Google Make Product Listings Free For Retailers

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

You’ll remember back in October 2019 we reported that search engine Google was making it easier for more retailers to compete in Google Shopping. But given the current situation facing the globe, Google has advanced its plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google, opening the door to all retailers.

This is big news for a platform that has solely been a paid service since 2012.

“The retail sector has faced many threats over the years, which have only intensified during the coronavirus pandemic. With physical stores shuttered, digital commerce has become a lifeline for retailers.”

Says Bill Ready, President of Commerce at Google. He continues,

“In light of these challenges, we’re advancing our plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google. Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.”

Some sceptics are reporting that it’s a move to pull back some of Amazon’s increasing shares in product and search advertising. Regardless, it’s a good opportunity for retailers.

For existing users of Google’s Merchant Center, you can make your products discoverable in free listings by opting your existing product feeds into the surfaces across Google program (it’s a free program that allows people to see goods from your shop on multiple Google platforms).

To opt in, select “Growth” and then “Manage programs” in the left navigation menu and select the “surfaces across Google” program card. You can also add products to your product feed, to make even more products discoverable in these free listings.

(From Google Support)

However, if you’re a new user Google are pledging to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months, but for now, we’ve compiled somewhat of a checklist to help get you started:

  • You’ll need a Google Account to sign up for Merchant Center. If you don’t have a Google Account, go to and click Create account.

    When you’re ready, go to and sign in with your Google Account to get started.

  • You can opt in to “surfaces across Google” during the Merchant Center sign up process.

  • If you have PayPal it’s a bonus. Google has partnered with PayPal to allow merchants to link their accounts, speeding up the onboarding process.

  • You’ll need a link to your onsite Shopping Policy.
  • Your company info, tax and shipping details should be visible and discoverable on your website too.

  • Start building your product feed. Ensuring hyper-optimisation (we think this will affect positioning!).
  • We recommend using the included_destination attribute, it’s unclear but this could be a necessity for the free listings. With Surfaces across Google [Surfaces across Google]as a supported value. Read more about that here.

But please note, this is yet to be rolled out in the UK. Google’s pledge to update Shopping with free listings by the end of the month only applies to the US, with it being rolled out globally by the end of the year. So, there is no rush. But it’s definitely worth preparing for.

As it rolls out in the US, we will be keeping an eye on any developments to understand how it impacts Google Shopping. But for now, it’s clear that Google intend on keeping the main search page the same, with the carousels of product listing ads (PLAs) continuing to consist of ads only.

The new Shopping results page will reflect the search results page; with paid listings at the top and bottom of the page and organic listings in between. Now, more than ever, it is key that you have a well-optimised product feed so that you can get the most out of your Google Shopping campaigns and your organic product listings. Find out how our ecommerce SEO service can help you today.

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

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