With Google Shopping, all products listings operate based on data provided from a separate Merchant Centre account. The Google Merchant Centre holds your organisation’s product feed, which contains the data of all products you would like to advertise on Google Shopping.
I have listed out the following steps you need to take in order to correctly set up your Merchant Centre account and a product feed, in order to start advertising your products on Google Shopping:
1. Sign in with a Google account to https://www.google.com/retail/merchant-center/
2. Enter some basic details, in General > Settings:
- Website URL
- Business Name
- Contact Information for Customer Service
- Technical Contact information for notifications about errors and alerts on the account
3. Ensure that the following are on the website:
- Accurate contact information. Your website must display sufficient and accurate contact information, including a telephone number and/or email.
- Secure checkout process. Payment and transaction processing, as well as the collection of any sensitive and financial personal information from the user, must be conducted over a secure processing server (SSL protected, with a valid SSL certificate – https://).
- Returns policy. Your site must provide a clear and conspicuous return policy to users.
- Billing terms and conditions. Your site must provide clear and conspicuous billing terms and conditions.
- Complete checkout process. Ensure that users are able to successfully add items to the basket and fully complete the checkout process.
4. Verify and claim the website URL via one of the following methods:
- HTML file upload (most common method): You’ll upload a HTML file to your server and we’ll verify that the file exists in the specified location. To use this method, you must be able to upload new files to your server. To stay verified, do not remove the HTML file even after you’ve verified and claimed your website URL.
- HTML tag: Add a meta tag to your home page. To use this method, you must be able to edit the HTML code of your site’s index page. To stay verified, do not remove the HTML tag even after you’ve verified and claimed your website URL.
- Google Analytics: Add the Google Analytics code that you use to track your site. To use this method, you must be an administrator of the Google Analytics account and you must be using the asynchronous tracking code. The Google Analytics tracking code is only used to verify your website URL ownership. No Google Analytics data will be accessed.
- Google Tag Manager: Add the Google Tag manager container snippet to your website. You must have “View, Edit and Manage” account level permission in Google Tag Manager. The Google Tag Manager container ID is only used to verify website ownership. No Google Tag Manager data will be accessed.
5. Upload a product data feed containing the details of all products that you wish to advertise on Google Shopping:
This can be in .txt or .xml format. You can set up either of these through an Excel document. Ensure that you include each product on a separate row and the following attributes as columns:
- Product ID (each must be unique and under 50 characters)
- Product Title (under 150 characters, but be aware that only 70 characters will be displayed)
- Product Description (under 5000 characters)
- Google Product category (can be in text format or just a 4 digit code e.g. can be 4453 or written as ‘Home & Garden > Decor > Chair & Sofa Cushions’. (probably easiest to use the 4 digit code to minimize errors). For a list of all the categories you can choose from, see this link.
- Your own categorisation of each product using ‘>’ as a separator e.g. Home & Garden > Chair Cushions
- URL of the specific product page
- URL of the Image of the product. You can use the images that you currently use on the website, but bear in mind that the Google policy is that images must be taken ‘on a solid white, grey or light-coloured background’,
- Condition of the product- Ensure that the value here is ‘new’, ‘used’ or ‘refurbished’.
- Availability- ‘instock’ or ‘outofstock’
- Price e.g. 15.00 GBP
- Product Brand
- Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) submitted through the ‘GTIN’ attribute. GTINs include UPC, EAN (in Europe), JAN (in Japan) and ISBN.
There are a few other optional attributes that can help to differentiate your listings:
- Colour (use ‘color’ as heading)
You can download an example feed, directly from Google here, if you want to see how the attributes and products listings should be laid out within the feed.
After this, your Google Shopping Campaign will need linked to your AdWords account and then the products will be ready to use in your campaigns.
If you need any assistance with Google Shopping or guidance on how to set up a Merchant Centre account, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us at 028 9068 3790.