Google Shopping Before You Start

Google Shopping Basic Before Your Start Tips

Before publishing products to Google Merchant, it is important to know the basic requirements. In this article I will cover a precheck list, talk about the website and data feed requirements alongside Adwords tips.


Precheck

  • I know this is ignored by many, but I advice every merchant to at least read Google’s Shoppping Policy or hire a Google Shopping Specialist
  • Read all official documents if you are submitting products related to health benefits, supplements or pharmaceuticals
  • Avoid usage of words related to weapons, pharmaceuticals and sexual connotation
    • Even when you are not selling prohibited products, due to the nature of Google’s automated  review system. Certain keywords both in titles and descriptions can cause violations. There is a way to ask Google for a manual review and possibly get the product listed. However from experience, you might encounter a new disapproval. Instead I recommend to remove the keyword in violation or to remove the product from the data feed.
  • When targeting multiple countries, you must submit a new data feed per country with the correct language grammar and currency of the target country
  • Do not check data feed related issues in Adwords, due to the limited information it is recommend to use the Google Merchant Center
  • Make sure the product ID can be used in your remarketing tags. When you want to use Display Remarketing or Audience Remarketing. It works best when the product ID are the same, you can find out more on how to setup a display remarketing campaign. If you have an existing data feed and have used this for a while, do not change the product id’s in the data feed. Instead submit alternative id’s in the display ads id attribute.
  • Submit all your products, including variants such as colors, sizes etc…

Website

  • Have a link on the footer of the page that points to a return and refund policy (learn more on how to write a Return and Refund Policy)
  • Have a link on the footer of the page that points to the delivery policy covering the duration of shipping, costs etc…
  • Have a link on the footer of the page that points to the payment methods or add logos of the payment methods
  • Valid contact details that can be easily found on the site
    1. Phone Number
    2. Email Address
    3. Contact Form
    4. Physical Address that can be resolved in Google Maps

Price

  • All countries outside of US, Canada and India  must have the prices listed including VAT (tax) for both the data feed and the website
  • For products on sale, always use the sales price attribute and keep the normal listing price as is
  • Ensure if you have a sale price to have both regular price and sales price, clearly visible
  • Any customer in the target country should be able to buy the product without the need to buy any additional prices
  • Products sold in bulk, must list the minimum purchasable quantity price (total price of minimum available order) in the data feed
  • You can list the minimum quantity and unit price instead of the total price for the minimum number of items sold

Checkout

  • Checkout processing, as well as processing of any personal information (such as the address, email, etc…), must be secured (SSL-protected, with a valid SSL certificate). Which means that the checkout URL must resolve to HTTPS and not HTTP
  • Make sure all payment options are clearly explained before the customer starts the checkout procedure
    • Typicly merchants show all payment option image icons at the footer of the website
  • All Billing Terms and Conditions are clear and easily accessible

Landing Page

  • The landing page must have the title, price, description, image, currency, availability and buy button clearly visible
  • No links to generic pages such as categories, home page, search pages
  • Pages must be the same and accessible for all browsers and countries
  • If listing variants, make sure the landing page product has the correct variant pre selected
  • The product information must be relevant both in the data feed and landing page
  • Prices need to be clearly visible (learn more on landing page optimization)
  • When listing multiple prices such as VAT inc, VAT exc, RRP etc.. the first price that is visible must be the value which the customer will be paying for. Also ensure that the font size is equal or greater than the other prices listed on the page.
  • Targeting multiple countries requires your landing page to be in the correct currency and native language of the target country
  • Show the correct availability (In stock, out of stock, pre order)

Shipping

  • The shipping price must be accurate or an overestimate
  • Delivery to store shipping rates are not aloud, only direct to customer
  • You can restrict delivery to locations, however you are not aloud to advertise in these locations. Make sure you apply the correct Adwords settings

Other non critical requirements :

  • Google periodically validates your prices using microdata, it is recommended that you integrate microdata. Including microdata not only keeps your data fresh on Google Shopping but also increases your data quality. This is very useful for when you have multiple prices such as including tax, excluding, rrp etc…

Do not

  • Include popups that obstruct customers natural behavior such as blocking the add to basket button, checkout or any other critical elements on the site
  • Disable the back button
  • List duplicate products, including other marketplaces that also advertise on Google Shopping such as Ebay, Etsy and Amazon
  • Use country / IP blocking
  • Use javascript enabled currency changing scripts, instead change the prices server side
  • Submit wrong bulk pricing, where the cheapest is listed, you have to submit the minimum purchasable volume. For example, if you sell bundles of 10 , 100 and 500, even thought 500 might be cheapest per unit, you need to submit the total price of 10. Also remember that Google Shopping is consumer based where they tend to buy 1 unit
  • List prices VAT exclusive

Data Feeds

Methods

There are several methods when it comes to publishing products to Google Merchant. Below are the most common options.

  • Text Delimiter
    • Great for when you have less than 50 products to manage, the downside is that you have to manually update all the data every time attributes changes on your site such as price and availability
    • You can use Google Spreadsheet
  • XML Custom
    • You can build your own data feed using a scripting language such as PHP, knowledge required and not recommended for beginners
  • Plugins
    • Fairly easy to setup, there are free and paid plugins on the market
  • Management Tool
    • As with the FeedArmy application, this is an automated system that takes care of the heavy lifting. Daily updates, ranking tools, easily disable products etc…

Every newly created Google Merchant Feed will receive an initial manual and automated review. The Google Reviewer will look at your website and product data feed. This process can take up to 3 business days.

  • Submitting images is best done with a white background and 800 by 800 pixels. Do not submit images with text, logos, watermarks, people or borders
  • Shipping prices must be accurate or an overestimate
  • Shipping prices can be added ether in the data feed or in Google Merchant. Remember that any data feed shipping values overwrite the settings in Google Merchant
  • Focus on the titles as the titles define the search terms your products are eligible for
  • Submit VAT inclusive prices, Google Shopping is a consumer marketplace and thus the prices must be all in
  • Ensure that your prices and availability are up to date on a daily basis
  • GTIN (bar codes) values must be submitted when the manufacturer has assinged one, you can learn more on when to add GTIN’s.

Your Google Data Feed minimum requirements

  1. All Products require :
    1. ID
    2. Title
    3. Description
    4. Image (Minimum 250 by 250 pixels) (Recommended 800 by 800 pixels)
    5. Google Category
    6. Link to website
    7. Condition
    8. Availability
    9. Price
    10. Brand (If GTIN is supplied)
    11. GTIN Depending on the brand and designated brands a GTIN and or MPN must be supplied..
  2. For Apparel products above plus below :
    1. Group ID (only if you have multiple variants)
    2. Color
    3. Gender
    4. Age Group
    5. Size
  3. Shipping / Tax
    1. Shipping and Tax must be added to ether the data feed or at the Merchant account level. (US only)

Submitting Your Data Feed

Even if you use a plugin, tool or any other method of creating a data feed it is always advised to first submit a test feed. A test feed allows you to check for any errors in the data. If you submit data directly live you will encounter a wide array of issues such as 7 day time limit to fix issues, possible account suspensions etc… To ensure you have everything correct always submit a test feed, you will not get any suspensions on test feeds.


Google Adwords

  • Link your Google Merchant account to Adwords
  • Set up an effective shopping campaign
  • Weekly maintenance is required
  • When making changes always wait at least 7 days for the effects to take full effect
  • Check search terms report for irrelevant keywords
  • Small Companies, create 1 ad group
  • Large Companies, split the ad groups up by brand, category or custom labels
  • Use Audience remarketing
  • Enable location bid adjustments
  • Enalbe device bid adjustments
  • Increase bidding on top performers
  • Optimize your Google Shopping Adwords Campaigns
  • Use ROAS or ROI as your bid targeting method instead of cost per conversion
    • 1 Sale could be as much as $1000 or $50, using All Conversion value divided by advertising costs allows you to bid more effectively than cost per conversion

Tips

  • Create trip wire offers
    • List products that are a great jumping board for selling more, for example list something cheaper than your other products
  • When advertising think about the customers lifetime value, simply advertising without taking all of the rest into consideration might cause for lost opertunities
    • Repeat orders
    • Remarketing
    • Email Newsletter