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Google Shopping Issues New Merchant Feed Requirements

Online merchants who advertise their products through Google must yet again adjust their product feeds to comply with new requirements. There are several changes, but one that may break the bank for some sellers is Google’s new “image quality recommendations.”

Google Shopping now states on its products feed specs page: “The main image should be taken on a solid white, gray or light colored background. It should not include borders.”

Some online sellers object to such requirements – particularly for all-white products, for example. Others object simply because it will be costly for them to take new photographs for all of their inventory. Note that merchants cannot submit products that have no images.

Will Google reject product ads that don’t comply with these new requirements once they take effect in September? A Google spokesperson told EcommerceBytes the image quality tips, including use of background colors, are recommendations to help improve the quality of images shown on Google Shopping, and are not mandatory.

Other Google Shopping requirements around images include the following:

  • Submit the largest, highest resolution, full-size image you have for the product, up to 4MB file size.
  • We recommend images at least 800 pixels in height and width.
  • Do not scale up images or submit thumbnails. We recommend the product to take no less than 75%, but not more than 90%, of the full image.
  • For apparel products we require images of at least 250 x 250 pixels.

The full details about image requirements is available on this page – expand “image link – URL of an image of the item” under “Basic Product Information” to view the details.

Other Google Shopping Feed Requirements
While it may feel like an endless chore to keep up with rules from ecommerce platforms, shopper expectations have come a long way since the days when online sellers used scanners to upload product photographs to auction sites and input homey descriptions to go along with their listings. And like many other ecommerce services these days, Google Shopping is trying to optimize for mobile shoppers. Sellers can now provide a separate mobile landing page via the “mobile link” attribute, “to ensure online shopping via all mobile phones works well.”

Among the other changes to Google Shopping feed requirements are the following:

  • Expanded support for merchant-defined bundles. Many consumer products are sold in custom bundles, such as a camera with a lens and a bag. The feed specification now includes the “is bundle” attribute, which should be used when submitting merchant-defined bundles.
  • Simplification of the Availability attribute (by merging “in stock” with “available for order” and removing “available for order”).
  • More examples and clearer guidance on all things apparel, and the addition of new values to “age group” and two new size attributes (“size system” and “size type”).

Google also has a new landing page content policy. Landing page refers to the initial webpage rendered when a user clicks on a product listing, after passing through any redirects, and before the user takes any manual action.

“Google Shopping requires that after clicking a product listing, a user should end up on a landing page that works properly and displays a product offer that is essentially identical to the product listing you submitted to Google in your product data, regardless of the user’s device, browser, location, cookies, your ad targeting choices, or any other consideration. After reaching your landing page, users must be able to return to the previous page where they clicked your product listing by clicking once their browser’s back button.” More information is available on this Google page

Some of the updates require sellers to change their current product data – Google Shopping is giving merchants until September 30, 2014, to implement the changes. See more information on this page.01

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.