With the holiday season just a few months away, now is a great time to learn how to create a product feed and submit via the Google Merchant Center for inclusion in the shopping segment of the search engine results pages. You don’t need to have a page-one website for a listing in the shopping feed to drive traffic to your site and in fact, a decent shopping presence can actually happen quicker than the time it would take to optimize the domain itself for a new product keyword. Google’s shopping listings include an image and the price of the item – think of it as a mini catalog and as the festive season draws ever closer, a great opportunity to increase web sales and push gift ideas.
Creating A Data Feed
In order for Google to include you in the Shopping section, you first need to provide a list of all of your products and their related costs. This is done in a data feed. You can create a data feed in Excel and then convert the file into a .txt or XML file for upload to Google. The Merchant Center doesn’t currently accept Excel files as data feeds but if you’re working with a lot of products and categories, it’s far easier to organize your data in Excel and then convert than try to work with a notepad or Word file initially.
In Excel, list the attribute labels across the top (A, B, C, D etc.). An attribute is simply the name of that field so basic attributes would include title, price, description, and link. For each product you wish to include in Google Shopping, simply fill in the row (1, 2, 3, 4 etc.) until all products are listed. Don’t forget to include the link to the actual page of the product on your site for each product. Deep linking is important for conversions meaning you must avoid taking the easy route of simply listing the home page URL next to each product.
If you prefer to work in XML, you follow much the same format but do so using snippets of code. If you’ve manually created XML sitemaps and News sitemaps you should be able to create an XML data feed without too much trouble. Typical attributes are set out as , <link>, and <description>. Every item will need its own chunk of code in this format, denoted with <item> and </item>. </p> <p><strong>Register A Data Feed</strong></p> <p>Now that you have a data feed, you need to register it with Google via the Merchant Center. If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll need to first create one, and then log in. After logging in you’ll see a ‘data feeds’ link and from there, an option to register a new feed. If you run more than one site, you’ll need to follow this same process for each data feed.</p> <p>When registering the data feed, you’ll be presented with a series of options pertaining to how you’d like your products to be listed. The Target Country one is important if you can only ship domestically – select United States to only be listed on Google.com’s Shopping section. For each country you select, you’ll need to verify that your data feed meets the particular requirements of that individual region. If you’re new to shopping feeds, it is worth selecting your own country first and familiarizing yourself with the new listing before opting for additional territories. </p> <p>When you have completed the form, click ‘save changes’ to have the data file populated to your account. You can’t submit the file until this process has been completed. </p> <p>If you make changes to your products or prices – for example holiday promotions or changes to color or size – you’ll need to re-register and re-submit the feed (see below) for the most up-to-date information to be shown. </p> <p><strong>Submit the Data Feed</strong></p> <p>Submitting the data feed is an essential final step and means your products will be eligible for inclusion in Shopping results. If the file is under 20 MBs you can submit directly from the Data Feeds page in the Merchant Center. Simply select the relevant file from the registered files list and click upload. Google recommends allowing up to 24-hours for the file to be processed – if you have a particular promotion planned or have deals on for seasonal events such as Valentine’s Day or Father’s Day, you can use the Scheduler option or simply upload a few days prior to the start date. </p> <p>By getting your data feed set up in Google Shopping sooner, rather than later, you’ll be ready to take full advantage of the holiday shopping season, which seems to start earlier each year. It’s also a great opportunity to become familiar with the process so that you can more easily set up appropriate products for each of the upcoming holidays in following years.</p>