Google Shopping Campaigns: Leveraging built-in Commercebuild Product Data Feed To Maintain A Google Merchant Center Catalog.

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Imagine this: you’re running a bustling online store, the products are flying off the virtual shelves, and then—bam!—your Google Merchant Center account is suspended. Why? Your product descriptions are too brief, your images have overlays, or worse, your sales tax calculations don’t match. Suddenly, your e-commerce engine has come to a grinding halt, all because of a few overlooked details in your Google Shopping Campaign setup.

This is the reality many e-commerce businesses face when they don’t pay close attention to the nitty-gritty of Google Merchant Center compliance.

Now, think about this: you’re back in the game, your Google Merchant Center catalog is thriving, and your products are popping up in search results across Google’s vast network. How? Leveraging Commercebuild‘s built-in product data feed to create a smooth-running, adaptable Google Shopping Campaign that ticks all the boxes for compliance. But to get there, you must understand the intricate details of Google Merchant Center’s requirements and how to navigate the common pitfalls that could derail your e-commerce web store success. Let’s dive into what it takes to transform your Google Shopping Campaign from a liability to a powerful asset for your business.

What are Google Shopping Campaigns?

Google Shopping campaigns are paid advertising that allows ecommerce businesses to promote their products across Google’s properties, including the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), Google Images, YouTube, and the Google Display Network. Running Google Shopping campaigns is crucial for B2C e-commerce companies as it enables them to showcase their products directly to potential customers actively searching for similar items.

There are three main types of Google Shopping campaigns:

  1. Standard Shopping Campaigns: These are the traditional campaign types where advertisers have more control over settings like bid adjustments, negative keywords, and ad scheduling. Standard campaigns require more hands-on management but offer greater customization.
  2. Smart Shopping Campaigns: Introduced in 2018, Smart Shopping campaigns use machine learning to automate bidding, ad placement, and other optimizations across Google’s properties. They require less manual effort but offer less control compared to Standard campaigns.
  3. Performance Max Campaigns: Launched in 2021, Performance Max campaigns are the newest and most automated campaign type. They use Google’s machine learning to optimize all of Google’s inventory (Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, Maps) to maximize conversions. Performance Max offers the least control but promises to drive better performance with minimal setup.

There is no definitive answer on whether Standard, Smart, or Performance Max campaigns are better or worse. It depends on the advertiser’s goals, resources, and desired control level. Standard campaigns are preferred for more hands-on management, while Smart and Performance Max are better for those seeking automation and simplicity.

Google Shopping campaigns are most effective for search engine marketing campaigns targeting the middle (MoFu) and bottom (BoFu) of the sales funnel. They are ideal for reaching users actively searching for products online and are closer to making a purchase decision. Google Shopping campaigns are less effective for targeting the top of the funnel, as they do not allow for keyword targeting like traditional search campaigns. Instead, they rely on product data feeds and Google’s algorithms to determine which products to show to which audiences.

GoogleMerchantCenter Dashboard

What is Google Merchant Center?

E-commerce businesses must first set up a Google Merchant Center account to run Google Shopping campaigns. Google Merchant Center is a tool that allows merchants to upload and manage their product data feeds, which are then used to generate Shopping ads.

The critical components of Google Merchant Center are:

  1. Primary Data Feed: This is the main product data feed that contains all the required information about the Merchant’s products, such as titles, descriptions, images, prices, and availability.
  2. Supplemental Data Feed: This is an optional secondary feed that can supplement or override specific attributes in the primary feed, such as promotions, custom labels, inventory updates, or additional product details.

Before submitting their feeds to the Merchant Center, merchants must ensure their product data adheres to Google’s policies and specifications. Once approved, the product data can be used to create and run Shopping campaigns across Google’s network.

The product names, descriptions, and other product attributes provided to Google Merchant Center through Primary and Supplemental data feeds are essential for optimizing and performing a Google Shopping Campaign. 

Google’s algorithms use these details to determine which products should be shown to which audiences. By providing accurate and detailed product information, advertisers can improve the relevancy of their ads and increase the likelihood of conversions.

Product descriptions are crucial in optimizing your product listings on Google Shopping and can significantly influence impressions, clicks, and conversions. 

Here are some key points on the importance of product descriptions for Google Merchant Center:

  • Improving Search Relevance and Visibility
    • Product descriptions containing relevant keywords and details help Google better understand your product and match it to relevant search queries. This improves the chances of your product appearing in search results (impressions).
    • Well-written, detailed descriptions provide more context to users scanning the search results, increasing the likelihood of them clicking on your listing (clicks).
  • Driving Conversions
    • Compelling product descriptions highlighting features, benefits, and unique selling points can convince potential customers to purchase once they land on your website (conversions).
    • Providing accurate and transparent product information builds customer trust and reduces purchase anxiety, positively impacting conversion rates.
    • Google recommends matching your product descriptions to the content on your website’s product pages for a consistent user experience that can boost conversions.

Commercebuild and Google Merchant Center.

Commercebuild has built-in functionality to easily and quickly generate a Structured Product Data Feed compatible with Google Merchant Center. 

This data feed includes several important product attributes (like part number, UPC, price, product name, product long description, product images, product URL, and product availability status). Still, it is lacking in some areas (like brand name and product shipping weight). 

Commercebuild Data Feed includes all products (individual items, product variants, and configurable products) published on the B2C version of the website (the one browsable by any anonymous guests).

What Commercebuild provides out of the box is good, but more is needed to adhere to the strict Google Merchant policies. 

Setting Up Google Merchant Center:

One mistake many Commercebuild merchants usually make is using the product data feed generated by the platform as the Google Merchant Center Primary Feed and a Google Sheet spreadsheet as the Supplemental Feed.

It would not be a mistake if the Merchant intended to list every product in its store on Google Merchant Center, and every product would be fully and correctly merchandised.

Unfortunately, often, this is not the case. For various reasons (distribution constraints, merchandising constraints, content constraints), a Merchant might need more control over the products pushed into the Google Merchant Center. 

How to achieve Google Merchant Center Product Catalog flexibility:

To achieve maximum flexibility in managing a Google Merchant Center product catalog, the best option for a Commercbuild Merchant is to use a Google Sheet spreadsheet as the Primary Feed and the product data feed generated by Commercebuild as the Supplemental Feed.

The Google Sheet will allow the Merchant to set, part number by part number, the exact product assortment of its Google Merchant Center Catalog.  

As Primary Feed, the spreadsheet will allow adding newly introduced products to GMC, removing discontinued products, and keeping the most appropriate selection of individual items, product variants, and configurable products in GMC.

The spreadsheet will also allow easy and comprehensive flexibility in adding product information and attributes required by GMC that are not included in the Commercebuild Data Feed, like the product brand or the shipping weight (mandatory information to allow GMC to calculate shipping charges). 

The Google Sheet spreadsheet used as Primary GMC Feed can turn into a potent tool when used to host through multiple worksheets or tabs, other product information (either coming from Commercebuild or other sources) which can be retrieved, processed, and combined using powerful Google Sheet formulas before been fetched by Google Merchant Center. 

It is essential to understand that Google Merchant Center will automatically combine the Primary and Supplemental Feed based on a schedule set by the Merchant. 

Mastering Google Merchant Center: Key Pitfalls and Solutions.

Some pitfalls to be aware of when dealing with Google Merchant Center:

  • Commercebuild product data feed pulls the GMC Product Description from the Commercebuild Product Meta Description. Although Page Titles, Meta Descriptions, and Meta Keywords represent the foundation/pillars of any search engine optimization strategy, Merchants often leave these built-in SEO attributes empty or incorrectly filled in. However, even when a merchant properly leverages these metadata attributes, unfortunately, the Commercebuild Meta Description is only 255 characters long, while the Google Merchant Center description can be up to 5,000. Therefore, a 255-character-long GMC product description might not be sufficient to win a good enough ranking compared to the competition.  
  • Product images pushed to GMC must adhere to a very strict policy. Placeholder images or images with overlays are not accepted. Therefore, be prepared to reprocess your product images a few times before GMC is finally satisfied. When updating product images in Commercebuild (because Commercebuild leverages a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to maintain good page loading time across the world), it takes some time for the change of image to be reflected on the CDN.  
  • If your product catalog includes products with UPCs or EAN-13 codes, be prepared to supply those codes to GMC. Missing Global Trade Identification Numbers (GTIN) like UPC and EAN-13 will drastically reduce the visibility of your products on Google Shopping.
  • Sales Tax calculations generated in Commercebuild and Google Merchant Center must coincide. When GMC detects differences in sales tax calculations (especially when the GMC calculation is lower than Commercebuild calculations), Google can decide to suspend the GMC account if the issue is not promptly addressed. 
  • Shipping Charge calculations generated in Commercebuild and Google Merchant Center must coincide. When GMC detects differences in Shipping Charge calculations (especially when the GMC calculation is lower than Commercebuild calculations), Google can decide to suspend the GMC account if the issue is not promptly addressed. 

Exploring AI Opportunities and Future Recommendations for Commercebuild:

Artificial intelligence (AI) offers exciting possibilities for enhancing e-commerce platforms like Commercebuild. To help merchants optimize their Google Merchant Center catalogs, Commercebuild could consider integrating AI to automate and improve various tasks, such as generating compelling product descriptions and enhancing product data feeds with additional attributes.

A potential recommendation is developing an AI-driven feature that automates product description creation. This feature could use existing product information within the Commercebuild platform, such as product names, part numbers, images, and specifications. The AI could analyze these inputs to create detailed product descriptions that engage customers and meet Google Merchant Center’s standards. This would save merchants valuable time and ensure consistency and compliance across the product catalog, ultimately enhancing search relevance and conversion rates in Google Shopping Campaigns.

Commercebuild could further benefit from AI by enriching its Product Data Feed. This could involve using AI to extract more product details from images, such as color variations or product dimensions, and integrating this information into the data feed. AI could also identify gaps in product attributes, like missing brand names or shipping weights, and suggest corrective actions to merchants. By offering a more comprehensive Product Data Feed, Commercebuild can help merchants meet Google Merchant Center’s requirements and avoid potential suspensions due to incomplete or incorrect data.

These AI-based enhancements would be valuable additions to Commercebuild’s platform, providing merchants with practical tools for automating and improving their Google Merchant Center experience. This approach would simplify the process for merchants and contribute to smoother, more efficient Google Shopping Campaigns, allowing businesses to focus more on growth and customer satisfaction.

Staying Ahead in Google Shopping: Tips for Continuous E-Commerce Growth:

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, standing out on Google Shopping is crucial to driving sales and growing your brand. By tapping into the power of Commercebuild’s product data feed and mastering the intricacies of Google Merchant Center, you’re paving the way for a smoother customer journey. It’s not just about filling in the correct fields or meeting Google’s stringent requirements; it’s about crafting a compelling online presence that speaks directly to your customers’ needs. With the right approach, you can transform your Google Shopping Campaign into a dynamic, revenue-generating machine that consistently delivers results.

But remember, the journey continues once your Merchant Center catalog is up and running. Monitoring and adapting to Google Shopping’s ever-changing landscape is essential. Regularly review your GMC dashboard and product data feeds, stay on top of Google’s policy changes, and fine-tune your campaigns to maintain a competitive edge. Doing so will ensure your e-commerce business remains agile, responsive, and ready to seize new opportunities in the digital marketplace. So, gear up, keep learning, and watch your Google Shopping Campaigns reach new heights.

Please contact us if you need help or clarification in enabling, setting up, and managing functionalities on your Commercebuild-powered website. Our team of experienced SEO professionals is always ready to assist you. We understand the intricacies of the Commercebuild platform and can help you navigate its features to optimize your SEO performance.