Google Shopping: 7 changes in XML feed requirements expected in September


Ecommerce is constantly evolving, particularly with regards to consumer rights, but also relating to distribution channels, including Google Shopping. Google is planning several significant changes for both Google Shopping and the Merchant Center. These planned changes should come into action in September 2014. Here is what you need to know so that you can prepare in advance.

Read also: Consumer Rights Directive 2014: What do you need to know?

Google shopping campaigns

For several months Google has been encouraging users to transfer their product listing ads to the new type of dedicated campaigns. As of 31st August 2014 all the old ad campaigns will be disabled. It is thus important to change current campaigns before this date and migrate to the new format if you still want you products to appear.

Note: be careful when changing the format, you lose the history of your product listing ads. So take the time to save them in advance if they have a strategic interest for your online business.

New requirements for XML feeds:

To register your product feed with Google so that it can be displayed on Google Shopping, you must go through the Merchant Center using your Adwords account.

Google allows you to integrate two product feed formats (TXT and XML). The requirements will be changing for the XML feeds. As of 30th September, 2014, the following changes will be compulsory. In it’s FAQ Google suggests different modifications for XML feeds in order for you to better integrate your product catalogue into Google Shopping:

1°) Landing pages for mobiles

To ensure that the buying process is now optimised for mobiles, Google now offers the possibility of adding an extra line in your feed using the attribute [mobile_link]. Therefore viewings clicking on links who are using a mobile device will be directed to the URL optimised for mobile browsing (if one exists).

Read also: 15 compulsory attributes for selling on Google Shopping

2°) Product bundling:

Google takes into account that many products are sold in bundles, for example a camera, lenses and bag. The feed specification now includes an [is_bundle] attribute, as of the 30th September 2014 you should use this attribute if selling in bundles in order for your products to be correctly displayed.

3°) Availability 

Google has also chosen to simplify the attribute [availability] by merging the values [in stock] and [available for order] (now just [in stock]). It will also be possible to use the attribute [availability date] to indicate when pre ordered products will be available for delivery.

4°) Clothing attributes

For merchants selling clothes and accessories, Google has revamped mandatory attributes and offers new fields to give more information on items. The attribute [age_group] can now be used to indicate the corresponding age bracket for products, and [size_system] and [size_type] can be used to give more detailed information on the type of clothing sold.

5°) Image quality

Google recommends using images taken on a plain background so that the product remains the focus point. Google recommends using images of at least 800 x 800 pixels (250 x 250 pixels for clothing product images).

6°) Existing destination URL policy

The Merchant Center has replaced the existing rules relating to destination URLs with the new landing page content policy. The new policy contains more detailed information and examples, and implementation guidelines for submitting landing page URLs.

7°) Maximum number of characters:

To ensure information is displayed correctly, Google now clearly states the maximum number of characters for most attributes.

Example : A product description can contain up to 5000 characters.

sources : WebRankInfo / Blog AdWords / HelpCenter Google

Kathryn Bird

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