If your business showcases products online, then you should be familiar with Google Merchant Center. If you aren’t, then you should keep on reading, As Google Merchant Center can help increase the reach and impact of your Internet marketing efforts.
So what is Google Merchant Center? It’s an online business tool that lets you provide Google with a feed of all the products you promote and/or sell online (this usually means items you sell through a shopping cart on your website). This allows specific products and product information to show up within Google Product Search, on Google SERPs with images and other Google properties.
Now, just setting up an account and a feed does not mean that your products will always appear for related searches, or even for some very focused searches. Google doesn’t always choose to show information from Merchant Accounts in results, and when they do, the results are sometimes very competitive with so many vendors feeding product info to Google. But as the image below illustrates, when Google does choose to show Merchant Center products in its results, those products really stick out from the regular text results.
But what the feed does give you is the opportunity to get found in other ways (besides just for your website and on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages), and once you have the feed set, you don’t have to update it unless you have changes (i.e., price updates) or product additions or deletions. It also can be used in conjunction with a Google Ads account. If you have an Ads account, and attach it to your Merchant account, your ads may appear with more than just the headline, two lines of text and a link. It could possibly have a more-type ‘+’ button, that when clicked expands to show a few products related to the search, including product name, image and price (see image to the right).
So what do you need to set this up? Basically you need to develop a file (xml or txt) of your products structured to certain specs that Google addresses here.
The required attributes for each product you need are:
- ID – a unique identifier specific to only 1 product
- Title – the name of the product
- Link – the url where people can find info on this product on your website (only 1 product may be displayed on each landing page)
- Price – the cost of the item
- Description – product description
- Condition – new, used or refurbished
And there are a slew of others that may be useful in helping you get found from searches and letting people know more about your offerings. One other that we highly recommend including is a link to the product image. As with most web pages, images will help make your listing within Google Shopping and other outlets stand out.
Once you have a feed prepared, then set up a Google Merchant account. Easy to follow instructions are here. Once you have the account set up, you submit the feed to Google. You can either manually upload the file, which you would need to resubmit every 30 days, or post your feed to your website and set up a feed schedule so Google automatically grabs it each month (the second option makes it real easy since you don’t have to remember to upload the file each month).
It may take a few weeks for your products to show, but once they do appear within Google Shopping and during specific searches on Google they tend to stay there.
Do you utilize Google Merchant Center as part of your Internet marketing strategy? Do you know if it has driven traffic to your site? Has it led to any sales? We’d like to hear from you.