chapter 3

Set Goals and Know the Competition

As with most business processes, getting the proper course mapped out is crucial. If you want to jump right to the how-to, go ahead, but I believe this initial step is a must.  You don’t want to end up in a place where “you can’t get there from here.”  Proper preparation and a solid strategy are just as important as doing the actual work of setup and management.

Research & setting your sites - First let’s do some prep work that will give you an edge over the competition. We’ll dive into three critical areas: Goals, Keywords and Competition.


Let’s start with goals as they should guide everything you do from here on out. Your goal keeps you on track while giving you the freedom and creativity you need to problem-solve and achieve what you originally set out to do.

  • What is your target CPA or Cost Per Acquisition? What are you willing to pay for a customer? If your average order value (AOV) is $100 and your average margin is 35%, would you be willing to spend all $35 of profit from that first order to close a deal? Maybe that’s too rich for you, or maybe you’d be willing to spend more if you know your lifetime value of a customer. You determine what you are comfortable with and set that number as a maximum target.
  • Build a customer or make a sale? There are really two types of merchants: those who want to generate sales, and those who want to generate customers. Both types of merchants can make money, but only the later can really build a lasting business and brand. It’s important to consider what game you are playing when starting this process. I believe the best approach to lasting success is to build a customer that you can sell to again and again and who will refer more customers to you. The beautiful part of Google Shopping is that you should be able to turn a profit on your first sale. Google Shopping could work for you either way, but your goal will dictate how aggressive you can be in your bidding and approach.  

Keywords & Top Products

What do you want to sell most? I know the easy answer is “anything on the site”, and while that’s true, it’s best to think about this strategically in an effort to maximize sales.  

  • Entry products - Maybe there’s a certain line of products that maybe aren’t your core products or your most profitable, but they serve as a great entry point for your company. Maybe these are lower priced products that your customers need more often, or that they will need before they make a large purchase.  
  • Consumables - Just like razor companies who sell full razors with the main motivation of selling blades, or supplement sellers who want to get you “hooked” on their products, it often pays to advertise products that people will order again and again.   
  • High price and/or high margin - It goes without saying that the products you make the most on–either in terms of total profit or profit margin–are products you should spend time and effort on to sell through your Shopping campaigns.  
  • Products with low competition but decent demand - If you happen to be in this coveted position, take advantage of it.  

How do you get your products in front of potential customers

Understand the buyer's intent. The length and content of a search query can say a lot about a searcher’s intent. Usually longer, more detailed searches indicate a higher buying intent. Someone who searches “Nike” may just be killing time, shopping, or writing a term paper on Nike - who knows really. But someone who searches “Nike running shoes” is likely an active shopper, and someone who searches “black Nike zoom Pegasus shoe” is likely someone ready to buy now.

Use the right tools. Want to know what your customers are actually searching for? Here are 3 great tools to use:

  • Google keywords planner - This is Google’s free tool and is available inside of AdWords under the Tools tab. Here you can enter few keyword ideas and Google will give you a slew of keyword suggestions as well as estimated search volume for those keywords and the average CPCs you can expect to pay for them. Unfortunately, neither the volume estimates or the CPCs are exact, but they do get you in the right ball park.  
  • SEMrush - Next to looking at data inside of AdWords and Google Analytics, I use the most. They have a basic free plan as well as paid options. will give you detailed insights about either a keyword or a domain. I use it for both keyword and competitive research. I find SEMRush really helpful for digging in to keywords and finding helpful data faster and in a better format than what you’ll find using the Google Keyword Planner.
  • - This tool gives you related keywords to go with the keywords you are targeting. These related terms are pulled from Google’s Autocomplete suggestions. This can be helpful in writing your description for your feed or your page copy. Using some of the related words that seem relevant to what you are selling can help you show up for a wider variety of search queries.

Competitive Landscape

Know who are you up against. Never start running ads without getting a feel for who the competition is, and who seems to be successful.

Manual Google searches -  Start by searching in Google for your desired keywords. See what pop-ups in the shopping results. Take note of the products, prices, images, and retailers that show up. Look for product searches that return multiple results from the same retailer.  This may just be a sign that they are really well optimized. Often it means that there aren’t many other good choices, leaving an opportunity for you.

SEMRush - From a Google Shopping or PLA perspective I like to type in our competitors to see their top PLA placements and Ads (PLA data is only available with paid plans). This shows what keywords a prospect has Google Shopping placements for. You’ll see screenshots of your competitors shopping ads so you can see title, price, and image.

Next chapter

4. Setting up Shop - Account Creation

5 min

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