In T-Time with Tillison

Getting started with Google Merchant Center doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. In this T-Time video, Mark talks us through:

  • Creating a feed in Google Shopping
  • How to create a Google Sheet template for your product inventory
  • What data you need to include in your Google Sheet
  • Why a Google Sheet isn’t necessarily the best solution to manage your product inventory in Merchant Center

But that’s not all – he also answers some frequently asked questions about Google Merchant Center.

 

How to create a feed in Google Shopping

(1:01) Head into Google Merchant Center, click Products, and then hit Create product feed. Select your country of sale and set your language, then make sure that both ‘Shopping ads’ and ‘Surfaces across Google’ are ticked under destinations.

On the next page, you’re presented with the choice of using Google Sheets for your Shopping feed or creating a scheduled fetch. If you’re using a platform like Shopify, or an XML or CSV file that your site creates and places on your server, we recommend using a content API rather than Google Sheets. This is a lot easier to manage if your inventory changes frequently because you won’t have to update your website and your Google Sheet.

Having said that, using a Google Sheet for this isn’t impossible. It’s just a little more time-consuming and complicated.

How to create a Google Sheet template for your Shopping product inventory

(3:47) On the second page of the form you started to fill in above, insert your feed name and select ‘Google Sheets’ from the list. Click Continue.

When you reach the next page, select ‘Generate a new Google spreadsheet from a template’, then open the drop-down list to create an upload schedule. This will determine how often Google will fetch new information, and it can be daily, weekly or monthly. It’s not too important at this point as you can change it later on. It’s worth remembering, though, that if the Sheet is not fetched within 30 days, your listings will be paused.

Using a Google Sheet for your Shopping Feed

Once you’ve done this, click ‘Create feed’. Your Google Sheet template will then be generated and ready to populate. You’ll be able to find it under Primary Feeds, and you can open it by clicking ‘Open’ in the input method column.

What data do you need to include in your Google Sheet for Shopping?

(5:11) The template comes with all the criteria you need to provide separated into columns. It’s in your best interest to make sure that everything is filled in correctly or you could find your products being disapproved and your ads taken down.

ID

Every product you add to your inventory needs a unique ID number. This can just be 1, 2, 3 and so on, but you should use SKU codes if you have them. This acts as the primary link for all of your Google Shopping data, so you don’t want to change it later on if you can help it.

Title

This is self explanatory, but this should be what your product is called. Use keywords that people will be putting into Google and remember to optimise to increase sales.

Description

Similar to the title, this needs to be optimised for SEO. Make sure your keywords are in there, but don’t stuff the copy. You can also use the product description that is on your website, provided it too is optimised to help Google match your ad to as many relevant search terms as possible.

Link

Copy and paste the product’s URL on your website into this field. NOTE: Each product URL must be unique – you CANNOT use the same link for more than one product.

Condition

There are only three terms you can use in this field: new, refurbished or used.

Price

The format for this should always be the number followed by the currency. For example, you should write 10.00 GBP rather than GBP 10 or £10.

Availability

Google has set terms for this field, so make sure you use one of them. These attributes are in_stock, out_of_stock, and preorder. If your product is out of stock, it won’t be advertised on Google Shopping.

Image link

Copy and paste the link of the image you want to use in your Google Shopping ad.

GTIN

Standing for global trade identification number, this is like a barcode for your product. If your item has one, you absolutely have to use it or risk those products being disapproved in Merchant Center, which means they won’t show ads either. Make sure you do your research.

MPN

This is the manufacturer’s part number. This is useful information to enter if it’s applicable because users do search for it in Google. You could also use your SKU number here if you’re the creator of the product.

Brand attribute

It’s a fact that brand searches convert much better than non-branded ones, so make sure to fill this field in. It’s also worth noting that you can segment your products in Google Shopping by brand, as well as build separate ad groups and campaigns for them. If you’re the creator, use your brand.

Google product category

There is a set list, provided by Google, of categories for you to use. This includes subcategories. You must use one of these, or your products could be disapproved.

Shipping

Use the same format as the Price attribute, “5.00 GBP” if you wish to include the shipping price for each individual product. Googlebot only checks that the Shipping Price is correct for each individual item – you can ignore free delivery over a particular value, or different shipping prices depending on delivery time, for example. Google’s bot isn’t smart enough to run through all the permutations, so always use the shipping cost that a customer would see in the shopping cart if they added only this item with your default shipping price.

You don’t have to fill in the shipping price for each individual product; instead, you can set up a shipping rule in Google Merchant Center, which is generally much easier to manage.

It’s worth noting that you must fill in at least two fields out of GTIN, MPN and Brand attribute to get your product listing approved. Having said that, it is optimal to fill in all three attributes if you can.

This template is the simplest version of a Google Sheet for Shopping. You can add extra columns for your own product categories and additional image links, but make sure you have included all the core data Google needs.

Once you’ve finished filling in your Sheet, prompt Merchant Center to fetch it; this will flag any errors. Keep fixing errors and fetching the Sheet until all of the data is correct.

If you get stuck with any of this or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Google Shopping questions answered

(13:46) After working with Google Merchant Center for a number of years, Mark has been asked a lot of questions about the platform. Here he answers the ones he’s heard the most.

How do I upload a feed to Google Merchant Center?

Making your Google Shopping feed via Google Sheets is covered above, but you can also use an XML feed. If you’re using WooCommerce, Magento or similar, you probably have a plugin that generates an XML upload to your server each night, and this is the information that Google Shopping uses. This is actually easier than using Google Sheets as it’s much less likely that your data will be out of date.

How do you update your Shopping feed?

If you’re using an XML feed, your Shopping feed will be updated automatically if you’re outputting every night. If you’re using a Google Sheet or manually uploading products, you can add them to your Sheet and tell Google to fetch the information.

Does Google Merchant Center cost anything?

An account on the platform is absolutely free; there are no charges or subscription fees. However, if you’re advertising your products on Google, you need to use Google Ads.

What is the Google Merchant ID?

This is the number you need to connect your Merchant account with Google Ads; it’s essentially your account number. You can find it in the top bar next to your account name.

Do you have any other questions about Google Merchant Center? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss a T-Time video, and get in touch to find out more about our experiences working with Google Shopping.

 

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