The key to success on Google Shopping is a high-quality product feed.  Adding all the required and applicable optional attributes as well as improving the data in your product feed is how you get a good product feed. Today, we will discuss an often overlooked attribute and see how to improve it in our shopping feeds.  

What is Google Product Category?

Google Product Category is an attribute that is used to categorize SKUs in your product feed using Google’s taxonomy of more than 6000 categories. These categories are pre-defined by Google and can be found here.

Products are automatically assigned a category from this list by Google once you upload your product feed in Merchant Center.

Why should you use Google Product Category?

Using the right categorization is important for several reasons:

  1. Identifying the correct category for your products helps Google’s system understand what your product is which leads to your product showing on searches related to it.
  2. Your ad spend does not get wasted on searches that are for a different product than what you sell.
  3. When the ad listing shown to the customer matches what they searched for, it helps improve the CTR which in turn improves the performance of your campaign.

At Take Some Risk, we have always emphasized the importance of having a detailed product feed. Including the right Google Product Category for each SKU ensures that your data is as rich as possible. A good product feed helps with your shopping ranking and helps you increase your ads revenue and sales.   

What are the guidelines for assigning Google Product Category?

Google has a few guidelines that should be kept in mind when assigning Google Product Category.

  • Use only a predefined Google Product Category. You can only choose from the existing list of categories.
  • If a Google Product Category is not available in your local language, use the GPC in English or use the numeric ID associated with the GPC. 
  • Use the one category that best describes your product. Even if your product has multiple functions, use the category that is its main function.
  • Use the most specific category possible. If you sell water bottles, instead of using the GPC Home & Garden > Kitchen & Dining > Food & Beverage Carriers, use Home & Garden > Kitchen & Dining > Food & Beverage Carriers > Water Bottles.
  • Use categories published after August 2011. Get the latest GPCs and use those in your product feed.

How to set up Google Product Category?

There are two ways of setting up a GPC in your product feed:

  • Automatic categorization
  • Manual categorization

When you create your product feed and upload it in GMC, you will notice that the Google Product Category field has been automatically filled out by Google and the products have been categorized for you.

While this method means that there is less work for you, it has its downsides too.
Since this is an automatic categorization, the challenge is that Google does not always assign the correct categories. In some cases, the category might be correct but it may not be as specific as it needs to be. Your phone case SKUs could be automatically categorized as Electronics > Communications > Telephony > Mobile Phone Accessories when they should be Electronics > Communications > Telephony > Mobile Phone Accessories > Mobile Phone Cases.

Getting granular with GPCs is important in getting a rich data feed, so we recommend that you always manually double-check what product category has been assigned to your products.

To manually categorize your products, create a field for google_product_category in your data feed. Then download the list of Google Product Category taxonomy and look at each product in your feed and assign the correct value manually by referring to the list.

There are multiple online tools that can make this manual process faster for you.

Additional Information

If you are relying on automatic categorization and haven’t yet had the time to manually assign GPC to each product, there are a few factors you should keep in mind:

  1. In Google Merchant Center, the calculation of taxes in the US is based on what GPC has been assigned to a product. If your GPCs are incorrect, you need to apply the correct categorization to ensure that the correct US tax rate is applied to your product.
  2. Alcoholic beverages must be correctly categorized according to Google’s policy. If the category of your product is incorrectly assigned, you need to correctly assign the right product category to remain compliant with Google’s policy.
  3. Products are treated differently depending on what GPC has been assigned to a product. For example, for apparel products, color/size/gender attributes have to be added to the feed.  

Product Type Vs Google Product Category

Often, people get confused between the attributes of Product Type and Google Product Category because of how similar they sound.

Google Product Category is:

  • Predefined. You can only select from the 6000+ categories defined by Google.
  • Automatically classified by Google even if you don’t add it yourself.

The Product Type attribute is:

  • Customized. This attribute is mainly for the purpose of campaign creation and data analysis. It is your own customized classification. 
  • This is not automatically classified. If you don’t add this attribute to your feed, this field remains blank. 

Google Product Category is for Google’s benefit – so it understands what search queries to show your ads on. Product Types are for the advertiser’s benefit – so you can create campaigns and product groups for specific product lines.

Done clearing up your Google Product Category field? Make sure you check out our blog posts on GTINs, Custom Labels, Product Titles, and Product Images so that you can have the best feed possible.