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Episode 63 - Google Tools for your Shopify Store

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Hey, Scott Austin here.

Google provides you an amazing number of tools to help you build your ecommerce business. But there are so many of them and understanding how they all interact, it quickly become confusing. And making it even more confusing is that these tools are designed to work with all websites and apps on the internet. So there is a lot of flexibility provided by Google in the way they can work. So understanding which of the options to choose for your Shopify store can require some research.

So in this episode, I'm going to give an explanation of the Google tools commonly used in Shopify stores and how they should be connected. I won't go deep in to each tool as I've done that in the past for many of the tools. For deeper information, I'll have links in the show notes for resources that I've created and resources from others that I leverage to gain a deeper understanding of each of these tools and how they interact.

I'll start by explaining the purpose of the different tools and how you'll use them in your Shopify store.

1. Google Analytics. Google Analytics or GA lets you report on how visitors interact with your store. Now Shopify provides its own reporting tool. But I rely on GA over Shopify for analytics because it allows you to dig deeper into the data to better understand your customers and it integrates with other tools, like Google Ads, to give you more comprehensive reporting. GA is a free tool. That said, for larger stores GA will use a sampling of the data when creating reports to speed up performance. Sampling may or may not be an issue for your store depending on the particulars of your situation. That said, sampling is not an issue at all for most Shopify stores as it only happens in the highest volume websites. Think of high volume as 500,000 sessions in a report.
The show notes has a link that goes through a Google Analytics set-up with detailed instructions on how to optimize the setup for a Shopify store, because the out-of-the-box setup is not sufficient.
2. Google Search Console. Search Console is your first SEO tool. SEO is search engine optimization. That's the free or organic traffic that you get from search. Search console lets you tell Google that your website exists and that Google should crawl your site to get your pages indexed. Once Google has indexed your website, Search Console lets you see data on how well its indexed and different data about the quality of the pages. And once everything is up and running, you will be able to see what search queries are driving organic traffic to your site. Search Console is a free tool.
The show notes has a link that shows you how to set-up Search Console for your store.
3. Google My Business. The My Business tool allows you to create listings about your business. And if you have multiple businesses or locations, you can manage the multiple listings inside one account. These business listings allow for lots of content like description, phone number, website, address, hours, photos, promotions and more. The listings get use on Google search results and in Google Maps. And having a My Business listing allows consumers to leave reviews for your business in Google's review tool. The My Business tool is free to use and I think provides a lot of return for a little bit of set-up effort.
The business listing give exposure on Google Search in the knowledge panel. And this is a large content block that is 100% dedicated to your business. It shows up on Google search results page. It's on the left of the results on a desktop view and on the mobile phone it shows up below the ads, but above the organic listings. And this knowledge panel will usually get triggered when someone searches for your company name. Another place that Google uses this is what's called the map pack. And the map pack shows businesses in the search results along with a map and it'll be triggered by location based business searches. Additionally, if your business has physical stores, the business listing information will be used on Google Maps.
The show notes has a link to instructions on how to get set-up in Google My Business.
4. Google Merchant Center. Merchant Center allows you to upload your product catalog to Google for Google to use with relevant shopping searches. This will allow you to show paid ads of your products on the Shopping tab in Google Search and in the Shopping module on regular Google Search. A merchant center account is free. But you will be charged for the ads.
5. Google Ads. This used to be called AdWords but is now Google Ads as it includes many ad types. Google Ads is the place where you will spend the bulk of your time when working on paid customer acquisition through Google. This is where you can research keywords, build out campaigns, create ads and optimize all of it. Ads are text-based or search ads, product ads, video ads, display ads, and more. Google Ads lets you advertise on Google properties and across their partner network. Google Ads is a complex system with a learning curve behind it. But it continues to evolve and is much easier to use than it was a decade ago.
I've included a link in the show note to a YouTube playlist from the Australian agency Loves Data that is easy to understand and also pretty comprehensive.
6. Google Tag Manager. Some of the above tools have their own tagging that will be added to your Shopify store through JavaScript, built-in Shopify integrations or separate apps. In addition, other services like Klaviyo and Facebook will have their own tags or pixels that get added to your store. This can become complex and all of the JavaScript can slow the performance of your site. Tag Manager aggregates the installation of all of this tracking, which is a great benefit. But Tag Manager is the most complex of all of the tools to set-up and configure. So it should only be used the largest of stores that have the developer resources available to implement it.
I've included a link in the show notes to a YouTube playlist on the topic of advanced data tracking for Shopify stores.

So that's an overview of the main Google Tools that will be used by Shopify stores. Each one has its own setup process. Here's some best practices to note while creating the accounts.

1. The Google tools allow multiple account to access them, so each member of the team can access them using their own account. So when you are working across multiple tools, its important that you access each of them with the same account, or email address. Otherwise you won't be able to connect them.
2. Different tools measure things in different ways. And the metrics may be slightly different. So it is quite common to see numbers that do not match perfectly. For example, a click on a search ad reported in Google Ads, should result in a session on the landing page reported in Google Analytics. But sometimes the numbers don't perfectly align. Here's a couple of potential reasons why for this scenario.
a. The Ads click is registered on the Google servers. So each one gets counted. But the session on the landing page only get registered after the landing page fully loads on the customer's browser. And something may go wrong in loading the page or the customer could close the browser before the page is done loading.
b. A customer could click on an ad and go to your landing page. Then click the back button in their browser and do another search. In the second search, they could see another of your ads and click on it and go to your store again. In this situation, Google Ads records that as two clicks while Google Analytics records it as one session.
So my advice here is to not get too caught up in the small differences in the data. Yes, you should check to see that the data is relatively accurate. Just don't focus on the small differences too much.
3. Some of this stuff is pretty complex and will take you some time to research and understand. My advice is avoid the tutorials on the web that stress how quickly they will get you through the process. For example, I recommend avoiding a YouTube video with the title 'How to start your first Google Ads campaign in less than 5 minutes'. I find that these tutorials don't provide the full level of background that you need to make the right decisions.

Once the accounts are set up, they then need to be connected to Shopify and each other. As I said before, Google usually allows multiple ways to things including tool integrations. So here's are the ways that I usually integrate them for a Shopify store.

1. Let's start by connecting Google Analytics to Shopify. There's a link in the show notes on how to do that.
2. Verify the ownership of your domain with Search Console. You can find this in Search Console under Settings.
3. Connect Search Console to Google Analytics. This will give you organic search query data in your Google Analytics. Do this from Google Analytics under Admin > Property > Property Setting > Adjust Search Console.
4. Connect Google Ads with Google Analytics. This will allow ad campaign reporting in Analytics and Analytics goals and audiences in Ads. This connection, when used properly, will allow you to bypass connecting Google Ads and Shopify directly. For Google Ads conversion optimization, we can use Google Analytics transaction tracking instead of placing Google Ads tracking codes on the checkout thank you page. And we can use Google Analytics audiences for remarketing instead of adding Google Ads tracking codes directly to Shopify.
Connect them by going to Google Ads > Tools & Settings > Setup > Linked Accounts > Google Analytics. There are two Google Analytics options. One for UA and the other for GA4. If you are using Shopify's built-in Google Analytics tracking, then you should use UA. If you've implemented GA4 on your own or through Google Tag Manager, then use GA4.
5. Connect Google Ads with Search Console. This allows you to see your organic traffic as you build keywords in Google Ads. Connect them by going to Ads > Tools & Settings > Setup > Linked Accounts > Search Console.
6. Connect Google Merchant Center with Shopify. This will allow the product information like description, photos, price and inventory from Shopify to be available in Merchant Center. This is best done with a Shopify app, which there are several to choose from.
7. Connect Google Merchant Center with Google Ads. This allows you to use your product feed in ads. Start in Merchant Center under the gear icon > Settings > Linked Accounts. You'll need to send a connection request to Google Ads. Then login to Ads and approve the request at Tools & Settings > Setup > Linked Accounts > Google Merchant Center.
8. Connect Google Merchant Center with Google My Business. This allows you to show local inventory in product listings and ads. Connect them by going to Google Merchant Center > Gear Icon > Settings > Linked Accounts > Google My Business.

If you've been running your Shopify store for a while, you are probably using most if not all of the tools already. For you, I recommend just running through the list of tools and connections and verifying that things look good for your store. And add in any missing tools or connections.

If you are building a new store, you'll need to go through this full-list. Now this to-do list to get all of the tools up and running and properly connecting is pretty daunting. There's a lot you need to understand to make the right decisions along the way. If you are listening to this podcast in your car, obviously you can follow along with the steps while driving. But I hope you come back when you are in front of your computer and walk through the steps. I've included a link in the show notes to a written transcript of this episode. That way you can walk through the steps like a check list. By taking each step one at a time, you'll be able to make solid progress. And mastering each step will make the next one easier for you.

Best of luck.

Thanks for listening.


JadePuma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.