June 18, 2021
Google Smart Shopping: What Makes it Special and How to Make it Work for You
When was the last time you gave your Google Merchant Center (GMC) a checkup? With Q1 retail revenue from Google Shopping up 52% over last year, it’s important to make sure your GMC is healthy. A small problem can progress from a head cold to a major illness quickly without treatment, causing you to lose revenue. The following preventative care steps will help make sure your account is eligible for that Perfect Attendance award we always wanted as schoolkids.
Every good doctor knows that a proper diagnosis is the first step to treatment; a Band-Aid isn’t going to fix a head cold. Every GMC account has its own ‘Diagnostics’ tab for you to determine what issues may be plaguing your account.
The most common issues are at the ‘Account’ and ‘Items’ levels. Account issues are the most important to address immediately because they affect your entire account. Item issues cover specific items in your account, and this is where you will typically find the majority of problems.
There are also three severity levels for issues in the diagnostics tab: Errors, Warnings, and Notifications, ranging from most to least important. You should address Errors and Warnings quickly, as they can cause your products to stop showing ads, and result in your entire account being suspended.
Google provides you some basic information in the diagnostics tab, such as an issue description, number and list of affected items, and percentage stats on the number of products and clicks affected by each warning. The most important information is in the ‘Learn More’ link, which will take you to a specific Google Help article outlining the problem, why you should fix it, and common solutions. Use these articles to determine your next steps to nurse your product feed back to perfect health.
The only way to see a complete list of items that need to be fixed is to click on the ‘Download’ icon in the top right corner of the Current Issues list. This icon will trigger a CSV file download with each individual issue. Apply a filter to the data to sort the report into a useful format. This file, with the help articles, is usually enough info for you (or your developer or feed management team) to find your feed ailments and provide the surgery required to get your feed healthy again.
In the event your account is at risk of suspension, you will see a warning banner at the top of your GMC’s homepage. You will usually have 30 days to solve these issues from the time Google provides the warning. Follow the links provided with the warnings to determine the issues and to request reviews of your feed once you’ve fixed them. Google will take about three business days to review your feed.
If your account is suspended, you will receive a red warning banner, and Google will limit you to three separate reviews. Use these reviews sparingly, and only request them once you’ve addressed all of the feed issues.
The best medicine for your Google Merchant Center is a regular health check. Issues are common and they are much easier to handle in small numbers, before Google warns you about an account suspension. Set a reminder to check your GMC regularly to ensure you’re running an account in tip-top shape, and attack any viruses early before they lead to a full blown account infection. Good luck and stay healthy!