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How to Optimize Your Google Shopping Campaigns with SEMrush Product Listing Ads (PLA) Data

Elena Dryamina
How to Optimize Your Google Shopping Campaigns with SEMrush Product Listing Ads (PLA) Data

If you have an e-commerce website, you either already know how effective Google’s product listing ads are for attracting shoppers’ attention, or you — as a smart seller — are planning to start using them soon.

But how do you advertise on Google Shopping? Here are some important steps to follow:

1. Create a Google Merchant Center account 2. Link it to your AdWords account 3. Fill out and upload your product feed 4. Set up a new PLA campaign 5. Sub-divide your products into product groups 6. Start bidding and tracking your PLAs' performance 7. Don’t forget to update your data feed as often as you can, especially after updating your product database

Is there anything else? Oh, yes — always keep tabs on your PLA competitors!

Web store owners adore product listing ads for their high conversion rates and reasonable CPCs, and your online competitors do as well. Understanding your e-commerce rivals’ PLA strategies is crucial for winning more sales online.

In this post, we will cover how SEMrush Product Listing Ads data can help answer these important questions:

  • Who are your competitors on Google Shopping?
  • Which keywords prompt your and your competitors’ product listing ads to appear in paid search results?
  • How are your PLAs performing compared to your competitors?

Read on to find the answers to these and other questions!

Who is Your Online Store Competing with on Google Shopping?

Go to SEMrush → PLA Research → PLA Competitors, enter your domain’s name and click Search. You will see an extended list of your Google Shopping competitors (1) including such metrics (2) as:

  • Competition level, which helps measure the level of competition for each domain
  • Common keywords, which represent the number of keywords that trigger the PLAs of your and your competitors’ domains to show up in search results
  • PLA keywords per competitor
  • Paid keywords that your PLA competitors are buying via AdWords for text ads
  • Paid traffic, which is an estimate of the number of visitors that find a competitor’s website through AdWords text ads
  • Paid traffic price, which is an estimate of your competitor’s AdWords budget.


With the SEMrush PLA Competitors report, you can easily evaluate your e-commerce competitive landscape and estimate your competitors’ PLAs and AdWords presence.

After you’ve gotten to know your competitors, you will probably want to know more about their PLA activities. Click on the appropriate number in the PLA keywords column, and you will be...


Which Keywords Are Your Competitors’ Product Listing Ads Showing Up For?

… transferred to the SEMrush PLA Positions report feature. You can also access it by going to SEMrush → PLA Research → PLA Positions. This report serves as a virtual treasury of your competitors’ PLA secrets. It will show you:

  • Keywords that prompt their PLAs to appear in SERPs (3)
  • PLAs that showed up for each keyword (4)
  • The position a PLA received in paid search results (5)
  • The title of a promoted product (6)
  • A product’s price (7)
  • The URL of a product’s landing page


For every keyword, you will find its volume, trend and the date of its last update.

The PLA Positions report’s data allow you to kill two birds with one stone — to gain insight into your competitors’ product feeds and to evaluate which of products listing ads Google likes the most.

Moreover, you can see how your competitor’s ads look in real life and exactly where they appear in SERPs by clicking on the icon in the SERP source column.


You can also see all of your competitors’ product listing ads in one place and define PLA top performers. Below we will explain how.

Which of Your Competitors’ Product Listing Ads are Working Best?

Go to SEMrush → PLA Research → PLA Ad Copies. Here you will find lists of competitors’ unique PLAs, which include the promoted items' titles, their prices, and picture of them.

Notice the number in the lower-left corner of each ad (8). This number indicates how many keywords trigger a PLA to pop up in paid search results. Since all product listing ads are sorted in descending order by their number of keywords, you can easily see which PLAs show up most often.


Use filters (9) to focus on winning ads and those that promote products most relevant to your business. You can narrow your PLA search by sorting data according to Product Title and Product Price.


How Are You Performing in Google Shopping Searches Compared to Your E-Commerce Rivals?

Want to get a side-by-side comparison of your and your competitors’ performance on Google Shopping? Go to SEMrush → Tools → Domain vs. Domain, enter your domain and up to five competitors’ domains into the input fields, choose PLA shopping keywords (10) to display, and press Go.


You will be able to:

  • See whether or not your competitors are showing up in paid search results for your keywords and to compare their PLAs’ rankings for each search term.
  • Generate reports for your domain’s unique keywords (excluding common keywords) to see search terms for which you are an uncontested leader.
  • View competitors’ unique keywords to understand where you are losing; and get ideas for improving your product feed in order to appear in paid search results for more queries.

Once you understand your product listing ads’ weaknesses and strengths, and have fresh ideas for improving, you can begin transforming your PLA strategy.

Improve Your PLA Campaigns in a Few Steps:

  • Identify your competitors
  • Analyze their PLAs and keywords
  • See what they are promoting the most and at what price
  • Optimize your products’ titles, images, URLs, and promoting landing pages
  • Detail your product feed and incorporate the right keywords into it
  • Revise your price policy for a competitive edge
  • Focus on products for which your competitors are ranking high in paid search results or don’t show up on them at all
  • Increase your bids on highly competitive products
  • Keep checking your PLA competitors’ online activities on a regular basis

Armed with competitors' insights, you’ll be able to obtain a clearer picture of the PLA competitive marketplace and make adjustments to your budget, strategy and tactics to maximize your PLA campaign’s effectiveness.


Google likes to show product listing ads, but most of all, it likes sending users to good sites. If your website has a lot of error pages, duplicate content or any other on-page issues, it could harm your PLAs’ visibility on Google Shopping results. To check your website’s health, use the SEMrush Site Audit tool.

Have any questions or other tips? Let me know in the comment section.

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Elena Dryamina is a technical writer at SEMrush. Her last article was, “How to Find Low-Competition Keywords with SEMrush."
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Awesome... when will this be available in NL? :)
Michael Stricker
Now! the news is just out, at this link: http://www.semrush.com/news/pl... Now users can view PLA data for the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Russia, and Brazil.
Barb Young
This is terrific. We have upgraded our subscription to make sure we continue to have access to this all-important information. One early "easter egg" we've found are completely low quality queries that are triggering PLA impressions. For instance, our client sells building and remodeling products. The SEMRush PLA Positions report showed that Google was displaying their PLAs for "easy bake oven" queries! While it wasn't causing clicks, thank goodness, it was contributing to impressions and causing a degradation of CTR. We have found that this report can more quickly identify problems like this vs wading through thousands of lines of query data in AdWords.

Now we can improve our use of negative keywords to continuously improve PLA performance.

I wish we could set a custom date range like "prior 7 days"!!
Kathleen Garvin
Barb Young
Thanks for the feedback, Barb! It's really appreciated. The Easy Bake Oven example is pretty crazy — and funny! — and I'm glad you were able to detect the issue.