New Google Product Search Data Feed Requirements – United States

Google Merchant Center LogoeCommerce companies who participate in Google’s comparison shopping engine, Google Product Search, could see a decline in referrals come September 22, 2011. Google has released a new version of required attributes, intended to make the comparison shopping experience better the for end user. Online retailers may find themselves in dire straights, mobilizing to address those new requirements. Google has slated attribute requirements will have a deadline of September 22, 2011. At that time, feeds with products that do not conform to the new attribute guidelines will “be suspended from Google Product Search until the issues have been addressed. In case of repeated violations of our quality standards, your products will be suspended for at least one week after the second violation, and for at least one month after the third violation.” – From Google Merchant Center Data Feed Policies.

So what is new and how does it effect you?

Previously, Google feeds required a few attributes and they were applicable to all products. Then they had recommended attributes that were specific to different industries or product types. Here is the new list of attributes your should have in your feed.

  • id
  • title
  • description
  • link
  • image_Link
  • condition
  • availability
  • price
  • google_product_category
  • product_type
  • brand
  • mpn
  • gtin
  • tax
  • shipping
  • shipping_weight
  • online_only
  • additional_image_link

Merchant Help Center

Then it gets complicated. Depending on the types of products you have, additional attributes become required. Google will define your product types by the entry provided in the google_product_category. This is information defined by the Google Product Search Taxonomy.

“Currently, the ‘Google product category’ attribute only needs to be provided for products that belong to the following seven product categories in feeds that target the US, UK, Germany, and France:

  • Apparel & Accessories > Clothing
  • Apparel & Accessories > Shoes
  • Apparel & Accessories (Note that submitting this value for clothing and shoes is not acceptable.)
  • Media > Books
  • Media > DVDs & Movies
  • Media > Music
  • Software > Video Game Software

For products that belong to other product categories, providing this attribute is recommended. For countries other than the US, Japan, UK, Germany and France, this attribute is recommended for all product categories.”

For businesses selling products that would fall into the Apparel & Accessories category, additional attributes are required.  They are:

  • gender
  • age_group
  • color
  • size

For businesses selling products that have Variants, addition attributes are required. Variants are versions of the same product which only vary based on colors, materials, patterns, or sizes.  They are:

  • item_group_id
  • color
  • material
  • pattern
  • size

If you are using variants on apparel, color and size attributes do not need to be repeated.

Primary Changes to Google Merchant Center Policies

Google changed — or rather clarified — two rules.

  • The data from the feed has to accurately match the actual product on the site.
  • The price has to match the price most prominently displayed on the site.

For the first rule, it should be understood that the product represented in the feed should be the product on the ecommerce website.  What is new is Google will periodically check to ensure the information syncs up.  This includes price as well.  If it does not, your product and potentially your whole feed, will be removed from Google Product Search.

For the second rule, this directly addresses ecommerce sites that have product detail pages where there are options and those options may be priced differently.  In essence, if you have t shirts in small, medium and large that are $9.99 and extra large and xx large are $11.99, the price you should include in your feed is the price a customer would first see when they land on your product detail page. If the default size option is medium, then the price in the feed should reflect that option 0 or $9.99 in this case.

There are lots more idiosyncrasies involved with these changes. For a complete explanation from Google, click here.

If you’d like more information about how to update your Google Product Search feeds, contact Linda Bateman at 831.531.2479 or at https://www.verticalrail.com/contact.php

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