With the launch of Google shopping in May 2011, Australia became the latest addition to the country list where Merchants can now list their product details both in Google shopping search as well as Google web search which shows blended results taken from shopping search. In addition to Australia, Google Product Search is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Japan, China, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.
Setting up a Google Merchant Account
You can sign up to Google shopping with any of your Google accounts. However it is highly recommended to use the same log-ins for both Merchant account and Web master tools account. To submit Data feed with web page URLs you first need to register the relevant domain with the MC account. If you submit feeds of multiple websites, set up a “Multi-Client Account”. When claiming and verifying a website it is important to select the right format of your domain name. Verifying http://www.example.com only covers the www sub-host and any paths underneath, but not the entire domain. To cover the entire domain, you must verify and claim the root domain, e.g. http://example.com
It should also be noted that Merchant Center is different from “Google Base” MC is for uploading product data. Google Base is used to upload other types of structured data such as real estate data.
Creating & Submitting a Data Feed
There two file formats supported for creating your data feed.
- Text (.txt) – Feed can be created with MS Excel and saved as a tab-delimited file
It is very important to follow the “Products Feed Specifications” as set out in Merchant Center Guidelines. If the nature of the store/products is such that the data changes every moment where daily updates are not enough, then the ideal solution should be “Content API for Shopping”
Before submitting a data feed, it needs to be registered in Google Merchant Center to let Google know to expect the file. There are 3 basic ways to upload the data file.
- Direct Upload (Files under 20 MB in size)
- FTP Upload (Files under 1GB in size)
- Automatic Upload (Scheduled Fetch) (Files under 1 GB in size)
If you're submitting your items for the first time to locales other than U.S., U.K., and Germany, it may take several weeks for items to be reviewed and begin appearing in the search results.
Optimizing your Shopping Data Feed
Same as you optimize your web pages for ranking in Google web search, your product listings should also be optimized for higher ranking in Google shopping search. However the ranking factors are not the same. Below are some of the key ranking factors which appear to be playing a vital role as revealed by several studies and tests done by leading SEOs in the field.
- Keyword Rich Product Titles and Descriptions. This still highlights the importance of a keyword research to find out shopping oriented user keywords.
- Your current ranking in web search - If you already rank well for some product keywords, there is a high chance that you get better rankings in Shopping Results as well
- Price competitiveness of your products – It is fair enough to take price as ranking factor as it is one of most important factors affecting the purchase decision of the searches.
- Size and Trust associated with the Merchant
- Reviews and Ratings from Trusted Shopping Review Sites –Further research and analysis on competitors who already rank on shopping search may be need to identify the right targets to get ratings and reviews for your products.
- Completeness of your feed attributes.
- Frequency of updating the feed (Data Freshness) – Obviously product data such as price, discounts, availability etc cannot be static, hence your data feed should reflect the actual status of what you have to offer for customers searching the products.
- Real-time updating )Via API, Few times a day or at least once a month (Google anyway expire all data in 30 days unless they are updated)
- Any discrepancy of data between the feed and website can result in suspension of the item from the Shopping results
- Use of Custom Attributes (enables your products to show up for more long tail searches on Google Shopping)
- Selection of right product category (as suggested by Google, with your own refinements)
- It is very important to follow the “Program policies and Requirements” set out in the Google MC
This can be done in Three ways
- Adding tracking parameters to web page URLS submitted via the data feed
- Reporting Feature in the Merchant Center
- Products tab in the MC which reports impressions and clicks of each item submitted
How We Can Help You
We at Netstarter were ahead of the game and have already built the tools to connect our client's ecommerce sites with Google Shopping. Feel free to contact us if you would like to get expert and professional consultation in optimising your Google Shopping listings.