Google Shopping Ads vs Search Ads: 2023 Comparison

Google Ads Tag

Whether you’re a digital marketer or a business owner with an online presence, staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving tricks of the trade is essential. We know that when it comes to advertising online, one of the most powerful tools is Google Ads. The problem is, with all its features and options, honing in on which form of Google Ads will provide you with maximum return can be overwhelming. So, if you’re stuck deciding between Google Shopping Ads vs Search Ads and what’s best for your company, we’ll break down their differences as well as how they may look side by side today—and so much more. 

So, buckle up and join us for this helpful guide as we walk through key takeaways to help you make an informed decision.

What Google Shopping and Search Ads Do

Google ADs Logo

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s cover the basics of Google Shopping and Search Ads. While they both help businesses reach potential customers, Google Shopping Ads and Search Ads are different forms of Google Ads.

What are Google Shopping Ads?

Google Shopping Ads are product listing ads that allow businesses to create ad campaigns to showcase their products on Google. They appear at the top of Google search results when users search for a product they offer. Google considers its users’ past shopping behavior and interests to tailor the most relevant Google Shopping Ads to each user.

Best Practices for Google Shopping Ads

If you’re considering Google Shopping Ads for your business, there are a few key points to keep in mind.

  1. Optimize your product listings on Google Merchant Center
  2. Create an effective campaign structure that targets the right customers at the right time
  3. Select relevant keywords to get more visibility
  4. Create high-quality ads and comprehensive landing pages
  5. Optimize bids to maximize clicks and conversions
  6. Track performance over time to spot opportunities for improvement
  7. Utilize negative keyword lists to filter irrelevant traffic
  8. Remain up-to-date on industry trends
  9. Explore new targeting options
  10. Test different ad variations


  • Optimize your product listings on Google Merchant Center

Google Merchant Center is a vital part of the Google Shopping Ads process. Google Merchant Center is a free tool that allows businesses to upload their product information to Google. This includes all relevant details like product titles, descriptions, prices, and images—all of which are essential components for creating successful Google Shopping Ads campaigns!

  • Create an effective campaign structure that targets the right customers at the right time

Next, Google Shopping Ads campaigns should be structured in a way that helps businesses effectively reach their target audience. Google Shopping Ads allows businesses to customize campaigns based on factors like location, time of day, device type, and more. This gives you better control over who sees your ads and when.

  • Select relevant keywords to get more visibility

Your next best practice for Google Shopping Ads entails picking the right keywords to maximize their visibility. Google Shopping Ads are triggered when Google detects a keyword match in a user’s search query. You can capitalize on this by researching and selecting keywords relevant to your business’s products or services. 

This is an important step—it helps Google understand the context of your product listings and ensure they appear for the searches that matter most to your business.

  • Create high-quality ads and comprehensive landing pages

Along with optimizing keywords for Google Shopping Ads, you should also create high-quality ads with compelling visuals and clear calls to action. For example, Google Merchant Center allows businesses to upload product photos, descriptions, prices, and shipping information, which can help increase ad click-through rates (CTRs).

Keep in mind, your Google Shopping Ads should have comprehensive landing pages to accurately reflect the product information included in ads. This helps Google understand the context of your products and can help improve ad performance.

We share our tips for creating landing pages that convert here.

  • Optimize bids to maximize clicks and conversions

Google Shopping Ads utilize Google’s auction-based bidding system. This lets businesses bid on keywords to compete for ad placement. Remember to optimize your bids regularly to know they’re getting the most visibility at a rate that fits your budget. 

Further, remember to keep an eye on metrics like CTRs, cost per click (CPC), and conversion rates over time in order to determine if their Google Shopping Ads campaigns are meeting expectations and where it might be time to make some tweaks.

  • Track performance over time to spot opportunities for improvement

To get the most out of your Google Shopping Ads, businesses should track their Google Shopping Ad performance over time. Google Ads offers a variety of reporting tools that allow for easier tracking and analysis of ad performance metrics like clicks, cost per click (CPC), impressions, conversions, etc. This data can then be used to identify opportunities for improvement or areas where changes need to be made to better optimize Google Shopping Ads campaigns.

  • Utilize negative keyword lists to filter irrelevant trafficexample of negative key words


Negative keywords are also a key component of Google Shopping Ads campaigns we need to discuss. Negative keywords are words you don’t want your ads associated with because they could lead to irrelevant search results and wasted ad spend.

For example, if you’re selling tennis shoes, you may not want your Google Shopping Ads to show up for searches related to tennis equipment. By utilizing a negative keyword list, businesses can help Google understand the context of their products and filter out irrelevant traffic.

  • Remain up-to-date on industry trends

Industry trends are rapidly changing, and Google Shopping Ads are no exception. This means it’s vital for businesses to remain up-to-date on industry trends to stay competitive. In addition, Google often implements changes to Google Shopping Ads, so businesses should ensure they’re taking advantage of new features and staying informed about Google’s best practices for Google Shopping Ads.

  • Explore new targeting options

You’ll also want to explore Google’s various targeting options. Google Ads offers a range of targeting features, such as demographic and geographic targeting, device bid adjustments, exact match keywords, and more. These can help you refine your Google Shopping Ads campaigns to ensure they are tailored to the right audience.

  • Test different ad variations

Finally, testing different ad variations will help you determine which Google Shopping Ads perform best. Google Ads allows businesses to create multiple variations of Google Shopping Ads and test them against each other in order to see which performs the best. This can help businesses optimize their Google Shopping Ads strategy for maximum efficiency and success.

What are Google Search Ads?

Google Ads Tag

Now let’s move on to Google Search Ads! These are Google Ads that appear in Google’s search results. Google Search Ads are different from Google Shopping Ads because they allow advertisers to create text-based ads based on the keywords their target audience is using. 

In turn, Google Search Ads can target people actively searching for products and services, making them an effective way for businesses to reach potential customers. Additionally, Google Search Ads campaigns can be optimized for performance through bid adjustments, keyword targeting, and other strategies.

Best Practices for Google Search Ads

Google Keyword Planner

Of course, we won’t leave you hanging when it comes to the best practices for Google Search Ads, either!

Here are ten best practices for Google Search Ads:

  1. Utilize keyword research to identify the right keywords
  2. Focus on mobile optimization for Google Search Ads
  3. Create compelling ad copy that stands out from the competition
  4. Leverage Google’s Ad Extensions to enhance your ad visibility and click-through rate (CTR)
  5. Use negative keywords to filter irrelevant clicks and reduce wasted ad spend
  6. Take advantage of different targeting options
  7. Refine Google Search Ads with A/B testing or other split tests
  8. Monitor Google Search Ad performance metrics
  9. Make sure your Google Search Ads follow Google’s ad policies
  10. Track Google Search Ads results to ensure you’re meeting your campaign goals


  • Utilize keyword research to identify the right keywords

Like Google Shopping Ads, Google Search Ads campaigns should begin with keyword research. This is because Google Search Ads are based on keywords. With that in mind, it’s vital to select the right keywords closely relevant to your products and services. Google’s Keyword Planner is a useful tool for researching potential Google Search Ads keywords. In fact, there are plenty of free keyword research tools available online. But if you’re serious about taking your results to the next level, we encourage you to consider looking into paid options.

  • Focus on mobile optimization for Google Search Ads

So much of what happens online these days occurs on mobile devices. Google Search Ads are no exception, so it’s a non-negotiable to make sure your Google Search Ads are optimized for mobile users. This includes making sure your ad copy is concise and clear, as well as ensuring any landing pages you use for Google Search Ads campaigns are optimized for mobile devices.

  • Create compelling ad copy that stands out from the competition

Your ad copy can make or break a Google Search Ads campaign. This means you must ensure your Google Search Ads stand out from the competition. An effective Google Search Ad should be concise and clear while also being compelling enough to grab the attention of potential customers. So focus on creating ad copy that is persuasive and memorable, while also keeping Google’s advertising policies in mind.

  • Leverage Google’s Ad Extensions to enhance your ad visibility and click-through rate (CTR)

Google Ad Extensions are helpful tools for increasing the visibility of Google Search Ads and improving the overall performance of Google Search Ads campaigns. Google Ad Extensions can help you add additional information to Google Search Ads, such as location, contact details, reviews, and more. This can help draw attention to your Google Search Ads and improve their click-through rate (CTR).

  • Use negative keywords to filter irrelevant clicks and reduce wasted ad spend

We talked about negative keywords and Google Shopping Ads, and they are also helpful for Google Search Ads campaigns. Adding negative keywords to Google Search Ads can help filter out any irrelevant clicks and reduce wasted ad spend. 

This is especially helpful when targeting broad-match Google Search Ads with more generic terms. Why? Well, for starters, it ensures your budget isn’t being drained on searches that aren’t relevant to your products or services.

  • Take advantage of different targeting options

Google Search Ads can be targeted in a variety of ways, from demographic targeting to location targeting and even language targeting. Different types of Google Search Ads may require different types of targeting depending on the goals you want to achieve.

  • Refine Google Search Ads with A/B testing or other split tests

Testing and refining Google Search Ads campaigns are essential for success. You can use A/B tests (split testing) to compare different ad copy, images, and targeting options. This helps you optimize Google Search Ads for better performance while also giving you the confidence that your ads reach the right people.

  • Monitor Google Search Ad performance metrics

There’s no setting and forgetting here! Google Search Ads require regular monitoring and optimization to ensure they remain effective. Google Adwords provides a variety of performance metrics that can help you measure the success of Google Search Ads. This includes things like impressions, clicks, CTR, and conversions. Pay attention to these metrics regularly and make changes to Google Search Ads campaigns as necessary.

  • Make sure your Google Search Ads follow Google’s ad policiesGoogle's Ad Policy


You don’t want to run the risk of Google suspending or disabling Google Search Ads, so make sure you familiarize yourself with Google’s ad policies and adhere to them. This helps you keep your Google Search Ads in good standing.

  • Track Google Search Ads results to ensure you’re meeting your campaign goals

We mentioned the importance of monitoring your campaign performance metrics to ensure Google Search Ads are performing as expected. But it’s also important to track Google Search Ads results relative to the goals you set for your campaigns. Google Adwords provides a range of reports which can help you analyze Google Search Ads performance and get an overall picture of how they’re meeting their objectives.

Recap: Google Shopping Ads vs. Search Ads: What’s the Difference?

Before we move on to how to choose between Google Shopping Ads vs. Search Ads, let’s recap the main differences between Google Shopping Ads and Google Search Ads.

Google Shopping Ads are product ads that appear within Google search engine results pages (SERPs). These ads contain product images, a description, and other relevant information to help users make informed purchases. They differ from Google Search Ads in that they focus on products instead of keywords.

Google Search Ads use Google’s Adwords system to target specific keywords for more effective campaigns. They also provide more flexibility with ad copy, such as using call-to-action phrases or creating persuasive ad copy. Both types of Google Ads can be incredibly useful, but it depends on your goals and which one suits you better. Let’s talk about that next!

Here’s how to decide which one is best for you.

You’ll Want to Use Google Search Ads If…

For now, we’ll tell you about two primary instances when using Google Search Ads makes the most sense:

  1. To funnel shoppers to your site
  2. Your business is local

To funnel shoppers to your site

Businesses focusing on online efforts should focus on Google Search Ads. They will help you reach potential customers who are already in the purchase funnel and direct them directly to your site. Google Search Ads can also be used to target specific keywords relevant to your business or products. Again, ensuring your Google Ads are seen by the right people.

Your business is local

If you run a local business, Google Search Ads might be your best choice. Google Search Ads allow you to target specific areas, so they’re great for businesses with a physical presence in one particular area. Further, Google’s Adwords system also allows you to track conversions from Google Search Ads. This makes it easy to measure their success and make improvements where needed. As a result, Google Search Ads can be an invaluable tool for local businesses looking to increase their reach and attract customers.

You’ll Want to Use Google Shopping Ads If…

We know that if you have a local business or are trying to funnel users to your site, Google Search Ads could be the way to go. But what about Shopping Ads? Well, here are two big reasons to opt for these:

  1. Customers want to see visuals of your product
  2. You want to maintain (or establish) a long-term online presence

Customers want to see visuals of your product

Google Shopping Ads are incredibly effective for businesses selling tangible products. Google Shopping Ads include visuals of the product, not just text-based ads. Then, customers can easily identify your product and make more informed purchase decisions.

You want to maintain (or establish) a long-term online presence

Google Shopping Ads are an effective way to create or maintain an online presence over time. They focus on individual products rather than keywords, which can help potential customers remember you and your products when they’re ready to make a purchase. Google Shopping Ads also provide more space for product information, which can help customers find what they’re looking for faster.

What Else Should I Know About Marketing with Google?

Using Google to reach your desired audience should be a top priority as a marketer. With its wide range of advertising solutions, the platform offers immense potential for businesses to find and engage with prospective customers. But, in fact, we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to marketing with Google, and there’s a lot more to cover!

Here are some other important considerations and topics related to Google marketing.


Abbreviation E.A.T. stands for expertise, authority, and trust


Google’s E-A-T guidelines are essential considerations when creating content for Google Ads. Google uses the acronym E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) to ensure all content is relevant, accurate, and of high quality. Google recommends following these three principles in order to maximize your Google Ad performance.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is another must-have tool when it comes to marketing online. It provides valuable insights about website visitors and their behavior on your site. This info lets you make better decisions about where to focus future efforts and how well your current strategies are working. For example, analyzing data such as conversion rates and pageviews helps you understand which areas need improvement and how successful each page is at driving conversions.

Google Search Console

Another important Google tool is Google Search Console. It provides a wealth of data and insights about website performance, including key metrics such as search impressions, clicks, and click-through rate (CTR). Google Search Console also helps you identify any technical issues on your site so you can make improvements quickly. You can also use it to monitor website traffic, check indexing status, and submit sitemaps.

Google Alerts

Keeping up with mentions of specific keywords or phrases can be a challenge. To make the task easier, Google Alerts is a free tool that sends notifications when Google finds new content related to the topics you pick. This helps you stay up-to-date with Google’s information and changes. That way, you don’t miss out on important ranking opportunities!

Other Ways to Build Your Web Presence


Google offers a multitude of tools to help businesses reach their customers, but there are plenty of other marketing methods to consider for a comprehensive approach. In addition, many businesses use these tools and strategies in conjunction with one another to maximize their Google Ads performance and reach more customers.

Social media

Today, using social media to engage customers and boost your Google Ads performance is a must. With tools like Google My Business, you can create localized campaigns that target potential customers in a specific area. Other channels such as Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok are also crucial for boosting your reach and engaging with customers who already know your brand.

Content marketing

Creating content related to topics relevant to your business is an excellent way to provide value and attract more interested visitors. With the help of blogs, videos, or infographics, effective content marketing helps you build trust with your potential customers. Not to mention, it can also help Google understand the relevance of your ad campaigns!

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Although Google Ads dominates the world of search engine marketing, SEO is still a must-have tool and strategy for businesses with an online presence. Adopting an SEO strategy helps you increase organic traffic to your website—what’s not to love about that?

An SEO strategy’s vital components include optimizing the website’s technical aspects, such as page speed and mobile-friendliness. It also includes using keyword-rich content, like blog posts, meta info, and other key information. Additionally, SEO is also beneficial when it comes to improving Google Ad performance by increasing the relevance of campaigns and improving click-through rates.

Google Ads: FAQs

Before we go, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Google Ads.

What is Google Shopping?

Online Shopping

Google Shopping is a Google Ads feature that helps you promote products on Google and attract customers searching for similar items. It lets you create product ads with targeted messaging, images, and pricing information to help shoppers find exactly what they need on Google.

How can I optimize my Google Ads campaigns?

Start by setting up clear goals and objectives, so you know exactly what success looks like at the end of your campaign. Then, break down each goal into smaller tasks. This could be things like creating compelling ad copy or defining target audiences. Finally, test different strategies and use analytical data to measure progress. Google Ads also has optimization tools you can put to work for you to quickly make adjustments and boost your campaigns.

Should I use Google Ads?

Most businesses should consider Google Ads as a part of their overall digital marketing strategy. With Google Ads, you can reach potential customers at the exact moment they’re searching for products and services related to yours. It’s also an efficient way to stay in front of them while browsing online. Google Ads is cost-effective too, which means it’s usually a practical financial solution that works with big or small budgets.

Final Thoughts: Google Shopping Ads vs. Search Ads

Google Ads is a potent tool for businesses to reach customers and expand their online presence. Google Shopping Ads offer a valuable way to promote products on Google, while Google Search Ads help you capture more of the search engine market. In 2023, we anticipate that Shopping and Search Ads will remain major players in digital marketing. We also expect that Google will continue to develop its ad platform with new features and updates (we’ll be sure to keep you updated on them!). With the right strategy, businesses can tap into Google’s full potential and get the most out of their marketing efforts—this year and beyond.

Speaking of strategy, let us help with yours! The team of digital marketing experts at Blue Water Marketing can help you create and optimize Google Ads campaigns that will give your business the competitive edge it needs. Contact our eCommerce PPC agency today to learn more about Google Ads and how we can help you get the most out of your ad spend.



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