A data feed is a catalogue list of the products you want to advertise using Google Shopping. This list includes product attributes such as titles, images, landing pages, current prices, stock, size, colour, age group, gender and more. Some fields are mandatory with other recommended. Building a high-quality data feed includes both recommended and mandatory.
What is Google Merchant Center?
Google Merchant centre is a free product provided by Google to host the data feed- and send the relevant product data into Google Adwords.
Options for Creating the Datafeed:
The feed can be updated within Merchant Center using methods such as:
- Directly from the advertiser’s website in real-time using the Google merchant centre API. (Real-time updates are possible- not just daily)
- Using an XML URL or via FTP on a daily basis at a scheduled time daily.
- Google Sheet (or CSV) which can be scheduled to update daily.
- 3rd Party paid data feed solutions providers can be expensive for retailers with lots of products- and also have weaknesses.
All three techniques have strengths and weaknesses listed below:
- Merchant Center API. This is an MCA client account of a shopping cart provider to provide real-time updates to Merchant Center. This is the best solution if prices or stock change frequently. They can also be fast to implement using the shopping cart provider plugin.
- XML URL. (Easiest solution to implement. Many shopping carts also have plugins which will generate the URL in an XML category format. Most web developers can also generate the feed. Using a live XML URL ( an export in the website catalogue in a Google-compatible XML format) in the most frequently used way- especially when lots of products are being advertised. Updates made inside the Google feed.
- Google Sheets. This is the easiest to edit. Using the static feed version is limited in that prices and stock availability are not updated automatically- resulting in disapproval until the sheet prices and stock status match the website prices.
Building a high-quality data feed for Google Shopping that includes all of the recommended product attributes, along with mandatory ones can take lots of time. Additionally, some of the formerly recommended attributes are now mandatory for certain categories. Data quality control standards will also require ongoing updates of product images if any are below current minimum sizes.
Google Sheets & Chrome Merchant Center Plugin
Google Sheets has a merchant centre plugin for Debugging a feed to find any errors before submission is a good data quality checking tool. Google sheets are however static therefore not well suited to large feeds- unless using dynamic attributes.(Or a mix of dynamic and static- depending on ongoing updates on the website).