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Is Your Product Feed Ready for Google Shopping?

A study carried out by our agency revealed that 60% of all Google paid advertising clicks derived from Shopping alone, and this has been true for at least the past 2 years of data [1]. And we can definitely understand why: unlike traditional text ads, shopping ads are much more visual. Instead of writing headlines and descriptions, the ad is automatically comprised of different attributes of a product sourced directly from a merchant’s inventory feed or catalog. The only thing required from your side is to create a Shopping campaign!


Google Shopping has evolved, and it almost seems like we have little to no optimization left to do within our campaigns. The truth is that most of the grunt-work lies within the core of your product listings: your inventory feed. Optimizing your feed can not only help with the reduction of policy disapprovals, but it can also widen your reach and improve relevancy.


The e-commerce sector in the MENA region is set to grow 3.5 times to amass a whopping $28.5 billion by 2022 [2]. Given our current market situation as well, businesses are turning to e-commerce to widen their reach, only to un-tap a market of consumers that they previously did not think of. Here at Merkle, we’ve partnered with such firms to amplify their online presence through feed management, which ultimately leads to one goal: that sweet first line of shopping ad listings you see on your search page. 

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Sounds interesting? Well, we’ve compiled a list of changes that you can trial yourself in your feed to achieve optimal results. Some of the steps listed below are quick fixes, and others are more long-term changes that you may slowly integrate as your product inventory grows. But without further ado, let’s get into it:


Quick Fixes


The title of a product is one of the first things that grabs the consumer’s eye, and it is hands down one of the simplest changes you may implement in your product feed. Avoid long, clunky, and incorrect spelling in your product titles. If you’re a reseller, consider adding the manufacturer or brand name of the product into the title. It is also worth thinking about what other interesting attributes of your product could users be searching for, for instance:

  • The sizing of a product (useful for items like shoes)
  • The color of a product (useful for clothing)
  • The gender the product is meant for (useful for items such as perfumes, where a fragrance could be for men, women, or unisex!)

While many of the above additions can improve the relevancy of your ad, it is also essential to remember the length of your title. Google states that you may submit up to 150 characters for your title, but keep in mind that only 70 of these characters are displayed on a Shopping ad [3].

The key is to keep things short and sweet: deliver a distinctive title of your product to users, at a glance.


Once a user clicks and expands on a shopping ad, another notable attribute they will come across is your product description. Oftentimes, similar to the product title, the description is sourced directly from the website. And while the content may be well-written for that purpose, it does not take Google Shopping best practices into consideration. Through the power of feed management on third-party platforms, these listings can be polished up for submission on Google Merchant Center – without the need of altering the core website data.

If you are carrying out this exercise manually, here are some fixes you may implement:

  • Ensure that descriptions do not contain spelling mistakes, improper spacing or punctuation, and unnecessary symbols that could have been pulled from your website listings.
  • Like your title, try to keep things simple. Attempt to include important product specifications at the very beginning of your descriptions.

Product Type:

Back in 2019, Google announced that the Google Product Category attribute is no longer a required field [4]. And while nothing stops you from uploading a feed without any categorization attribute, it is strongly recommended to include one for the purpose of launching shopping campaigns.

Our personal choice is the Product Type attribute, which allows you to set your own categorization system that suits your business’ needs. Grouping and arranging similar products will allow for more accurate bidding, leading to your products appearing for the most relevant searches. This is all achieved by dividing your shopping campaigns’ ad groups on the hierarchy of your product types.

A great way to introduce product type into your feed is by perhaps utilizing your website’s internal classification of products. Consider from the very beginning how broad or narrow your inventory range is and will be. If your product offering is niche, you may want to begin your product type hierarchy from a more granular point.

Whilst these are some of the quick fixes you should prioritize to begin seeing positive results, there are other changes that can be made in the long run to reap benefits from.


Long-Term Changes

Google Product Category:

Just because this attribute has become optional, does not mean it should be entirely forgotten! It may seem like a tedious task, but mapping your products based on Google’s own taxonomy has its benefits. By doing so, you are aiding Google in understanding where your product belongs, and to what search queries it should match to. This in return improves your overall quality score, click-through rate, and ultimately leaves a positive impact on shopping performance. 


Every product has a universally unique identifier such as the GTIN or MPN, which consists of a serial number. While it can be tricky to source these, especially as a reseller, there is a real value in providing Google with this information. Similar to the Google Product Category, unique identifiers allow the search engine to index your product against thousands of the same exact item. Eventually, this will also play a role in your products’ relevancy in shopping ads.

If you’re having difficulties sourcing these serial numbers, a third-party automated tool may do the trick. In fact, many feed management platforms offer such a tool as part of their service offering. For instance, Roizen from Feedonomics explains how their GTIN finder functions: “we use your existing product attributes like title, brand, and MPN to find the GTIN and UPC codes.” [5].


Whether you specialize in the sale of shoes or power tools, the fact of the matter is that our industry is driven by visual appeal. And between all Google ad formats presented to us today, Shopping ads satisfy this hunger the best.

The success of your Shopping campaigns relies on your optimization, but this can only take you so far if your product feed is not in peak shape. Spending some time to implement some of the changes suggested could pay off, whether immediately or in the long run. Alternatively, you may reach out to us at [email protected] to find out about our various feed management offerings, so that you can sit back and focus on your firm.



[1] - Merkle, 2020. "Digital Marketing Report: Q1 2020". MerkleInc.com. https://www.merkle.com/thought-leadership/digital-marketing-report/digital-marketing-report-q1-2020

[2] - Bain & Company, 2019. "Ecommerce in MENA: Opportunity Beyond The Hype". Bain.com. https://www.bain.com/contentassets/2b078686303045ffa1d1207130ab5d79/bain_report__ecommerce_in_mena.pdf

[3] - Google Merchant Center Help. "Long Titles". Support.Google.com. https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/6098378?hl=en

[4] - Google Merchant Center Help. "2019 Merchant Center Product Data Specification Update". Support.Google.com. https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/9269666?hl=en

[5] - Roizen, B., 2016. "Automated GTIN Finder". Feedonomics.com. https://feedonomics.com/automated-gtin-finder/