Before publishing products to Google Merchant Center, it is essential to know the basic requirements. This article will cover a precheck list, talk about the website, and data feed requirements alongside Google Ads tips.
Here is a great mind map
This map shows all the interconnected points related to Google Merchant Center. Click on the present icon to see it fullscreen
- I know this is ignored by many, but I advise every merchant to at least read Google’s Shopping Policy (Also click on all the links on the right-hand side)
- I have a great checklist for when you are suspended. However, prechecking this info allows you to avoid potential suspensions.
- 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, specific keywords both in titles, descriptions, and the rest of your site, 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 new disapproval. Instead, I recommend removing the keyword in violation or removing the product from the data feed and recommended from the site.
- When targeting multiple countries, you can submit a new data feed per country with the correct language grammar, and currency of the target country or submit the default data feed if it’s in English and use currency conversion.
- Do not check data feed-related issues in Google Ads. Due to the limited information, it is recommended to use the Google Merchant Center
- Ensure 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 is 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…
- Have a link on the footer of all pages 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 all pages that points to a payment policy page.
- Have a link on the footer of all pages that points to the delivery policy covering the duration of shipping, costs etc…
- Have a link on the footer of all pages that points to the a disclaimer and terms and condition page.
- Valid contact details that can be easily found on the site
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Business Hours
- Contact Form
- Physical Address that can be resolved in Google Maps
- All countries outside of the 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.
- 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 cost for the minimum number of items sold.
- Checkout processing, as well as the processing of any personal information (such as the address, email, etc.), must be secured (SSL-protected, with a valid SSL certificate). This 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.
- Typically merchants show all payment option image icons at the footer of the website.
- You must accept at the minimum credit and debit card payments.
- All Billing, Terms and Conditions, policy, and payment terms are clear and easily accessible.
- The landing page must have the title, price, description, image, currency, availability, and buy button visible. These elements must also be visual above the fold (visible without scrolling).
- No links to generic pages such as categories, the home page or search pages.
- Pages must be the same and accessible for all browsers and countries (no IP redirection).
- 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 visible (learn more on landing page optimization)
- When listing multiple prices such as VAT inc, VAT ex, RRP etc.. the first price that is visible must be the value that the customer will be paying for. Also, ensure that the font size is equal to or greater than the other prices listed on the page.
- Targeting multiple countries requires your landing page to be in the target country’s correct currency and native language.
- Show the correct availability (In stock, out of stock, pre-order, backorder)
- The shipping price must be accurate or overestimate.
- Delivery to store shipping rates are not allowed, only direct to customer.
- You can restrict delivery to locations. However, you are not allowed to advertise in these locations. Make sure you apply the correct Ads settings.
Other non critical requirements :
- Google periodically validates your prices using structured data. It is recommended that you integrate structured data. Including JSON-LD and Opengraph. This keeps your data fresh on Google Shopping and increases your data quality. This is very useful for when you have multiple prices, including tax, excluding, rrp etc.
- Include popups that obstruct customer’s natural behavior, such as blocking the add to basket button, checkout or any other critical elements on the site.
- Disable the back button.
- Use country / IP blocking.
- 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 though 500 might be the 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.
There are several methods when it comes to publishing products to Google Merchant Center. Below are the most common options.
- Google Sheets
- 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 sites such as price and availability
- Text Delimited or XML
- You can build your own data feed using a scripting language such as PHP, development knowledge is required and not recommended for beginners
- Web Crawler
- A great option for small websites.
- Amazon Inventory Feed
- Management Tool / Plugins
- An automated system that takes care of the heavy lifting. Daily updates, ranking tools, easily disable products, editing, rules, etc…
Every newly created Google Merchant Center 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.
- Use your SKU as ID.
- 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 either 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 daily.
- GTIN (bar codes) values must be submitted when the manufacturer has assigned one. You can learn more on when to add GTIN’s.
Your Google Data Feed minimum requirements
- All Products require :
- Image (Minimum 250 by 250 pixels) (Recommended 800 by 800 pixels)
- Google Category
- Link to website
- Brand (If GTIN is supplied)
- GTIN (If the manufacturer has assigned a bar code)
- For Apparel products above plus below :
- Item Group ID (only if you have multiple variants)
- Age Group
- Shipping / Tax
- Shipping and Tax must be added to either the data feed or at the Merchant account level. (US only)
- Link your Google Merchant Center account to Google Ads
- Weekly maintenance is required.
- When making changes, always wait at least seven 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.
- Enable device bid adjustments.
- Increase bidding on top performers.
- 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
- Create tripwire 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 customer’s lifetime value. Simply advertising without taking all of the rest into consideration might cause for lost opportunities.
- Repeat orders
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