Google gives back free shopping lists

This week, after a 12-year break, Google reinstated free shopping tab listings on search results pages. These free listings potentially fill a need that has been pleasing for years: allowing more e-commerce sites to compete in shopping sprees.

Google's new free purchase will appear under the ads on the shopping tab.

Google's new free shopping lists appear under the ads on the shopping tab.

The Shopping tab now contains ads at the top and bottom of the organic list in the middle, shown above, similar to how paid and organic results are stored on the main search results page.

Free shopping lists are only available on the shopping tab, not in the main search results or other tabs. E-commerce issues on the primary search page continue to return traditional organic results and shopping ads – known as product listing ads or PLA ads.

All e-commerce sites are eligible for free shopping lists. Companies must complete the free registration process in Google Merchant Center, which also controls the product flows in shopping ads.

However, as in all organic search results, advertising does not affect whether a business receives a free shopping listing or ranking, according to Google.

What influences free shopping ranking is probably a combination of organic relevance and government signals combined with pricing, availability and a seeker's personal information.

The addition of free listings to the shopping tab extends the visibility of organic product listings across Google. E-commerce websites can now be ranked in one of 20 short-listed listings on the shopping results tab in both mobile and desktop results. The free listings can also be displayed in the main search results.

The shopping tab is reserved for e-commerce products. Thus, there seems to be no chance that information lists can also take places, which can happen in the most important search results.

Google's motivation for offering free shopping lists is likely to combat Amazon's dominance of e-commerce. In any case, merchants have little to lose and plenty to gain from participating.

Getting Started

If you advertise on Google Shopping, select "Surfaces across Google"programs. Use your existing product feeds for the free shopping lists.

If you're new to Google Merchant Center:

  • Register,
  • Verify your site,
  • Select "Surfaces Google" and
  • Upload your product feed.

The process can be confusing, especially creating the product flow.

There are two types of product flows: primary and complementary. Both communicate information about your products to channels like Google Merchant Center. The primary product flow contains critical information, e.g. product name, landing page URL, price, availability and image. Supplemental feeds contain missing or incorrect data in the primary flow, local product inventories and details of an assortment of products.

Many e-commerce platforms make it easy to create a suitable Google Merchant Center product feed.


As a bonus, Google uses these feeds in its primary organic search results and image searches.

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