Common Google Shopping Errors, Problems & Mistakes

Setting up a Google Shopping Feed can be complicated, from an over sized Google Policy to data feed errors. Ether you have XML formatting errors or Google slaps you with a temporarily suspension. In this article I will explain the most common issues. This article is great for when you are just about to submit your data feed.

1) XML Formatting

  • Special Characters : Even if you are using an Application it is not always guaranteed that your formatting is correct, certain special characters such as (∀∅ ♠ ) can cause a problem, A good indication of a well designed application is an application that has a fresh update frequency. If you are converting everything your self be careful with titles and descriptions as these will most certainly generate warnings.
  • Special Characters in Google Shopping : Certain special characters can also cause an issue inside Google Shopping, unfortunately, there is no published list of these characters. So always submit a test feed, never start with a live feed.
  • White spaces : White spaces are hard to find, so hard you will need a HTML editor like Notepad++ to find them. They are highlighted with ATX meaning non render able characters. They can be found using a search regex function. The function can be created by highlighting the ATX then click on regex.

notepad find white spaces

2) Dynamic Pricing

  • Inside your Google Merchant Center you might have noticed an error saying, Could not update prices dynamically. This means that you have a few prices on your website that make it hard for Google to identify which price is which. To resolve this issue you will need to integrate microdata.

3) Can’t update Images

  • Once you have added a feed and you want to update your images, you might have noticed they actually don’t update. Or if you have a violation and you want to update the images, you might have encountered nothing has changed. If the image name is identical Google does not update the image. To resolve this, you will need to update your images with a new file name or add a query string. This forces Google to crawl the new image.

4) Pricing and Availability

  • On every new upload feed and on periodic validations, Google checks if the price and availability match to that of your website. If there is a mismatch than your product will be suspended until the mismatch is fixed.

5) Secure Checkout SSL

  • Every page where you collect personal information needs to be secured with an SSL Certificate. Meaning that your url will be HTTPS instead of HTTP. Even if you have a 3rd party gateway, if you collect the billing address on your site you are collecting private information. Which means you need to secure the pages you collect these. Personally I would change the whole site to HTTPS. Doing this will benefit you in ranking. I have written an article on how to change your WordPress site to HTTPS which explains that you gain 1% in ranking on certain keywords.

6) Categories

  • When creating a product feed, each product requires a category. It can sometimes happen that you did not add one or you added it in the wrong category. To validate which Taxonomy to use, go to Google’s Product Taxonomy.

7) Gift Cards

  • This is not an error but a suggestion for Merchants, you can add Gift Cards to Google Shopping using the same category as the product it is intended for. Do read up on the Gift Card Policy

8) Unique Identifiers GTIN (Global Trad Identification Number)

  • Every single customer I have, has some issue with Unique Identifiers. Some think they don’t need it, others think buying bulk bar codes will solve the problem. There is a huge misunderstanding.
  • First ask your manufacturer if they have bar codes, a bar code is EAN, UPC, GTIN, ISBN, JAP…., if they have these numbers, than you are required to use them. If the manufacturer has never registered one, than select custom goods. Manufacturers are not required to register a GTIN.
  • When you select custom goods, Brand, MPN and GTIN are not required.
  • If you have multiple codes such as both UPC and EAN than use the one that is relevant to the native country, UPC is America so use this when targeting the US, if you are targeting a European country than use EAN. Do make sure that the code is as printed on the product label.

9) Do not upload thousands at a time

  • Allot of merchants want to dump all there products in one go to Google Merchant, but forget to understand than most likely you will have lots of violations. Always first setup a test feed, if the test feed is working. Than upload around a 100 products. If you are approved by Google and have no violations, you can than start by adding all the other products.
  • If you upload more than a thousand into a live feed, you could potentially have so many violations that you don’t have the time to fix it. Normally you have 7 days to fix it.

10) Key elements on the landing page

  • On your landing page, you need the following elements to be clearly visible.
    • Title
    • Description
    • Price
    • Currency
    • Availability
    • Buy Button
    • Image

11) Titles & Descriptions

  • It is very important that you check your Titles and Descriptions for any writing that could hold any violation.
  • Common Violations
    • CAPITALIZATION
    • Use of promotional text. Here is a list of known promotional words.
    • Mentioning other products
    • Contact details
  • Most APPS / Plugins do not allow for customization, it is common that you want to keep the Title and the Description intact and have the data feed completely different. That is why using a standalone Google Shopping Data Feed APP is a better solution.

12) Images

  • Missing images or Policy violations can happen when you upload a feed or on a periodic manual evaluation.
  • The most common issues with images are :
    • Missing images
    • Borders around the image
    • Promotional, Brand or any type of text on the image
    • Image is to small, can’t be lower than 250 pixels * 250 pixels

13) Tax & Shipping

  • There are two areas where you can enter Tax and Shipping. You can add it in the feed or at the Google Merchant account level. (Settings)
  • Ether way you will need to have it on one or the other
  • If you have a shipping price on the account level, any shipping price or tax price on the product inside the data feed will overwrite the account level information.

14) Sale Price Handling

  • It is recommended if you have a sale or promotion that you change the sale price and not the actual price.
  • 3 Fields are required when adding a sale price
    • Sale Price
    • Sale Price Start Date
    • Sale Price End Date

15) Merchant Account Settings

  • When choosing a merchant name, you will need to ensure it is not in all capitals
    • You can use your website name for example feedarmy.com
  • Verify your shop domain