Improve your online sales with Google Merchant Center

Matthew Anderson

10 min read Last Updated Aug 5, 2022

Two women looking at a business's Google Merchant Center

As a local business owner, you’re always looking for new ways to increase your online sales. So you’ve likely heard about Google Merchant Center — a free tool that lets local businesses create, manage, and advertise their product catalogs online. In this blog, we’ll show you everything you need to know about Google Merchant Center including how to set up your account, the benefits it can provide your business, and give you some valuable tips to improve your online sales using this tool. 

What is Google Merchant Center?

Display of a Google Merchant Center dashboard

As mentioned above, Google Merchant Center is a tool that allows you to create and manage your product catalogs, which can then be used to populate your Google Shopping ads. Rather than an online store, Google Merchant Center acts as a listing service that can help customers find the products and services you provide in Google Search.

It’s free to set up your Google Merchant Center account, and there are no monthly fees or minimum spending requirements. The only fees you will pay are for paid product listings which allow you to showcase your products on Google using Google Ads.

The benefits of Google Merchant Center

One of the benefits Google Merchant Center offers is increasing your visibility online by displaying your products on various Google platforms. You can do this through free product listings, or paid product listings. With free product listings, your products will be displayed on Google Search, images, and in the shopping tab. Paid product listings can give you even more reach with your products. With a paid listing, your products will be listed throughout Google’s online platforms giving you a wider reach to attract more customers to purchase your products.

Merchant Center can also help you track your sales and product performance by giving you the ability to see how many clicks and sales your ads get. You can do this in the performance reporting center where you can review all the data from your product listings and give you the insights you need to determine which of your products are performing the best.

How to set up Google Merchant Center

Setting up a Merchant account is simple and only takes a few minutes. Here’s how:

Go to the Google Merchant Center page and click “Get started” in the upper right hand corner. You’ll be brought to a page that looks like this:

Google Merchant Center start page

If you click “Yes” you’ll be asked to enter your website URL to sign up for Merchant Center

Enter store website page on Google Merchant Center

If you choose “No” you’ll be asked if you own a brick-and-mortar store.

Brick-an-mortar page on Google Merchant Center

Whether you click “Yes” or “No” you’ll be given some options to use Google to help you get started. Click on “Learn more” under “Sell products directly on Google” to be brought to the sign-up page for Google Merchant Center. Scroll to the bottom and click “Create an account.”

Once you’ve reached this page, you can enter in your business information to set up your Google Merchant Center account

Setting up shop for your customers

  1. Choose how your customers will check out: You can choose to use a third-party checkout service like PayPal or Stripe, or you can use Google’s own Checkout service.
  2. Set up product listings: Navigate to the Google Merchant Center homepage. From there, you can set up free product listings. Simply enter the URL of your website and choose which products you want to list. 
  3. Set up “Buy on Google”: When you sign up for Google Merchant Center, you can sign up for Buy on Google which gives you the ability to sell your products directly on Google. You can do this by clicking “Growth” in the left-hand navigation menu in Google Merchant Center, then clicking “Manage programs.” From there, you can follow the steps to set up Buy on Google.
  4. Submit your product data: Be sure to follow the Merchant Center Guidelines so your products are eligible for listing on Google. When you submit your product data to Google, you provide attributes like “availability, and “condition” to describe what your products are and how you’re selling them.

How to use Google Merchant Center

Depending on the products and services your business sells, there are a few ways that you can use Google Merchant Center to your benefit. If your business has a physical location, you can use it to create an online catalog of your products. This gives you the opportunity to cater to your customers in-person, and reach more of your customers who prefer to shop online. 

You can also use Merchant Center to create product feeds — files that contain information about your products, like name, price, and description. You can then submit these files to Google so that your products will show up in Google Shopping ads. When you incorporate paid listings into this strategy, you have the ability to reach customers wherever they are on Google with your products. 

Merchant Center gives you the ability to create ads for your products. Using ads can give you more opportunity to drive more customers to your website by offering special promotions, free shipping, and discount offers anywhere on Google.

Types of ads in Google Merchant Center

Ads are one of the most useful tools that Merchant Center has to offer to attract more customers to your online storefront. There are a few types of ads that you can take advantage of:

Product shopping ad: This type of ad will display basic product information like your product image, price, and a link to your website. 

Local inventory ad: These ads display your products for local searches made by your customers. When a customer looks for a product “near me,” your products will be displayed based on how close they are to your location.

Text ad: This kind of ad will include your product name and a short description. You can create either of these by finding them under the “ads” tab in Merchant Center.

Video ad: These ads can be used to promote your product or brand through a short video. You’ll also be able to include necessary product information like product name, description, and price to be displayed in your video. 

You can create all of these ads by finding the “ads” tab in Merchant Center. From there, you can pick the type of ad you want to create, fill out your information, and upload the necessary files to create your ad and start reaching more customers.

Google Tools that integrate with Google Merchant Center

Google Merchant Center integrates with a few different Google apps that make it easier to manage your product listings and ads without skipping a beat.  

Google Business Profile

Example of a Google Business Profile

The first tool is Google Business profile (formerly Google My Business). This tool allows you to manage your business information, such as your hours of operation, contact information, and reviews, so that they can be displayed on Google Maps and Search. You can also use it to create posts about your products or services for customers to learn more about your business.

Google Analytics

Example of the Google Analytics dashboard

Google makes it easy to track website traffic and see how customers are interacting with your website. Their analytics tool can be useful for understanding what products or services customers are interested in.

Google Ads

Google Ads dashboard

The Google Ads tool allows you to create and manage your Google Ads campaigns. You can use it to target customers with specific keywords or interests related to your industry and insert them in your ads to drive more customers to your website. 

How to set up shipping in Google Merchant Center

Example of shipping services option in Google Merchant Center

Now that you have your account set up, and your products listed, you’ll need to set up shipping to make sure that your customers receive their products on time. Here’s how:

  • To create a Shipping Settings object, click on the “Settings” tab and select “Shipping.” 
  • Click the “Add Shipping Method” button and enter the required information. 

Once you’ve created your Shipping Settings object, you’ll need to add it to your product data. To do this:

  • Click on the “Products” tab and select “Product Feeds.” 
  • Click the “Add Product Feed” button and select your shipping method from the drop-down menu. 

Your shipping method will now be added to your product data, and you’ll be able to see it in the “Shipping” tab. From here, you can edit your shipping method or add more methods.

Use promotions in Google Merchant Center to attract customers

Promotions give you more ways to appeal to your customers and draw them in with special offers and deals they won’t want to pass up. In Merchant Center, you can create promotions by clicking on the “Promotions” tab and selecting “Create Promotion.” 

Once you’ve created a promotion, you’ll need to provide some basic information about the product you’re promoting including the name, description, start date, and end date.

Types of promotions

Example of promotions in Google Merchant Center

There are a few different types of promotions that you can create that can draw the interest of your customers:

Discounts

Discounts can be applied to your product price or shipping cost. To create a discount, click on the “Promotions” tab and select “Create Promotion.” Enter the required information and then select “Discount” from the drop-down menu. Enter the discount amount and select the product you want to include in your promotion. 

Free Gifts

“Free” is a selling point that nearly all customers find appealing. Free gifts can be given with purchase or as a sign-up incentive. To create a free gift promotion, click on the “Promotions” tab and select “Create Promotion.” 

Enter the required information and then select “Free Gift” from the drop-down menu. Enter the details of your free gift, such as the name and description, and then select the products you want to include in your promotion.

Shipping Discounts

Shipping discounts are applied to your product shipping cost and are a great way to convert customers who would rather go somewhere else than pay for shipping costs. To create a shipping discount, click on the “Promotions” tab and then select “Create Promotion.” Enter the required information and then select “Shipping Discount” from the drop-down menu. Enter the amount of your discount and then select the products that you want to include in your promotion. Once you’ve created your promotion type, it will appear in the “Promotions” tab where you can edit, or delete it as necessary.

Frequently asked questions

Does Google Merchant Center cost anything?

No, Google Merchant Center is a free-to-use tool that Google offers, but you do have to pay for clicks on your Google shopping ads

What is the difference between Google Business Profile vs Google Merchant Center

While Google Business Profile lets you set up a profile of your business on Google to be displayed on Search and Maps. Google Merchant Center lets you upload product images and information and allows you to manage how your in-store and online product inventory appears on Google.

Who can use Google Merchant Center

Anyone with a Google Business Profile account can use this tool. You would then have to provide your online shop information including business name, physical address, shop domain, and customer service information.

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