Guest Post from Mayuresh Saoji, Senior Product Manager, Google
As of September 22, 2011 Google will begin gradually enforcing the new Product Search feed spec requirements announced earlier (link). Beginning Sept. 22, Google will being dropping items that do not meet the new spec requirements. In some cases, Google may even completely suspend accounts that don’t meet the new requirements from Google Product Search. We’re guest-blogging here to make sure that ChannelAdvisor’s retailers are well aware of the changes, and can act in time to avoid items from being dropped or accounts from being suspended from Google Product Search, as well as to provide you with tools available from Google to help you prepare.
New tools to help you prepare
- First, use the new Test Data Feed feature in Google Merchant centre (under “Data Feeds”) to test whether your updated feed complies with the new requirements. You will be able to download a full error report and resolve any issues prior to submitting your actual live feed. Rest assured, your test feed won’t appear on Google Product Search.
- For additional guidance, you can now view our new video tutorials:
- We are revamping the “Data Quality” tab in Google Merchant centre to enable you to quickly view the most critical data quality errors, and learn how to fix them (coming soon).
Understanding the new requirements
We’ve received a few questions about specific attributes and have addressed these below. It’s a lot to read, but should save you time in the long run. Also, before you cancel vacation for your IT staff, please note that many of the requirements only apply to certain countries and categories.
- Google Product Category (aka GPC): This attribute ensures that your products appear in the right category (you wouldn’t want that Harry Potter DVD showing up under “Books”) and that we apply the correct set of enforcement rules for a given category.
- GPC is only required for feeds targeting the US, UK, Germany, France or Japan
- You don’t necessarily have to send us this attribute. It is only required for items that belong to one of the following seven categories:
1. Apparel & Accessories > Clothing
2. Apparel & Accessories > Shoes
3. Apparel & Accessories
4. Media > Books
5. Media > DVDs & Movies
6. Media > Music
7. Software > Video Game Software
- For items falling under these categories, you must include one of these seven values appropriately for each item.
- More granular categorization is always preferred, but don’t stress out about this. If you can follow the level of categorization above, then you’ve satisfied our requirements.
- Images: We made image_link required for all products. Images are especially important for product in the “Apparel & Accessories” category, where shoppers love to see the different variations of a product.
- Required worldwide (except Japan)
- For products that fall under “Apparel & Accessories” (and all corresponding sub-categories), we require unique images for products that differ by the variant attribute ‘colour’, or ‘pattern’, or ‘material.’ No one likes seeing a black sweater when they click on the red one.
- We recommend sending separate images for variant products in other categories as well, but these are only required for “Apparel & Accessories.”
- Apparel/ Variants: Variety is the spice of life, and we’re working to create a richer shopping experience for apparel & accessories that come in multiple colours, patterns, sizes, etc.
- Apparel variants are only required for feeds targeting the US. For feeds targeting other countries, the attributes are recommended and may be required in the future.
- Variant-level information is required only for products in the “’Apparel & Accessories’ category, and all related subcategories
- You only need to send us data for variant attributes if your product varies by that specific attribute. So, if your shirts are all made of cotton, there’s no need to send the “Material” attribute. However, if your shirts were available in three colours and three sizes, you would send us nine separate line items, varying by colour and size.
- There is no penalty for not sending variant level data for other categories
- If you include variants, you also need to ensure that you send an “item_group_id” to connect those variants and that these group of variants share the same common title. More on this below.
- Item_Group_ID: We use this attribute to cluster together all the variants you send us for a given item. Sort of like Crazy Glue for variants.
- This attribute is required only for variant Apparel products in the US.
- If you have a “Parent SKU” shared by all variants of a product, you can provide that as the value for ‘item group id’.
- If you send us an item_group_id attribute, we will automatically look for variant attributes. Conversely, if you did send us Item_group_id, you should ensure you send us at least one variant attribute.
- Size: This is an important Variant attribute for “Apparel & Accessories.”
- Size is only required for feeds targeting the US.
- Separate your products into different line items in the feed (each line will have a different “size” attribute, and maybe even vary by other attributes)
- There’s no need to send separate images for separate sizes (unless the appearance of the item changes because of the size)
Please refer back to our detailed Product Feed Specification and Help centre for more information. We hope these tips will help you be more fully prepared to make the most of Google Product Search as we head into the most important selling season of the year for online retailers.
Blog Post by Mayuresh Saoji, Senior Product Manager, Google Product Search