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Google Merchant: What NOT to do

This article is a quick guide to some of the things you could end up falling foul of if you do not setup your Google Merchant (GM) module settings properly or provide the correct data.

1. Made up Information

With the advent of GM rules about indentifier data such as UPC (GTIN/EAN, etc) and/or the use or Brand and MPN (Manufacturer Part Number) there's a temptation to provide your own random data to meet the requirement.

In a word, DON'T!. Google are testing these data fields for legitimate data and it's worth noting that your competitors will probably be informing Google of any infractions as well. Consequences can be as severe as seeing your account terminated so it's just not worth it.

Module Settings Affected:

  • Use Product Stock Codes (SKU) as MPN
    OK - If you have used the product MPN data as the Product Code or SKU
    OK - If you manufacture the product yourself and are using the correct SKU
    NO! - If the field contains your own internal SKU/Codes, not the product MPN

What you should do is ensure that your products have the correct information input for UPC (GTIN/EAN/etc..) and/or Accurate brand information along with either an Product Code/SKU matching the MPN or a custom field labelled "mpn" with the correct manufacturers part number assigned as the value.


2. Product Types

There are two different product types provided in the GM feed.

The first is your product type, and the module draws this from the category structure your product is located in.

The second is the Google product type which you choose by editing your category and choosing from the GM taxonomy for the relevant country.

Two rather obvious rules.

  1. Don't choose Product Types based on the highest SEO ranking, choose the most appropriate product type for that product

  2. Only provide more than one product type (based on category) if it's appropriate to that product (eg: syringes could be seen as a mechanics tool, medical equipment, etc..)

Module Setting Affected:

  • Limit Product Types per Product
    Google will penalise your listings for multiple product types, especially if your types are unnecessarily spamming the system.
    OK -Stick to a setting of 1 for most stores
    OK - Set higher limits if your category setup is strictly controlled so that only valid and different categories are associated with each product
    NO! - Don't set the limit to 10 and expect to get high rankings... Opposite will apply
    NO! - Don't set high limit with keyword spam type categories selected for products.



There are a considerable number of ways you can feel the wrath of Google Merchant and lose your feed, account and subsequently a useful marketing stream so take the time to read Google Merchant policies and learn what information you should and should not include as part of your product listing.

Remember, even if Google may not be picking up on any infractions immediately, you can bet your competitors will happily report you.


The Blame Game...

It is very tempting to blame any tool that generates your Google Merchant feed for any shortcomings in your data. While this may be the case, experience has taught me that 95% of the complaints of this type received are related to one of the following:

  • Lack of understanding of Google Merchant policy
  • Inappropriate, incorrect data provided in product listings
  • Expectation of a "one click solves all" solution... Similar to expecting a lawn mower to keep the garden tidy just because you have one.
  • Poor documentation
  • Changes in Google Merchant policy
  • Interpretation issue conflict between GM agent and store owner

Please don't fall into the trap of shouting the odds on any tool being at fault until you are sure that that is the case. Polite feedback, time to respond and a chance to resolve any issues tends to make the whole process go a whole heap smoother... It also makes the humble pie easier to swallow if you find the problem is located between your keyboard and chair ;)