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Creating your data feed for Google Merchant Center

It takes time and effort, but a properly managed data feed is a must for online retailers – by the end of this post, you should be able to create your own, or at least download an example feed sheet


What is Google Merchant Center?

A Google Tool, Merchant Centre allows you to upload your brand’s products and data to make it available for Google Shopping and other services. In order to advertise specific products in SERPs (see below), you will need to: have a Merchant Center account, upload your product data, and create a Shopping Campaign in Google AdWords.


shopping feed results

Sign in or sign up

To begin with, you’ll need to log-in or sign up to Google Merchant Center (GMC). The latter involves a few simple steps – including naming your store, agreeing to the T&Cs and verifying your site through either uploading an HTML file to your site, placing an HTML tag in your header, or via your Analytics or Google Tag Manager account.


google merchant center sign up

We can leave Merchant Center there for the moment, because we won’t need it again until we upload our data feed.

Creating a data feed

While it’s possible to create an XML feed, we’re going to create a spreadsheet for ease (specifically Google Sheets – which I have literally done nothing but bang on about for weeks).

There are eight main types of data, each split into a fairly extensive variety of attributes. While not all of the following are compulsory, we’re going to list the ‘Basic product data’ below. You can find a full list of the data sets and attributes here.

Basic product data

Attribute Name Formatting Guide Overview of Best Practices

id [id]

Required

Your product’s unique identifier

Example 
SKU0001

Syntax
Max 50 characters

Schema.org property
Product.sku

  • Use a unique value for each product (SKU where possible)
  • Retain the ID when updating data
  • Use only valid unicode characters.
  • Always use the same ID for the same product, whatever country or language

title [title]

Required

Your product’s name

Example 
The Really Loud Alarm

Syntax
Max 150 characters

Schema.org property
Product.name

  • Describe your product accurately and succinctly, matching the title of your landing page
  • Don’t include promotional text (free delivery etc.), or all CAPS
  • For variants:
    • Include differences such as colour or size
  • For listing mobile devices:
    • Include ‘with contract’ if sold with a contract
    • For the U.S., include ‘with payment plan’ if sold in instalments

description [description]

Required

Your product’s description

Example 
A really, very loud alarm.

Syntax
Max 5000 characters

Schema.org property
Product.description

  • Accurately describe your product and match the title of your landing page
  • Don’t include promotional text like “free delivery”, all capital letters or gimmicky foreign characters
  • Only include information about the product. Don’t include links to your shop, sales information, details about competitors, other products or accessories

link [link]

Required

Your product’s landing page

Example 
http://www.nominative-determinism.com/asp/sp.asp?cat=12&id=666

Syntax
Max 2000 characters

Schema.org property
Offer.url

  • Use your verified domain name
  • Start with http or https
  • Use RFC 2396 or RFC 1738 compliant URLs (e.g. a comma should be written as: ‘%2C’)
  • Don’t link to interstitial pages unless you are legally required
  • Use in-domain tracking URLs if required, too many redirects can increase latency

image_link [image_link]

Required

Your product’s main image URL

Example 
http://www.nominative-determinism.com/alarm-image1.jpg

Syntax
Max 2000 characters

Schema.org property
Product.image

  • For the image URL:
    • Link to the main image of your product
    • Start with http or https
    • Use RFC 2396 or RFC 1738 compliant URLs (e.g. a comma should be written as: ‘%2C’)
    • Make sure the URL is crawlable by Google  
  • The image should:
    • Accurately depict your product
    • Be of an accepted format – non-animated GIFs (.gif), JPEGs (.jpg/.jpeg), PNGs (.png), BMPs (.bmp) and TIFFs (.tif/.tiff) 
    • For non-clothing products, use an image at least 100 x 100 pixels
    • For clothing, use an image at least 250 x 250 pixels
    • Don’t submit images larger than 64 megapixels or larger than 16 MB
    • Don’t scale up images or submit thumbnails
    • Don’t include promo text, watermarks or borders
    • Don’t submit placeholders or generic images
    • Exceptions:
      • In Hardware (663) or Vehicles & Parts (528) categories, illustrations acceptable
      • In any categories, single colour images are allowed

additional_image_link [additional_image_link]

Optional

An additional image URL for your product

Example 
http://www.nominative-determinism.com/alarm-image2.jpg

Syntax
Max 2000 characters

  • Meet the same requirements for the image_link [image_link] attribute with the following exceptions:
    • The image can include product staging and/or the product in use
    • You may use graphics or illustrations
  • You can submit >10 additional images by including this attribute multiple times

mobile_link [mobile_link]

Optional

If different from your desktop page, your mobile-optimised landing page URL

Example 
http://www.m.nominative-determinism.com/asp/sp.asp?cat=12&id=666

Syntax
Max 2000 alphanumeric characters

  • Must meet all the requirements for the link [link] attribute

With these attributes in mind (and the other required attributes listed over at the Google Support site linked to above), you can now start to build out your data feed. The attribute names go in the column headers, with relevant data in the cells below. Any required fields not filled in will cause the associated product not to appear in Shopping results.



Once the data feed spreadsheet is filled in, you can look to upload it to Google Merchant Center. First you’ll need to return to GMC, select ‘Products’, then ‘Feeds’, then click the plus symbol to upload your data as a primary feed.


feed upload menu

This will bring up a wizard – the first being ‘Basic information’ which asks you to select a ‘type’ for the feed, a target country and a target language, as well as offering a tick box to include the feed in ‘Shopping’.


feed upload step one

Step two is for the feed name and input method. Having completed the data feed setup in Google Sheets means you can select your sheet by highlighting the ‘Google Sheets’ option from the list.


feed upload step two

The third and final step is to select an existing sheet and upload your feed.


feed upload step three

In order to check your data, you can preview the list and their status by selecting ‘List’ from the ‘Products’ menu. Check carefully for errors.


For more actionable information on all aspects of paid and organic search, sign up to our blog, check out our resources – or contact us today to see what Click Consult and our in-house feedTRAX tool can do for you.



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