- Understanding Google Merchant Center
- The Benefits and Challenges of Google Shopping Merchant
- Understanding the Misrepresentation Policy
- Resolving GMC Issues and Moving Forward
While performing maintenance on the Creative Kits backend and reviewing product information, I noticed that the Google sales channel status had changed from green to red. This raised a concern as I recalled it being green just a few months ago - in September.
I decided to investigate the reason behind this change and discovered that 108 products were no longer approved, leading me to question the functionality and requirements of the Google Merchant Center (GMC) within the Shopify backend.
At the right same moment, I got an email from Google Merchant Center announcing that my account was suspended from Misrepresentation!
Understanding Google Merchant Center
Not having installed this service myself, I don't know how it works. I know the name but what are the conditions and requirements? How does it work? What is its use for? I was largely ignorant.
Google Merchant Center is a platform offered by Google that enables online retailers and e-commerce businesses to manage and upload product data for display on various Google services. It serves as a central hub where merchants can submit and maintain information about their products, allowing potential customers to easily discover and purchase these items. Here are some important features and functions of the Google Merchant Center:
Product Data Management: Merchants can organize and upload their product data, including attributes such as title, description, price, availability, and brand. This information helps Google understand the products and display them accurately to potential customers.
Feed Creation and Submission: Merchants create a structured data file called a product feed that contains all relevant information about their products. This feed is then submitted to the Google Merchant Center in formats like XML or CSV.
Product Listings on Google: Once the product feed is approved, products can appear on various Google services, including Google Search, Google Shopping, Google Images, and Google Ads. This exposure increases visibility and potential traffic to the merchant's online store.
Advertising Opportunities: Merchants can create and manage product-based advertising campaigns using Google Ads, leveraging the product data in the Merchant Center to create compelling ads. These ads are displayed to users actively searching for relevant products or browsing Google's partner websites.
Data Quality and Policy Compliance: Google Merchant Center enforces data quality and policy requirements to ensure accurate and reliable information is displayed to users, maintaining a positive user experience and ensuring transparency and trustworthiness.
The Benefits and Challenges of Google Shopping Merchant
Google Shopping Merchant offers several potential benefits and challenges for e-commerce businesses:
Increased Visibility: Listing products on Google Shopping expands the reach and visibility of businesses, increasing brand awareness and exposure.
Higher Click-Through Rates: Product images and prices in Google Shopping ads make them more appealing and informative than traditional text ads. This can lead to higher click-through rates and increased traffic to the e-commerce site.
Targeted Audience: Shopping customers are often further along in the buying process, making them more likely to convert into paying customers. Additionally, Google Shopping listings may include product reviews, helping build trust and increasing conversion rates.
Increased Competition: Listing products on Google Shopping means competing with other businesses selling similar products. To stand out, businesses must optimize their listings and remain competitive.
Overall, Google Shopping Merchant can be a useful tool for e-commerce businesses that want to increase their online visibility, drive traffic to their website and increase sales.
The downside of this tool is that you are at the mercy of Google and if they decide to change their policy and make an update, you are seen. It is important to check your GMC very often to make sure your website is still aligned with Google policies asn Google has at its heart a user experience.
Creative Kits Google Merchant Account
Despite having it on my list of things to accomplish ever since I started owning Creative Kits, I never went to check it. I visited the account after receiving the infamous email and found that it had never been updated. I started the following project:
- Organize the product feed by cleaning up the title, description, price, and photos.
- Review the settings like the contact information, the taxes information and the delivery/return information.
- Add more Markets to target
I make sure I completed the GMC profile as much as I can.
I re-submit the site to the Google Merchant Center but I am still refused under the same qualification: misrepresentation.
I get in touch with GMC to inquire further about the causes since I don't comprehend them. How did Creative Kits end up in this predicament so quickly?
Here is the response I got:
"Thank you for contacting us about the suspension of the misrepresentation policy. This policy suspension means that we have reviewed your Google Merchant Center account and concluded that it does not comply with our Shopping policy, and we have therefore disapproved your Google Merchant Center account”.
Do you not find it to be a little lackluster? However, Google's services do respond rather swiftly. Nothing in the message is actually explained or justified, and there are no indications as to what to look for or where to turn in the case of misrepresentation.
Understanding the Misrepresentation Policy
Upon investigating why Creative Kits faced disapproval from the Google Merchant Center, it appeared that the website violated the Google misrepresentation policy. Misrepresentation refers to falsely presenting or making claims about products or services. Google aims to ensure that users are not misled by content promoted in Shopping ads. Examples of misrepresentation include promotions that encourage engagement without providing relevant information or obtaining explicit consent, as well as promotions that inaccurately, unrealistically, or dishonestly represent products or services.
The aim of these policies is as follow, stated by Google:
Google does not want users to feel misled by the content promoted in Shopping ads. Therefore, we need to be upfront and honest, and give them the information they need to make informed decisions. That's why we don't allow :
- promotions that encourage users to make a purchase, download or otherwise engage without first providing all relevant information and obtaining the user's explicit consent;
- promotions that misrepresent you or your products in an inaccurate, unrealistic or dishonest manner.
Resolving GMC Issues and Moving Forward
In the case of Creative Kits, aside from misrepresentation, the GMC also cited other reasons for rejecting the products. These included missing price return indications, issues with decimal separators in prices (dot/coma), the absence of codes like GTIN or ISBN for unique products, and the requirement of a Korean VAT number for selling in South Korea.
I took a step back in front all these multiple setbacks.
To address these challenges and prepare for re-submission to the Google Merchant Center, several steps were taken:
Comprehensive Website Analysis: The SEO aspects, from product descriptions to the website's structure, were thoroughly reviewed and improved. SEO tools were utilised to identify any issues that needed attention.
Legal Document Updates and Disclaimer: Legal documents such as terms and conditions, refund policy, and other essential information were reviewed and updated to ensure transparency and visibility on the website.
Shopify Theme Evaluation: The Shopify theme being used was examined to ensure compatibility with GMC requirements and to identify any potential conflicts.
Website Speed Analysis: Tools like Google Lighthouse, Google PageSpeed Insight, and GTmetrix were employed to analyze the website's speed and make necessary optimizations.
Results provided by Google PageSpeed for the mobile version of the website
By addressing these areas, the aim was to ensure accurate and up-to-date product information, remove any misleading or deceptive advertising, and ultimately comply with Google's policies.
Although resolving the issues with the Google Merchant Center is important for the success of Creative Kits, it was determined that addressing other website-related challenges first would pave the way for a smoother re-submission process.
It was important to thoroughly understand the reasons behind the suspension and work systematically to find solutions. Dealing with suspensions intelligently and demonstrating efforts to comply with policies can lead to successful reinstatement. Google Merchant Center plays a crucial role in driving traffic and sales, making it a valuable channel for businesses.
In the next blog post, the new website theme selected for Creative Kits will be unveiled, marking another step towards overcoming these challenges.