After making its Google Shopping product listings available for free for US businesses back in April, the search giant is now expanding its free display options to businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, while it's also adding new tools to help SMBs get back on track amid the impacts of COVID-19.
Up until recently, Google's Shopping Tab listings had been a paid-only option, based on Google's regular ad bidding process, but as part of Google's expanded assistance push, it's now making the listings available for free, though some paid slots will remain.
As explained by Google:
"Available globally in mid-October, search results on the Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping retailers to connect with more customers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google. Shoppers will be able to find more products from more stores, just in time for peak shopping season across the region."
Google says that it facilitates "hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day", so having the capacity to list your products, for free, within these surfaces could have major benefits for many retailers.
"If you already use Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don't have to do anything to take advantage of this change; your listings will automatically show up at no cost. And we are making the onboarding process as easy as possible for retailers who are new to this over the next weeks and months."
In addition to this, Google is also launching its Local Services Ads in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.
Local Services Ads aim to help searchers connect with trustworthy local professionals, like plumbers, house cleaners and electricians. The listed professionals are backed with a "Google Guarantee badge", which is available to businesses that pass Google's screening and qualification process, which they can now apply for after signing up for Local Services Ads in these regions.
"Potential customers can see license information and reviews from previous customers, and they can compare and contact providers. You don’t even need a website to use these ads, and you only pay when contacted by a customer - there’s no charge for people clicking on the ad."
Google has also launched Google for Small Business in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, which will provide additional assistance and advice for SMBs in those regions, while it's also expanded its Grow My Store initiative, which aims to help local retailers "drive customer traffic and improve their online shopping experience".
As noted, the initiatives are part of Google's expanded efforts to assist SMBs in their recovery from COVID-19, and with more people doing more shopping online - a trend that looks set to hold to a significant degree, even after the pandemic - it makes sense for businesses to investigate the various ways in which they can better connect with interested consumers, and maximize the potential online.