How to Succeed on Google Shopping in Competitive Markets


Google Shopping is the best campaign type to achieve profit as an e-commerce business on AdWords, and yet it’s the most difficult to manage and optimize. This is especially true in commoditized markets.

Arguably, the biggest hurdle to succeeding on Google Shopping is when all of your products are completely commoditized, meaning other retailers are selling the exact same product as you. Sometimes you won’t be able to compete on price when this happens, and your product images will likely look the same as competitors’. What do you do when you’re trying to sell the exact same thing as several other online retailers, and all you have is a small block of pixels on Google’s search results page to convince a potential customer?

If you ask Google or a generic agency how to run a Google Shopping campaign, they’ll present you with something that looks similar to this:

shopping campaign group structure

In Izell Marketing world, we like to focus on profit, so let’s go all the way down to the product level and figure out our best strategy from there.

Optimize for the Search Queries You Can Win, by Product

Although you can’t bid on specific queries for your product, you can at least optimize your products to show up for the queries you can win.

A first step to this process is to look at your historical search query data in your entire AdWords account to see which keywords and searches have driven most of your sales. If this data is limited or you’re first launching your account, try looking for terms in Google’s Keyword Planner to isolate some longtail terms that you have products to match.

These are your money terms. Even if you only have one term that you are confident that you can convert, this is still a method you can use.


I manage advertising for my dropshipping site that sells cat products. Every single item we sell is commoditized, but I was still determined to run Google Shopping ads and figure out a way to compete.

After about one month of running our Shopping ads, I noticed one product seemed to stand out as a top performer. I couldn’t figure out what was so special about that product until I looked at the terms that my customers were searching:

no stick spray search queries

Our company is Family Cat Shop, and despite having the same exact image as Petco and a higher price, we’ve still been able to achieve a high CTR on this product as well as a high conversion rate. The only variable I saw working to our advantage was the title. Our title almost exactly matches what our customers are looking for. Bingo.

We have been diligent about optimizing our product titles for product clarity when it seems necessary, and it clearly works.

Some additional factors that could go into why we can sell this product so well:

  1. You can’t find non-stick litter box sprays at most PetSmart, Petco, and other pet shop brick and mortar locations (I’ve searched several — nada).
  2. We are ONLY in the cat niche — no other animals. This could give us credibility for being truly knowledgable about cats compared to a more all-encompassing pet store.

On Google Shopping, Start Small and Build Up the Winners

When starting a Google Shopping campaign as a small business, err on bidding low and letting the clear winners bubble up to the top. In the case of my product that converts well, I will gradually increase the bid little by little to make sure we are more likely to gain impressions.

If no winners emerge, do some keyword research to find out what terms your customers use to describe what you sell. As a test, use those terms in your product titles when possible and see what happens. When you do, come back here and let me know the results – good or bad. Hopefully good. 🙂

About the author

Kate likes numbers and problem solving. Honestly, they get her through the day. She loves her wife, cats, and living in a cozy house outside Chattanooga, Tennessee.
2 Responses
  1. I’ve found very similar results!

    Our company sells power tools & construction supplies, which are very commoditized and can be found at nearly any hardware store. I created a separate campaign for our top sellers, giving each product their own ad group. This allowed me to see the individual search queries for each product. I then optimized not only our product feed titles, but our website titles and descriptions as well.

    Great writeup!