One of the most important tasks for all online merchants to tackle is Google Shopping data feed optimization. This is a vital part of an overall digital commerce strategy, and it’s imperative to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. This is especially true if you are selling through Google Shopping/Merchant Center.
Why Is Google Data Feed Optimization Important?
Let’s face it, if you and your products are NOT found on Google . . . you’re irrelevant. So we connected with our friends at Lungfish Communications and put together the top 10 things you can do for Data Feed Optimization this holiday season.
Google will give a higher ranking to the more optimized item listings. So for your audience to be able to find you, this is something you need to stay on top of. To maintain and enhance product ranking, merchants need to be proactive with their data feeds and follow Google’s published guidelines.
Optimizing your Google shopping data feed is also a powerful way to improve your ad performance on Google, lowering your cost per click and increasing your conversion rate. To achieve top performance in your shopping ad campaigns, you must adequately use all available features and follow all the Google feed requirements and guidelines.
Include the Right and Relevant Attributes
A product feed is basically a list of attributes. To optimize your data feed, you need to include the important attributes in your titles, such as a strong brand name, gender, color, size, and visual details like pattern, design, and material. You want to provide customers with the relevant information to better match their search queries. This will also improve your ad performance. Make sure to fill in the required fields, like Manufacturer Part Number (MPN/GTIN), for the global identification of an item from site to site. Also, provide a link to the article to verify that the price in the feed is the same as the price offered on your site.
Leave GTIN Blank If It’s Not Available
Specify MPN as the complete Manufacturer Part Numbers and use only one Manufacturer Part Number / Brand for items with no GTIN. Also, specify UPC codes as 12 digits. Remember to always use real, accurate information; it’s not helpful to insert place-holder, made-up, or generic data in these fields. Only insert information in these fields if it is actual and accurate. Otherwise, Google may suspend your items. The cleaner the data, the better.
For Unique Items – Map MPN to Your Internal Product Code
If you’re selling unique items, supplying the right data can be a bit challenging. There are some tricks you can use if you’re making custom items, like one-of-a-kind art or jewelry, but it’s mostly a matter of putting valid entries in every field. If your products are white-label, vintage, custom-made, or manufactured by you, then set the brand to your company name and map the MPN to your internal product code or SKU field.
Optimize Names and Descriptions for Keyword Performance
Optimizing your data feed is part of your SEO work. That’s really what it’s about—search engine optimization of your data feed. The fields that you need to optimize for keyword performance are the Name and Description fields. Many factors affect ranking, performance, and the number of clicks that you get from Google Shopping, but those fields are the ones that should match the customer’s query to appear in the carousel. The closer your product descriptions and titles match the keywords that people are typing into the search box, the higher the resulting listing will be.
Update All Data Feeds Frequently
Data is a bit like produce—it’s best when it’s fresh. At least if you ask Google. In fact, most shopping engines encourage frequent submissions to keep your listings up-to-date and relevant. For example, eBay Commerce Network (Shopping.com) has the capability to accept frequent data feed submissions. In general, clean, fresh, and updated data always wins when it comes to Data Feed Optimization. Therefore, setting a regular schedule and process for updating your data feed is wise.
Want more advice on this topic?
Get Familiar With Product Category and Product Type Attributes
When you add products to your data feed, all products are automatically assigned a product category from Google’s continuously evolving product taxonomy. But beware, this may not always be the best classification for your products. It’s essential to make sure your products are represented correctly, so it pays to learn about the categories to ensure your products are assigned the right values.
Pay Attention to Product Availability
Correct representation of product availability is an important part of a great customer experience. Your data feed submits the “in stock” value in this attribute by default, so there is generally no need to do anything further. Note that your data feed typically filters out items with a zero price and items that are not “orderable.” In our “Holiday Ecommerce – How to Prepare for 2021” blog post, we discuss the importance of product availability and the impact this attribute has on conversions.
Be Careful with Custom Attributes In Your Data Feed
When it comes to data, always think “quality over quantity.” Many merchants have more data in their ecommerce catalogs than is required for an optimized Google Data Feed. If you have extra fields in your catalog, you can include them in your data feed, but it only makes sense to do so if they add value from a search perspective.
Be Mindful of Tax and Shipping Settings for U.S. Google Shopping
Since June 2011, tax and shipping settings are required for all Google product data feeds targeting the U.S. The easiest way to enter these settings is at item level or account level. This is imperative since failing to understand these settings is a sure-fire way to get your products delisted and penalized.
Optimize Your Site and Your Data Feed Simultaneously
If you’re sourcing data for the Google Data Feed directly from your ecommerce platform, it can be helpful to pull the name and description verbatim. In that case, the way to optimize the data feed is simply to optimize on the site – and get the benefits in both places. For this, Product Information Management (PIM) is a separate but very related topic.
Related reading: The 5 Ws of PIM – And How To Apply Them
To make your product visible on Google and optimize your ad performance, it’s crucial that you optimize your Google Shopping data feed. To maintain and continuously improve your rankings, it’s essential to work proactively with your data feed and follow Google’s published guidelines. This work includes the following 10 steps:
- Including the right and relevant attributes
- Leaving GTIN blank if it’s not available
- For unique items – mapping MPN to your internal product code
- Optimizing names and descriptions for keyword performance
- Updating all data feeds frequently
- Getting familiar with product category and product type attributes
- Paying attention to product availability
- Being careful with custom attributes in your data feed
- Being mindful of tax and shipping settings for U.S. Google Shopping
- Optimizing your site and your data feed simultaneously
Optimizing your Google data feed will help your audience find your products and is a powerful way to lower your cost per click and increase your conversion rates.
How Vaimo Can Help
Hopefully, you will find these focus areas useful as you set out to optimize your data feed. And if it feels a bit overwhelming, that’s perfectly understandable – we’d be happy to help you
At Vaimo, we help brands, retailers, and manufacturers worldwide create and implement winning digital strategies. We’d be happy to chat with you about how we can improve your customer experience strategy, go to market plan, and develop your tech stack to enable success.
We’re global experts in digital commerce strategy, design and development services, and a full-service omnichannel partner. We work with brands, retailers, and manufacturers across the U.S., EMEA, and APAC. Get in touch – we would love to help you prepare for the Holiday eCommerce season 2021.