Google to Update Google Shopping with Free Listings

Let’s face it, things were so much easier in 2019. The Canadian economy was growing at a bustling pace. Cities from Edmonton to Toronto made a name for themselves globally as burgeoning tech hubs, manufacturing stood strong despite US restrictions, and public spending in retail remained as solid as ever. With a new decade around the corner, some even thought we’d see the prosperous ‘roaring 20s’ repeat itself once again.

Sadly, that did not happen. This turbulent year came slamming in, bringing with it a globe-halting pandemic, significant and abrupt changes in consumer spending habits, and the painful slow burn of economic recession. Throw in the pre-existing challenges of standing out in an extremely competitive, globalized market and suddenly feeling ‘overwhelmed’ is an understatement for many Canadian business owners right now. It’s now clear 2020 had a very different idea of what the new ‘roaring 20s’ would look like.

In spite of the economic uncertainty and ‘unprecedented times’ becoming the phrase we all want to forget, we wanted to let you know that 2020 is bringing some good news for Canadian businesses in the digital marketplace.

That’s right, Google is doing some good for e-commerce sellers with a brand-new update to Google Shopping that offers product listings for free.

What is Google Shopping?

Before we explain a bit more about the update, let’s look at what Google Shopping actually is.

In a nutshell, Google Shopping is Google’s answer to eBay or Amazon. It serves as an online marketplace for businesses looking to sell their products. Found in the same line of tabs as Google Images and Maps on the search bar, Shopping acts as a mega marketplace for virtually any product, whether B2B or B2C.

How to Use Google Shopping

For e-commerce sellers looking to sell their products on Google Shopping, you’ll need a Merchant Center Account. With Google Merchant Center, you can:


  • List your business information – make sure the address and contact details are correct!
  • Set up a checkout point – orders can either be directly processed through the platform, on your own website or even physically in-store.
  • Upload your products – you should provide information and images of your product, as well as the terms and conditions for purchasing, like a refund policy.
  • Advertise your products – Once uploaded, you will be able to share your products on Google’s advertising platforms, including Maps and YouTube!
  • Monitor your advertising performance – Just like Google Analytics, Shopping also offers insight into how well your products are performing on the platform.

More information about Google Shopping is available on the Merchant Center Help platform, available here.

Is Google Shopping Free?

Until now, Google Shopping required sellers to pay for their product listings. This is because the service was limited to Google’s advertising platforms, where businesses had to pay for their products to be displayed (similar to Google Ads and Pay-Per-Click campaigns). Essentially, Google would make a small commission every time you make a sale.

While many businesses have reported great results with Google Shopping, the need for a potentially hefty budget has yet to attract many smaller, localized businesses. But with the upcoming update, that’s about to change!

The New Update Coming to Google Shopping

In the wake of the devastating economic consequences of COVID-19 on businesses across the globe, Google decided to open up their Shopping platform by offering sellers the opportunity to list their products for free.

Whereas all search results in Google Shopping were limited to sponsored placements, this time they will be combined with free listings based on search engine results, as well as products directly available through merchants on Google. See the new structure below:

Ideal for startups, small businesses or companies looking to save cash, the free listings allow more businesses to expand their customer reach online without having to sacrifice their budget on advertising.

The update is ready for a mid-October rollout across Canada. Having been successfully launched in the US earlier this year, Google also confirmed they are expanding this service across Latin America and into Europe at the same time.

How to Optimize Your Business for Google Shopping

Despite being free, businesses can’t just expect to have their products listed at the top of Google’s Shopping results. Just like organic SEO, free listings on Google Shopping require optimization in order to rank well and drive sales.

How you optimize your business for the update depends on how much experience you had in the past:

If you already have an account with Google Merchant Center, Google will likely send you an invite to migrate to the updated platform once it’s launched in Canada. You’ll then be guided on how to adjust your store for free listings. Note: you can still make use of Google’s paid platform, which will put your results on top of free listings.

If you don’t have an account with Google Merchant Center, you can now have your products appear on Shopping results without having an account. This requires the use of Structured Data (or Schema), a snippet of coding inserted onto your web pages that tell Google the information it needs to understand your business and your products. A

t Let’s Get Optimized, we already offer this as part of our SEO services.

Though optimizing your Google Shopping listings varies by the product being sold, all businesses should aim to offer:

  • Relevant and keyword-rich product descriptions
  • Clear and accurate product images
  • Transparent pricing with terms and conditions
  • A smooth checkout process

Product-specific guides to optimizing your site or store for Google Shopping are also available here!

Questions? Let’s Get Optimized is Here to Help

Trying to keep up with Google’s constant changes can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to manage your own business during these difficult times. As Canada’s leading SEO and PPC company, we’re here to take the digital reins and let you focus on your day-to-day operations.

At LGO, we do all the hard work for you, including on Google Shopping! We’re passionate about not just supporting Canadian businesses during COVID-19, but we’re also passionate about giving them the services they deserve to flourish during these uncertain times and beyond.

With e-commerce now becoming both necessary and highly competitive, you need a skilled marketing agency who is here to champion your business and bring your customers or clients to your digital doorstep. That’s where we come in!

Start today, give us a call and enjoy a free consultation on us! We’re ready to get started working with you.

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