How to Create and Optimise Feeds for Google Shopping Ads

Product feeds

To run Google Shopping campaigns and be eligible for free Google shopping listings, you must submit a valid feed through the Google merchant centre. 

A feed file contains a list of products you wish to promote through the Merchant Center. Example XML feed file can be found here:

This file is hosted on the hellobabydirect site and is automatically ‘fetched’ by Google daily (option 2 below).

Submitting a feed to the Google Merchant centre is covered in another video. This guide will discuss how to optimise your product feed to improve your product visibility and conversion rate.

Creating your feed

Most eCommerce platforms (e.g. Shopify) will generate a product feed based on your product data.

Product feeds are submitted to Google from the LHS menu under Products > Feeds. If the site has multiple localised versions, a different feed should be submitted for each country, i.e. one feed for France, one for the UK, etc. 

There are several options for uploading a feed:

  1. Google Sheets. Store your product data in a Google sheet which Google will import.
  2. Scheduled fetch. Host a file online and schedule a regular time for Google to check it for updates.
  3. Upload. Manually upload the file from your computer
  4. Content API. Connect your store via an API to automatically update the data. 

Primary and supplementary feeds

Google support two sorts of feed, Primary and Supplemental. A Primary feed is the main data source for your Merchant Center inventory.

For simplicity, Google recommends uploading all of your inventory to one primary feed.

Supplemental feeds add data that is absent from your primary feed. They are only to update product data in primary feeds. A supplemental feed can supplement data in any number of primary feeds.

One example use of a supplementary feed would be for updating product availability.

Note: Ensure that your ID [id] attributes for supplemental feeds match precisely with the ID [id] attributes for primary feeds, as they are case-sensitive.

Feed specification

Google has a specification for Product feed which can be found here:

The merchant specifies each product by completing product attributes. Attributes are the data entries that describe a product. Some have standard values, such as condition [condition] and availability [availability]. Others, including ID [id] or title [title] are user-defined.

Example condition: New  (options: New, Refurbished, Used)

Example title: Casdon Dyson Handheld Vacuum (Max length 150 characters)

Example ID:  CASDON10001

Using the required and suggested attributes to describe your items accurately helps people search for and find your items more quickly.

There are policies around how to use each attribute and how often to update your product data.

When creating a product, compulsory attributes must be submitted or that product will be rejected. 

Optimising your Google product feed

Add search terms to your product title

Optimising your product titles is vital as it has the most significant effect on the volume of search for which searches you appear. The information which should be added to titles includes:

  • Brand
  • Product attributes
  • Product type

Not only does adding keywords increase relevance, but it also entices shoppers to click on your product. The most important section of the product title is the first few words. Essential information should be placed here, such as brand and product name. One of the simplest ways to improve your product title is to include the brand within the product title.

Example titles formats:

Apparel: Brand + Gender + Product Type + Attributes (Colour, size, material)

Consumables: Brand + Product Type + Attributes (weight, count)

Hard Goods: Brand + Product + Attributes (size, weight, quantity)

Electronics: Brand + Attributes + Product Type + Model Number

Book: Title + Type + Format (hardcover, eBook) + Author

Please see our Keyword research video for guidance on finding the best keywords.

If you add attributes using rule-specific software, manually review them to ensure that they still make sense. You should write your product titles for people, not just for Google’s algorithm.

Use correct product identifiers

The Unique Product Identifiers (UPI) is one of the most important attributes in the feed. There are three types of UPI:

  • GTIN (Global Trade Item Number, e.g. barcode)
  • MPN (Manufacturer Part Number)
  • Brand

For most products, submitting at least two of these 3 attributes is required.

Google uses product identifiers to group products, assuming that the same product will use the same product identifiers across suppliers, i.e. the barcodes for a product should be the same whoever submits it.

If the identifier you submit is incorrect, Google cannot group your products correctly, likely resulting in lost impressions and conversions.

Choose the correct Google product category

Using the correct product category is another way to tell Google which product your ad should show.

The Google product categories are similar to UPIs in that you and your competitors should submit the same values for each product, giving you another way of grouping your product with other competing products.

Google’s product categorisation is available here.

Use custom labels

Custom labels are user-defined attributes that can be added to the feed. They can be used to create product groups and segment your products for reporting purposes. Example uses:

  • Price bands
  • Profit margin bands
  • Top performers

Write detailed descriptions

Google allows up to 10000 characters for product descriptions. Recommendations:

  • Minimum 500 character descriptions.
  • Include all the most relevant attributes, e.g. size, features and technical specifications.
  • Add information around visual details, such as pattern, material and design. This helps Google return more accurate searches for the shopper.
  • Avoid listing the specifics of any variant products. Alternatively, state the product comes in other variations, as this prevents the wrong product from showing.
  • Focus on using good grammar and punctuation throughout your description while limiting the use of special characters, such as exclamation marks.

Use high-quality images

Google’s minimum requirement is that images should be 100 x 100 pixels. This is far too small to show larger higher-quality images perform better in Google Shopping. Shopify recommends images of 2048 x 2048 pixels which is a good size.

Google’s image guidelines can be found here. Note that Google will reject watermarked images.

Populate all relevant but optional attributes

By populating all relevant product attributes, you will help your product show up in more product searches

Trouble Shooting your feed

Google gives feedback on the quality of your feed, which can be accessed from the LHS menu > Products > Diagnostics. This shows warning errors in the feed. Errors will prevent products from being displayed. Warnings may do so in the future. Issues include:

  • Mismatch between the price in the feed and on your site
  • Image issues, i.e. promotion text or broken link
  • Missing GTINs, e.g. EAN or UPC barcode
  • Language issues. If the language of the feed does not match the target country

You should regularly check diagnostics for issues and fix them.



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