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Thousand, Bike Helmets, Worldwide, Glopal Global Ecommerce 3
Daniel PorterNov 20, 2020 3:05:09 AM12 min read

The impact of free listings on international Google Shopping

2020 has been a very busy year for Google. During Q3, Google enabled all merchants selling into the United States on their Google Shopping tab to create free listings and gain free visibility for their products. At the beginning of Q4 Google expanded this change to the UK, EU, Asia and South America, allowing merchants across the globe to benefit from the same free international visibility from free listings across Google Shopping. 

This change enabled free listings to be used alongside paid ads in the Shopping tab, creating free traffic for merchants who opted into the program. 

Key findings:

We compared the Google Shopping traffic of several merchants; after the US launch of free visibility in April 2020 and then, after the international launch in October 2020: 

  • In the US, merchants saw a massive influx of free clicks growing to 10%-25% of total clicks.
  • After October global launch, merchants could see their unpaid clicks quickly grow to 8-15% of total clicks in less than a month.
  • The October global launch allowed some merchants to find key markets with potential, very quickly and for free.

Download the “How to benefit from free visibility on Google Shopping” ebook and start growing your international sales with free global traffic.

What was the impact on business so far?

The changes so far have greatly impacted free product listings on the Google Shopping tab. Whilst you have a lot more limited control over your free product listings, compared to paid ads which allow smart bidding and performance optimization, you will see a great increase of traffic to your website for free.

To highlight the impact these changes had on both merchants in the US and international merchants selling into the US, we gathered data over the last 6 months and compiled a series of graphs with analysis into the free traffic, and how it compares to paid traffic.  

US Domestic performance before and after April’s changes

The enablement of free listings and unpaid ads was initially rolled out in the US in April

To understand the impact the changes had on traffic, we took data from 10 merchants across 10 different product verticals in the US and compiled graphs to identify the performance unpaid ads had on the traffic to their listings before the changes and after.

Percentage of unpaid clicks before vs after the changes

This graph shows what percentage of all clicks were unpaid, from May to the beginning of October. 

shopping ads free listings

Percentage of free clicks before vs after changes for US merchants

As you can see there was a substantial change to the traffic ratio. Originally, all traffic was almost exclusively coming from paid ads. Once the changes were implemented, each merchant saw a huge influx of traffic from unpaid ads, with the majority seeing a 25-30% steady increase thereafter.

Number of daily free clicks before vs after the changes

We then looked at the same 10 merchants and instead compiled data to show the number of daily free clicks those merchants got before, and after the changes.

shopping ads free listings

Daily free clicks before vs after changes for US merchants

This shows that all merchants received free traffic to their websites, with some gaining a huge influx per day. All of the merchants saw an immediate increase to their traffic and clicks whilst maintaining a steady flow of free clicks over the following 6 months.

Average percentage of incremental free clicks in the last 6 months

Here we can see the average of unpaid clicks of all total clicks for each merchant, over the last 6 months.

shopping ads free listings

Average percentage of daily free clicks over last 6 months

The majority of merchants were between 10 to 25% of clicks coming from all traffic being unpaid ads, with one going as high as 33%. All of the merchants benefited from the change and received traffic from unpaid ads.

Results of UK merchant selling into the US

This is probably the most important set of data during the 6month implementation period. This data is the results of a UK merchant, who localized their website to be able to sell into the US, set up free listings and the free clicks they received.

shopping ads free listings

Number of daily free clicks for UK Merchant

From the get go we can already see a steady incline of traffic, climbing from 0 daily traffic from unpaid clicks to around 18 per day at the start of october, with some significant rise at key points in the 6 months. 

Whilst the results itself are impressive, the biggest key highlight is that this merchant was able to list their products into the US through localization to their listings and website, and benefited greatly from the impact of free listings.

This is the most important out of all the data we’ve shown, as it highlights that merchants across the world can benefit from the free visibility in international markets, and not just their own domestic market. 

What can we conclude from the data?

Let’s take a deeper dive into what the data tells us about the impacts made in April.

1. All merchants saw a positive boost to free traffic

First and foremost, the changes implemented made a significant positive boost to the merchants performance after april.  The majority of the merchants saw no free traffic prior to the changes in april. Once they were able to benefit from the free listings, each merchant saw a gain to their traffic, with the average overall being 16.5% increase over the last 6 months.

2. The traffic is steady and does not appear to slow down

Almost all merchants saw a variety of peaks and troughs variance throughout the 6 month period, however each merchant saw a steady overall increase to their free traffic, which after 6 months, shows no signs of slowing down.

3. Merchants can benefit from free listings in international markets

As we can see looking at the data of the UK merchant, who localized their site and listings, they gained an tremendous benefit to international traffic in the US for free. 

to be able to benefit from the domestic traffic in the US, the impact of the changes are not limited to domestic merchants. This is probably the biggest, most important analysis from all the data so far.  

The impact of free international listings 

Free international listings means more free traffic. More free traffic means more conversions.

Earlier this year Google launched more international markets, to a total of 95 so far for Google Shopping. You are not limited to just one market for free international listings - there is a huge potential out there for your store.

To highlight just how positive the impact of free international listings can be for merchants, we analyzed data for three merchants who’s free international listings were activated in October once the changes were implemented.

Merchant A

shopping ads free listings

Number of daily free clicks for Merchant A

Merchant A already saw great benefits from free domestic listings in the US. Once Google announced the changes will be rolled out to the UK, EU, Asia and South America, they opted to activate their free listings into their international markets.  

Launching free listings internationally has netted merchant A a steady increase in free clicks over the 5 week period.  Whilst no single international market stood out in comparison to the US, the combination of all international markets helped provide an increase in over 50% to the total amount of free clicks, with some key dates driving almost 100% increase in traffic. 

shopping ads free listings

Percentage of daily free clicks compared to total clicks for Merchant A

After a quick surge up until around mid October, merchant A’s traffic started to stay steady around 7-8% each week. That’s 7-8% of extra free traffic every week.

Getting additional traffic for free is as easy as turning on new international markets.

Merchant B

shopping ads free listings

Number of daily free clicks for Merchant B

Merchant B is also US based. Whilst we can see they didn’t receive as much traffic to their free listings domestically as Merchant A, their free listings traffic exploded when they launched internationally, with Germany being a very successful market. Their product had gained substantially more traffic internationally, traffic which they wouldn’t have if they remained only selling domestically.

shopping ads free listings

Percentage of daily free clicks compared to total clicks for Merchant B

Here we can see that Merchant B’s free clicks play a much larger role than Merchant A, with the impact of international listings driving more traffic. Whilst it was a slower growth than Merchant A, the traffic started to become steady at around 14% of the overall clicks, with a peak of 26%.

Merchant C

shopping ads free listings

Number of daily free clicks for Merchant C

Merchant C is UK based, who like the other two enabled free listings after the implemented change. We can see a very clear steady increasing trend for their free listings which does not appear to be slowing down.  

It highlights potential for this merchants store, especially in markets such as Italy and Switzerland, especially where Italy was hit hard during the pandemic which could also indicate positive market recovery.

shopping ads free listings

Percentage of daily free clicks compared to total clicks for Merchant C

Whilst maintaining an average of 5% of clicks being from free listings, may not be as high as Merchant B’s 14%, however, it’s still an incredible figure for this merchant as that’s free sales without any added expense thanks to taking advantage of free listings. So for example if a merchant sells high price products at low volume, those free listings could make a huge impact to their overall sales.

Merchant D


shopping ads free listings

Number of daily free clicks for Merchant D

Merchant D is US based, who like the others, enabled free listings internationally after the implemented change. The change to listings has benefited merchant D in two ways.

Firstly, it has helped drive a steady increase in international markets, with the UK being a very promising market but also seeing results from others such as Canada, Sweden, Germany etc. Secondly, it shows that the domestic market is also seeing a huge traffic improvement, with free clicks in the US going from 250 per day at the start of October, to over 1,000 per day towards the middle of November, a 300% increase in just 6 weeks.

shopping ads free listings

Percentage of daily free clicks compared to total clicks for Merchant D

Here we can see that Merchant D’s saw a huge instant surge to international traffic. Within a week free listings were 15% of the merchants total traffic and within 2 weeks this climbed to 24%. This steadily dropped over the next 4 weeks to around 10%, but then started to climb once more and we expect this to eclipse the previous 24%, over the remainder of the seasonal period.

Merchant E

shopping ads free listings

Number of daily free clicks for Merchant E

Merchant E enabled their free listings across Canada, Australia, the UK and the EU at the start of October. Within the first week their free traffic skyrocketed, peaking at 250 free clicks over the 6 week period. The difference for Merchant E however, is the even split of traffic between all markets, with the UK, Spain, Canada, Australia and Denmark. 

shopping ads free listings

Percentage of daily free clicks compared to total clicks for Merchant E

From enabling free listings internationally, Merchant E saw an increase to 10% of traffic within the first 2 weeks, to becoming more stable around 6.5% during the 6 week period. Whilst international listings are mostly supporting the merchants domestic success, we can really see some incredible potential for this store’s international markets over the remainder of the holiday season and early 2021.

What does this mean?

The data of these merchants shows that they all benefited from the impact of free visibility - free traffic is free traffic and it helps to drive greater sales. The most interesting observation is that whilst two merchants are US based and one is UK based, all gained free visibility internationally. Merchant A, C and E’s free international listings mostly supported their domestic listings, whereas Merchant B and D’s free international listings was a significantly huge boost to their online store traffic overall, however this is still free traffic that all 5 merchants weren’t getting whilst entirely selling domestically. 

Whilst some merchants benefit from free international listings more than others, it’s still a positive impact to online stores overall and there is demand out there for products in international markets that domestic merchants may not be aware of.

These free listings also help you to identify which markets your products may be better suited for and have more potential with, and give you a starting point to sell internationally without needing to fully invest in every market. 

Being able to benefit from free traffic in more than one country can have an incredible impact on your business and sales. Selling internationally has a huge benefit to merchants, with greater access to more buyers, less risk from domestic competition, less risk from external factors to name a few, but now these changes provide merchants with even more traffic and a reduced cost of buyer acquisition.

Listing your products in different international markets, with an increase in free traffic is game changing for merchants of all sizes, in all product categories.

With the changes now being made available in the UK, EU, Asia and Latin American markets, utilizing free listings across international markets is something that you should strongly consider as part of your overall ecommerce strategy.

Download the “How to benefit from free visibility on Google Shopping” ebook and start growing your international sales with free global traffic.

As a business partner of Google, Glopal enables merchants across Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce platforms, to scale their international sales through Google Shopping. Glopal’s pricing model is simple and easy-to-understand. We do have a “Free forever” plan that enables full access to our Google Shopping solution as well as a “Pro” plan with custom features for advanced merchants. 

We can help you to launch Globally:

  • The solution localises the product feeds into over 25 currencies, providing buyers with the same local experience they’d expect.
  • Our payment solution allows accepting over 25 currencies via credit cards, Paypal and more.
  • Glopal’s international shipping creates a seamless and simple process, enabling merchants to ship their products overseas at a cost effective & competitive rate.

To understand how you can take full advantage of free listings globally and grow your international sales on Google Shopping, get in touch with one of our ecommerce experts. 


Daniel Porter

Daniel is an international ecommerce expert at Glopal.