Free clicks from the Google Shopping Tab: Surfaces across Google

Just like Google has organic (free) results in the search engine, it now also introduces organic results for products on the Shopping Tab. This organic listing of your products is called Surfaces across Google. It is now active in the US, but will roll out to Europe and the rest of the world later this year. In your merchant center (also outside the US) you can already make sure you are ready for the free clicks. In this article we explain how to make sure you are ready for free clicks!

A short background

Until April 2020 the Shopping tab (https://www.google.com/shopping) has only included advertiser products and costs per click (CPC) have been charged. However, a small percentage of Shopping advertisers’ clicks in Google ads come from this Shopping tab. The vast majority comes from Shopping advertisements that are mainly displayed on the search results page, but also on the Shopping tab, Images tab, Gmail, Youtube and external display and search partners.

I think this is a brilliant move. By making the listing Shopping tab free, Google will be able to increase the coverage of online sellers. This not only makes the platform more interesting for consumers (better price comparison), but Google can also onboard more merchants to use a Merchant Center and get them interested to start advertising. This is definitely a good strategic adjustment to better compete with Amazon.

What is the impact of this change?

Surfaces across Google is rolling out only on the Google Shopping Tab initially. The products listings you see on the search engine result page (SERP) are still all paid. Most Shopping advertisers will only get a very small part of their clicks from Surfaces across Google, depending on the number of clicks they buy with Shopping Ads. I would estimate that for the average advertiser roughly 5% of the clicks will come from Surfaces by Google. The vast majority of the clicks are from ads. So it is not expected this leads to significant cost savings. In the long run, Google will be able to onboard more online sellers into advertising. So it may be that competition in the ad auction, and therefore the cost per click for Shopping ads, will further increase. 

SEO for product listing becomes more important

We believe this starts a new era, in which SEO for product listing becomes more important. Just like with website SEO, title optimization will become an important activity to increase your findability in Google’s organic product listings. In this article about product title optimization  we explain the best practices to optimize your product titles to achieve much better findability. We also offer a great tool, Producthero Optimizer, with an easy editor and smart recommendations,  to help you with optimizing your product titles to boost your impressions and clicks.  

How to make sure you are ready for this?

This is the great part: you do not have to do anything to activate this. If your Merchant Center has active products that are in-line with Google’s policies, they will display on surfaces across Google automatically. 

In your Merchant Center you can now see a Surfaces across Google diagnostics overview is added to the Overview tab:

In the Tools menu you can verify if your account is activated for Surfaces across Google:


On this tab you can check if surfaces across Google is active. 

Optimizing your data – Requirements to show products

There is a difference between standard listing and enhanced listing. 

Standard listing contains the minimum requirements to get your products in the listing. For that, you need these attributes:

  • id
  • title
  • link
  • image_link
  • price

Products that are eligible for enhanced listings will appear in content-rich formats on the Google Shopping tab, which may boost traffic and drive sales.

If you want to be in the enhanced listings, there are some more strict requirements though. You need some extra attributes (like description, brand and gtin) for that. You can find more about that here: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/9199328

For CSS partner advertisers – the 20% discount on ad clicks remains

Many Shopping advertisers in Europe advertise through a Google CSS partner (like Producthero Premium CSS – by far the best you can get 😉 ). This gives them a 20% discount on the CPC of their Shopping ads. There are no changes to this benefit: the 20% discount on Shopping Ads remains unchanged and products can also be placed for free on the Google Shopping tab via a Producthero CSS Merchant Center.

Keeping track of the clicks

Ultimately (currently only US Merchant Center accounts targeting the US) you will see the free clicks reported in your Merchant Center.

2 thoughts on “Free clicks from the Google Shopping Tab: Surfaces across Google

  1. Paul

    Ultimately wouldn't you say that this is starting to blur the lines between paid and organic? who is now in charge of the shopping feed? From my perspective (as a PPC professional) I would like to be able to have one PPC feed and one organic; so to make organic amends separately to PPC ones and vice-versa. Also being able to specifically track clicks for the organic clicks (surfaces across google) without impacting PPC.

  2. Wouter Veenboer

    Hi Paul, I definitely think SEOs will start to show more interest in feeds now. And that SEO for product listing will become more important in the future. For merchants that want to separate organic and paid: having multiple Merchant Centers has become possible with CSS. Before it was only possible to have one Merchant center for your domain. Although I think having one MC for both paid and organic is fine for most merchants. If you use Google Analytics you can still split paid and organic by adding UTM tracking to your URLs to track organic products clicks. In case of a paid click the gclid parameter of the shopping ad will overwrite the utm parameters.

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