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Google Merchant Centre

15:39 on Thu, 22 Apr 2010 | SEO | 6 Comments

Another very useful feature in Google’s arsenal of tricks is a separate set of search results if users search for products through Google Products (found on the “Shopping” tab). Google Products only displays products which can be bought online from E-commerce sites. This includes sites like Amazon and Ebay but typically excludes sites which feature products but which can’t be bought directly from the site such as B2B distributors.

In the screenshot below you can see an example of what is displayed if you search for “sports shoes”

The product results can be refined further by choosing a category of shoe such as “Running” and “Squash” and also by price.
In the absence of product names matching the search term, Google will also give a preference for company brand names which is why in this case the results are filled with products from SportsShoes.com. This is another reason why the name of your company will affect your SEO efforts so much.

Yowzers! Sign me up!

If you currently run an E-commerce site you’re probably salivating with anticipation at the potential source of traffic.
In a nutshell, you’ll simply have to create an account with Google Merchant Center and then submit a product feed.

When you log into the Google Merchant Center you’ll be presented with a list of the current accounts you’re managing including the current status.

In order to add a new account you will want to click on “Add Account” on the bottom left of the page. We recently created a new account and as you can see the status reads “No Data Feed” – meaning we haven’t done the next step, which is upload a datafeed.

Creating the Feed

Google will only accept the feed in 2 formats at the moment: tab-delimited .txt files and XML.

It’s generally better to go for XML whenever possible because it is more error proof when it comes to formatting. .txt files are more susceptible to errors in formatting because the absence of even a single tab could break the feed.

Although you can choose to put in as many attributes as you want into the feed, there are certain required attributes which need to be present within each feed while some others are recommended and others even optional. The following datafeed attributes are required:

  • condition
  • description
  • id
  • link
  • price
  • title

I would also recommend adding brand, image link and weight (provided shipping costs are based on weight) and payment accepted.

Upload your feed

Now that your feed has been created, the next step is to upload it.

Simply select your target country and enter the filename of your feed.
Next, click on “Edit”.

You’ll need to specify factors such as what format the datafeed file is in and the encoding used. Although you can set the system to detect it automatically, I prefer to specify.

Scheduling

You can either manually upload the feed to Google or if the feed has been automatically set to be refreshed, you’re better off creating an upload schedule.

Click on “Create” under the “Upload Schedule” column and specify when to upload it and the URL of the file.

Once you’ve done all this, go to “General Settings” and firstly verify your site by following the instructions, and also filling in details about your business.

Joining the feed to your adwords account

Now that your feed has been created, there’s an extra tidbit you can use to enhance traffic even further. (Courtesy of Rob) If you have an adwords campaign running and you link up your product feed in Google Merchant Central, a button will appear to display products from the feed which will appear directly below the ad.

This in essence enlarges your ad for the fair price of £0!

Tweaks

You can make the final tweaks to your Google Merchant Center account by filling in your tax and shipping information. This allows Google to automatically calculate the final price once tax and shipping costs are taken into account.

You also have the option to use the Google Checkout system in conjunction with your product feed results. This basically adds another way for customers to pay for your products.

Troubleshooting

Chances are you’ll encounter some formatting error of your feed on the way. Click on the link to your feed under “Datafeeds” and you will be presented with a list errors and explanations as to what it is.

Make sure you iron out any errors on your product feed other wise not all of your products will appear on Google Products.

Statistics

If you access the Dashboard you can see an overview of the stats for the campaign.

This page will list any errors with your feed such as missing products and the number of clicks and impressions your products have had. This is a good way to see how well your product datafeed is performing. Right now, you won’t see any stats since the feed has just been uploaded.

Well, there you have it – you now know how to use Google Merchant Center. So, if you have an e-commerce site and aren’t doing the things listed above, what are you waiting for? It’s free after all!
 

Comments & Discussion

(6 Comments)

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James

James • Years ago

Thanks Rob, weas looking for a definition of mpn. Do you think google gives more weight to feeds with complete attribute data?

Peter -
A post on SEOing your feeds would be useful if you have experience.

Reply

Balloon Flights

Balloon Flights • Years ago

Rob,

Thanks for that help and replying to my previous post. All makes sense now.

I was using a "pre-built" component on Joomla! which didn't include it - then merchant centre was highlighting my error.

Thanks again for the help. Take care,

Charlie S

Reply

Rob Welsby

Rob Welsby • Years ago

Hi Charlie,

MPN stands for 'Manufacturer Part Number', which Google recommends is included. If merchants are selling items with this sort of information (laptop batteries, for example) then it can help match products to queries.

If your product listings don't have 'manufacturers' or part numbers, any unique code can be used - we'd suggest just replicating the id field from your feed.

Reply

Balloon Flights

Balloon Flights • Years ago

Thanks for the article. Just starting my Google Merchant account for Aerosaurus Balloons. Do you know what the error means for "Missing recommended attribute: mpn"? Thanks in advance.

Reply

andrea tucker

andrea tucker • Years ago

Thanks for the good tip re linking merchant centre to adwords.

Reply

Susann Akers

Susann Akers • Years ago

You must have been looking at my website when you wrote this article. I have just created a merchant account and will be adding some items asap

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