Google Merchant Center

The Color Attribute in Google Shopping Feeds (Including Practical Tips)

0 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 24 February 2023

Sometimes, users know exactly what they are looking for in a product available on Google Shopping. Especially for apparel items, product features like color can help convert potential customers.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can configure the color attribute in your Google Shopping product feeds, including formatting tips and troubleshooting common issues. So let’s dive straight in and discover how to make the most of this powerful tool!

Let’s dive straight into it!

This article is part of our Google Data Feed hub.

What Is the Color Attribute in the Product Feed?

The color attribute indicates the product’s color to users. Google draws on this data when showing ads to users, particularly if these users apply the color filter (through the search box filter menu – usually found on the left hand side when users enter a query).

Is the Color Attribute Required?

Yes, [color] is required for items in the apparel accessories product category (number 166 in Google’s product taxonomy list).

It’s required both for products to appear in free listings and for Shopping ads (in UK, USA, Japan, Germany, France and Brazil).

That being said, the color attribute is recommended to all categories of products where color affects potential sales, not just for apparel. For example, if you’re selling smartphones, including color information can help users quickly find the model they want in their preferred color.

Let’s take a look at how Google uses color data from your feed.

How Is the Color Attribute Used in Google Shopping?

As an ecommerce business owner, you want to ensure your products stand out to potential customers on Google Shopping. 

One way to do this is by specifying the color attribute in your product feed. Not only is color required for apparel items, but it’s also recommended for other product categories where color can impact sales, such as consumer electronics, jewelry, tiles, and furniture.

In specific terms, the values for the color attribute are relevant when users apply the result filter (within the Shopping tab). For example, if a shopper searches for black evening dresses, products with the color attribute set to black will be more likely to appear in the search results.

Important note: if the product variant is defined by color, each color should be submitted as a separate variant. For instance, the same sneaker in white, red, and black should be submitted as three separate variants of the product.

Let’s check the formatting requirements for the color attribute.

Options for Color

Google is flexible when it comes to entries for the color attribute in the feed: merchants can add multiple values, as long as these entries are alphanumeric. The character limit is 100 for all entries (or 40 characters max per entry).

Here are some examples of entries for color:

  • In text feeds: “Vanilla Sky”
  • In XML feeds <g:color>Vanilla Sky</g:color>

Even though the format is flexible, merchants should still comply with Google’s minimum requirements, which include the following:

  • Do not provide numerical values only: the format is alphanumeric, but if you provide only numbers as values for the color attribute, the data won’t make sense to users or Google.
  • Entries can have up to three colors: one of them will be primary and the other two secondary. Separate them with a slash (/) rather than a comma or other punctuation mark.. If you fail to do so, Google will take only the first value, and everything after the comma will be ignored.
  • Describe the product using other attributes: both the material attribute and the pattern attribute can convey a lot of info about the product. For instance, if the product’s material or pattern can convey significant information, focus on those attributes instead of color.. Same goes for pattern, for example, if you specify that the item is a “checkered shirt”, as opposed to “stripped shirt” even though both shirts have the same colors (say black, green, and red)
  • Provide only one color per variant: you can add multiple colors for each variant, but only the first value will be considered by Google. A notification may appear in Google Merchant Center Diagnostics if multiple colors are included in an entry. For multiple products that differ only by color, you can use the item group id attribute to show that all of these products are part of the same collection.
  • Ensure that the color label on your landing page matches the value for the color attribute in the product feed: the label for color on your landing page has to correspond with the value for the color attribute in the Shopping feed for that item, i.e. if the color is “purple dawn”, it has to be “purple dawn” everywhere. We discuss this in greater detail in the next section.

Rare Product Colors vs Typical Product Colors

Merchants may use unique color names for products in the apparel category. This may be part of a wider branding strategy or have to do with the fact that designers struggle to copyright the color palette used in a particular collection.

Regardless of the reason, color labels can be quite unique. Here are a few examples: desert sand, mango splash, cobalt green, bastard amber, flame of burnt brandy, and more.

In Google Shopping, when you enter values for the color attribute in the feed, it’s recommended to use the same color name to describe the product in both the feed and on your landing page.. Even if the color name is exotic or one-of-a-kind, as we mentioned above.

However, it’s also advisable to use more common color names in the product title through the title attribute. Simply put, a user is more likely to search for a “green hat” than for a “cobalt green hat.” So, the color name in the title can help land a visit to your website, and once the user is there, you can introduce them to whatever exotic color labels you use.

Let’s check how to update colors in your feed.

How To Add [Color] to Your Product Feed

Product color is such a basic feature, you will find fields for specifying this feature in all eCommerce platforms. Once you provide the color for each item, this data is shared directly and automatically with your Shopping feed.

If the colors for items aren’t correct, or you need to change them, you can use feed rules to edit entries for [color] in bulk. To create a feed rule, select a criteria (for example, title contains “Shirt”), and you can manipulate product feed data for all items that satisfy said criteria.

Next, we’ll check how to handle issues with product color in Google Shopping.

Common Problems With the Color Attribute

Google can disapprove of your product if the color attribute isn’t configured correctly.

To avoid this, check the tips on complying with minimum formatting requirements.

The most common issue with color in product feeds is entering a wrong value for the attribute. It’s easy to solve this, and here are some guidelines to follow. Usually, the mistake is some of the following:

  • The entry has too many or too little characters (only one character, or more than 40 characters);
  • Multiple colors aren’t separated by slash – instead they are written as one word “BlueYellowGreen”;
  • The entry is not a color – values like “n/a,” “mens,” “multicolor”, etc. aren’t accepted.

All of these are resolved by double checking the value for the color attribute in the feed, and making edits if needed.

Entries for Color in Your Product Feed Count

Users often use the search results filters based on color to get offers on items they like. This can be crucial for completing the purchase, especially for items in the apparel category, but for other items as well.

The formatting requirements for [color] in Shopping feeds are flexible, but you still need to follow some basic guidelines, like separating entries with a slash (/), or providing one color per product variant.

Make sure to use a regular color name in the product title, however, the color attribute entry must match the color label used in the product description on your landing page.  Sometimes these names are unique.

If you receive a notification from Google about the entry for [color] in the feed, editing the entry can help resolve the issue.

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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *