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“Optimising Your Products for Google Shopping”

Optimising Your Products for Google Shopping | News | META

Optimising Your Products for Google Shopping | News | META

Published on by Rebecca Ives, Digital Marketing Lead

If you are looking to submit your products to Google Merchant Center either for free listings across Google Surfaces or via paid shopping ads, then ensuring the information you submit is correct is vital.

Our guide explains the Google Merchant Center requirements your feed needs to meet to be approved and explains the best practices in order to having optimised information that will ensure your products can be found in Google Shopping and beyond.

What is Google Shopping?

Google shopping is a great way to showcase your products to an audience that are actively searching for them.

The biggest difference between shopping ads and search ads is how they are presented; that is the information that your potential customer can see:

Search ads

Search ads are text only, relying on enticing copy and CTA’s to get your audience through to your site whereas shopping ads show an image of the product alongside its name and price. This has its advantages as the user can see that it is what they are looking for and that is within their budget before they click on the ad.

In order to set up a Google Shopping campaign you first need to ensure that you have a Google Merchant Center and Google Ads account, they will then need to be linked together.

What Product data should I include in my Google Merchant Center feed?

Everything you submit will be used to help promote your products. Some of the attributes are required whilst others are optional. The list below details required attributes to get you started:

Attribute Format
id [id] Required
The unique identifier given to your product.
title [title] Required
The name of your product
description [description] Required
The unique identifier given to your product.
link [link] Required
The landing page of your product
image_link [image_link] Required
Specify the URL of where your main product image can be found.
availability [availability] Required
The availability of your product. Supported values
  • in stock [in stock]
  • out of stock [out of stock]
  • preorder [preorder]
Price [price] Required*
The total price including VAT (or GST), for all countries *excluding the US and Canada.
product_category [google_product_category] Optional
We highly recommend submitting a product category as Google we automatically submit it to a category and very often it is incorrect. Google product taxonomies vary from country to country the UK one can be found here.
brand [brand] Required*
For all new items *excluding books, films and musical recording brands.
gtin [gtin] Required
For new products that have a manufacturer assigned Global Trade Item Number. Supported values:
  • UPC
  • EAN
  • JAN
  • ISBN
  • ITF-14
MPN [mpn] Required*
*A Manufacturers Part Number is needed when your product does not have a manufacturer assigned GTIN.
adult [adult] Required*
Supported values:
  • yes [yes]
  • no [no]
*For products that contain sexually suggestive materials or is of an adult content.
Multipack [multipack] Required*
The number of identical products within the pack. *Only if your product is part of a multipack to be promoted in Australia, Brazil, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US.
Is_bundle [is_bundle] Required*
Supported values:
  • yes [yes]
  • no [no]
*Only if your item is part of a bundle to be promoted in Australia, Brazil, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US.
age_group [age_group] Required*
The age group of the person your product is designed for. *Only when the product is an item of clothing for audiences in Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US Supported values:
  • newborn [newborn]
  • infant [infant]
  • toddler [toddler]
  • kids [kids]
  • adult [adult]
culor [culour] Required*
The culour of your product. *For all items of clothing targeting audiences in Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US.
gender [gender] Required*
The gender your product is designed for. *Only when the product is an item of clothing for audiences in Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US. Supported values:
  • male [male]
  • female [female]
  • unisex [unisex]
material [material] Required*
The material or fabric your product is made from. *Only when this is the distinguishing feature between variants of the same product.
Pattern [pattern] Required*
The pattern or print of a product. *Only when this is the distinguishing feature between variants of the same product.
Item_group_id [item_group_id] Required*
This is the ID for a group of products that come in different options such as colour or size (i.e. variants) *Only when the product is a variant in Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US.
size [size] Required*
Your product size. *For all items in the clothing & accessories > clothing and clothing & accessories > shoes product categories for audiences in Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US.
tax [tax] Required (US only)
The tax rate percent of your product sales.
shipping [delivery] Required*
You should specify your products delivery cost in the feed. Please note this will override the Merchant Center delivery settings, *In selected countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the UK & the US.

This list may look daunting but don’t worry, If you are using Shopify there are many apps available that can help you generate a Google Merchant Center feed easily. Talk to us about which apps we recommend.

Other Google Merchant Center Requirements

There are many other requirements that you have to meet, these include:

  • Shopping ads policies
  • Landing page requirements
  • Tax rate data requirements
  • Delivery rate data requirements
  • Currency & language requirements

Optimising your product data

To ensure that your products are shown to the correct audience it is vital that you optimise your attributes to be both search engine and consumer friendly. Below you will find our recommendations on how to achieve this:

Product Title

You must accurately describe your products using distinguishable details for each variant, be as specific as possible and use professional and grammatically correct language:

Do Don't
The optimal length for your product title is 70 characters. Any more and people may not see the full name due to screen size or how Google choose to display your product. Put the most important details first. Google currently allow you to submit up to 150 characters. Use characters for the sake of filling up space
Include brand e.g. META Include promotional text e.g. Free delivery
Include product name Use all or unnecessary capital letters e.g. BLUE CHEESE SPREAD
Include specific details about product area e.g. maternity Use Gimmicky foreign characters or emojis e.g. (ಠ_ಠ) 😀

Where relevant include:

  • Customised details e.g. engraved, embroidered, personalised
  • Compatibility (for items that are compatible with but manufactured by a third party) e.g. compatible with
  • Condition e.g. manufacturer refurbished, used. You DO NOT need to specify that an item is new
  • Bundles/multipacks e.g. pack of 2, complete set
  • Variants e.g. Size, Colour*

*If you are using an app in your CMS to generate a feed for Google Merchant Center. You will need to check how this works before naming your product as many of them auto populate it with additional information from variants.

Best Practice Examples:
Meta Men’s Grey Cotton Socks
Meta Waterproof Unicorn Print Unisex Trousers
Meta Refurbished Time Machine Rear Left Orange Indicator Mk7 Models
Meta Personalised Ladies Silver Drop Pendant With 19” Necklace
Meta Wired Controller – PlayStation Compatible

You should also be aware that when you change the name/title of your product, in most instances this does not automatically change the URL. If you want to change the URL, ensure you put a redirect in place.

Product Description

The optimal length for a product description is between 350-400 words. It should tell the consumer the most important information they need to know before they purchase the product and why they should buy it.

Do Don't
Be specific and accurate using professional and grammatically correct language. Link to other parts of your site or external websites.
Use formatting. Include comparisons e.g. even better than or promotional text including price sale info, delivery & company names.
Include the most relevant features and visual attributes including size, material, intended age range, special features, technical specifications, shape, pattern, texture, design, colour, flavour, customisation details, entire contents, compatibility. Use capital letters for emphasis e.g. BLUE CHEESE SPREAD.
Only describe the product itself and not aspects of the product that are compatible, accessories or other similar products available or talk about your business history and policies. For example, ‘works with iPad’ is fine but going into detail about the iPad is not. Use Gimmicky foreign characters, emojis or other languages (unless widely used e.g. Sushi).

Images

As Google Shopping is a visual tool all products must contain images within the Merchant Center feed before they will be approved.

Your image tells a story, it should be aesthetically pleasing and accurately portray the product your customer will receive.

Do Don't
Accurately display the product that you are selling. Scale up an image or submit a thumbnail.
Clothing: the image must be at least 250 x 250 pixels. Non-clothing: the image must be at least 100 x 100 pixels. Include watermarks or borders or text (other than appears on the actual product or packaging).
Your image must use the supported file types: non-animated GIF (.gif), JPEG (.jpg/.jpeg), PNG (.png), BMP (.bmp) and TIFF (.tif/.tiff). Use place holders or generic images except for products in the hardware (632) or Vehicles & Parts (888) categories, illustrations are accepted and in paint categories single colour images will be accepted.
Use a tool like tinypng to make your file size as small as possible. Use an image bigger than it needs to be.

For more information and help on image optimisation across your website ask us about our image optimisation guide.

Brand

Your brand name (or the manufactures name) is important. It makes an impression on consumers and lets them know what to expect. If people are searching by brand then your products will instantly stand out.

Do Don't
Specify the brand for all new products. This is not compulsory for movies, books and musical recordings. Provide a value if there is no brand.
Provide a brand name of the product that is recognised by consumers.
Only provide your shop name if you manufacture the product.

GTIN or MPN

The GTIN or Global Trade Item Number is a code that uniquely describes your product, most of us refer to it as a barcode:

Global Trade Item Number

There are several different types of ID that are recognised as a GTIN, these are:

  • UPC or Universal Product Code: (in North America/GTIN-12): 12-digit number (convert 8-digit UPC-E codes to 12-digit codes)
  • EAN or European Article Number: (in Europe/GTIN-13): 13-digit number
  • JAN or Japanese Article Number: (in Japan/GTIN-13): 8- or 13-digit number
  • ISBN or International Standard Book Number: 13-digit number (convert ISBN-10 to ISBN-13). If you have both, include only the 13-digit number.
  • ITF-14 (for multipacks/GTIN-14): 14-digit number
Do Don't
Submit a GTIN for every variant Use the same GTIN for all variants
Submit a GTIN for a product that does not have one.

An MPN or Manufacturers Part Number is used to identify a specific product from the same manufacturer, you only need to submit an MPN if the GTIN is not available however, if it is something that consumers are likely to search by then we would recommend including this information.

What if your product does not have a GTIN or MPN?

If your product doesn’t have both a GTIN and MPN then it is possible to use the identifier_exists [identifier_exists] attribute to specific that no [no] your product does not have one.

Colour

Colour is compulsory for all clothing items but should still be added as a variant if this is what defines the difference between products.

Do Don't
Feature multiple colours listing the primary colour first Don’t combine several colours into one word or use a word that isn’t a colour such as various. Instead separate them with a / for example red/blue/green
Use numbers or codes

Size

The size is required for any product that is an item of clothing and accessories and falls under the Google Shopping category 'Clothing & Accessories > Clothing' or 'Clothing & Accessories > Shoes'.

You must provide a value that people understand and be consistent, don’t forget size standards vary in different countries. If there are variations on the size provide these too e.g.12 long.

Best Practice Examples:
One Size
XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL
3-6 Mo, 1YR, 2-3 YR
10, 12, 14 Short, 16, 18
28, 30, 32, 34, 36
J, K, L, M ½ (jewellery)

If you are advertising non clothing items this field is not compulsory, but we highly recommend completing it if your item has size specific variants and/or people tend to shop by size, e.g. photo frames, perfume and furniture.

Choosing a Google Product Category

There are thousands of categories available within the taxonomy for each country. If you do not choose one Google will try and identify which one it feels your products fit in to, problem is this could be incorrect and if people use filters within the search to narrow results down your products may not be found. We have seen skip bags added to the handbag category as the Google Bots have completely misjudged what the product being sold is for.

You may find that there is not a category that is an exact match for your item in this instance we would always suggest adding them to the category that is most relevant.

Do Don't
Add items to the lowest level of a category e.g. Meta Men’s Grey Cotton Socks would be added to (209) Clothing & Accessories > Clothing > Underwear & Socks > Socks Add items to top level categories e.g. Meta Men’s Grey Cotton Socks should not be in - (213) Clothing & Accessories > Clothing > Underwear & Socks
Add items to the most relevant category

Age group

The age group attribute is required for all clothing and accessories items. There are five supported attributes for this, see our chart below for help with choosing the best one for your products:

Attribute Description
Newborn Babies 3 months and under e.g. Size: 0-3 months or newborn
Infant Babies aged 3 to 12 months e.g. Size: 3-6 months
Toddler Children aged 1 to 5 years old e.g. Size: 6-18 months, 1-2 years
Kids Children aged 5 to 13 years old
Adult Teenagers and older

Gender

The gender attribute is required for all clothing and accessories, it helps people narrow their search when using filters. If your product does not fall under the clothing category but is specifically designed for a gender you may want to consider using this attribute. There are 3 supported values available:

Attribute Description
Unisex Designed for people of all genders
Male Designed for men/people who identify as male
Female Designed for women/people who identify as female

If you have any questions on how to optimise your Google Shopping feed or would like more information on how we can create a successful Google Shopping ads campaign, then get in touch.

Tags: Google shopping, Google shopping best practices, Google shopping requirements

About the author

Beckie has over 10 years' experience managing digital marketing for both B2B and B2C clients. Beckie is our resident paid search specialist, managing media spend across platforms including Google Ads, Bing and Facebook. She has a passion for being creative and graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BSc Hons in Media &Technology.

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