SVP, Partnerships + GTM - One of the original founding members of the S&O team, Tony oversees strategic partner development and go-to-market planning for our Channel, Technology, and Agency partnerships.
Just announced yesterday by Google's President of Commerce, Bill Ready, those free product listings are now coming to the main Search Results page this summer in the US.
"Free listings on Google Search are a big step forward in democratizing access to digital commerce, benefiting shoppers and merchants with more choices across the board. We’ll have even more updates soon, so stay tuned."
Though it comes as no real surprise to us, we are undoubtedly excited to see Google making great strides in rolling out free product listings in multiple formats. This latest announcement focused primarily on the coming display of product listings in Knowledge Cards on mobile devices:
That is especially important to note as this is truly the only truly new update to the display of free product listings on the main Google Search. These listings have actually been around for over a year now and were even enhanced in early January for select product categories.
Again, These Are NOT Ads
Be careful of the headlines of various online blogs and search engine news sites as many are still using the term "Ads" to describe free product listings.
They are not, in any manner, shape, or form, advertising. You are not paying a cent to Google to have these products display in the search results, or the Shopping tab, or the Images tab.
Any US merchant with an e-commerce website and an approved product feed in Merchant Center can set up the program Surfaces across Google and be eligible to have their products display in these formats.
The True History of Free Product Listings on Google
Most merchants are likely unaware of how far back the news of "organic" or free product listings on Google really goes.
This latest announcement is simply the latest in a long line of them, stretching back over a year ago.
Here's a rundown of how it all unfolded:
- February 2019: Google announces organic search listings and listings that show in image search simply by submitting a feed to Merchant Center. Rich Snippet knowledge cards were the medium of delivery in this earliest announcement.
- January 2020: Apparel & Accessories merchants get a leg up in the Merchant Center program Surfaces across Google and the Popular products section on Google Search - a visually enhanced experience for shoppers becomes a reality.
- April 21st, 2020: Google makes the monumental announcement that the Shopping tab on Google will consist primarily of free product listings via the Merchant Center program Surfaces across Google.
- April 28th, 2020: Those free product listings begin appearing for some search results. Additionally, select Merchant Center account owners also began to see the unique reporting for Surfaces across Google and unpaid clicks.
- May 5th, 2020: Our team discovers that Merchant Promotions, another program available for retailers within Merchant Center which originally allowed for the display of Special Offers and Coupon Codes in Shopping ads units also apply to free product listings.
- May 19th, 2020: Though included as part of the original announcement surrounding free product listings on Google, I went ahead and got a little more info from our Google SPM team on the integration of Merchant Center and PayPal for Surfaces across Google results.