id - Google Merchant center Feed Specification Guide

 

ID_Google_Merchant_Center_Feed_Specification_Guide

 

Google shopping is the latest trend that has taken eCommerce by storm with a yearly growth of 52% year after year. It has become a hot ticket for merchants to drive quality traffic and increase their sales enormously. In the long run, google merchant is expected to lead the online shopping industry. Here is a detailed description of how to be a google merchant and increase your sales. 

For your product data to appear in Google shopping ads, the Google feed software needs to understand your data in a way that lets search engines find your product easily and give a rich shopping experience to the user. This is possible if you follow the guidelines outlined in the Google merchant center feed guide for the creation of product data feed. 

As per the Google feed specification guide, the product information must be supplied to Google feed software in .xml or .txt format. In this article, we will look into details of the “id” attribute.

 

ID - Definition

 

ID value lets the Google software uniquely identify your product and it is a mandatory field to be entered while creating product data feed. The id has to have a specific format as described below:

  1. Type – It should only have Unicode characters with the recommendation of only ASCII which means alphanumeric, dashes, and underscores are allowed.

  2. Length – The id should be between 1-50 characters in length.

  3. No repeated fields are allowed in the id attribute.

  4. Schema.org – This annotation helps Google in reliably processing your content. For the id field, this should be of type text and must have Product.sku value. Below is an example of the “id” field

File format

Sample

Text feeds

tddy123uk

XML feeds

<g:id>tddy123uk</g:id>

 

Minimum requirements

 

One must submit quality data for enhanced customer experience and also for Google feed software to process your product data consistently and reliably. To do that one of the requirements is that the id in Google feed must adhere to some basic requirements, failing which the product data would be declined by Google and a notification regarding the same would be sent to the diagnostics section of your Google merchant account. Let us see what these requirements are:

1. Unique ID 

 

The ID field is what distinguishes one product from another and it has to be unique across all products.

 

2. Stable ID 

 

Google wants to maintain the product’s advertising history which is beneficial to the merchants in many ways. To do so, one must keep the ID stable at all times and not change it once the product is up for sale. The id, along with the country of sale and language are the key factors in identifying the product by Google feed software and retrieving all information specific to that product. Changing ID would overwrite all that data necessary to track the product and its advertising history. Hence make sure you choose a proper ID at the beginning itself.            

 

3. Same product ID across different countries and different languages 

 

  • In a multilingual country like Switzerland or India, one must use the same product id for all the languages used within the country.

  • If a product is being sold in two or more countries like the US and Canada, use the same product id for all the countries of sale.

 

4. The casing should not be used to make product ids unique 

 

If you enter xyz345 and XYZ345 as product ids for 2 different products then even though product ids are case-sensitive in the Google merchant center, it might still lead to confusion. Google feed software might have issues in filtering them or matching them across primary and supplemental feeds. So it is best not to differentiate between product ids by means of the casing but to use different combinations of letters and numbers to identify each product uniquely.

 

5. Do not use white spaces 

 

Product ids should not contain white spaces within them. If there are consecutive white spaces or a product id is preceded or followed by white spaces then the Google feed software would automatically cut them out.

 

6. Make sure there are no invalid Unicode characters 

 

 When you submit your product data, you must save them in an appropriate file format which is supported by Google and they must have the right file extensions. The list of supported file formats and extensions are as below:

  1. .gz : Gnu zip, XML or compressed TSV (recommended)

  2. .txt : TSV

  3. .zip : compressed TSV of XML as a zip file

  4. .xml : XML

  5. .bz2 : compressed TSV of XML as a Bzip2 file

If your product data adheres to the above file formats and extensions then it is less likely to have any encoding issues with these product data. These issues usually happen during the process of encoding your file so you must use UTF-8 encoding for the product data. Below is listed a few examples of invalid Unicode characters:

  1. Function characters

  2. Control characters (e.g. U+200D)

  3. Surrogate pairs

  4. Private area characters

  5. Unassigned code points

 

Best practices for defining product Ids  

 

Apart from the basic requirements, there are a few best practices that you can follow to better the performance by using optimized product data.

 

Using SKUs for the product Ids 

 

An SKU of your product is a unique number and assigning that as the product ID can help Google feed software to understand your product landing page in a better manner. Also, SKUs are never identical hence using them as product Ids will ensure that you have a unique product ID always and you are not reusing any ID by mistake.

 

Examples

 

Let us now take a look at a few examples of defining a product id:

 

1. Product without variant  

 

If a product has no variant then one can have the following id:

Product

id

My baby book

01XYZ

 

2. Product with variants 

If a product sells in different colors and sizes then one needs to have a unique id for each of the variants. So if your product has 4 variants then the parent SKU for all the 4 products goes in the item_group_id attribute field and the id attribute would be unique which is again based on the parent SKU.

 

Product

Colour

Item_group_id

id

Google sunglasses

Purple

67891

67891-P

 

Product

Color

Item_group_id

id

Google sunglasses

Green

67891

67891-G

 

Product

Color

Item_group_id

id

Google sunglasses

Violet

67891

67891-V

 

Product

Color

Item_group_id

id

Google sunglasses

white

67891

67891-W

 

Product

Color

Item_group_id

id

Google sunglasses

Coffee

67891

67891-C

 

3. The product id for multiple countries 

 

If you are selling the same product in different countries then product id remains the same across countries.

 

Product

Country of sale

id

Google android phone

United States

01XYZ

 

Product

Country of sale

id

Google android phone

Canada

01XYZ

 

Conclusion

 

When you want to sell your product data on Google shopping ads, there are many things you must consider regarding the product feed. Its technical requirements, specific needs of each feed and how often a feed should be updated, etc. Having your product data in a format that lets the Google feed software understand and process it properly is very important to generate more traffic and in turn more sales for your product.

 

Further readings on Google Feed 

 

  1. How to Troubleshoot your Google merchant center data feed?

  2. What are the Requirements to Google merchant center data feed?
  3. Tips to Optimize Your Google Merchant Center Data Feed

  4. How to create the correct Feed for multiple countries?

  5. Google Merchant Center Feed Guide.