Google Merchant Center

How to Configure Additional Image Links in Your Product Feed: A Guide

0 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 17 May 2023

Google allows merchants to choose only one image as a primary product image. This image is standardized (against a white background) for everyone using Google Shopping, so no wonder advertisers look for ways to stand out from their competitors.

If you want to achieve this and take one step forward, the additional image link attribute might give your product feed the edge you need.

In this piece, we discuss the formatting requirements for the additional image link attribute, and how to add additional images to your feed, use additional product images, and solve feed issues related to this attribute.

Let’s dive straight into it.

This article is part of our Google Merchant Center Feed hub.

What Is the Additional Image Link Attribute in the Product Feed?

The additional image link attribute allows merchants to provide images different from the primary product image. This is a separate attribute from the image link attribute used for primary images.

Since Google’s requirements for the primary product image are strict, you can use the additional image link to show aspects of the product which can’t be featured in the main image. Usually, additional images include images of the product taken from different angles, a detailed view of the product, or product staging.

We’ll delve deeper into the use cases for this attribute further below.

But first, let’s cover the basics.

Is the Additional Image Link Attribute Required?

No, the additional image link is optional.

However, even though only the image link attribute is required in Google Shopping, it’s recommended that merchants use the additional image link. 

It’s an opportunity to have more than one photo of the product, which is great for boosting clicks and conversions.

How Is the Additional Image Link Attribute Used in Google Shopping?

In a typical product ad on Google Shopping, additional images are shown below the product image. The size of the additional image within a product ad is fairly small (relative to the main image), but users can click on it to zoom in.

According to Google, products with more than one image see an increase in impressions (+76%) and clicks (+32%).

Also, additional images power a carousel of photos in some of the Shopping ads. Product ads for carpets are a good example of this.

Options for the Additional Image Link

The formatting rules for the additional image link are similar to those for the image link. There are two aspects to the data for this attribute:

1) The first has to do with URL;

2) The second regulates the image itself.

Google accepts URLs that start with “http” or “https” and are compliant to the RFC 3986 standard.

A handful of file formats for the image are supported, including:

  • JPEG (.jpg/.jpeg),
  • WebP (.webp),
  • PNG (.png),
  • GIF (.gif),
  • BMP (.bmp), and
  • TIFF (.tif/.tiff)

Images should be uploaded using the correct file format, i.e. if the file is .png, the image should be PNG.

Merchants can provide multiple photos of the same product (up to 10), however, please make sure to separate each image URL with a comma, otherwise, Google will recognize only the first image.

Here’s how to submit this value:

  • – if you provide only one additional image; or
  •, – if you provide multiple images.

If you are uploading additional image links in the XML file format, then you need to separate each entry with the tag: <g:additional_image_link> both before and after the actual URL. This is how that looks:

  • <g:additional_image_link><g:additional_image_link>

Important note: the commas in the URL aren’t encoded, i.e. they should be encoded as “%2C,” while the comma used to separate two different URLs doesn’t require any changes (it can stay as “,”).

How to Add Additional Image Link to Your Product Feed

It’s easy to add additional image links to your product feed. You can either use an ecommerce platform to do this or feed rules and supplemental feeds.

Adding Additional Image Links Using an Ecommerce Platform

Additional image links will be added to your feed automatically if you first add them to an ecommerce platform. Usually, the data feed tools will allow you to configure the images and the links before they are passed on to Google Merchant Center.

Adjusting Additional Image Links With Feed Rules (Or Supplemental Feed)

If you want to change product data in the feed directly from Google Merchant Center, you can use the native tools. With feed rules, you can easily pull up a specific group of products (using common criteria) and add image links for each product.

On the other hand, supplemental feeds are great for making bulk changes. For instance, if you’ve just completed a professional shoot of many of your products, you can add all of the images using a supplemental feed. 

Create a csv. file where one column features unique product IDs, and the other contains the values for additional image link attributes.

Let’s check the differences between the main image and these additional images.

Image_link vs Additional_image_link

If you have already configured the image link attribute (which is required), then you’ve probably noted that many of the formatting requirements are the same for both image_link and additional_image_link. Then what’s different for the additional image link?

In short: the difference is in the way products are shown in the images. Let’s take a closer look at this.

How Is the Additional Image Link Used?

Before we tackle the use cases of additional image links, we’ll quickly run over the essential rules for the image link attribute.

The most important aspects of the photos provided using image link are as follows:

  • They should include a photo of the actual product
  • They should show only the product against a white background
  • They should feature the whole product (and not a detailed view of the product)
  • Graphics, illustrations, diagrams, or logos are not allowed (except for very specific categories of products).

We’ve explained these tips in depth in the piece on image link.

The additional image link is used for everything that’s not allowed for the image link.

You can use additional images to:

  • Show a detail of the product – highlight a specific part of the product. For example, show the quality of stitching for apparel, provide a closer angle of a technical part, etc.
  • Add product staging aspect to the photo – instead of using a white background, show the product in use or in its natural environment. For apparel, this means that you can show the piece of clothing as worn by a model. If you sell diving gear, show it in use by a diver underwater, and so on.
  • Show one item that’s sold in a bundle – the image link has to show the whole bundle of products, but with the additional image link, you are free to take only one of those products and present it to shoppers.
  • Show the product from multiple angles – with the additional image link, you can show the item from all sides. For instance, if you sell a cupboard, customers might want to see its side view before making a purchase.

Both the image link and the additional image link attributes work together. Additional images can help you present the product to customers in ways the primary image simply can not. Therefore, use the opportunity to spark an interest in your customers.

Let’s check some feed issues with the additional image link attribute.

Common Problems With the Additional Image Link Attribute

Google will disapprove your item if you don’t follow the requirements for additional_image_link. Merchants need to look out for a handful of potential issues. They are mostly related to the image file and image contents, though the URL of the link itself can be ill formatted as well.

Here are the most common problems:

Image Size Is Too Small

The images have to be at least 100 x 100 pixels (250 x 250 pixels for apparel), and the image file can be up to 16MB (or 64 megapixels). If you provide an image that is blurry or below the minimal requirements, the product will be shown to customers without an image.

Promotional Overlay

The additional image link attribute defines images, so elements like text in the photo, watermarks, logos, and icons are not allowed. Especially for text that gives promotional info to customers, like sale price, availability, details about your store, calls to action, etc. This will get your product disapproved. Use other attributes to provide promotional details.

File Can’t Be Crawled

This is when Google can’t access the photo. Even though there is a file, the crawlers can’t access it. Usually, an intervention in the image URL or the configuration of the robots.txt file will sort this issue, and Google will register your additional product photos.

Too Good of an Opportunity To Miss

Serving a product ad with more than one product photo to your customers will likely improve metrics like clicks and conversions. Since Google gives you this opportunity through the additional image link, make sure to use it.

Although the primary product image gets a prominent spot in a product ad, additional images allow you to show the product in a different light.

With additional image links, you can provide photos showing the product from different angles and inspire potential customers to imagine using it. Google Shopping allows product staging in additional images and this can make your products “come to life” – consider the difference between apparel against a white background and that same apparel worn by a model.

Don’t add images with poor quality, with promotional text, or by using an inaccessible file. You can quickly solve each of these potential issues, so that additional images are featured in your ads.

Dennis Moons

Dennis Moons is the founder and lead instructor at Store Growers.

He's a Google Ads expert with over 12 years of experience in running Google Ads campaigns.

During this time he has managed more than $5 million in ad spend and worked with clients ranging from small businesses to global brands. His goal is to provide advice that allows you to compete effectively in Google Ads.

Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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