Check the quality of your data in the Google Merchant Center

Google Shopping is a good way to market your products on Google Adwords. However, you should check you data regularly in order not to be banned from Google Shopping. Once blocked by Google, it might take several days to get online again, which will impact sales.

In order to use Google Shopping, you have to set up the Google Merchant Center.

The easiest way to regularly check your status is to set up an email to be sent from the Google Merchant Center when your file is updated every day. Especially when your file is new, or when you add new products, there will be things to correct. But also if you have not done any changes, the Google check might find stuff to complain about, and these are split up in:

  • Errors and warnings
  • Notifications
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Make it a habit to check for errors and notifications in the merchant center on a daily basis.

The Errors and Warnings you should take care of immediately. Normally it is a product violating some Google rule. This will happen, even if you read the guidelines and policies in detail. The best is then to remove the product from Google Shopping directly.

With the notifications, you can enhance your product data quality. Here missing data etc are listed. If you have a multi language site, this is very useful for checking that your translations are complete. However, if you have a rule saying that you fill “language 2” with data from “language 1” if the translation is missing it does not work. So do not use any of these rules, rather make sure that the translations are done. It gives quite a motivation to push for translations, when your customers see a page without text. Also avoid having “auto-detect” language functions on the page, since this in multi-lingual countries like Switzerland in many cases leads the customer wrong – just because your browser is installed in English, it does not mean that you would like to see the product page in that language.

Other things that are checked for are missing schema.org-microdata and product title length. It might be tempting to use different titles for different purposes (website, Google shopping, price comparison sites etc), but do not underestimate the workload to keep all the versions up to date if you have many products and / or multiple languages to maintain.

When you have a new feed, you need to daily check the challenges, and improve step-by-step. Be aware that it takes up to 72 hours before the changes are reflected in your Adwords account.

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In the first days, it normally looks like this. The increasing share of “green” items is very positive.

– Thomas Toernell
thomas@toernell.com

 

GTIN Codes for Online Shops

More and more online platforms require the GTIN or EAN codes for showing products. Most online shops have to use platforms like Google Shopping, Ebay and Amazon to sell their products successfully. What can you do if your supplier is not providing GTIN numbers or their GTIN numbers are rejected?

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Not all products have working EAN / GTIN codes on the packaging.

A few months ago, some of our products in the xml-file to Google Shopping were rejected because the GTIN code was missing. We then had to check more in detail what a GTIN number is. GTIN stands for Global Trade Item Number, and is a unique identifier for products that should work globally. Normally the GTIN code is printed on products as a barcode on the packaging.

Most online shop systems have the GTIN field available. If you have not filled it, do so. Either get the list for the supplier or type if off the product packaging.

This exercise we went thru a couple of years back, and it is very useful to have a report showing products without GTIN numbers or GTIN duplicates.

The next thing that happened, was that some GTIN numbers were rejected by Google. In 90% of these cases the suppliers assure that their numbers are correct, but that does not really help to fix the problem.

The organisation GS1 is maintaining the GTIN numbers. On their website you can check if a GTIN number is correct.

In order to be able to market the products, we then looked for temporary GTIN numbers – ie number that we can use until the suppliers communicate the correct numbers.

A good address for cheap “temporary” GTIN numbers is us.barcodelove.eu

These barcodes work well with Google and Amazon, unless you have big brands like Samsung or Apple, where check are built in. But from the big brands you normally get working GTIN numbers.

– Thomas Toernell
thomas@toernell.com