Fixing the Top 6 Google Merchant Center Account Errors

1. Rejection Due to Google Policies

Google's strict policy prohibits the promotion of hazardous, restricted, or trademarked items, with additional guidelines on product details like claims, discounts, and image specifications; however, merchants often overlook these regulations due to their familiarity with their product range.

Google, the premier search engine, processes an astounding 40,000 search inquiries per second on average, totaling over 3.5 billion searches daily. In the realm of online product searches, Google prominently displays sponsored ads above organic search results. These ads, comprising Product Listing Ads and Search Ads, serve to showcase relevant products. Product Listing Ads, positioned at the top, boast a higher Click Through Rate (CTR), thereby yielding superior conversion rates.

Major e-commerce platforms leverage this advertising tool to promote their offerings within Google search results and across its Google Display Network (GDN) affiliates. To feature products in the Shopping Display Panel, merchants must furnish their product data in the specified format via Google Merchant Center (GMC). Yet, during the setup and data upload process in GMC accounts, advertisers often encounter errors and rejections. We’ve compiled the six most prevalent issues and their respective remedies below:

1. Rejection Due to Google Policies

Google enforces a stringent restricted products policy, prohibiting the promotion of items deemed hazardous, harmful, restricted by governmental regulations, requiring licenses, or bearing trademarks. Additionally, strict guidelines are in place concerning product claims, discounts, accurate descriptions, and adherence to size, dimension, and background specifications, which must feature clean, white backgrounds. Despite these policies, many merchants inadvertently overlook them due to familiarity with the types of products they typically sell.

To remedy this issue, it’s imperative to refrain from adding products to the Google Merchant Center that contravene Google’s policies. Keep in mind that policy applicability may vary based on geolocation. Therefore, products such as firearms and ammunition, firecrackers (in India), and liquor (in India) should be strictly avoided when uploading items to GMC. Moreover, merchants must ensure they provide accurate product descriptions and images to prevent policy violations. Avoid incorporating logos into images or using inappropriate visuals to maintain compliance with Google’s guidelines.

2. Irregular Product Price and Availability

Misrepresenting the price and availability of products compared to their actual values can lead to complications. If Google detects any disparities during its routine checks, it will flag errors. When adding a product to GMC that is on sale, merchants sometimes modify the original price instead of adjusting the sale price. This practice triggers unnecessary errors within the Google Merchant Center.

To rectify this issue, users should create a separate spreadsheet for discounted products and link it to GMC. When a discount or promotion ends, they can revert to fetching data from the original sheet. During a sale or promotion, merchants should adjust the sale price rather than the actual price, ensuring accuracy. Three key fields—Sale Price, Sale Price Start Date, and Sale Price End Date—must be filled correctly when adding a sale price.

For a more efficient and real-time approach to price and availability updates, consider employing automatic item updates. This method requires merchants to integrate structured data markup into the HTML of their product pages. Structured data markup provides a machine-readable representation of product data, facilitating seamless synchronization of prices and availability.

3. No Google Categories or Wrong Category Names

Correct categorization is crucial when adding products to the Google Merchant Center. Failure to provide a category or entering an incorrect category name will trigger an error. It’s essential to ensure that the product categories align precisely with those provided by GMC to avoid any issues.

To address this issue, ensure that you utilize Google’s taxonomy when populating the “google product category” field. You can still utilize your own categories in the “product type” field. It’s recommended to refer to Google’s up-to-date categories list for the US to ensure accuracy. Providing detailed information is appreciated by GMC, so opt for more specific categories whenever possible. Additionally, it’s advisable to use category codes rather than manually entering breadcrumbs for improved accuracy.

4. No Unique Identifiers or Incorrect Identifiers

To comply with Google Merchant Center requirements, products must possess a unique identifier. In the US and many other countries, this is typically managed through GTIN (Global Trade Item Number). Merchants must furnish GTINs for their products to ensure valid entries in the feed. GTINs can be found using resources like “Find a GTIN.” For non-custom-made products, the brand name must be provided. MPN (Manufacturer Part Number) is utilized when GTIN is not applicable or required for certain products.

To resolve this issue, it’s essential to understand that GTIN serves as the numerical representation of the barcode found on products. In the US, it’s referred to as UPC, while in Europe, it’s known as EAN. This identifier is unique to each product according to international standards. Websites like ean-search.org can assist in finding UPCs, EANs, ISBNs, and more. For products without a categorized identifier, you can indicate “identifier exists=false.”

5. Improper Product Titles, Descriptions and Images

As highlighted earlier, Google places great emphasis on product data accuracy. Product titles, descriptions, and images play pivotal roles as they are utilized to match products with users’ search queries. These attributes must adhere to editorial guidelines, similar to Google AdWords, where products can be targeted based on keywords. In shopping ads, Google autonomously selects keywords to display relevant products in search queries. The algorithm primarily relies on product titles and descriptions to match specific products with search queries. Therefore, it’s advisable to allocate extra attention to the title, description, and image fields in the merchant feed Excel sheet.

To address these issues, advertisers must meticulously adhere to GMC editorial guidelines, ensuring that product titles and descriptions align with them accurately. Common errors, such as the use of BLOCK CAPITALS, promotional texts, or slang language like “free shipping,” can be easily identified by reviewing the product page. It’s essential to avoid long titles (no more than 60 characters), repetitive words in product descriptions, and redundant text in titles and descriptions.

Before uploading, double-check image URLs and ensure that proper product images are included in the merchant feed. Avoid using special characters in image names or any alternative text. Providing relevant images not only helps prevent errors but also enhances product ranking.

6. Targeting Multiple Countries with Single Domain

Using the same data feed for multiple countries can indeed result in errors, as each feed needs to be localized. This localization includes adapting prices to the local currency, translating descriptions into the local language, and ensuring other relevant content on the product page is tailored to each region’s preferences and requirements.

To resolve this issue, it’s essential to avoid targeting multiple countries with a single domain or website. Instead, acquire different domains and then target each country with a distinct domain. This approach ensures that your online presence is localized, providing a tailored experience for users in each region.

Simply syncing your online store with the Google Merchant Center may not suffice to significantly increase your web store’s conversion rate. To effectively boost conversion rates and enhance brand visibility online, leverage various online marketing tools and techniques. Engaging the services of an online marketing company can optimize the utilization of these tools, ultimately driving your sales trajectory upward.