Ultimate Guide on Google Shopping Feed

Ultimate Guide on Google Shopping Feed

 

Google Shopping feed is a file consisting of a list of items that uses various attributes that help in defining each one of the listed items in a unique way. It is simply information about your company’s products that are formatted in a specific way to help Google understand and read your data.

Why should you create a feed for your eCommerce store?

Why should you create a feed for your eCommerce store

 

Properly creating your feed is vital for these three reasons:

1. To make the products show up for the most relevant product search queries

This way, your product will be shown to people who really intend to purchase the product.

2. To make that prospective buyer click your shopping ad

When shown for relevant search queries, potential customers will be encouraged to click on your ads.

3. To Optimize your Google shopping ads easily

Optimizing your Google Shopping ads will help enhance your ad performance.

Google has a set of Google Shopping feed guidelines and specifications that you must go through before creating your Shopping Feeds.

Read on to find out more about Google Shopping guidelines and specifications.

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Google Shopping Feed Guidelines

Google Shopping Feed Guidelines

 

Before you begin creating your own Google Merchant Center account, you will have to ensure that the company complies with all the guidelines given below:

1. Promote only items that are available for direct purchase

When promoting your products through online shopping, make sure each one of them is available for direct purchase. Affiliate or pay-per-click links to your products should not be promoted through Google shopping ads, except when you are a part of the Affiliate Advertising Beta or as a CSS (Comparison Shopping Service) in the EEA or Switzerland. Links included in the Google Shopping Ads must lead customers straight to the product page, allowing them to purchase the product.

2. At least one official language must be used

It is important to use the official language of the country you are planning on advertising your products in. You could also use more than 1 official language, but when doing this, different product data can be submitted for each language and the links must go to websites that are in the same language.

You could use the same language for:

  • Your website

  • The product data you plan on submitting

  • The language you choose when you register the product data 

3. Provide your customers with the return and refund policy

Before customers plan on purchasing products from your store, they should be allowed to view the return and refund policy. Therefore, make sure the policy is easy to find and understand, and even if your company does not offer refunds or returns, state that explicitly in your policy.

The policy must exactly explain how your company handles such situations, including:

  1. What the customer should do when they need a refund or need to return a product

  2. Under what circumstances does the company allow the user to return their product or get a refund

  3. The timeframe in which a return is accepted by the store

  4. When the refund can be expected by the customer

 4. User information must be collected securely and responsibly

When collecting personal information from your users, be extra careful. You should always follow the guidelines given below:

  1. Never sell the contact information of the user

  2. Credit card numbers and other personal information should be collected securely using an SSL-protected page

  3. Images and personal information of the customers should not be used on ads without their permission.

  4. The primary purpose of the website you make should not be to collect personal information from the customers.

  5. Do not provide free products or incentives unless under these specific circumstances:

    1. As a reason for the marketing campaign

    2. With the purchase of an item

5. Verify your website URL and claim it

In a search console, verify your domain and claim it to make sure the owner of the site is you and to prevent other people from claiming ownership over your site. You need to be able to upload essential files to your server or be able to edit the HTML of the website in order to verify your URL.

6. Website requirements

Google has a set of requirements that your site should meet. They check your website for a few basic requirements according to the Merchant Centre Program you are taking part in:

1. Include contact information that is accurate

Include accurate contact information on your websites such as a valid telephone number and email.

2. The website checkout process must be secure

Collection of any financial and personal information from the customer, as well as payment and transaction processing, should be done over SSL-protected, secure processing servers.

3. Provide Return policy.

Return policies given on your website must be conspicuous and clear.

4. Billing terms and conditions.

The site must include clear and understandable billing terms and conditions.

5. Make sure your customers can easily complete the checkout process.

The checkout process must be complete. Therefore, make sure you are able to properly include items to the shopping cart and completely go through the checkout process without any problems.

7. Regularly log in to your Merchant Center account

It is best to log in to your Merchant Centre account regularly (at least once in every 14 months) so that it remains active. This will also help Google know that your data is not outdated.

8. Ensure your product data complies with the Google product data specifications

Your product data has to be formatted to meet the product data specifications before you submit it through your Google Merchant Centre. Formatting guidelines are present in Google, and it clearly explains how the product data should be submitted in order to help them understand it better.

The specifications will have a lot of information and are it best to go through it before you begin the process to help you get a better understanding of what you will be eventually doing.

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Google Shopping feed Specifications

Google Shopping feed Specifications

 

With these google shopping feed specifications, the product information for various programs can be formatted. Formatting the data correctly will help you create unpaid listings and successful ads. This data is used by Google to ensure that your products are matched for the most relevant user searches.

Required fields 

1. ID

What is ID in Google shopping feed?

The ID you select identifies the product and helps Google retrieve information that is product-specific. An ID helps distinguish each product and can be used to track the performance of the product.

Do’s

  1. Each product should have a unique value. If possible, you could do this using the SKU of your company.

  2. When updating product data, the ID must be the same.

  3. Only valid Unicode characters should be used.

  4. For the same product, use the same ID across languages or countries.

Don'ts

  1. When creating the ID, do not use invalid characters like function, control, or private area characters. 

2. Title

What is Title in Google shopping feed?

The Title is used to accurately identify the product that is being sold. It is one of the most important parts of your shopping ads Accurate and specific titles will help present the product for the most relevant search queries.

Do’s

  1. The title can be matched from your page after accurately describing the product.

  2. For variants, you could add a distinguishing feature like size or color.

  3. Include “with contract” for mobile devices that are sold with a contract.

  4. If the product is sold in installments in the United States, you could include “with payment plan”.

  5. For Russia, at the beginning of the title, include the age rating for selling information products like books.

Don'ts

  1. In the title, do not include gimmicky foreign characters, all capital letters, or promotional texts such as “Free Shipping”.

3. Description

What is the Description of Google shopping feed?

The description will contain information about the product itself. The Description will allow people to understand more about the product you are selling.

Do’s

  1. Make sure the “description” accurately describes the product and match it from the landing page.

  2. It should only contain information about the product.

  3. The description can be formatted using lists, line breaks, italics, etc.

Don'ts

  1. It should not contain all capital letters, promotional texts, or gimmicky foreign characters.

4. Link

What is Link in Google shopping feed?

When customers click on your ad, they will be taken straight to the product page. This is done with the help of the link attribute, using the URL of the landing page added in the link attribute.

Do’s

  1. Ensure you include a verified domain name.

  2. Always begin with “https” or “http”.

  3. An encoded URL that complies with RFC 1738 or RFC 2396 can be used. For instance, a comma, in this type of URL, would be shown as “%2C”.

Don'ts

  1. Do not link your page to an interstitial page (unless it is legally required).

5. Image_Link

What is image_link in Google shopping feed?

In the image_link attribute, include the main product image’s URL. This image will be shown in ads to potential customers.

Do’s

Image URL
  1. Begin with “https” or “Http”.

  2. Make sure it links to the main product image.

  3. An encoded URL (one that complies with RFC 1738 or RFC 2396) must be used.

  4. Make sure Google can crawl to the URL (robots.txt configuration allowing Googlebot-image and Googlebot).

Image
  1. It must accurately display the product being sold.

  2. An accepted format must be used: JPEG (.jpeg/.jpg), non-animated GIF (.gif), PNG (.png), TIFF (.tiff/.tif), and BMP (.bmp).

  3. For products that do not belong to apparel, the image could be at least 100 X 100 pixels.

  4. For apparel products, a picture of at least 250 X 250 pixels could be used.

Don'ts

  1. Images you submit should not be larger than 64 megapixels and the files should not be larger than 16MB.

  2. Do not submit a thumbnail or scale up the image.

  3. Do not add borders, watermarks, or promotional texts. 

6. Availability

What is Availability in Google shopping feed?

The availability attribute is to show which products are in stock and can be ordered to be shipped to the customers.

Do’s

  1. The availability of the product must be accurately included and make sure you match the availability from the landing page.

Don'ts

  1. Do not list products that are not available or cannot be shipped to the customers’ region.

7. Price

What is Price in Google shopping feed?

The Price attribute is used to tell your customers how much you are charging for the products you are selling on your site.

Do’s

  1. Make sure the customer can purchase the product from your site for the price you have mentioned.

  2. If you are selling products in bulk, multipacks, or bundles, then include the total price of the minimum quantity they could purchase the bundle.

  3. Mention the currency in which you will accept the payment. It can be based on the country you are selling in.

  4. When there is a sale, be sure to include both the regular and the sales price. Also, provide the beginning and the end of the date and time of the sale.

Don'ts

  1. For Canada and the US, do not add the tax to the price.

  2. Do not include the cost of shipping in the price.

  3. If the user cannot purchase one product, then do not mention the price of one product.

8. Brand

What is Brand in Google shopping feed?

The Brand attribute is used to show the brand name of the product and help users identify which products are yours.

Do’s

  1. Include the product’s brand name that customers generally recognize.

  2. Your store name can be provided as the brand name if the product is manufactured by you, or if the product comes under a generic brand category. For instance, your store name can be submitted as the brand name if you sell customized jewelry or white label products.

  3. Under the brand attribute, you could submit the supplier or manufacturer name if your product does not have a brand name.

  4. When the products are compatible, include a GTIN and the brand from the products’ manufacturer.

Don'ts

  1. Values like generic, N/A, Does not exist, or No Brand, should not be submitted.

9. GTIN

What is GTIN in Google shopping feed?

The GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) is an internationally recognized and unique identifier given to products. This will help Google classify your products and display them for searches.

 

Do’s

  1. Always submit valid GTINs that meet the requirements included in the official GS1 validation guide.

  2. If the products are compatible, then submit GTIN and brand from the producer.

  3. When selling bundles, use product identifiers of the bundle’s main product.

  4. If your company offers engraving, customization, and other such personalization of a product that has a GTIN then include the GTIN and use the attribute “is_bundle” so that Google knows customizations are included in the product.

Don'ts

  1. For compatible products, do not provide the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) brand to show that the product is not a replica of or compatible with the OEM brand’s product.

Optional fields

1.  Additional_image_link

What is Additional_image_link in Google shopping feed?

This attribute will allow you to include more images of the products you are selling beyond the main image. This will allow customers to view your products from different angles.

Do’s

  1. Make sure the image_link attribute’s requirements are met with a few exceptions being:

      1. Illustrations or graphics can be included.

      2. the image can show the product in use and product staging.

  2. by including the attribute multiple times, you can submit up to 10 additional images.

Don'ts

  1. Do not include more than 2000 characters.

2. Mobile_link

What is mobile_link in Google shopping feed?

This allows you to add a URL to a landing page of the mobile-optimized version. These pages will load faster on smartphones and ensure the page looks right on a smartphone.

Do’s

  1. The mobile_link must meet the specifications for the link attribute.

Don'ts

  1. Repeated fields should not be added.

3. Availability_date

What is Availability_date in Google shopping feed?

This attribute is used to inform customers when a preordered product would be shipped.

Do’s

  1. You can make use of this attribute if you include “availability” as “preorder”.

Don'ts

  1. Do not go beyond 25 alphanumeric characters.

4. Cost_of_goods_sold

What is Cost_of_goods_sold in Google shopping feed?

When reporting information on the purchased item using the global site tag, this attribute is used. This data can help your company calculate the gross profit of the items.

Do’s

  1. Use ‘.’ Instead of ‘,’ to indicate a decimal point.

  2. Currency with ISO 4217 codes should be used (Example. “USD”).

Don'ts

  1. Do not use any characters except numeric.

5. Expiration_date

What is Expiration_date in Google shopping feed?

The Expiration_date can be used to inform Google when to stop showing your products. This is usually done for seasonal products and limited stock.

Do’s

  1. You could use a date that is less than 30 days in the future.

Don'ts

  1. Do not forget to specify when Google should stop showing your product if the product is being sold for a brief period of time.

6. Sale_price

What is Sale_price in Google shopping feed?

The attribute is used to show how much a product costs during a sale. This price will be shown as the current price of the product during the sale.

Do’s

  1. Make sure the requirements for the “price” attribute are met here.

  2. In addition to the price attribute, include the sale_price with the non-sale price.

  3. It must be accurate and should match the sale price present on the landing page.

Don'ts

  1. Do not include more than 2 digits after the decimal point. If you do include more than 2, then it will automatically be rounded to 2 decimals.

7. Sale_price_effective_date

What is Sale_price_effective_date in google shopping feed?

When a sale price is applied, this attribute will tell Google how long you want that price to be shown to people.

Do’s

  1. Use this together with the sale_price.

  2. The sale_price always applies even if the sale_price_effective_date is not submitted.

  3. Include a start date before the end date.

Don'ts

  1. Do not forget to add time zones along with the date. If it is not added, then the sale price, on the start date, will begin at 12 AM and the last date it will end at 11:59 PM.

8. Google_product_category

What is Google_product_category in google shopping feed?

Every product you submit will be automatically put under a product category from the product taxonomy of Google.

Do’s

  1. Add only one category.

  2. Make sure the category you add is the most relevant one to the product.

  3. Include the numerical category ID or the full path of the category.

  4. For certain items, add a specific category (for example, for alcoholic beverages, the categories would include “Food, Beverages, & Tobacco > Beverages> Alcoholic Beverages”, or other similar subcategories.

Don'ts

  1. Categories published before August 2011 should not be used. Use the latest values.

 

How to create Google Shopping Feed?

How to create Google Shopping Feed

By following these simple steps, you can create your own Google Shopping feed.

a) Sign in to your Merchant Center account

Begin by logging into your Google Merchant Centre account. If you have not already created one, then create an account before going to the next step.

b) Select “Products” present at the menu of the Merchant Centre Account

The menu section will be present at the left-side of your account.

 

c)  Click on the “Create Product Feed”

This will be present at the center of the Product page.

d) Choose the country of sale

The country of Sale is to include the countries you are planning on selling in and shipping the products to.

 

e) Choose the languages you prefer and select “continue”

You could select the languages that are official or popularly spoken in that country.

f)  Name your primary feed

Feeds consist of supplemental and primary feeds. The source for your product data is the primary feeds while the supplemental feeds help meet Merchant Centre requirements by providing additional information.

g)  Review the product feed and the policies 

Review the product feed and the policies on Google Shopping ads including other specific programs you wish to join (i.e., Local inventory ads, Shopping actions, Surface across Google). This will help you decide which programs you would want to take part in.

h) Once you are ready, check the box to confirm that it is reviewed

You can do this after reviewing all the data you have uploaded.

i)   Select “Create your feed” in order to complete the setup

After this, you will have successfully created your product feed for your Google Shopping!

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How to Update your Google Shopping feed?

How to Update your Google Shopping feed

 

When it comes to getting your items into Google Shopping, there are four popular options.

a) Google sheets

Google Sheets is one of the simplest ways to upload product data to Google. You can either submit a Google sheet that you already created or update an existing template provided by Google during registration.

When you make updates to your data on Google sheets, they will automatically be applied to your account.

One of the biggest advantages of Google Sheets is that you can choose an already existing template and update the data. This way, the chance of making little mistakes with the Feed specifications are reduced.

b) Scheduled fetch

In scheduled fetch, you can either include a schedule to a product feed that is already registered or select scheduled fetch during feed registration, where you will have to specify settings information.

For updating, you can host a file containing data on your website and schedule a regular time that helps fetch updates by Google.

You can set it by –monthly, weekly, or daily, according to which the updates will be fetched.

Only when the fetch occurs, updates will be applied to your account.

Scheduled fetch is a hands-off approach since it does not require you to upload or manually create your feed. Every time a small part of information about the product or the product changes on your websites, it will automatically be updated.

 

c)  Upload

 In this method, you will have a file containing data on your computer and upload it regularly to your account through FTP, SFTP, a Manual upload, or Google Cloud Storage.

The file must be included in .csv, .txt, or .xml format and must have a size under 20 MB.

 

d) Content API

Product listings can be automatically uploaded by the Content API, making your items easily discoverable through Google shopping ads.

Instead of manual updates in the Merchant Centre, this allows you to manage the feed content programmatically. If you wish to go down this route, then you can discuss this with a developer.

For example, our easy Google shopping feed uses the Google content API tool and will help you create Shopping feeds and run Google Shopping Ads very easily. Any changes you make in your Shopify store will automatically be fetched and updated in the product feed.

This method is the best option for a company that has so many products that sell very quickly, making manual updation a complex process.

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How to Optimize Google Shopping Feed?

How to Optimize Google Shopping Feed

 

Optimization can help improve ad performances.

a) Highlight important product details

You could use product titles to attract potential customers to your Google Shopping Ads!

1. Important attributes can be included in your title

In your product titles, you could include attributes like age group, strong brand names, size, gender, size type, color, or other personalization options. The information in the title must be most relevant to the product you are selling in order to have better matches to user search queries and increase performance.

2.  Include key details at the front of your title

At the front of the title, include key details, especially when this information is not visible in the product image. Since many ad formats truncate product titles, it is best to present the most compelling and relevant information at the front to make sure the customers are well-informed about the product before deciding on whether they should click your ad and view your product.

b) Always use high-quality images

Improve performance and create the best impression by using high-quality product images.

1.  Submit image_link with the highest resolution you have

Products that have images of high-quality have more chances of being shown for relevant search queries. Moreover, it can capture the attention of anybody searching for your product, especially because they use high-resolution smartphones.

2. Avoid images including logos or promotional texts or placeholder images

It is best to include a professional image to get the attention of the customer.

c)  Submit the most accurate product data

Create a strong relationship with your customer by including complete and the most up-to-date information.

1. Maintain up-to-date availability and price

Up-to-date information, including shipping and tax, should be maintained by using the Content API, automated feed delivery, or structured data markup. If the product does not show the availability or the price, then potential customers would leave your page.

2. The product_type values you provide must be very detailed

Make sure the product_type you have submitted includes the full category. Begin with a broader group and end with a more specific one that is most relevant to the product you are selling. Do not include search queries, synonyms, or promotional texts.

3. Include google_product_category values that are at least 2-3 levels deep

Make sure the category you give is the most relevant. You could submit either the numerical category Id or the entire path of the category.

4. For each product in your product data include a unique product ID

It is best to use a unique title and product id for each of your products since the same id will preserve its historical data. Moreover, by making each title unique, you could include attributes and information that are specific to that product, helping the customers to quickly find the product they wish to buy.

5. If the GTIN is available for the product, then include it

GTINs (Global Trade Item Numbers) helps Google understand exactly what your company sells. With this information, they can help increase your ad performance by including other valuable information. This would also mean that your shopping ads will be shown in places like YouTube, Google, and other partner sites.

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Conclusion

This ultimate guide can help you easily set up your Shopping feeds and run your Google Shopping Ads. Once you begin selling your products online, you can check out ways to optimize your feeds and enhance performance!

 

Additional resources

 

  1. Beginners Guide to Google Shopping Ads

  2. How to Troubleshoot your google shopping feed?

  3. What are the Requirements to google shopping Feed?

  4. Tips to Optimize Your Google Shopping Feed

  5. Google Shopping Feed Specifications Guide