Starting today, September 22nd, 2011 Google will require that a merchant’s Product Search Data Feed meets Google’s most recent Feed Specification changes.
Here is what you need to know:
1.) Products that have multiple configurations (attributes) must have an individual entry for each combination. In the past it was enough to submit a single entry for a product like a Nike Sphere Dry Polo Shirt. Assuming this example shirt has three sizes and three colors, a merchant now must submit nine different Nike Sphere Dry Polo Shirt rows of data in their feed.
2.) Products must be categorized using Google’s Taxonomy (a fancy term for categorization) under the element “google_product_category”. Simply providing your own store’s categorization is no longer enough. Details on Google Taxonomy are located here:
http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?answer=160081. You are still able to put your own categorization under the element “product_type”
3.) Products must include condition and availability information.
4.) Products classified as Apparel via Google’s Taxonomy now require the following attributes – Gender, Age Group, Size, Color, and Brand.
5.) A merchant should include product review average rating and count information as Google is placing more importance on social signals. If you aren’t currently accepting product reviews, you might want to reconsider that decision.
6.) Google is now requiring that all products include an image (image_link) and will reject products that use a placeholder (like your logo, the manufacturer logo, or an image coming soon logo).
7.) For products that have multiple images, it is now required that the merchant specify the “additional_image_link” attribute in their feed.
8.) Although this last detail was rolled out in Google’s last feed specification change (May 3rd), it is worth mentioning again because many merchants are not complying with it. It is very important that you include unique identifier information in your feed if possible. Unique identifiers include UPC, ISBN, and MPN with a Brand. The bottom line is that the more unique identifiers you can provide the better. More information on that specific requirement can be found here: http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?answer=160161.
We highly recommend logging into your Google Merchant Center account each day over the next several too make sure your products are being fed correctly. We also recommend executing some searches here: http://www.google.com/prdhp?hl=en&tab=wf for your product names.
A complete list of feed specifications from Google on their new data feed requirements can be found here:
For Nexternal Clients Only:
Most merchants who use Nexternal’s ECommerce software will be unaffected by these changes since the specifications of the built-in automated Google Product Search Data Feed have already been adjusted for them. Clients can set the Google Taxonomy both globally (Products/Export Traffic Tools/Marketplace Export Preferences) at the category level in the Order Management System. For merchant’s who sell apparel, it is very simple to add Age Group, Gender, and Brand info to clothing items in the product overrides of each appropriate product. Including Size and Color info is even easier since your Nexternal system will pull that info from your product’s Attributes, Specifications, or Custom Fields. Details on Google’s Taxonomy and the Age Group, Gender, Size, and Color fields are located here: