Many people falsely assume that every service in the Google AdWords product suite will behave in essentially the same fashion. The truth is that each individual product line found in AdWords (Search, Display, Video, Shopping, etc.) is completely different, and each needs to be optimized using completely different methods.

For instance, the tactics and insights used to optimize a Search campaign probably won’t apply directly to a Shopping account due to the fundamental differences between those two campaign types.

The biggest difference between Search & Shopping is the lack of positive keywords for a Shopping campaign, while Search depends entirely on keywords. The same is true for ad copy. Search networks live by it, while Shopping pulls most of its data from your Merchant Center account automatically.

So, if keywords and ad copy don’t apply, what steps can be taken to optimize a Shopping campaign? Here are 6 tactics and strategies that will help you get the job done.



Organization is critical for a Shopping campaign. You’ll still be grouping ideas together into groups (similar to the campaign / ad group structure of Search) but instead of keywords you’ll be dealing with products.

Common groupings for organization include product type, brand, or department. Choose the method that makes the most sense for your product list. The important thing is to plan everything out before you start because once a separation is made within a Shopping campaign it can be very difficult to revisit it later on.



Ideally, you’ll have some conversion data and revenue numbers tied back to your account to help you make informed decisions. One helpful way to review the data is to start with a 30-day window and sort all your products by cost. This might seem obvious, but look for any groups that are high on the cost list but don’t seem to be pulling their weight in revenue. Expand your window to 90 days if you need to incorporate more data.

Once you’ve identified a group that could use some help, drill down until you can see the specific product IDs and look at individual product performance. Is it one single product that is chewing through your daily budget without producing any sales? Consider lowering the bid for that product significantly or pausing it completely.

Also try sorting based on high revenue. Look for products with a relatively lower adspend (the inverse of what we just accomplished sorting by spend). Are there any opportunities there to increase bids for any products with a positive return?

Revisit these tactics time and time again to keep directing your account towards the areas with the highest returns on adspend.



Remember when I said that Shopping doesn’t use keywords? That was only half true. Shopping doesn’t allow you to select the keywords you show up for, but it DOES let you block certain searches by implementing negative keywords.

Much like a campaign on the Search Network, you can review your search query history for Shopping and look for irrelevant terms (look for searches like ‘returns,’ ‘broken,’ ‘manual,’ ‘instructions,’ ‘repair,’ etc.). Once identified, block those searches from your account to help boost CTR and engagement.

Remember the main goal of a Shopping campaign is to drive sales. Any search that doesn’t have that end goal in mind and is also triggering your ad should be blocked.



If you organized your products by brand, select a brand you want to dig deeper on and open the Auction Insights report for that group. You can identify there who your biggest competitors are for that brand and see if there are any opportunities for growth.

For instance, you might identify a brand with a great return on investment but a low volume of clicks. Checking the auction insights might help you learn that the campaign is budget capped and the low volume is just a result of not having enough room to grow. Consider splitting that high return brand into its own campaign with a dedicated budget to see how far you can push your Shopping ROI.


5.    RLSA for Shopping

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) for Shopping can be easily overlooked, but could also potentially be a game changer for your account. Even if you just layer in an All Visitors list and let it run with its own limited budget, it’s not uncommon for that portion of the campaign to also become the most profitable.

You could also try layering in an email list of previous customers if you have that information available to you, which will help you cater towards repeat purchases.

Try mixing and matching your available customer and audience lists for the best results. Test everything, and let the data tell you what’s working and what isn’t.



The ISO strategy for Shopping works by utilizing some of the same methodologies from a Search campaign. In search, one best practice for account organization is to separate your ad groups by match type and utilize negative keywords to control the flow of clicks as they come into your account.

The ISO strategy uses that same basic idea, but for Shopping campaigns. You’ll simply duplicate your most profitable Shopping campaigns, and use one duplicate as a low bid exploratory campaign (filled with negative keywords to prevent it from stealing away all your most profitable searches) and another campaign with higher bids to dedicate more budget towards your biggest money-making products.

Set up properly, the ISO strategy can provide an immediate turn-a-round for your returns and profitability.

Given the proper attention and care, your Shopping campaigns can easily become the most profitable part of your Paid Search strategy. If you’d like more info on Shopping campaigns, ISO strategies, or any aspect of Digital Marketing, reach out to us on our site or through social media and let’s chat!

Scott Sundblom