• Google has announced that retailers will soon be able to list items for free at the top of Google search pages.
  • The company had already changed the rules so that merchants could list items in the Google Shopping section for free but they still had to pay for a slot at the top of Google Search. That's soon changing.
  • The change gives Google power to fight back against Amazon's swelling ad business.

Google has announced it will change its rules for shopping listings, by allowing merchants to promote their products at the top of search pages for free.

It's the latest move by the company to lure more sellers onto its platform and take the fight to Amazon. In April , Google changed the rules to more prominently display free product listings over paid ads in its Shopping section.

But starting this summer, Google will also allow merchants to display products at the top of its main Search pages for no cost.

In a blog post announcing the news, Google's commerce president Bill Ready said these listings will show up in Google's knowledge panels, which appear at the top of the page.

This will happen first on mobile, followed by desktop browsers down the road, he said.

"For many merchants, connecting with customers in a digital environment is still relatively new territory or a smaller part of their business," said Ready.

"However, consumer preference for online shopping has increased dramatically, and it's crucial that we help people find all the best options available and help merchants more easily connect with consumers online."

For Google, this could be a deft tactic to claw back some search advertising revenue from Amazon, which has benefited hugely from the boost in online shopping during the pandemic.

According to financial services firm Cowen , Amazon's ad business is expected to make $17.6 billion this year. It's cementing Amazon as the third major player in online advertising behind Google and Facebook, and an increasing threat to both .

The change also feasibly means a temporary dip in advertising revenue for Google as retailers will now be able to have their products appear in search without paying for the visibility.

The company is already preparing to possibly see its ad revenue decline for the first time as a result of the pandemic, as Business Insider previously reported .

But Google is clearly thinking about the long-term strategy, and this latest move is one way to keep ahead of the Amazon threat.