Google Updates: PLA Rankings and Changes to Required Attributes

March 17, 2016

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

Heads up, Google sellers. There are a couple of interesting changes to Google Shopping that should be on your radar.

The first is the new policy by Google that enforces consistency between your product data and your product landing pages. The second is less surprising but still significant: Google now displays a numerical ranking for PLAs when shoppers use the words “top” or “best.”  

1. Required Attributes Must Be Consistent

A couple of weeks ago, you may have started getting generic suspension warnings out of the blue for some of your PLA listings. Odds are, you were given these warnings because the required attributes in your data feed didn’t exactly match the information on your product landing page.

Why now? I haven’t done anything different!  

Though it wasn’t widely publicized, Google made the change to improve consistency between data and listings, specifically for color attributes.

Historically, advertisers had to submit “standard colors” in their product feed to Google. For example, if you were selling a sweater that you called “cranberry,” you would label it “red” in your data to Google, even though it still displayed as “cranberry” on the product listing page. (If you’re a ChannelAdvisor customer, we probably worked with you to create business rules to change those standard colors to the actual color on the product page.)

Google understands that this process was confusing. Now, you can submit whatever color you want, as long as it’s consistent with what’s on your product landing page.

It’s important to note that this change is only for required attributes. There are “recommended attributes” as well — for pattern or material, if you’re an apparel retailer — but you won’t be penalized for failing to list those.  

But what if I still want to use to use standard colors to attract shoppers?

That makes sense. Shoppers are more likely searching for standard colors. Continuing with the example above, one solution would be to include the word “red” in your product title, even though the sweater is “cranberry” in your feed. That way, it’s more likely to show up after a search and is still within the rules.

Within ChannelAdvisor, you can create business rules to build robust titles for your products with minimal work on your part.

When creating titles, we’ve found the following structure to be the best formula for getting your ads to show up on the results page:

[Brand + Product Type + Attributes]

2. Your ‘Top’ PLAs Are Now Ranked

Thought Google Shopping was already competitive? Now, shoppers will be able to see how your products stack up.

When the word“top” or “best” is used in search queries, Google now includes a numeric rank on each PLA image, based primarily on user ratings. Ranked PLAs

On mobile devices, Google uses blue flags to display the rankings.  

This isn’t breaking news to most people. Google began testing the approach back in 2014. As of last week, though, it became standard.

Positive customer ratings aren’t the only criteria used to rank the PLAs. Google said that the reviews are used to determine a group of the top-rated products, then the same factors that usually determine PLA rankings will still apply.

For more information on how to create PLAs that show up and stand out, download Google. Click. Buy. Advanced Strategies for PLAs.

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