Google is constantly finding new ways to improve online searching. Its efforts are increasingly geared towards local product listings. Google Local Shopping, a free service, makes it easier for merchants to list their local products online and for consumers to find these commodities.
Here’s the criteria to participate:
- You must own a brick and mortar store open to the public (i.e., no appointment required).
- You must sell physical goods at those stores that customers can buy without purchasing additional services.
- Your stores must be physically located in the U.S.
When you search for a specific product online, Google only displays a few listings. When you use the Local Shopping service, though, you get a list of every merchant that offers the product, along with the stores closest to you with the product available in stock.
Not only does Google Local Shopping allow consumers to buy your products online more easily, but it alerts them of the new products available in your brick and mortar locations as well.
The process for merchants to become listed on Google Local Shopping is not straightforward, but it's easy if you know the right steps. Here's how to get started:
1. Create a Google Merchant Center account
You need a separate Merchant Center Account for your local product listings. If you already have a Merchant Center Account for online listing, create a new one that's strictly local.
2. Create an online product listing feed and upload it to your account.
You can use Excel for this. Go to this help section to learn about what must be in this file and how to get the attributes correct.
Tip: Upload product images if you want to get the biggest SEO boost.
3. Describe your brick and mortar stores using this contact form.
Once Google confirms that your business qualifies to use the service, they will email you an invitation link within three business days. This will take you to the new Merchant Center account for your local shopping data.
Make sure you’ve claimed your Google Places Page and that it is up to date. If you have not claimed one, go here. By claiming and connecting your Merchant Center Listings and Places Page, your business will be available on Google’s Nearby Places service, used on Google Maps and Mobile.
Tip: In order to appear in Nearby Stores, make sure that the website listed on your Places Page is the same as your verified and claimed website in the Merchant Center.
4. Sign into your new Merchant Center account.
Using the invitation link that you were emailed in the previous step, sign into your new Merchant Center account. You'll use the email for your local listing for this. When you sign in, you will be presented with the Merchant Center Terms of Service. Once you accept these terms, you will be presented with the General Settings page.
Simply click on Save Changes at the bottom of the page. You don't need to fill in anything on this page; Google already has the information from your other Merchant Center account.
5. Enable local shopping.
On the local shopping page in your account, click on the checkbox, “Enable local shopping.” When you visit the Data feeds page and click on the New data feed button, you'll see three options -- Business Listings, Local Products and Price-Quantity -- under the "Type" pull-down menu.
Once you have your account and data feed started, you can update and track your data feed.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.
Image credit: Stéfan