seller report, which offers two interesting features: best seller histories report insights into popular products in previous buying events to support retailers in predicting sales trends for the next season; the demand for related products instead helps retailers to assess the relative demand between products of the same category and country, as well as the potential opportunity to store new products.
More opportunities for e-Commerce sites on Google
Although limited to the United States, the new listings sections undoubtedly indicate Googleâ€™s interest in online shopping, allowing retailers the opportunity to show their products at competitive prices, especially during the most important periods of the year for sales.
In particular, the carousel of offers apparently is the most relevant option, because it appears on the main page of the results and is therefore directly under the eyes of users, who can read such offers without first switching to the Shopping tab.
New tools in Merchant Center can also help you make decisions in view of the upcoming key shopping holidays; Moreover, data on related demand can help traders to compare demand between products of the same category and country, and thus facilitate strategies in storing the right products.