Is Google Shopping Good For Your Business?

By: Chris Crum - September 29, 2012

Google Product Search officially becomes Google Shopping starting in October (which begins Monday), as Google completes the transition it announced in May. This means Google will move to a full paid inclusion model for product results. Merchants will no longer be able to have their products listed for free. This has been the subject of a great deal of controversy in the ecommerce world.

Some opponents claim it will hurt consumers. Some claim it will hurt businesses and competition. Google thinks it’s best for everybody.

Where do you come down on the argument? Is this a good move by Google or a bad one? Share your thoughts in the comments.

There’s a good chance you’re already seeing the new Google Shopping results in action, but we’ve also seen the old style appearing here and there.

This week, we received some comments from, a member of the FairSearch Coalition, which is a group of competitors who frequently speak out against Google’s business practices in order to paint the company in an uncompetitive light.

“As you may know, this Tuesday, October 1, Google will switch to an all-paid search model for shopping and product listings,” a spokesperson for TheFind said in an email. “This is uncharted territory, and at the recent conference, it was the #1 topic of conversation among retailers. Now, only retailers who pay for paid listings will turn up in Google’s product search results. Leading marketplaces like Amazon will now be eliminated from product search results — a big blow to consumers.”

This is what TheFind CEO Siva Kumar had to say:

Google’s switch to an all-paid model is likely to confuse many consumers who will no longer see every product for their search, but will instead only see paid placements. It will be interesting to see how Google communicates this change to consumers who have come to trust that search results are a combination of ads and organic results.

This change means that using Google, consumers are no longer able to find the lowest price, nor do an exhaustive search for availability of a product among all retailers. Instead, they will only see the results from the small group of retailers who are paying to be on Google and will likely miss out on deals and availability from other retailers who are not participating.

With this move by Google, consumers lose most because they will end up paying higher prices across the board as retailers are forced to pay higher ad rates to Google. Smaller retailers also lose out when they cannot afford to participate in the pay-to-play model to have product appear.

Regarding how Google “communicates” the change, Google does disclose that it receives compensation for the listings on product search results pages, and includes “sponsored’ when they appear in regular search results.

David Scarpitta, CEO of online retailer DasCheap recently put out a press release comparing Google to a drug dealer, and indicating that he’s been forced to raise prices on his site.

“I hate to put it like this, but Google is acting kind of like a drug dealer,” Scarpitta said. “They let you try it free, then get people hooked and dependent upon it, and then you are forced to pay in order to survive as normal.”

“It’s a very sad thing,” he added. “Even here at DasCheap! we had to raise some prices in order to compensate for these costs. As so many web users use Google for accurate and instant shopping information, it has become a second nature to search there so we had no choice but to pay if we want to show our discounted items to the masses, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to show our discounted products to online users if we don’t pay. Essentially this forces us to raise prices across the board. So in essence, the finger points back to Google for the raise in retail prices. And even more unfortunate for other online retailers that can’t afford the extra expense will now lose an important revenue stream, that may put some companies in a bad state.”

As I said at the time, I’m not sure about the part about not having a choice. As sites who have relied on Google for the bulk of their traffic in the past have learned upon being hit by algorithm updates, it’s best not to put all of your eggs in one basket, and there are other ways to generate traffic to your site. Of course, that’s not to say that it isn’t a good idea to be found in Google.

Not everyone sees Google’s move as a bad thing for ecommerce. We recently had a conversation with Amit Kumar, CEO of marketing app provider Lexity, who has quite the contrary view.

“We think this is the right direction for merchants and Google,” he said. “While the free Google Product Search program was great for some SMB retailers, in general the results were hit or miss – there was very little predictability on whether products would show up in search results, how often, and detailed statistics were not available.”

“On the other hand, our customers that participated in paid advertising through the Product Listing Ads program have much more visibility into how their products are faring, and have much more control (for instance, the ability to control which products get promoted more aggressively, which products should not be shown in Google’s search results, etc),” he continued.

“In addition, having multiple potential display units showing essentially the same kind of products was very confusing to the users, and also to merchants who were trying to manage their presence on search results,” he said. “Having all of these consolidated into one helps brands manage their presence better, and users get a better shopping experience.”

As you might imagine, Google has a similar stance.

“We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date,” Sameer Samat, Vice President of Product Management, Google Shopping said when the transition was announced. “Higher quality data—whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability—should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.”

“When searching for great local restaurants, people want places to eat right there on the results page, not another click or two away. It’s the same with hotels, flight options, directions and shopping,” Samat said.

Either way, the transition will be complete very soon, and merchants who want to appear in Google’s product results will have little choice but to comply with the paid inclusion/product ads model. That’s not to say they do not have a choice in seeking visibility elsewhere.

For those interested in playing by Google’s new rules, you might want to check out these five videos Google has put out about Google Shopping, if you haven’t already done so.

Google recently launched a new set-up flow for Product Listing Ad creation, simplifying the process of those getting started. I’m guessing there will be a fair amount of merchants new to the process.

“The new setup flow provides a step-by-step guide on how to create an AdWords account and set up a Product Listing Ad campaign, as well as how to control when and where your products appear in Google Shopping with bids,” explained Google Shopping product manager Mayuresh Saoji. “You can also view basic campaign reporting through your Merchant Center account.”

A couple weeks ago, Google announced some changes it made for merchants. For one, Trusted Stores annotations now appear on product pages within Google Shopping. Google says this provides merchants with “greater ability to attract new customers” and helps shoppers make more informed decisions. Google also added campaign tracking URL templates that decrease the number of steps required to set up tracking in AdWords.

Many are playing ball with Google. According to Search Engine Watch, over 100,000 sellers have inventory in the new Google Shopping model. Etsy announced this week that it will participate.

Are you listing in Google Shopping? Do you plan to? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • Martyn

    This all seems to be happening very quickly! Plenty of opportunity for ppc affiliates!

  • Pearson Airport Limo

    Google has facility to search many latest product.and we have lot of choice to purchase any produt after google search.

  • Servicios seo monterrey

    The process of shopping of Google product is really helpful for the customer or user who always use Google.

    • IMBack?

      Google is on its way out. Slowly but surely they are chipping away at everything that made them so successful. Thing is it takes the general public FOREVER to catch on. But they will in due time, sure enough. They’ve gotten so big they must think “THAT cant happen to US”. Well we all know where that line of thinking leads. Google is not untouchable. If you are going to use them you must brand heavily and all but force your customers to return directly to your website while bypassing Google entirely once the first purchase is made. Sell products that Google does not allow on Adwords, shopping, etc for one dumb reason or another. This is where there is a vast amount of money to be made by completely bypassing almost ALL of these vampire companies. Just make sure you don’t sell anything illegal. 😉

    • IMBack?


  • Ridiculous

    I usually search for shops on yahoo or bing, because google hides so many “mum and pap” little stores from the end consumer, you can’t find the good deals. I recently bought some batteries for my remote control and i found a store that was half the price thanks to yahoo ! The problem is that google became so freaked out by seo that they just got rid of honest small businesses in their search results.

  • Chris

    The have already changed quite a bit of my products to where you can not see them through Google shopping. It has dramatically effected our sales.

  • http://WWW.DETV.INFO Jon

    Google has facility to search many latest product.and we have lot of choice to purchase any produt after google search.

  • Dawn

    Not a good idea… there are literally millions of sites that will not be included due to the fact they cannot afford to do so. Google searches will be omitting the nice little family owned online shops and shutting out an incredible amount of shops that have lower pricing. I think it’s a complete disaster for thousands upon thousands of merchants, and I think Google just might lose their “#1 search engine” title. Bing and Yahoo will be repeating the rewards no doubt. And as long as they don’t start charging, they will be in the top most used search engines in my opinion. I think Google made a big mistake.

  • Jerry G.

    Pretty simple folks, STOP USING GOOGLE!!!

  • Jim

    I agree with Dawn and others–this is bad for consumers and small business. Add Google to a growing list of predatory megacorps. But, we have options, we always do. I’ve switched my search to Yahoo. I shut down my Adwords account a while ago. To borrow the words of Gollum, “Google, we don’t need you anymore…”

  • Wayne


  • Wayne


  • Terry

    I think it will hurt both consumers and especially small business. The bread and butter of the internet is small online merchants and this will put a lot of them out of business. I have gone from 10,000 unique visits in January 2012 to 131 for September 2012.

    Most of us do not have the resources of Amazon and can’t afford paying per click, purchase or not.

  • John Meshna

    Google sucks. they think they can do whatever they want with impunity and they’re probably right. I’m using bing a lot now and maybe everyone else should too. Google searches are terrible now and getting worse too.

  • Wayne C

    Google was until recently the best friend a small business owner could have…Now they are just like Yahoo “Price Grabber” Bing and the rest of the PPC shopping networks…Now a lot of small business owners will have to close up shop or pay the piper (Google). This is in my opinion the worst thing that could happen to the little guy THANKS GOOGLE…

  • Erin

    It is a bad move. Consumers are much more web savvy than they used to be and it won’t be long before they figure out that the listings are not showing a complete list of items for sale, just the paid listings. All this move is going to to is strengthen the brand of sites like Amazon. Consumers will just go there directly and cut out the middle man of Google.
    Their shopping tab was never that useful to begin with (way to skewed to large retailers where the bargains weren’t), now it is less so.

  • Denise

    Way to go Google, in a down economy you make everything worse for small businesses. Will I pay Google, NO! PPC click fraud would be one reason, secondly, when it costs too much money and time resources that it no longer benefits me. I do all the work and everyone else gets paid.

  • Website Manila Maker

    It;s all about profit, very bad for web working professionals. Hope this strategy will not fully work.

  • Rick

    It will kill all small businesses! Who has the time and money to comply with their new policies! As it was there was a price war, now only companies with big pockets will afford to have the best search terms, for the rest it will be impossible to make a profit if we have to pay for those ads, as the competition prices, are sometimes even better than the prices we are getting buying directly from our distributors! So with this gone, many free alternatives will thrive, As a consumer we will not spend time on google searching for prices, because we know they are from paid ads! So where’s the advantage? It’s like any other shopping comparison engine. the market was really tough because of costs already ramping up due to the number of incentives we already have to pay in order to make sales! So with this profit will be 0 or negative! Goodbye Google!

  • Cap’n Cyberzone

    Ask this question again after the name change and at the end of Jan. 2013 …
    I’ll be better able to answer it then.

  • Magnus

    Wasn’t Google motto “Do No Evil” or something like that? They have completely gone to the dark side.

    Google has ruined my business in the last few months. I can’t compete in the Amazon Marketplace because I can’t get listed high enough and their fees are difficult to swallow.

    I would like input on ways to be found that don’t rely on Google, Amazon, or Ebay. Any ideas out there?

  • Falmouth Taxis

    Time to vote with our feet and support those who provide free search.

  • John

    Another failed move by Google this year.
    They even de-indexed many exact match domain names today.
    Glad to see they’re doing their part for this economy!

  • ang

    Draw you own conclusions:
    “Google’s Top Policy Executive to Join Obama Administration” – – Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, has been a close adviser to President Obama’s transition team and is now a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

  • ang

    Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, has been a close adviser to President Obama’s transition team and is now a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. –

  • lots0

    Educate your Users that google is no longer an UN-biased Search engine…
    Because obviously neither google or the US Justice Dept is not going to.

    Just remember,
    Google is your competitor.. not your friend.

    • manuel

      google is greedy monster that needs to be put out of its fucking misery.

  • Steve

    Is Go Ogle or better known as Giggle these days “Too big to Fail” already? If their stupidity causes them to ask for a bail out, millions of people may revolt just because they asked.


    Well, the truth starts to bleed out (and I do mean bleed) the internet community.

    Here are only a few of the charges against Giggle these days.

    De-indexed exact match domain names,
    Black listing their competitors,
    Competing with their customers
    Sand Boxing their customers without cause,
    Creating small business losses before the election to make Obama look bad?
    “Doing Evil” Moving to the dark side
    Killing small businesses in favor of large mega (go ogle type) corps.
    Causing Loss of visitors and revenue for advertisers while charging more. – 4 of my clients 80,000 loss of revenue per month
    Forcing people into “their” PAID advertising or lose big – NOW. The reason- they are about to get hit big on stock losses.

    Note: There is nothing wrong with Go Ogle becoming a paid only search engine. I wish they would. The rest of the Internet can use something else.

    It’s real simple – I’m severing ties to Google completely in the next monthly. I sold the stock I had in Google and bought more Microsoft, and I advise everyone to do the same. The Go ogle stock is about to take a dive. I just cancelled my paid ads and am cutting all other ties ASAP. I’m one of 1500 people in my group doing so. We are small fries but know much larger groups who are abandoning Go Ogle for Bing and Yahoo. Other Search Engines are now in the process of being formed up and will be on line shortly. You won’t see anything for a whiles becasuse the big guys will keep the stock propped up.

    But the truth is Bing is King – “Google, we don’t need you anymore…” Either “Bing it” or “Do Yahoo.

    PS: To the person who came up with the slogan “Matt Cutts is Nuts,” please don’t make this personal.

  • Brent Roake

    We love Google shopping and get a lot of business from it. We preferred it better when it was merchant center and was free though.

  • George

    I personally don’t think it is a good idea for Google to start “Google Shopping” this is because Google are now their own worst enemy. You do what you preach, Google slap website owners with different penalties ranging from demotion in page ranking to removing them from their overall search for minor breach of term of service. Now they are now competing with their own customers. Google should come out and declare their intention rather than getting involved in conflict of interest. With the implementation of Google shopping, it means those who can afford their exorbitant advertising stays in the first page irrespective of their SEO pages. It goes on to prove that “Cash is king in Google’s world” this will invariably affect small business in favor of larger corporate company that have the advertising dollars thereby causing loss in traffic for businesses trying to do the right things. The notion of forcing businesses to paid advertising is communist in the worst extreme. Most companies or businesses will have no choice than going in Google’s direction even if it is not economically viable for their bottom line.

  • Aakansha Sharma

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  • John

    I agree with IMBack.

    Google has become so big and popular that they act as if they think they are God. This will hurt small and new business and only help the bigger and more successful retailers to keep pushing their overpriced merchandise to the consumer. I honestly fee that Google is one and the same as the U.S. government…they both don’t give a crap about anyone but themselves and do whatever they want to keep lining their pockets with money from the people that made them who and what they are today.
    But don’t worry; if our government gets its way, Google and the entire internet will be shut down so none of this will matter anyway.

  • Professional Web Develpment

    Google now entering in every on-line business with full zeal and zest. reI think it will be much for google, so they should focus on there core areas.

  • Rupesh

    Is it just for adword users? I am afraid I dont have any adword account, if so, can’t I use google shopping to display my products??

  • 2lessons

    I hope Google Team will establish a good customer support team while entering in Indian Market for its Online Shopping business

  • Adrian

    I belive it is a new start, but it will be hard for small businesses to keep up. And i think october first it is monday, at least this is in Romania.

  • Randy Penn

    Google has taken over search for almost every niche and only uses search to sell paid links to its vast affiliate webfarm. The government wants and plans to give everything for free until you are so brainwashed you cannot live without them, then they charge double. It really is like drug deals but even more because they have your ID, your address, your mobile tracked to everywhere you go, and they sell this to anyone who bids high enough. Does that sound like a search company to you really?

    We sell things like Imelda May collector DVDs, The Libertines, Keane and other bands concerts on DVD. We have never found and affiliate program that worked for us or the people in the affiliate networks. We wont pay the huge costs for google adwords to place our ads on their lame webfarm of affiliates.

    • Isabel

      On the internet, I’ve learned how to shop in a new way to find the things I need. Specific things, I go to the manufacturer (for me that dog and cat repellent for my lawn, rat and squirrel traps for my garden). Just about everything else, when I shop online, I compare with and for special gifts that are unusual, I go to Etsy. The one place I don’t go is the massive market places like Craig’s list (unless its a local automobile or furniture for sale). Where I spend money is a tedious experience that I base on trust of the vendor, quality of product, price, shipping, customer service. At least with Craig’s list, you can talk to the owner. Still its at risk of major spam. Google shopping seems to big and spread out.. Google makes money, but I just get lost in the shuffle. Even if Google gets specific, its still ”Google” — one big huge thing collecting the money. Craig’s list is still free and that makes it fun and ‘go at your own risk’ — I like Google for internet stuff, like standardizing browser compatibility and gadgets.

  • Tonita

    Not only do I think the decision is a bad one from the consumers’ point of view, I also go so far as to say it stinks from a small business point of view! This is one Australian who will never use Google again!

  • c.feliciano

    I like to think of Google as a search engine, keyword tool finder, ad sense, and few other areas I am already used to by working with Google.
    With additional expanson Google will be a “jack of all trades and a master of none”. Why not improve on those areas that it allready exist?

  • Tominguez

    It will be nice if you can add an article about the bots driving more than 16% of clicks for online ads, add that to the new google shopping, comparison actions by competitors and people not able to find a good deal, the waste will be more than anyone can imagine, in my case, we needed 35 clicks to get a sale from google, now it will be at least triple. Google is making a huge mistake, webmasters are not dumb, consumers neither. There is just so much milk you can get from a small cow, no matter how smart or tricky you think you are. What will be next, charging good content sites for links? Horrible, I have changed my search engines to bing and yahoo, anyway, they are much better now.

  • Grey Olltwit

    Nothing Google does is good for business unless your turnover is $1 billion plus a year, then they’re your best friend.

    • Engage 2012 Conference

      I wouldn’t consider Microsoft with Bing as their best friend, even though their turnover is way over $1 billion…

  • Tominguez

    Chris I’m not sure how to contact you but I wanted to suggest an article on this which is related to many folks concerned with the new google shopping. Thank you!

    • Lawn Care

      Google just took away all the niche sites that target a specific product.

  • Lynda

    I think it will be good for google and for large business, but it will hurt small business. When you hurt small business and give even more advantage to the large business, often the small businesses will go under. When more small businesses go under, there will be less competition for the larger businesses and they can/will raise their prices.

  • Vishal Gupta

    this is good move by google as i have seen many business are using free shopping and product review system to get the high value on search results. google showing the rating in search results as well if you go to those rating, you can see that maximum rating look like false rating or done by the team member :) I hope when Google make it paid then it will not easy to post a products and reviews on it….good going

    Vishal Gupta

  • WestbySouthwestDecor

    As a small business, we are very disappointed with Google’s decision to charge outrageous pay-per-click prices to list products in Google Shopping as it not only severely limits the number of products a retailer can afford to list (where previously ALL products were listed), it severely limits the product options to shoppers as far as they can see in the results because the ‘real choices’ will not be displayed at all because they won’t even be listed!

    West by Southwest Decor refuses to list products in Google shopping because participation means the added expense of advertising would mean we would have to raise the prices of our unique and American Made products. Additionally, be not being able to get products in front of shoppers for comparison, it means less orders being made for the over 60 suppliers we support – American shops and small factories across the country have less work to do – thus again, making it bad for consumers in an already weak economy.

    A ‘smart’ move would have been to charge a small monthly fee for listing products, instead of just taking the free advertising avenue away completely. Perhaps even charging a fee on a sliding scale of sorts – up to 1000 products for $5, up to 5000 products for $10, etc. It would have given Google plenty of revenue AND been good for the consumers. Too bad Google got the ‘greed’ bug too.

    • Jon

      My Amazon Seller Central sales has gone from 3 sales per day back in the Spring to zero today. There are many people on the Amazon forum saying their sales dropped 80%. I’ve had 5 sales in 2 weeks! Articles have commented that “Amazon is King” for searches and Google wants a piece of it. They went on to say that impact to Amazon listings would be minimal. Well, it appears Google is the King and is killing off the little sellers unintentionally. Fine, I hired a vendor to help me with CPC adaptation to the main website. Well, that is a nightmare. All of my ads were “disapproved” without any reasons given (“see policies” which is like saying “lift the hood and look at the engine for a while”). My vendor says contact google because he cant on my behalf. Two days later, no response and I am dead in the water. I may have to close up in two weeks and go back to a job (which isnt likely to be found nowdays). It was great making a living on my own, now Google killed us off. I’m willing to pay per clicks but the non-response is now a catch 22. What a nightmare Google pulled on us.

  • squeaky

    This new development is not good for consumers, it means that your search results are tainted by whoever will pay to have their product listed. Better quality, price, assortment, service, in fact the best result for you search will not show, only the one’s that deep pockets pay for.
    Googles searches have been getting less and less relevant, and have been providing less and less information in the past 6mos-1 year, all could be due to their increasing tendency to favor sponsors.
    I am changing search engines.

    • JC

      squeaky ,
      i try to change search engines to Bing, only to find that they are on the same track. Consumers are mostly using Google (terrible) ..
      this is where I agree with unions to have a right to bargain for fairness . they are out of control! with the pretest of “creating a better consumer experience” yeah right!

  • JC

    An other way to control who gets what “nanny state, micro manage” call it what you will this is the most controlling way to dictate who gets the profits! it’s all about money! never enough! some how some way this must stop! free market? where? let me remind everyone that “big retailers” don’t save the consumer anything as their overhead is huge and someone has to pay for it! oftentimes the very small businesses are the ones who actually take care of the customer much, much better!at a lower cost.

  • Prescription Safety Glasses

    I don’t believe this move will benefit the consumer. For businesses to compete they will have to have deep pockets. Who do you think pays for those deep pockets? Consumers. There is always Bing for searching.

  • Alex

    I think it will be good for Google and for large business. Google sucks.