By Dennis Last update October 17, 2018 Comments: 57

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“I just got a mail from Google saying they’re suspending my Merchant Account got suspended!” Audrey messaged me.

Damn. This wasn’t good.

A couple of days before, she had reached out to me with some questions about Google Shopping. She was trying to figure out how to get started and create a Google Shopping feed but was running into a lot of errors. I had tried to give some tips, but now her Google Merchant account got suspended.

To fix that, we had to dig a little bit deeper..

Bonus: Don’t get lost in the details. Grab our free Google Shopping checklist to guide you through the rest of the process so you can start selling on Google Shopping in no time! Grab it here!

Audrey had followed all of the steps herself: create a product feed from her store and link it to Google Merchant Center. But her products were getting disapproved and she kept getting errors.

Her account mentioned that the suspension had something to do with “data quality issues”. Which means that the content of the product feed was below Google’s quality guidelines. But with over 250 products and 15 attributes for each product, it wasn’t clear to Audrey what exactly was going wrong.

I’ve set up hundreds of Shopping campaigns and I’ve encountered these problems again and again. many times before.

So in the rest of this article, I’ll take you through the various parts of a shopping feed, how you avoid these devilish errors and how to get to fix them as quickly as possible.

  1. Basic Google Shopping Feed Fixes
  2. Dealing with errors in Google Merchant Center
  3. Advanced Google Shopping Feed Fixes

Part 1 –  Basic Google Shopping Feed Fixes

Let’s start with the easiest part, the name.

The feed you need for Google Shopping is known under a ton of different names: merchant center feed, google shopping feed, product data feed, product feed, data feed, etc.

Those might sound complicated but all of these are the same thing: a file with all of the product information of your store in a format that can be read by another system.

These kind of feeds are used by a lot of different systems. But if you want to advertise your products in Google Shopping, you’ll need to adhere to Google’s requirements.

Google Shopping Product Data Specification

Google has a long list of specifications that explains which data they need and in which format they need it in.

If you’re having problems with your Google Shopping feed, this is probably where things go wrong.

The exact requirements depend on the type of products that you sell or the country you’re selling in.

In what follows, I’ll describe all of the required items. You won’t need to pay attention to all of these, but if you’re stuck, going through this list and understanding what goes on behind the scenes might give you a clue how to fix it.

id

The product id is the number you use in your store to identify a specific item. It’s important that the number is unique in your product feed. You can use your SKU number or the id generated by your store platform.

If you want to sell in the same country in multiple languages, you can use the same product id for the same item in a different language.

title

For the product title attribute you can describe your product in up to 150 characters.

Be sure to include the most important keywords at the start, because Google often will show only the first 35 characters, as you can see in the screenshot below:

Product listing ad with short product titles
Product listing ad with short product titles

In the Google Shopping portal, a bigger products title up to 75-100 characters are shown. But the majority of people won’t see this page:

google shopping portal
Google Shopping portal displaying longer product titles

The product title is one of the product attributes with the biggest impact. So make sure you include import product details like brand, color, material or size.

Pro tip: a good product feed title usually also is a title with a lot of SEO benefits

Avoid promotional text in your title like Free Shipping or Limited offer.

description

The product description is where you give all the product details a customer cares about: features, dimensions, use cases, etc.

These descriptions don’t show up in the search results, but they do in the Shopping portal (this is a tab of the search results page).

You have up to 5000 characters, but only few of those will actually show. In the screenshot about, 175 characters are shown. If we check the sellers website, the product description has over 1400 characters.

So use the limited real estate smartly. Get your most important point across first. And although the rest of the product description might not be visible, it can help Google to understand what other keywords your product would be relevant to appear for.

As with the title, avoid promotional text.

google_product_category

The google product category attribute tells Google which category your product belongs to.

the category attribute is required for products in the Apparel & AccessoriesMedia and Software categories. But I highly recommend to include the google_product_category attribute for all your other products as well.

You can only use the pre-defined values from the Google Product Taxonomy list. Don’t just settle for the highest level category, try to be as specific as possible.

Example: you’re selling a jersey for cycling:

Don’t settle for the general category: Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Activewear

But be as specific as possible: Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Activewear > Bicycle Activewear > Bicycle Jerseys

Being as accurate as you can helps increase your visibility.

If you’re selling bundled products, pick the most appropriate category.

product_type

Product type is another category indicator. It’s not required but highly recommended. This one is mainly used for the organization of your Shopping campaigns.

This advertiser can organize her Shopping campaigns based on the product type attribute

You’re also not limited to the categories that Google has, so you can create your own subcategories to make the organization easier.

If you do use this, be sure to include the full string. In the example above, maybe your store only sells cycling jerseys. So you could have:

Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Activewear > Bicycle Activewear > Bicycle Jerseys > Woollen Jerseys

or

Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Activewear > Bicycle Activewear > Bicycle Jerseys > Nylon Jerseys

link

You have to provide a direct link to the product page (not your homepage) and it has to include the https:// (or http://) part. If you have a specific page for mobile traffic, you can supply that link via the mobile_link attribute.

image_link

This is the main product image. If you have multiple images, use the additional_image_link attribute.

It’s best to use the best quality image you have, preferably 800px x 800px, but higher is always better. Ideally the shot needs to be of the product on a white background.

Don’t try to be clever by adding extra text or logos to the image, that won’t work.

But do have a look at the current search results. It happens often that all products have the same image, often dropshippers that use the product images supplied by the manufacturer. That means that you could stand out with a different angle or higher quality image. This is exactly what anime store DokiDokiDesu did.

Let’s take a look at another example of this tactic:

google shopping feed product image attribute
Seller #5 grabs the attention with a slightly different product image

condition

The product condition is a required attribute for all products. Options: new, used or refurbished

availability

The product availability is a required attribute for all products. Options: in stock, out of stock or preorder.

price

The product price + currency is a required attribute for all products. For example: 15.00 USD. The currency needs to match the country you’re creating the feed for.

You need to include VAT into your price, except if you’re targeting USA, Canada or India.

sales_price

The sales_price attribute to communicate  a special deal on a product. It is a optional attribute with the same requirements of the product price attribute.

google shopping feed sales price attribute
Here is what the sales_price attribute looks like in a product list ad

 

Common mistake #1
The attributes condition, availability and price are pretty straightforward. Google is very strict about the accuracy of all the data in your product feed.
What you put in your feed needs to match the data on your website. If the price doesn’t match, a product will get disapproved.
To avoid this, make sure update your Google Shopping feed is updated frequently. Check in the Automation section below for some tools that make this process easier by integrating with your store.

 

gtin

Gtin or Global Trade Item Number is a unique product identifier. You probably know these better as barcodes. Depending on you where you are located or source your products from, you’ll use a different system:

  • UPC: 12 digit number mainly used in North-America
  • EAN/UCC: 8,13 or 14 digit number mainly used outside North America
  • JAN: 8 or 13 digit number used in Japan
  • ISBN: unique identifier for books

If you have multiple options, for example a UPC code or an EAN number, you can use either one of them.

If you are selling a multipack or bundle, use the gtin of one of the products.

brand

The brand name of the company that created the product. Don’t include your own store name or the name of your distributor. If it’s a product that you have created yourself and you’ve bought a UPC/EAN barcode  from a party like GS1, do add your brand name here.

mpn

Mpn or Manufacturer Part Number. This is a number provider by the manufacturer of the product. It’s required for products that don’t have a valid gtin number.

identifier_exists

The identifier_exists attribute indicates whether a product identifier exists for this product. Here is how to use it:

  • You resell items that have a gtin / mpn and a brand: identifier_exists needs to be set to TRUE
  • You sell old or custom items: identifier_exists needs to be set to FALSE (Google then won’t require a gtin, mpn number or brand for this products in your data feed)

If you don’t provide a value, Google will set it to TRUE.

 

Common mistake #2
For most products, Google requires 2 out of 3 product identifiers. These are the following attributes: brand, gtin or mpn.
Because a lot of sellers will have different product titles or descriptions, Google uses these product identifiers to figure out which products are the same.
If you don’t supply the correct information, your products might be disapproved, or it will fail to get clicks. This means it’s in your own interest to do the legwork to include these product identifiers.

If you haven’t been using gtin or mpn numbers, check with your suppliers, they should be able to provide them. If you can’t get them, try checking on sites like upcitemdb or barcodelookup.

For example: I tried to find the UPC number of a Garmin Vivosmart activity tracker. I opened up upcitemdb. The screenshot below shows me the number but also all variations of product names under this same upc number.

UPC_lookup
Looking up the UPC number of a product

I assume Google has a similar database.

So if you would only supply the product title, they would be matching your product with searches for activity tracker. But because other products use keywords like wristband, fitness band or sleep tracker, your products could also appear for these search queries, without you needing to supply this information!

Don’t try to be clever and set the identifier_exists to false to avoid having to look up or enter all the part numbers. Google really needs this information to match you with the right search queries.

Special product attributes

Besides most of the required attributes covered above, some categories or cases require you to add additional information into your product feed.

item_group_id

The item_group_id attribute is necessary if you’re selling a product that comes in multiple variations like a different color or size.

The attribute indicates to Google that there is one “core item”, with small variations. It allows customers to explore variations right in Google Shopping:

google-shopping-feed-item-group-id-attribute
Selecting size and color straight from the Google Shopping portal

Each of the products that has the same item_group_id needs to have one product attribute that differs

For example:

  • Green chinos 32: item_group_id: chino12 – color: green – size: 32 –  age_group: adult
  • Green chinos 34: item_group_id: chino12 – color: green- size: 34-  age_group: adult
  • Brown chinos 34: item_group_id: chino12 – color: brown- size: 34-  age_group: adult
  • Blue chino 32: item_group_id: chino12 – color: blue – size: 32-  age_group: adult

Below I’ll cover each of the attributes that is used in the variations.

color

The color attribute is required for all apparel items and indicated the color. The value you need to provide to Google needs to be the actual color spelled out: black grey, teal, etc.

If you have multiple colors, you can provide up to three color by putting a slash in between colors. For example: yellow/green/white

gender

The gender attribute indicates the gender the product is for. Possible values are male, female or unisex.

size

The size attribute indicates the product’s size. Multiple value are supported, but you have to stay consistent across variations.

In our example above we were using the size for the pants: 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, etc.

If you’re also selling shoes you can use the common shoe size in your region: 7, 9, 9.5, 10, 10.5, etc.

Also S, M, L , XL is possible.

If the product contains 2 size dimensions, like a pair of pants, you can combine them separated by a slash: 32/34 for example (where 32 is the waist and 34 is the length)

age_group

The age_group attribute is required for all apparel items and it indicates which target audience the product is meant for. Possible value are:

  • newborn: 0-3 months
  • infant: 3-12 months
  • toddler: 1-5 years
  • kids: 5-13 years
  • adult: 13 years & up

These values will help Shopping match products to search queries like “sun hat baby 7 months”

So in most cases, you’ll, use set age_group to adult. Note that this is different from the adult attribute, which is explained below.

adult

The adult attribute is required if the products contains nudity or sexually suggestive content. if your product doesn’t contain this, you don’t need to supply it, it is set to no as default.

Often this is linked to a checkbox in your store’s back-end. I have had one client where this was all switched on by mistake, which caused the products not to be shown. So make sure this one is only turned on if it needs to be.

custom_label_0-4

To finish, I want to mention the custom_label attribute. These are extra pieces of information you can add to your product feed. Adding custom labels to your Google shopping campaigns takes you beyond the setup and into the optimisation realm of your Shopping campaigns.

But I wanted to add them here because you need to provide this information via your feed.

The Google Shopping Policies

Besides all of the required product attributes, there are also some meta requirements you need to pay attention to. These are the various Shopping policies.

Violating these policies is what gets your Google Merchant Center account suspended. I’ll cover each of them below and show you how to fix them.

suspended Google Merchant Center account
Example of a suspended Google Merchant Center account

Prohibited or Restricted product policy

If you are selling products that are heavily regulated or not allowed on Google (categories like alcohol, adult content, tobacco, counterfeit goods, weapons, drugs, copyrighted content, etc.) you could run into these type of errors.

If you’re not sure about your products, check the list of prohibited or restricted items.

Landing page policy

Google wants the best possible experience for a user on your site. If the link you provide to the landing page is broken or returns a different kind of server error, that product or your whole feed might get disapproved.

A second common error in this category is sending the user to the homepage instead of the specific product page.

Welcome gates or popups that block the whole page are also not allowed by Google. So if you do use a popup, make sure it’s easy for the user to get around it.

Check the list of landing page restrictions.

Return and Refund policy

You need to have clear information on your site on how a customer can get a refund or how she can return an order.

If you don’t have these policies in place, your feed will be suspended, and if it remains unsolved, your account suspended.

Shipping settings

You need to provide accurate and complete information with regards to the service (fast, slow, express, insured, etc.) and associated costs.

If you are shipping from outside the country you are targeting you need to provide clear information about the price and type of service. Also be clear about extra customs fees that might be applied to the order.

The basic thinking behind this policy is: don’t surprise your customer. Be clear what to expect and what it’s going to cost.

Tax settings

In most countries, the price you provide in your feed will include VAT. Only in the United States you’ll need to configure the tax settings in Google Merchant Center: which states do you owe tax in , what percentage, etc.

Going through all these attributes, I hope you’ve spotted the errors you were making before and have managed to fix them in your back-end.

 Lifting your Google Merchant Center suspension 
If your account got suspended and you’ve fixed the issues that led to that suspension you can request an account review.In my experience Google is really quick (couple of hours up to 3 days) to lift an account suspension if you’ve put in the work to fix the problems. Be aware that this is a manual process, so there will be an actual person looking at your account. If you’re sloppy, lazy or didn’t make any changes, reviewing could take longer and longer or your account suspension could be permanent!If your suspension is lifted, you still might get some errors for the feeds that are in your Google Merchant Center account. Once you see errors pop up, you’ll have a couple of days to fix them or delete the feed from your account. But if the errors pile up and you don’t fix them, you’re on your way to an account suspension.

Part 2 – Fixing Errors In Google Merchant Center

All of the information above will already improve your data quality and shed some light to any policies you might be violating.

When you’re fixing your feed, you can use the Diagnostics overview in the Products section of Google Merchant Center to see if you’re making progress and indicate what other problems you need to fix.

google merchant center diagnostics overview
The Diagnostics overview in Google Merchant Center

There are 3 different levels where problems can occur:

Account level
These are issues that affect your whole account. For example:an unclaimed website, no Adwords account linked or a missing return & refund policy.

Feed level
These problems are related to the fetching, uploading or processing of feeds.

Item level
These are the bulk of the issues you’re trying to fix with this article, mainly related to the data quality.

Clicking on each section will outline exactly what is wrong and what you can do to fix them.

Not every problem has the same importance, In Merchant Center there are 3 different types of problems:

  • Errors: critical problems that need to be addressed asap
  • Warnings: important things to fix when you’re done with the errors. These will often increase visibility
  • Notifications: suggestions to optimize your product feed

Here is a look at a Google Merchant Center account with its share of problems:

google-merchant-center-account-problems
Errors, warnings and notifications in a Google Merchant Center account

Part 3 – Advanced Google Shopping Feed Fixes

By now you should have been able to fix a lot your feed issues.

But some problems require a different approach. In this section I’ll tackle these with different approaches and new tools that can help.

Creating a shopping feed from scratch

If you’re unable to get any of the integrations or feed generators to work, sometimes you need to get back to basics to find the underlying issue.

With shopping feeds, that means creating a new simple product feed from scratch where you can control each and every variable.

You can do this when you’re creating a new feed in Google Merchant Center. Google will generate a new spreadsheet that’s linked to your GMC account and which detects any changes and automatically updates the information in your product feed.

google-merchant-center-product-feed-template-google-sheets
The option to create a feed based on a Google Sheet

This is a very time consuming approach, plus all the data needs to be updated as soon as something changes in your store. So I only use this approach if products rarely change or if I need to troubleshoot why a specific product feed won’t work.

There also is an official google shopping feed template. It’s a copy of the template that you’ll get from Google Merchant Center if you use Google Sheets for your product feeds. Be sure to also check tab 2 in the document called Example. This will illustrate how to use the template.

Product variations, Bulk Changes & Multiple Feeds

Luckily, you don’t have to go through the above to create your shopping feed. Most ecommerce platforms will have some kind of integration with Google Merchant Center. Shopify for example has it’s own free app which pushes your products into Merchant Center.

And for some stores, that’s all they need. But in some cases you need extra flexibility or features that these basic setups are too limited.

To me there are a couple of features that make dealing with product feed a lot easier:

  • Properly handle product variations
  • Ability to quickly make (bulk) changes
  • Manage multiple product feeds
  • Take advantage of custom labels
  • Use optimized feeds for Bing, Facebook Ads, etc.

Some of these or must-haves, others will save you some time.

There are a ton of tools out there that will help you do this (skip ahead for a big list of them). They all work in the following way:

  1. Grab product data from store (via app, plugin, extension, API, etc.)
  2. Ability to edit data in your product feed via the tool
  3. Push feed(s) to Google Merchant Center

All tools below will do #1 and #3. But not all will do #2.

With the free or cheap ones (except for Feed Rules), you don’t have the ability to edit any of the data in your product feed before it gets pushed to Google Merchant Center.

That means no bulk changes, multiple product feeds or custom labels.

These are often have the features that really make the difference. They go under a number of different names: data feed management software, feed management, shopping feed platform, etc.

Data feed management software

These are the main providers of this software:

You’ll see the pricing vary widely between the different tools. Don’t make a decision purely based on price. If you’re interested in any of these tools, sign up for a trial and explore what they can do for you.

Pro tip: most of them will include a free setup, which will help you get your product feeds ready in no time!

Google Merchant Center Feed Rules

Feed Rules is a little known feature in Google Merchant Center can do some of the things these platforms can, only difference is that you can do it for free.

google-merchant-center-data-rules-feed
Feed rules section in Google Merchant Center

You can use these to add new information to your data feed and make bulk changes.

The biggest difference is that this functionality is limited compared to the paid tools.

Shopify apps

There are plenty of Shopify apps to help you with your Google Shopping Feed:

  • Google Shopping app (free – Shopify) – link
  • Google Shopping Feed (paid – Simprosys InfoMedia) – link
  • Shopping Feed (free & paid – Shopping Feed Inc) – link
  • ShoppingFeeder (free & paid – ShoppingFeeder) – link

All of the data feed management providers mentioned above, also have their own Shopify apps: GoDataFeed, Channable, DataFeedWatch & Sales&Orders.

WooCommerce plugins and extensions

To generate your shopping feeds on WooCommerce, there are many plugins out there. Two of our favourites:

  • WooCommerce Product Feed PRO – link
  • WooCommerce Google Feed Manager – link

Apart from the above, all the feed platforms also offer WooCommerce support: GoDataFeedChannableDataFeedWatch & Sales&Orders

Magento extensions

To get your Magento product feed working, there are plenty of extensions available:

  • Google Shopping Feed – M1 (paid – Magmodules) – link
  • Google Shopping – M2 (paid – Magmodules) – link
  • Simple Google Shopping – M1 (paid – Wyomind) – link
  • Simple Google Shopping – M2 (paid – Wyomind) – link

Most of the data feed management providers mentioned above, also have their own Magento extensions: GoDataFeed (M2), Channable (M1) Channable (M2), DataFeedWatch (M2).

BigCommerce apps

BigCommerce now supports Google Shopping on all plans via the Sales&Orders app.

Other BigCommerce apps that will help you with Google Shopping:

  • DataFeedWatch – link
  • GoDataFeed – link

3dcart modules

3dcart also offers Google Shopping support with a variety of modules:

  • Automatic Google Shopping Feed (paid – 3dcart) – link – screenshot looks like it +5 years old, so don’t know about quality of the app
  • DataFeedWatch (paid) – link
  • GoDataFeed (paid) – link
  • Sales&Orders (paid) – link

Prestashop modules

  • Google Shopping Merchant Center Module (paid) – link
  • Google Shopping Export (paid) – link
  • Google Shopping Feed in 3 min (paid) – link

 

In this article you’ve learned how to track down what was going wrong with your Google Shopping feed, identify how to fix these issues while also looking at some tools to make this whole process easier.

I hope it allows you to get passed the setup process and onto the fun part of advertising: watching sales come in 🤑

If you’re running into problems with your product feeds that I didn’t cover in this article, let me know in the comments!

My premium training course

If you like this post but want to go through the Google Shopping setup and optimization in more detail? Check out my Google Shopping course. Through a series of videos, you’ll go from scratch to having the first sales come in via your Shopping campaigns. The feedback so far has been really great so I encourage you to check it out!

Bonus: With your errors fixed (hopefully) it’s time to start your campaigns. Our free Google Shopping checklist will help guide you through the rest of the process! Grab it here!

About the author

Dennis

Dennis is the main guy behind Store Growers. He's never had a job that he didn't invent himself and loves that freedom.
In writing articles, creating courses or working with ecommerce clients he has one goal: to create more freedom for online store owners.

57 responses to “How To Fix Your Google Shopping Feed Without Going Crazy

  1. Thank you Dennis! My team will be glad to help any of your readers on their Google Shopping Feed. 🙂
    We know it can be tricky, so we created the tools for it.

    Best.

    Olivier – CEO Shopping Feed

  2. Hi Dennis,

    Many thanks for this great article. Indeed, Google Shopping can be tricky. My team and I have been maitaining our Google Merchant Center module for PrestaShop (this one: http://addons.prestashop.com/en/comparison-shopping-prestashop/1768-google-merchant-center-google-shopping.html) since 2010, so we’ve lived through quite some stories and have great experience helping customers with it. Feel free to send any PrestaShop shop owners our way, they won’t be disapointed 😉

    -David @ Business Tech

  3. Hellow sir i am using woocommerce and i want to link my product to google shopping and i want to know how it update automatically after adding a product to store

    1. Hi Md asad,
      The Wocoomerce extension mentioned in this article (Google Product Feed) will do exactly that: automatically update the product feed and send it to Google Merchant Center.

      Let me know if that works for you!

  4. Hey dennis

    Is it possible to change feed titles keeping it little different from website titles in an automatically magento updated feed (daily updation) . Any smart way to let the feed gets updated regularly via FTP except for the title. This way i can insert few high performing search terms into the product titles

  5. For Shopify customers using the free Shopify app, there are some limitations if you are a clothing retailer selling a product with various color variants — The app will only publish the first variant.

    To get around this (and have some custom control over your feed if you need it) you can actually generate the proper feed xml by using a custom Collection template. I’ve described the process here: https://business.czarto.com/2016/06/14/shopify-google-shopping-feed/

    Best,

    Alex

  6. Thanks so much for this article and for the Merchant feed template. I was desperately searching for this info and some template and I found what I needed. A big thank you!!!!

  7. For those of us making bespoke or customised products, there are several considerations – particularly when it comes to google-product-category, brand and item identifiers (mpn, gtin, etc…)

    I use Zencart (latest version) and then install some really good third-party plugin modules:-
    Sitemap.xml generator
    Google Merchant Centre Feeder
    Google Analytics Tracking Code Creator

    The key is the CHRONLOGY in which you set things up.
    1. Make sure your webshop is ORGANISED and STRUCTURED, where the site admin has the capacity to contain all the data relating to how Google uses the above protocols. So, understand what Google needs from your site in order for the site admin functions to create data feeds that comply with Google’s standards and taxonomy. Make sure your product data is able to store (in the database and in individual data fields) all the parameters that need to indicate to Google, that your eventual data feed is compliant.
    ALL e-commerce sites should be SSL Secured, and it is BETTER if you have a dedicated IP address for your site’s hosting, onto which a DEDICATED SSL Certificate is installed. Google is making it almost “mandatory” for e-Commerce sites to have SSL, and will favour SSL sites in search ranking and results. If you host on a “portal” (organisations that advertise that you can have a webshop up and running in 10 minutes), you may be obliged to use their “shared” SSL – which is better than nothing, but not ideal. If you can, build and host a STAND-ALONE web shop, where you are in full control. Not everyone can do this – but it’s by far the preferred way to sell on the internet.
    2. In Google Merchant Centre, some product categories have additional required data-sets. For example – GPC (Google Product Category) 166 – Clothing & Accessories… additional REQUIRED attributes (in addition to the global required attributes), include AGE, and GENDER. So make sure your software enables you to add these attributes when a GPC requires you to do so.
    3. Once the structure of your website is 100%, Create your Google Analytics account and make sure that the tracking codes are kicked into action when needed. For example (such as on non-product pages), it is not necessary to invoke certain google remarketing jscripts. However, when a product page is rendered, the page source should contain additional Google jscripts when/where necessary.
    4. Run your website (and various web-pages) through Google’s pagespeed checker. Take note of what may be slowing the site down. Google also has testing tools for “mobile-friendliness” and what is called “Structured Data” (the latter growing in importance for good SEO and search results rendition. If you get poor scores on any of these tests, your site’s technical guys need to be kicked in the a…
    5. When your site is BOTH technically and content “competent”, it’s time to submit sitemaps. Here, you create a Google Search Console account, and when ready, use its features to upload a sitemap.xml file. Then LINK the Search Console account to your Analytics account.
    6. If you plan on using Google Advertising services, then create your AdWords account now. Start simply, with a single, easy campaign, and just one or two ads. (Within a week or two you can start going into more detail – but at first, the main thing is to have it ACTIVE.
    7. Then, generate your product feed (usually an XML file).
    8. Create and configure your Google Merchant Centre account – again, linking it to both Analytics and AdWords accounts. They all need to “talk to each other”.
    9. Upload (or submit) your product data feed and “populate” Merchant Centre with your products. Do this first using the TEST UPLOAD on Merchant Centre, as there are bound to be errors. You can download a CSV report, showing ALL the errors. Fix any errors, then TEST again. When the test results of the feed upload show NO errors, submit the feed as “Standard” and this will populate Merchant Centre with your products.
    10. You may need to wait a day or two before all your products indicate as being “active”. Only when they are active, can you then go back into AdWords and create a specific “shopping” campaign that MUST be linked to the relevant Merchant Centre account (and associated product feed / data).

    Over the years, this has become more detailed and complex – and is best handled by someone who has experience and knowledge. Messing it up can wreak havoc on your search results, your advert quality scores and (eventually) your bank account…

    1. Wow Grahame, thanks for your contribution!

      I absolutely agree to get your foundation straightened out before you start with feeds. If you get stuck somewhere along the way, it’s usually very messy to clean up (believe me, I’ve been there :P)

  8. Thanks for the great article! We are using WooCommerce. We have set up two feeds in Google Merchant – one targeting the US and one targeting Canada. We’re using the same xml file from WooCommerce for both feeds. The Canadian feed works perfectly. But the US feed has shipping errors on every product. The shipping is set up in Google Merchant as a flat rate for the US – very straightforward. It must be common for companies to run shopping ads in multiple countries using woocommerce, but we just can’t seem to get it working. Any ideas on how to fix our shipping error? Thank you 🙂

  9. Hi and thanks for the superb tutorial,

    I tried a lot’s of feed plugins for woocommerce and found only one for free which works quite good for GMC: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-product-feed-manager/
    In the free version it is limited to 100 products (I guess per feed) and does not support variations. The payed version is 69€ (which I havn’t tried yet) supports also variations and other stuff.
    Just wanted to let you know!

    1. Hi Tom,
      Thanks for letting us know! The plugin market is always changing so it’s good to hear about your experiences with this one. I’ll add that one to the list.

  10. Hi Dennis,

    I’ve an issue with Google Merchant center. I’m getting few errors like “missing required attribute gender”, “missing required attribute color” etc. . I’m using Rocket Shopping plugin, where I’ve mapped columns but still it’s not fetching data from magento.

    1. Hi s_vinod,
      I haven’t used that plugin myself, so not sure what’s going on. But here is how I would investigate:
      – check the feed (xml) that you’re uploading to GMC, to make sure that those values are exported
      – check the products with the warnings in GMC: are those values coming through?
      – do you have the correct google product categories? (if you list a product as fashion, you’ll need to supply those values)

      Hope these suggestions help!

  11. Hey,

    A client of mine mytruwood.com is struggling with getting their DPA ads and google retargeting dynamic ads images to appear bigger.

    It seems a bit smaller than was wondering if there is a way to make it so the images of the watches were a bit more zoomed up so it showed off more of the watch than the whitespace around it.

  12. Hi Dennis,

    Hope you are well?

    To begin I would like to thank you for writing this article, I found it very enriching and useful.

    I am a Digital Marketing Executive for a greeting card company.

    We are currently facing an issue with our product titles in our product feed. We have an extensive list of 3000 cards in the feed, since launch our PLA’s haven’t been performing well at all.

    The main reason being because of the card title, which aren’t SEO friendly. These product titles describe the card e.g. one of our father’s day cards:”A MEDAL?! – FUNNY FATHER’S DAY CARD”, as you can imagine nobody is going to look for a specific card title like that or very rarely.

    The problem all of our product titles are taking pulling the titles we have on Magento. We would like to update the product titles with the category they belong to + The name of the card artist. to retake the father’s day card it would result in e.g.: Funny Father’s Day Card By Antoine Holmes. However, considering that we have 3000 product title to update I was curious to know if you knew an extension or a software that would enable me to operate bulk changes instead of having to go through all the product title and change them one by one?

    Have a good weekend,

    Thank you for your help,

    Milan

    1. Hi Milan,
      Thanks for your comment!
      I have to say I’ve never managed a store on Magento so I don’t know the ins and outs of the platform.

      A quick search showed by that it won’t be very easy to do in the interface & I couldn’t immediately find a tool to do this for you.

      But perhaps Excel can? I’d try something like this:
      – Export all products, category & artist. If this last piece of data is part of your description, you need to put that in it’s own column.
      – Create new product names based on your criteria
      – Import new names & merge info based on product id or sku
      – Re-create your product feed

      Since these changes might also impact your URLs, make sure to put the proper redirects in place.

      Hope this helps!
      Dennis

  13. Hi Dennis,

    Hope you are well?

    To begin I would like to thank you for writing this article, I found it very enriching and useful.

    I am a Digital Marketing Executive for a greeting card company.

    We are currently facing an issue with our product titles in our product feed. We have an extensive list of 3000 cards in the feed, since launch our PLA’s haven’t been performing well at all.

    The main reason being because of the card title, which aren’t SEO friendly. These product titles describe the card e.g. one of our father’s day cards:”A MEDAL?! – FUNNY FATHER’S DAY CARD”, as you can imagine nobody is going to look for a specific card title like that or very rarely.

    The problem all of our product titles are taking pulling the titles we have on Magento. We would like to update the product titles with the category they belong to The name of the card artist. to retake the father’s day card it would result in e.g.: Funny Father’s Day Card By Antoine Holmes. However, considering that we have 3000 product title to update I was curious to know if you knew an extension or a software that would enable me to operate bulk changes instead of having to go through all the product title and change them one by one?

    Have a good weekend,

    Thank you for your help,

    Milan

    1. Hi Milan,
      Thanks for your comment!
      I have to say I’ve never managed a store on Magento so I don’t know the ins and outs of the platform.

      A quick search showed by that it won’t be very easy to do in the interface & I couldn’t immediately find a tool to do this for you.

      But perhaps Excel can? I’d try something like this:
      – Export all products, category & artist. If this last piece of data is part of your description, you need to put that in it’s own column.
      – Create new product names based on your criteria
      – Import new names & merge info based on product id or sku
      – Re-create your product feed

      Since these changes might also impact your URLs, make sure to put the proper redirects in place.

      Hope this helps!
      Dennis

  14. Hello Dennis,

    Thanks for the great post. I am running exportfeed.com’s woo commerce plugin for my product feeds. I was able to successfully upload my first feed and some of my products are getting impressions while others are not. Also when I do searches myself only some of the items show up. Any ideas what could be causing this?

    1. Hi Alejandro,
      There couple be a couple of reasons for products not showing up. Here is a small checklist to get more clarity around why products aren’t showing up:
      – Are the product approved in merchant center?
      – Are there merchant center warnings about those products?
      – Are competitors showing up for these products?
      – Are bids competitive enough?

      Let me know if these help!

  15. Hey Dennis,

    Great article. Do you have any experience using Woogle? It seems to be a pretty powerful tool but quite complex.

    Definitely running into a few issues configuring the API URI properly and would love any advice.

    Cheers,

    Neil

  16. Hi Denis,

    Great article!

    ShoppingFeeder is happy to help any of your readers regarding Google shopping issue.
    We’ve built the most comprehensive extension to help merchants manage product listings on marketing channels and increase revenue.
    We support Magento, Woocommerce, Prestashop, Opencart and Shopify.

    Keep the good work!

    Regards,

    Henri Martin – Business Development Manager ShoppingFeeder

  17. Thanks for the great post. I worked with Adwords for 5 years in Brazil, and we have many problems in small or medium stores. This post is complete, here I am approaching the Merchant API. Hugs.

  18. Hi Dennis

    What a fantastic article, it is a really good read and so comprehensive compared to much of the articles which are just scratching the surface when in comes to domain of feed management. I have worked with data feed management for more than 3 years now and setup integrations for a lot of small, medium and big stores i Scandinavia, but still there where some key take aways from this read.

    Please let me know if you are ever in DK, and we would love to have you by the office for a chat about feed management and beer on the house of course 🙂

    Best regards
    Steffen L. Jørgensen
    WakeupData

    1. Thanks for the kind feedback Steffen 😊

      First time I hear about your tool, what would you say is the main differentiator with other data feed management tools out there?
      -Dennis

  19. This article saved me when I have struggled with the feed for 3 days! I just knew identifier_exists should be fault for custom products ! Thank you so much! Although my feed validation result still indicates invalid data but no indication of what goes wrong…

    1. Happy we save you extra days of struggling.

      Unfortunately that’s often how it works, getting your product feed in shape by slowly fixing one error after the other..

  20. Thanks a bunch for taking the time to put this together Dennis! I do have a quick question for you that I’m hoping you can shed some light on. We have just introduced the item_group_id attribute and for some reason all the items within a group are being handled by Google as unique, individual products rather than as variations. This is despite the value for item_group_id being the same for all groupings. And thoughts to share?

    1. Hi Russ,
      Thanks for your kind feedback!

      For the the products that you want to group with the item_group_id attribute, what’s are the attributes that are different between variants?

      My first thought would be to make sure you provide values for all products within the item_group_id (if your variants have different colors and sizes, provide values for all products).

      1. You’re quite welcome Dennis, and thanks for the prompt response.

        The attributes which we’re setting item_group_id for are size, color and material.

        But initially we were starting off with just trying to set it up for the size attribute. This is the point where they were all being treated as separate products rather than variations.

        1. This type of stuff is pretty tricky. Sometimes I’ve successfully fooled Google . But more often than not, it doesn’t work, or works for a while and breaks than.

          I’d try to replicate the thing you had before the change (the one that worked) and slowly make changes based on that. (One way to speed this testing up could be to create a Google sheet just for these products, that saves syncing time with your cart or feed provider).

          Hope this helps!

  21. Hello,

    Thanks so much for this article, however how long it will take to show information about uploaded data?

    I went to Diagnostics it just show No data display.

    In current issues section, it shows the message Looking good for Account, Feeds and Items but above

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Lisseth,
      Diagnostics can take some time to update. Even if you’ve corrected your errors and have uploaded them, you still might see the same errors and warnings.

      If that happens, I always double check the actual product information and make sure it contains the values I want them to.

      Which data are missing?

      Regards,
      Dennis

  22. Hi Dennis,

    I have checked your Google shopping feed list and I have 2 doubts. Please help me clear doubts.

    1) Identifier Exisits – I have products that have no gtn, mpn or brand should I set it to identifier exisits to FALSE?

    2) SIZE – I have some indian dresses that have NO size, for selling to USA it requires size, I dont know what to add there.

    Thank you

  23. There are some new and free Google Shopping Feed apps out there, I noticed for Shopify and Prestashop there is Cobiro. I’m not sure how it differs from the traditional ones. Maybe you have an idea?

    1. Hi Adrian,
      Just had a look and it seems that Cobiro goes a bit beyond just getting your product feed into Merchant Center. It claims to also take over all of the management and bidding of those campaigns, all powered by AI.

      I’ve used a few services like these with some of my clients and I haven’t been convinced of their effectiveness.

      Do let us know about the results if you do decide to go with them 🙂
      -Dennis

  24. Hi Dennis,
    1. How many hours is your course?
    2. Do you recommend a Shopify app for feed of thousands of apparel products including color/size variations?
    3. What are your fees to setup and/or manage Google Shopping campaigns on a Shopify store?

    1. Hi Al,
      1. The complete Google Shopping course runs to almost 5 hours in total. It’s a good mix of setup, optimization and advanced concepts. But rest assured, you’ll have great campaigns running long before you hit that 5 hour mark 🙂
      2. I would try the default Shopify Google Shopping app. It recently got a refresh (it’s treated as a sales channel now) which took care of a lot of problems (variations etc.). If you need to do more special things (eg. target a country with a different currency than your store), I’d look at the special data feed management tools described here.
      3. I don’t offer the setup as a standalone service anymore. But do offer it as part of Google Ads management. The exact fee depends on your ad spend, but our lowest tier starts at $799/mo.

      1. Hi Dennis,
        Need your input…as still thinking about purchasing your course. I’ve used DataFeedWatch for past year for feed; but its too confusing for me. I’ve hired freelancers to setup for me; but can’t even continue to get freelancer support on their app; as it’s confusing for a novice. I need to switch. I’ve narrowed down to Sales & Orders and Wordstream. If I watch your course, will it benefit me to use one of their apps? I sell apparel. I have thousands of SKUs per season; so large inventory. I want to have control of my own Google Shopping campaigns…so that I control and maintain my ad spend. Can you recommend or advise best self service way to proceed with Sales & Orders or Wordstream? I want most efficient way to get lots of my products to be shown when customers search for my products.

        1. Hi Al,
          Sorry to hear about the problems you’re running into.

          You might not like my answer but I think tools like DataFeedWatch and Sales&Orders are what you need. Their interfaces might be different or easier to use, but they both have very similar functionalities.

          They will take your product info, give you the ability to make changes to the feed and push it the Google Merchant Center.

          (I wouldn’t recommend Wordstream for Shopping, I’ve used it and find it lacking a lot of functionalities necessary to manage your campaigns well.)

          The course will help you get a better understanding of all of the different pieces that you need to get right. Especially how to use these product feed tools to make sure you keep control over the performance of your Google Shopping campaigns.

          Hope that makes sense!

  25. Hello Dennis!

    I have been reading your articles but think a paid phone call might be where I need to go. Currently, my eCommerce site is on Squarespace that just released a product feed for facebook. I have linked those two but there already are some issues (categories filling incorrectly, facebook wants to be the checkout instead of pointing back to the website, instagram won’t pick up the product catalog- probably starting here). While I was connecting the two I was able to open the file that squarespace created on google sheets and this is where I think I could add those extra columns for a google merchant feed. I have verified my website and am ready to upload a product feed on google merchant. However I am feeling unsure and overwhelmed and don’t want to start creating more problems than fixing them. They probably need to be functiong fairly well before I hit the throttle on my Ad Words scheme. Does this sound like something we could work on? Thanks so much

    1. Hi Moskie,
      That sounds like a bit of a challenge indeed!

      If I understand correctly, you’d like a feed for Facebook (which you can also use on Instagram) and one you can link to Google Merchant Center to use with Google Ads, correct?

      Quick disclaimer: I haven’t done any product feed setup for squarespace. So based on your comments & what I found while Googling, here are some ideas:
      – modifying that facebook product feed: if you manage to access this feed and transform it into a feed that Merchant Center likes, you’ll run into the problem that the feed is a snapshot of your store. If you add/remove products, changes prices, change URLs, Change product images; you’ll have to manually update the feed again, otherwise it will be out of sync (which Google doesn’t like).
      – find a tool/service that integrates with Squarespace to create a feed for one or more platforms. These tools usually have a monthly fee attached to them, but they will remove a lot of the headaches and very often help you with a free setup.

      here are a couple of data feed management tools that support Squarespace:
      https://squarefeed.io
      https://feedarmy.com/google-shopping-feed/squarespace/
      https://feedonomics.com (more high-end)

      So we could jump on a call, but I don’t think I can be much more helpful then steering you clear of the manual route and mentioning these tools. At this point, I think singing up for one of these tools I mentioned is a better investment.

      Then when you’ve got your campaigns running smoothly, we can jump on that call to get them more profitable 😉

  26. Very helpful article.
    One question though, your article says:
    “You sell old or custom items: identifier_exists needs to be set to YES (Google then won’t require a gtin, mpn number or brand for this products in your data feed).”

    But identifier_exists should be set to “false” in this situation, not Yes. Or have I misunderstood?

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