Google Merchant Centre updates coming in September

Google has announced some changes to the Google Merchant Centre and attributes within the product feeds, in order to enhance the data both inputted into feeds and also shown to end-users within the purchase journey.

This article explores what these updates mean for marketers and how to approach them.

Immediate additions

There are some immediate additions for those who have products which are paid for either in instalments or via subscription. The instalment and subscription cost attributes, which help to show users the details of a monthly instalment payment plan that you offer to pay for your product, and monthly or annual payment plan that bundles a communications service contract with mobile/tablet devices respectively. However, it’s worth noting that if you submit these attributes for other product categories, you may be at risk of disapprovals – so always check whether you’re using them for the right products before adding in. 

Google SERPs with the [instalment] attribute

New attribute addition

In addition to the Google product categories and product type attributes, amongst others, a new attribute has been introduced to help enhance product data quality. This attribute, which will allow merchants to bolster their structured data in a readable way, should be used to add any technical features and specifications that aren’t currently covered by other attributes. This will help Google’s crawlers to pick up your product better for relevant user queries.

Croud’s best practice is to always give as much information as possible to Google around products, as more information equates to better user experiences in the eyes of Google. As such, we’d definitely recommend adopting this new feature if appropriate.

Further improvements ahead

Later in the year, we’ll also see some further improvements and changes to attributes. Starting from the 1st of September this year, some products which fall into various Google product categories, specifically some subcategories of Media and Clothing & Accessories, will now require some attributes which were previously deemed optional – such as gender, age, size and colour. Additional attributes will also help the user in filtering out from wider searches to find the products they’re looking for right in Google SERPs.

Though dismissing these attributes will not cause any disapprovals, it will mean that your ads are limited in their ability to serve and therefore affect subsequent performance. Therefore, these attributes are deemed both useful and complementary to the user journey. As such, if your competitors are using these attributes and you’re not, they’re likely to surpass you in the race for both impressions and click – by being perceived as the more data-enriched products by Google and subsequently prioritised. So, once again, the more information the better!

Moreover, whilst this is already part of Croud’s best practices for feed optimisation, the [description] attribute is also required and highly recommended for all products. Technically, products that do not include a product description will still be eligible to serve within SERPs, although similar to the aforementioned scenarios, their performance may be limited.

Changes to multiple value submissions

Currently, it is possible to submit more than one value for various attributes, which could potentially be classed as either/or with, for example, materials, patterns and image links – which could all have multiple submissions.

However, from September onwards if you have submitted more than one value for these attributes, you will receive a warning in the Merchant Centre, which will also impact performance and eligibility. You will be able to submit multiple attributes, but these will need to be combined into one attributes, separated by slashes and hyphens – NOT commas.

For example, if a leather jacket also had metal studs or buckles, you could submit [leather_metal], but not [leather, metal]. For image links, the additional attribute ‘additional_image_link’ must be used instead of merging links.

New product highlights

Another new attribute for September includes product highlights. This will allow merchants to add additional text to showcase each products’ USPs (unique selling points) within a short sentence (example below). This will support and enhance product titles/descriptions, which users can see currently attached to shopping listings.

The update could be crucial for retailers, particularly those who many rely heavily on the features and benefits of the products being described. For example, brands who wish to add USPs to engage with users over competitors will find this particularly beneficial. We will also be using this as a key attribute to test and learn in late Q3 and early Q4, ahead of the seasonal rush.

Sale price annotations are relaxing

It’s likely that sales and promotions are on retailers’ minds, particularly during Q4. To that end, Google has also announced that as of September, they will be relaxing the requirements for displaying sale price annotations in Shopping ads.

To show sale price annotations, merchants must ensure that the base price, or higher price, must have been charged for a period of at least 30 days in the past 180 days – thought these days do not necessarily need to be consecutive.

To find out how Croud can help you take advantage of your product feed and build your Google Shopping performance, get in touch.

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