Here’s a conversation I’ve had often over the years with ecommerce store owners:
Store Owner:“We need more traffic!”
Me:“No, you need more sales.”
Store Owner:“But without increasing our traffic we can’t increase our sales!”
Me: “No, without the right type of traffic you won’t get the sales.”
Store Owner: “Huh?”
Me:“Well, we can target users based on their interests and drive more qualified traffic to your site. There may be fewer of them so your traffic will probably go down but your sales will most likely increase. Which would you rather have? Increased traffic or increased sales?”
Store Owner: “We want more sales and revenues.”
Me: Right. So do I. So let’s get started…
1. STOP and CLEAN YOUR DATA.
I cannot stress this point enough.
There is nothing more frustrating than getting your accounts approved, your payment info in place, you’re ready to begin selling BUT when you upload your product catalog to any one of the marketplaces you receive hundreds or thousands of errors that need to be fixed before your listing will go live!
Cleaning your data may take you 80 hours to complete BUT, if you do it properly in the beginning it will save you hundreds of hours later.
Take as long as you need to make sure your data meets the requirements before uploading or syndicating your product feed to a marketplace.
Let’s begin by creating a Google Product Feed.
Google Product Feeds
First, you need your own Google Merchant Center account in order to create a Google product feed.
After you create your account follow these instructions for setting up your account.
You’ll need to fill in all of your business information and both verify and claim your website URL.
Once you’ve claimed and verified your website URL you can submit your product data to Google.
Now you’re ready to create your feed.
Google will take the feed in two formats, .txt or XML. Let’s work with the .txt process first.
Here’s a link to the sample feed and here are instructions on how to actually create your feed once you’ve downloaded the template.
HINT: Your ecommerce platform will most likely have a plugin or extension that allows you to create a Google product feed very simply so use that process. However, when doing so, if your data does not meet the feed requirements you will see these errors in your google Merchant Center after creating and uploading your feed to Google.
Here are the required fields for a Google Product Feed:
- ID: Each item has to have a unique identifier and the ID cannot be re-used between feeds.
- Title: This describes the item, so be sure to include any characteristics such as color or brand to differentiate one item from another. The title can be up to 70 characters long.
- Description: Use up to 10,000 characters to include further information about an item. Be aware that this is displayed in the shopping search results.
- Product type: This field categorizes the category of the product submitted. It’s imperative to utilize Google category values at the most granular level as well as including product type (merchant category value). This allows Google to place products in the most targeted search query results. Note: It is possible to insert both Google and merchant category values in this field but not vice versa.
- Link: This is the URL that links directly to a product.
- Image link: This attribute will display an image of the item. The accepted image formats are GIF, JPG (or JPEG), PNG, BMP, and TIF. High resolution images are a good practice as Google will show pictures with higher image quality over other devices like mobile and tablets.
- Condition: The condition attribute lets the buyer know if an item is ‘new,’ ‘refurbished’ or ‘used.’ This is a required field and very important to show if a product is being sold at a discount.
- Availability: This attribute declares whether an item is ‘in stock’, ‘available for order’, ‘out of stock’ or ‘preorder’.
- Price: The price attribute needs to contain the most prominent price on the landing page and must include a currency according to the ISO 4217 Standard.
- Brand: This needs to be the brand name of the item, not the store name, unless the product is manufactured by that store. This field is one of the three unique product identifiers that are required to process data.
- GTIN: This is the Global Trade Item Number for the specific item.
- MPN: This is the Manufacturer Part Number of the item, and it identifies the product to its manufacturer and specifies each item.
- Gender/age group/color/size: This is required for apparel products.
- Tax: This attribute is only accepted in the US and can be used to override any merchant level settings in a Google Merchant Center account.
- Shipping: Provide specific shipping estimates for items to override the shipping settings submitted in a Google Merchant Center account.
- Shipping weight: This attribute is required in order to set up a shipping rule in the Merchant Center that is based on weight.
- Item group ID: This is required for all variant apparel products in the US.
- Color: This defines the dominant color of an item but multiple colors can be added by using a ‘/’ in order of prominence.
- Material: This attribute describes the type of material or fabric that makes up an item.
- Pattern: Pattern or graphic print featured on an item.
- Size: Specific size of a product.
There are additional attributes available to be used if you so choose. They are:
- Google product category: This attribute is recommended as long as it is not required to further describe your item by category. There are over 4,000 Google product categories merchants can choose from at http://support.google.com/merchants/answer/1705911.
- Additional image link: Any images that show your product/item from a different angle, images of packaging or variants of the product.
- Sale price: This attribute shows the advertised sale price of the item and is recommended for items that are on sale.
- Sale price effective date: This is used in conjunction with the sale price attribute and indicates the date range that applies to the sale price.
- AdWords grouping: This attribute groups products in an arbitrary way. It can only hold one value and can be used with CPC or CPA bidding.
- AdWords label: This attribute only works with CPC bidding but can hold multiple values.
- AdWords redirect: This attribute allows advertisers to specify a separate URL that can be used to track traffic coming from Google Shopping.
- Gender/age/size: While these attributes are required for all apparel items, it might also make sense to include them for any other items to further describe the products.
- Color: This attribute describes items by color.
- Online only: This attribute clarifies whether an item is available for purchase only online.
- Excluded destination: By default your items appear in Google Commerce Search or Google Shopping.
- Expiration date: This attribute shows the date that an item listing will expire.