On 31 August 2016, Google released what was essentially a thorough overhaul of Google Merchant Center. This post will give you an overview of the main changes.
Google announced on their blog that the update will ensure that Merchant Center now aligns “with the modern look and feel of the rest of Google’s products”.
When logging into Merchant Center following the update, you would have been presented with the following pop up, which highlights the three main areas of reorganisation:
So on the surface, Merchant Center still offers the same overall functionality with a streamlined navigation and easier access to additional Shopping programs. But aside from this there have been several important changes and additions to Merchant Center’s functionality.
Google Merchant Center Updates: A Breakdown
The Diagnostics section of Merchant Center provides information on current and historical issues regarding your product data; issues which could be preventing your products from showing in Shopping, or otherwise hindering their performance. As anyone running a Google Shopping campaign knows, ensuring that your product data is in line with Google’s specifications is hugely important. Previously, when issues were reported in the Diagnostics section, this data was only updated twice daily. So, if the seller made necessary amendments, this often wasn’t refreshed for up to 12 hours, so it was hard to know quickly whether your changes to product data had been accepted or not. Now, however, the results update several times a day, so they are closer to real-time. This means that sellers will be able to see more up-to-date and accurate information, so they can get their whole feed, or individual products, back up and running more efficiently following any issues being reported.
Feed Rules Attribute
One of the most significant changes is the update to Feed Rules. This is not a new feature (it debuted in April) but the capabilities have been expanded, which according to Google now “more closely align with how we see retailers commonly using the tool today”. Within Feed Rules, you can make amendments to the feed or product data directly within Merchant Center, such as adding size attributes to product titles, which is handy for sellers who don’t use a feed management program. You can find out more about how to set up feed rules here.
Shopping Ads Section Includes Currency Conversion
The Currency Conversion feature allows advertisers running Shopping campaigns in other countries to display products in the local currency. In July, Google announced they were testing the feature but with the launch of the new Merchant Center, this has been expanded to allow sellers to easily advertise to users in other countries, while continuing to use their existing website. They also don’t need to make any changes to their landing pages.
This could be particularly helpful to retailers who sell and ship products to multiple countries but who don’t have different product pages on their site for each country’s currency. Find out how to get started with this tool here.
Merchant Center Is Now Aligned More Closely with Other Google Shopping Programs
As reported by Google, “You can access the Merchant Center Programs page under the three-dot icon. Continue exploring the various programs by selecting the Learn More option in each card, and express your interest in participating in a program by selecting Get Started.”
I would definitely recommend that you look into using some of these additional programs to advertise your products if at all possible. They are great tools for encouraging customer interaction with your ads and could ultimately lead to an increase in sales. There are certain criteria that your shop must fulfil in order to use these programs, but they are fairly straightforward to set up.
This program allows you to add a five-star rating system to your products in Google Shopping, as well as a total count of the number of reviews you have as an online store. The star ratings represent aggregated ratings and reviews data for an individual product. This data can be pulled from multiple sources, including your merchant website, third-party review aggregator sites, such as Trust Pilot, editorial sites, and users.
This feature is currently available in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan and Australia. So, if you want to get started with this feature, you can complete Google’s product ratings interest form. They will then review your information and determine if and how they can collect your product reviews.
This is a really valuable program, which means you can feature an online promotion on your product listing ads on Google Shopping, as Victoria Plumbing do below.
The goal of Merchant Promotions is to provide an extra incentive for shoppers to click on your product within Google Shopping. They can take on several different forms, such as a certain amount of money off, a percentage off, 2 for 1 offers and so on. It’s important to note that Promotions is not used to advertise price reductions, or sale prices, that are already reflected in the product price, or on the landing page – they are offers which should be applied at the checkout. You can find out more here and register your interest to start using this feature.
As you can see, this update is more than just a face lift. Several features have been overhauled or given more prominence to improve effectiveness and ultimately help marketers to sell products, whilst also providing the best possible shopping experience for the customer.