Google Shopping ads are growing in popularity among eCommerce store owners thanks to its broader reach and the better scope it offers for conversions. As you probably know, one of the prerequisites for shopping ads is to maintain an accurate feed of your products on Google Merchant Center. Google Merchant Center has specific guidelines on creating and uploading a feed. It is important to follow these guidelines, if you want to benefit from shopping ads. In this article, we will discuss the basics of integrating your WooCommerce store with Google Merchant Center.
What are Google Shopping ads?
Google Shopping ads are visual ads that are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) based on search queries. Compared to the traditional text ads that you see in Google, these ads are richer with information. When a product of yours is featured in Google Shopping ads, users will see an image of the product along with other aspects such as product prices, reviews, etc. As a result, users get a better idea about your product when they see the ad itself. So when they finally click and come to your site, those users can be considered as better qualified leads.
Along with these ads on the search engine results pages, you can also find shopping listings if you click the Shopping tab of Google.
For retailers, Google Shopping ads offer a great opportunity to get qualified leads. They will help drive traffic to your online store as well to your local store. You need to create a feed of your products and upload it to Google Merchant Center as a first step. Then, you can create a campaign on Google Ads. However, contrary to the way text ads function, Google Shopping Ads are not displayed based on the keywords you choose. Based on your product feed and Google Ads campaign, Google will choose to show your products for appropriate search queries. This is the reason why generating an accurate product feed and regularly updating it is especially important.
How to generate a product feed for Google Merchant Center?
Now, let’s see the different aspects involved in the generation and upload of product feed to your Google Merchant Center account.
What is a product feed?
A product feed on Merchant Center is simply a list of products organized using the categories and attributes suggested by Google. You can add your products to a primary feed or include additional information through supplementary feed on Merchant Center. You can use the feed to share product information with different Google services that you sign up for.
Google has defined a set of attributes to define each product. It is important that you describe your products accurately using one of the relevant attributes. Some of the attributes will have standardized values, while there are others where you can enter the value according to your discretion. For example, you can fill the value for the attribute ‘title’ as per your choice. However, for another attribute like ‘age_group’, you will have to enter standardized values.
The file format
Google recommends the product feed to be in TSV or XML format. Specifically it says, for small stores with only a few products, TSV (Tab Separated Values) format will be easier to manage than XML.
Creating the feed
While creating a feed of your products, you will have to include a few required attributes along with several optional ones. The required attributes are as follows:
- ID – A unique identifier of the product, which should not change or to be used for another product. The maximum character count for this attribute is 50.
- Brand – You can define the brand associated with your product. Even though it is a required attribute for all branded products, it is optional for custom-made products. The maximum character limit is 70.
- Title – The tile is what helps your customers identify your product and hence it is an important attribute. The recommended character limit is 80 – 140, and the maximum character limit is up to 1000.
- GTIN – Global Trade Item Number or GTIN is a unique identifier of your product. Different product identifiers such as UPC, EAN, ISBN, etc., are considered to be GTIN. The character limit for this attribute is 50.
- Description – This attribute gives you an option to talk more about your products to your customers. You can list the features and specifications of your products effectively here. The recommended character count is 500 – 1500, though it supports up to 10,000 characters.
- Image link – As you know, product images are an important part of Google shopping ads. You can submit the url of your main product image using this attribute. It supports up to 2000 characters.
Uploading the feed
Basically, there are two ways with which you can upload your product feed to Google Merchant Center. You can add product data to a spreadsheet template provided by Google manually. Or, you can create a data feed automatically in one of the supported formats using a plugin and upload it (will explain how later in the article).
The available options to upload your Google product feed are:
- manual upload
- Google Cloud storage
- Scheduled fetches
If you have only few products you want to include in the feed, you can use the manual option, where there is no requirement for any specific technical knowledge. To create larger files with several products, however, you will need the support of a reliable tool.
The manual upload process
Once you have generated a product feed, the uploading process is straightforward.
First, you have to specify your location and language. You have to also choose the services for which you want to use.
In the next step, you will have to name the feed, and choose an input method.
Now, you can either create a new spreadsheet or use an existing one with product data. And, you can specify a fetching schedule here as well. So the feed will be updated based on the schedule that you set here. You can click the ‘Create Feed’ button if everything is configured correctly.
Once, you create a feed, you can manage it from the dashboard.
Generating and uploading a feed automatically
Here is how you can generate and upload a product feed using this plugin:
You can install the plugin on your WooCommerce store and generate a product feed with all your products.
Once you activate the plugin, you can go to the plugin settings screen.
Here, you can add a project name, description, your location, etc. You can also choose whether to include variable products in the field. The plugin also has an option to choose a default category. This category will be automatically populated for all products in the category mapping field, which you can change and update for individual products.
Also, specify a file format and refresh schedule here.
When you click the Save & Continue button, you will see a new screen where you can map your WooCommerce categories with Google categories. In the previous step, if you had chosen a default Google category, all the fields will be populated with that category. Depending on their relevance, you can change these.
Find relevant Google categories for each of your store categories. When you start typing in one of the Google category fields, the relevant options pop up. You can choose the appropriate one. Once the categories are matched correctly, you can enable the checkbox on the left side next to store categories to apply them. Leave out the categories you don’t want to match.
In the next screen, you can see all the required product attributes are already matched to the relevant product fields. You can make changes to this by choosing a different product attribute as well.
Here, you can also customize the product attributes by adding values to them. For a product field, you can text value to be added to the attribute field, or append or prepend values to to it.
You can also map the product attributes based on certain conditions.
For example, consider your are selling branded items with the brand name ‘Woo’. You want to prepend the brand name to all products that have Woo in the brand field. Here, you can specify the condition as given in the screenshot. As a result, for Woo branded products, the product title will start with the word ‘Woo’.
Click Continue if the attribute mapping seems accurate.
You can also exclude specific products from the product feed. Start typing the name of a product and you will get a drop-down of your products with that keyword. Select the products you want to exclude and click the ‘Generate feed’ button.
A new feed will be generated now, which you can view in the Manage Feeds section of the plugin. You can copy the url of the feed and use it while uploading the feed to the Merchant Center. Please make sure that you choose Scheduled Fetch and that the refresh schedule is correct.
Once you upload a product feed on your Google Merchant Center account, you can connect it with Google Ads and place your bids. Please remember Google displays shopping ads based on the relevance of your product feed to a specific search query. Hence it is important to keep the product feed up-to-date and accurate at all times.