Google surprised online sellers in April when it announced they would no longer have to pay to get exposure on Google Shopping
. Today, the search giant announced it would give sellers free visibility on Google Search, as well.
"We're bringing free listings to the main Google Search results page in the U.S., helping shoppers choose the products and sellers that will serve them best, from the widest variety of options," Bill Ready wrote on the Google Shopping blog.
Initially, free listings on Google Search will appear in a product knowledge panel that shows buying options for a particular item. Currently buying options in the panel are all sponsored links, but starting this summer, those listings will be free, Ready explained.
"We’re rolling this out in the U.S., first on mobile, followed later by desktop," he said.
In his post, he said making product results on the Google Shopping tab primarily free had produced a significant increase in user engagement, with both clicks and impressions up substantially for merchants. "Sellers of all sizes are benefitting from this incremental traffic, particularly small and medium-sized businesses. And we already see that these changes will help generate billions of dollars in sales for retailers and brands in the U.S., on an annual basis."
It's not that Google doesn't want ad revenue - included in today's post was the following pitch encouraging sellers to advertise:
"Finally, Shopping ads continue to be a great tool for merchants to engage with consumers and will appear separately at the top of the page, clearly marked like Google's other ad units. Merchants can choose how to show up and shoppers can choose where to click."
According to Ginny Marvin who covered the today's news in Search Engine Land
, "You'll need to open a Google Merchant Center account and upload a product feed. Then opt-in to "surfaces across Google" to be eligible for organic visibility in Search, Shopping and Image results."
Bill Ready spent over 6 years at PayPal after it acquired his firm Braintree. He joined Google in January, and in today's blog post he said Google would have "even more updates soon." You can find the full announcement on the Google Shopping blog