Your Google Merchant Center is a key part of running shopping campaigns. You have to give it the same attention as other platforms and perform an audit – which brings us to today’s topic. Learn what we look for in a GMC account audit.
I want to walk you through the process of doing an account audit, although, this time you are going to audit a Google Merchant Center account. A lot of times we think about auditing a Google Ads account or a property and view within Google Analytics. These are important, but it seems that Google Merchant Center accounts get overlooked by people, which is a shame.
We are going to walk through each area we look at in a new GMC account to make sure it’s setup for success. Having this setup correctly means your shopping campaigns are going to have a better chance of offering profit.
Google Merchant Center Account Settings
The little envelope in the upper right hand corner of your Google Merchant Center account are where your archived messages reside. It’s a good place to check if you lose all your emails or think Google sent you something but you didn’t get it.
Is your account language and time zone set correctly? Make sure this is either set to your HQ time zone or have it set to PST. Ideally this is the same setting as your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts as well. Make sure all your accounts are in sync.
Is the right Google Ads ID links to your GMC account? If you have a Google My Business profile, have that linked as well. Your brand would not be the first one to have a rogue Google Ads account laying around and having it linked to your GMC account vs the account you want.
Automatic item updates
If you turn this on, Google will update your Shopping campaigns based on data it finds on your site. For example, if your most recent data feed contains an item that costs $4 but your product landing page lists it as $3, we will update the item to $3 in your Shopping ad. Learn more.
Make sure the right people have access to your Google Merchant Center account. Remove past employees and anyone who should not have access. You won’t see a list of Agency accounts link to your GMC account, so don’t be shy about reaching out to Google support to remove any past agencies or partners you don’t work with any more.
Merchant Center Manage Programs
Betas and new features live in this section of your Google Merchant Center account. It can often get overlooked by people, which means you miss out on testing new features and betas.
All things being equal, op-in to all the products and features below. All these are available in a lot of the major countries and regions you are going to want to run your Shopping campaigns in.
Obviously this is what you use your GMC account for.
Lets you run Shopping ads on the Google Display Network using dynamically generated ads based on what someone viewed on your site.
This feature lets Google collect seller reviews from your customers and provides you with a seller rating badge to display on your website. We go into more detail below.
Local Inventory Ads
Worth running if you have a retail store. See the end of this article for more information.
End of last year, Google added the Promotion tab to Google Merchant Center accounts in the USA. This made it easier to run promotions and make sure all your shopping campaigns display details about your latest sales. This is a no brainer, turn it on.
Similar to the Customer Reviews above, but instead they do not show a badge on your site. These product ratings are going to show up on your Shopping ads, so it’s worth setting up if you can.
It’s always worth checking out the Merchant Center programs section of an account to make sure there are no new betas or features your brand can add to their Shopping campaigns. Even a few months head start on your competitors can give you an edge over them for key holiday seasons. We have the promotions rating tab show up in Q4 last year. We then made sure each client we work with had it activated to make sure we didn’t leave revenue on the table for Black Friday.
Though this does not affect your shopping campaigns, having all this setup is worth it if something goes wrong with your account and you need to reach out to support
About Your Business
Make sure your business name is correct and that your website is verified. Also fill out your business address and customer service contact information.
If your website was verified in the section above, then this should show that your site is verified and claimed with a green checkbox by each.
Make sure your brand logos are uploaded and look neither pixelated or washed out. You always want to make sure you are showing off the best image of your brand
The diagnostics section is the heart of your Google Merchant Centre account. It’s where you are going to find out what issues are affecting your shopping feed. This is something we check each morning as a team to make sure accounts are running smooth.
It’s good to know if you have any disapproved or pending items. It also informs you if you have any expiring items due to a client doing a manual pull of their Shopping feed and not having it auto-update each day or week (smaller feeds may update each month).
If any SKUs in your shopping feed are disapproved, pending or expiring then you need to scroll down and see why in this section. You download an example CSV of affected SKUs and see what you need to fix. This is also a good time to make sure your product data specifications are up to snuff.
This shows off your items in the feed. What we check here is that the product title, product description and other attributes including condition, brand, colour, gender and size are correct.
We will randomly pick 12 products on multiple pages to do a quick sanity check. This does not replace doing a full audit and looking at the whole feed but it’s a quick way to see if anything is immediately off with those attributes. Always do a full feed audit.
Next to your diagnostics, it’s important to know how your feed data is getting pushed into your GMCs Feeds section. When was the last update? Which country are you targeting?
We have seen brands and agencies try to target two counties with one campaign using the same feed (which isn’t going to work). Each feed needs to target one country at a time. Also look at what language you are targeting and destinations you can use your feed to target: Display, Shopping Ads and or Google Properties.
Are any promotions running that shouldn’t be? Similar to having an ad extension running wild in your Google Ads account, you want to make sure you don’t have something advertising that should not be.
Tax & Shipping
Some countries, like Australia, require that you set up taxes and shipping costs before you can run Shopping ads. Make sure your tax settings are correct and you won’t have to worry about disapproved ads.
If you run an ecommerce store that sells some items that have a special taxes associated with them, you can use the categories area to tell Google to add this special tax to these items in your Shopping feed.
You can add categories from the tax_category attribute in your feed. For users in the states/regions you add below, the system will use the tax rate in the table. If there’s no tax specified in this table, the rates created in Settings will be used.
Services & Delivery Zones
Setup shipping rates for the vendors (i.e. Fedex or USPS) that you use to ship product from your ecommerce store, and add in the delivery zones that this covers. For a lot of USA ecommerce brands, it’s going to be their home state where their HQ is based.
This is for Comparison Shopping Services (CSS), which covers European Economic Area and Switzerland only. Since we have only manage and scale Shopping campaigns in United States, Canada and Australia, I can not speak to CSS.
Local Inventory Ads
Local inventory ads can be run parallel to Google Shopping ad, but you do need to have a brick and mortar store to run local inventory ads. Only retailers who have stores in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States can use this feature right now.
Local inventory ads showcase your products and store information to nearby shoppers searching with Google. When shoppers click your ad, they arrive on a Google-hosted page for your store called the local storefront. Shoppers use the local storefront to view in-store inventory, get store hours, find directions, and more. You can check out the on-boarding guide from Google if you want to test it out.
Social proof like customer reviews is a great way to show trust in your brand and get people to purchase from you vs another brand with Google Shopping campaigns. You’ll need to add some code and program setup to your site to get Customer Reviews working.
Once you do that, sign your agreement to participate in the program. The Overview and Product Review section shows you how your brand is doing for getting reviews, your rating, and what your op-in review rate is. If you can get this setup for your brand, you should do it. It will definitely help out.
The Google Merchant Center is important, and cannot be overlooked. Make sure you audit it when necessary so that you can keep things running orderly and smoothly. Thanks for tuning in though, and that is it for this week!
Where to find more information:
Ever wondered how to elevate your Google shopping feed, or how Google ranks their shopping offerings? Take Some Risk has started a digital learning space for all things paid search: Introducing the TSR Academy. Follow along with Duane Brown as he runs you through what it means to push success and clarify some of the mystery behind paid search.