Are You Ready for the Latest Google Product Search Crackdown?

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
8 Flares 8 Flares ×

Many online merchants who participate in Google’s Product Search received warning notices this week, indicating Google’s plans to begin stricter enforcement of the “Google Product Category” attribute in the coming weeks.  If you received a notice, you do need to respond to keep your feed active!  Here is an explanation of Google’s move, and what you need to do.

What is the Google Product Category Attribute?

This attribute helps Google organize products into Google’s pre-defined categories. It is an optional field, but is required for all products in certain categories, such as clothing and shoes,  and only in feeds that target the US, UK, Germany, Japan and France. The full list of categories that require the Product Category attribute is available here under “When to Include”.  Although not required for all products, Google recommends that you submit the Product Category Attribute for all products.

How to fix your feed:

1)    Log into your Google Merchant Center Account.

2)    Click on the “Data Feeds” tab, and then the “Feed Status” link, where you can see the status of your items that have been submitted to Google.  You should see a notation like, ‘x of x items inserted’.

3)    Look in the “Item Warnings” section for the Google Product Category Attribute warnings. These are the items that do not match Google’s Product Taxonomy.

4)    Follow the Taxonomy tree to expand categories and subcategories (as shown below) until you reach the bottom level category.  Google will provide you with the proper syntax for submitting your product feed via XML or Text.

5)    If you are a Nexternal customer, log into your Order Management System, go to Categories, select Edit for an affected category, scroll down to Marketplace Categories, and enter your new taxonomy into the Google Product Search box. Use the textual syntax, in which each category and subcategory is separated by “>” (for example, “Animals > Pet Supplies > Dog Supplies > Dog Food”).


Although this may seem burdensome, keep in mind that this marketing tool is free through Google, and the nightly upload is free through Nexternal, and your work can pay dividends for years to come.

Lanette Willis is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal. Before joining Nexternal she spent nearly a decade working in market research and professional services marketing, before running her own successful eCommerce apparel business. Lanette is passionate about helping people and businesses thrive.