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Correct Process for Site Maintenance & Down Time with Google Merchant Center
Correct Process for Site Maintenance & Down Time with Google Merchant Center

Merchants that are actively protecting their accounts, may wonder how to avoid policy violations when preparing for website maintenance or have a crisis server downtime. What is the correct process in avoiding account disapprovals or suspensions?

What Happens When You Do Nothing?

Let’s talk about what happens when you do not prepare or do not follow the recommended process below in this article.

Google constantly checks if your server, product data, checkout and more are all live, working and correct.

What happens when server is down?

All products will get disapproved, which may lead to a permanent suspension.

What happens when data is not correct?

Products affected will get disapproved and if the percentage is too high, all current and or future products will get a pre-emptive disapproval

[focus]When you encounter many issues or disapprovals then you may get a permanent suspension with no turning back. Issue prevention is key to keeping your business future safe.[/focus]

What Are The Required Procedures

Before you enter maintenance mode, at least minimum half an hour in advance, recommended 2 hour in advance:

  • place all products as out of stock
  • set automatic updates to off
  • add excluded destination for all shopping and or any other paid channel
  • lower the Google crawl rate limit

How Do I Accomplish All The Procedures?

There are many ways to cover all these steps, but I will only suggest the easiest way.

Step 1: Place all products as out of stock

Go to Google Merchant Center > Products > Feeds > click on your feed

Google Merchant Center Feed Settings

From the tabs, choose Feed Rules and click on the blue plus sign and search for availability

Google Merchant Center Feed Rules

Now click on set to in the data source section

Google Merchant Center Feed Rules, Data Source Set to

In the set to field, begin typing out of stock, and a drop-down will show. You can now select out of stock.

When completed, click on ok. In the top right corner, it will show an example. When you are happy, click on save draft.

Google Merchant Center Feed Rules Availability - Set To Draft

You can now click on apply, or if you want to test changes. However, I recommend you do the next step first (set excluded destinations). After both feed rules, you can apply the changes.

Step 2: Place all products to exclude all destinations

Click on the blue plus sign and choose excluded destinations.

Instead of choosing set to, choose set to multiple, with the following values.

  • Shopping ads
  • Display ads
  • Local inventory ads (if you have this)
  • Surfaces across Google (if you have this)
  • Shopping Actions (if you have this)

Click on ok, and save the draft.

Now you can apply both draft rules by clicking on apply.

Google Merchant Center Apply Feed Rules

Now feed rules are applied make sure to reprocess the feed under the processing tab and can continue to the next step.

Step 3: Disable automatic updates

Go to the top right corner and click on the wrench icon > automatic improvements

automatic improvements

Now disable the automatic updates for price and availability. If it’s already disabled that is fine.

disable automatic updates

Step 4: Lower Google crawl limits

Go to Google Search Console crawl rate limits choose your property if you need to, and check the radio button next to Limit Google’s maximum crawl rate.

Limit Google's maximum crawl rate

You have now completed the pre-requirements for setting your site into maintenance mode. Make sure to wait at least 2 hours before you set your site offline.

Maintenance Disabled, How To Products Back Online

First double-check everything is working, from the product landing pages to the checkout. And check whatever you changed. It is very common to overlook issues, so a double or triple check is worth it.

Revert all the changes

  • set the crawl limit back to normal
  • remove the feed rules you applied
  • enable automatic updates if this is what you want (feed processing click on reprocess feed)
  • Wait half an hour to 2 hours and your products will be approved and active if there are no issues

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