Google Merchant Center

Product Description Attribute In Google Product Feeds: The Complete Guide

0 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 23 February 2023

Merchants and advertisers are always on the lookout for methods that will help them gain more exposure on Google Shopping.

One such method is strategically configuring the product description attribute.

In this piece, we discuss the product description attribute in Shopping feeds – what it is, how it affects the performance of your product ads, and Google’s formatting requirements for this attribute. We also outline ways to optimize the description attribute so that the items from your feed get better exposure.

Let’s dive straight into it.

This article is part of our Google Data Feed hub.

What Is the Product Description Attribute in the Product Feed?

The description attribute in your product feed serves in helping Google show your product ad to the right customer (ad relevance); and

It’s where merchants can list product features and technical specifications, which usually include aspects of the product that aren’t obvious from the product image or title, like materials, design, shape, pattern or intended age group, and so on.

What merchants provide as a value for the product description attribute directly affects the ranking for Google Shopping search queries. The description might not be as prominent as other attributes which are always featured in product ads, like title, image, price, and availability, but nonetheless, it plays an important role when Google needs to determine which items would best satisfy customers’ search intent.

Is the Description Attribute Required?

Yes, the description attribute is required for each item in your product feed.

You can sell the product with a short description (consisting of only a couple of words), however, its exposure (and performance) will be limited. Google will alert you about items in the feed that don’t have a description, and until you provide one, other vendors’ products that do have a description will get favorable treatment.

How Is the Description Attribute Used in Google Shopping?

Google uses product descriptions from different feeds to find the right result for a given search query. Therefore, including your keywords and phrases that indicate purchasing intent is very important.

The content of your product description helps Google to decide which product is relevant for the user. Descriptions in product feeds are written for the engine and users get to see the description only in rare instances. 

For example, a user may see product description when they click on search results offered for free listings. However, even in this case what Google shows to the user doesn’t have to come from product descriptions in your feed – the description can also be compiled from product data available on your website (and not in your feed). 

Google will check the details that are featured in the description to match your product with a specific query. Every bit of product data counts. The way this data is presented in the text is also important, because visual details, like pattern and design, or technical specification, like material and shape, are often used in search phrases.

To put it plainly, if the user enters a query about “polka dot dress for going to the beach” and your product description includes a phrase “going to the beach” your product might come up as a relevant result. Keep this in mind, because product descriptions allow you to add product details which can’t be naturally added to the title.   

Let’s take a look at the formatting guidelines for the product description attribute.

Options for Product Description

The format of the description attribute in your feed is free for you to choose. Usually, it’s text written in Unicode ASCII characters, however, it can also include HTML tags (except non-closed tags).

The upper limit for characters is 5000, however, Google will most definitely truncate it to around 150-200 characters to fit in the product ad. To read the full product description, customers will need to click on or hover over it.

For example, if you sell axes in Australia, this is how the description could look:

“This wood splitting axe by Wetterlings was forged in steel so you can easily fell timber logs. Its axe head is hardened with forged carbon, and it also includes a hickory shaft for making wedges. An axe as rigid as this – (617PR) – with a total weight of 2.2 kg, is ideal for your garden shed or to keep in your workhouse for hard logging in the outback.”

Since description affects ranking and product matching, merchants often go a step further to get a competitive edge.

This is where a higher degree of description optimization comes in. Let’s take a look at how that works.

Description Optimization for Product Feed Items

There’s usually a lot of talk about product title optimization for Google Shopping, but product description optimization plays a role as well.

The description is a great place to drop keywords. Do it with moderation and keep in mind that you write for both Google’s crawlers and the customers who’ll read it. Simply put – make your descriptions make sense.

Let’s see how to best optimize your product descriptions, but first, why that’s important.

Product Descriptions for Feed vs Product Descriptions for a Landing Page

Product descriptions on your website are different from product descriptions in Google Shopping. Advertisers often use the same text for these separate entries. While this is not a mistake per se, if you do it, you’ll lose a great opportunity to get better exposure.

The format of product pages (or landing pages) on your website, allows you to make your product descriptions as long as you wish and add videos, carousels, or whatever else has the best chance of improving conversions. 

These descriptions are written for potential customers, to help convert them once they land. Google crawls the page, but website visitors check the content, too.

Descriptions in product feeds, on the other hand, are much more compact, and Google uses them for product matching or to find which item is relevant for user searches. The users of a shopping platform will not see product descriptions from the feed – they are written for Google’s algorithms. 

Given all this and the fact that you compete with yourself on Search, it’s advised to create a unique, or at least a modified version of your product page descriptions for product descriptions in your feed.

Keep in mind that descriptions for product feed items have to be short and affect ranking at the same time.

Practical Tips on Writing Product Descriptions for Items in Your Feed

Merchants are free to put together the text for the product description attribute, however, they also need to comply with Google’s requirements.

Here are some recommendations to keep in mind when you write product descriptions for items in the feed:

  • Describe the product

    Even though this one is obvious, it can get tricky as you include more info on the product. The description should focus on features, technical specs, and design. Don’t describe other products that are associated with it, like product accessories not included in the offer. The description attribute is not a place to elaborate on product or company history, company policy or any other sort of backstory. It should only be about the product – what it is, what it’s made of, how it’s used, etc.
  • Use professional language T

    he text provided as value for the description attribute should be grammatically correct. Symbols, promotional text, and text in all caps are considered spam (as in any digital marketing context) and aren’t allowed.
  • Don’t compare it to other products

    Don’t use phrases like “it replaces X,” “is better than X,” “it’s cheaper than “X” – Google won’t accept that, even if the product you intend to compare it to is also sold by you. Just describe the product and leave it to the shopping platform and its users to make comparisons on their own.
  • Don’t include product data that’s covered by other attributes

    There is no shortage of feed attributes you can use to specify what your product is and how you sell it. Therefore, pay attention not to make the following mistakes:

1) Including product categorization in the description – some merchants add their product categories (for internal use) in the description, i.e. breadcrumb trails like: “Health & Beauty > Personal Care > Cosmetics > Cosmetic Tools > Skin Care Tools > Skin Care Rollers.” This is not allowed; instead, you can use google_product_category or product_type attribute to specify item categorization.

2) Adding a link to a landing page – this is not required on Google Shopping, although links in the description are common on YouTube, for instance. The link should be provided through the link attribute, so don’t include it in the description.

3) Using promotional info – details concerning the price, sale price, sale dates, shipping, delivery date, and similar information are also not recommended for the descriptions. Use the price, sale price, and availability attributes to specify this kind of info instead.

3 Best Practices for Product Descriptions in Feeds

The typical way to increase your chances of ranking high for a Shopping query is to use optimization hacks for the description attribute.

Here are some practical tips on how to do it.

1. Important Details Go First

Include the most valuable product info in the first 150-500 characters. In theory, the description attribute has up to 5000 characters, but in practice, customers only see the first 150 characters (or so), and need to click on “View product details” to see the full description.

However, not many customers will read a 4500-character product description if the opening words are not enticing.

Put your best foot forward:

  • Are your customers looking for a branded product?
  • Are they interested in the product’s functionality?
  • Are they after a specific benefit or a unique selling proposition?

Whatever it is, place it right at the start.

2. Use Product Description Formula

A formula refers to the structure and order of the words you use to describe the product. These optimization formulas work better with product titles, however, you can also apply the same approach for product descriptions.

One example would be: brand name + type of product + intended user + features.

The formula might be different for each niche. For instance, a product description for consumer electronics can start with the following formula: brand name + product title + MPN + specifications + variant attributes (color, size, etc.).

Variant attributes can include materials, size, size system, age group, color, pattern, texture, shape, etc.

3. Well-formatted Description

Pay attention to details. Often, merchants just copy/paste their product page descriptions into the description attribute. This can cause all sorts of issues; for example, a bulleted list from your site may not appear as a list on Google Shopping. Use the most simple text editor you can find (like Notepad) to minimize the risks of ill-formatted product descriptions in your feed.

Other Consideration About Description Optimization

Of course, if you have a large product inventory, description optimization at this level of detail is time-consuming and difficult to achieve. Some advertisers revert to product copywriting services (often enhanced by machine learning) supervised by an editor or a writer, especially if the merchant has rich data on each product.

And, once you develop a winning formula, others may want to steal your well-performing product descriptions (direct competitors). Since unique content is crucial for ranking, if you are aware of any foul play, you can report abuse and request a DMCA takedown.

Ok, let’s check how to update or add these descriptions.

How To Add a Product Description to Your Product Feed

As with most product attributes, you can use two methods to upload values for the description attribute to your feed:

  • Through an eCommerce platform

    You add descriptions and they are automatically shared with your feed in Google Merchant Center; or
  • With feed rules or supplemental feed

    Using a supplemental feed would probably be easier, since each product description attribute has a different value.

Alternatively, you can optimize the product description attributes manually by checking them one by one. This works best for those with a small inventory and not a lot of product data.

Common Problems With the Product Description Attribute

Google will disapprove an item from your feed if you don’t follow the requirements for the product description attribute. This will prevent product ads for that item from being served to users.

One issue is the most common.

Commercial text has been added – this happens when you include one of the following details in the description: your company name, shipping info, price (or sale price), promotion (and promotion dates), and similar info.

Commercial details are to be submitted via respective product attributes in the feed and have no place in the description.

What if the Product Description Is Too Short?

Google will allow you to sell a product even though the description attribute is empty or contains a short text. You will get warnings before they decide to pull the item from your feed.

Not taking time to populate the description attribute is a lost opportunity and it will result in limited performance.

Describe Your Items To Provide Relevant Match to  Customers Queries

Product descriptions are useful when Google needs  to hone in on the item that will be served in an ad to potential buyers. The product descriptions can help you to include details about the item, so that Google can match queries with relevant results.. 

Do your best to provide relevant information in the description attribute for your feed. Include the brand name, product type, potential customer, and product features, and do this in the opening lines of the description.

Shopping feeds function slightly differently than your usual descriptions found in a product page on your website. With the description attribute, everything is more compact, yet you need to provide all the right keywords.

Add the important variant attributes, like material, shape, pattern, size, color, age group, etc., and use as many characters as you need (but not more than 5000).

If you want to get a competitive edge, optimize the descriptions in your product feed and help Google learn more about the items you offer.

It’s what affects ranking and matching for Google Shopping search queries, and it’s one of the factors that drive conversions.

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 *