Google’s Product Search Requirements Changes Messed With Your Products

By December 28, 2011January 21st, 2020Data Feeds

Google Product SearchOn September 22, Google began enforcing a new Product Search feed spec requirements that was announced earlier in the year. On that date, Google started dropping websites that do not meet the new spec requirements. Additionally, Google can even suspend accounts that don’t meet the new Google Product Search requirements. So if you’re not meeting these new requirements, your shopping sites are in danger of being lost.

If you are a merchant, it is in your best interest to use the new Test Data Feed feature in the Google Merchant Center (found under “DataFeeds”) to test whether your updated feed meets with the new requirements. Once there, you can download a full error report and resolve any issues before submitting your actual feed. Note that your test feed won’t appear on Google Product Search.

There are a few key items of note with the new feed changes, and you will want to study these items carefully in order to understand the new requirements.

First off, if you sell items that belong to one of the following categories, you will need to send in your Google Product Category:

  • Apparel & Accessories > Clothing
  • Apparel & Accessories > Shoes
  • Apparel & Accessories
  • Media > Books
  • Media > DVDs & Movies
  • Media > Music
  • Software > Video Game Software

This is to ensure that your products show up in the right category. Also, this is only required for feeds that target the US, the UK, Germany, France, or Japan. Be sure to have as much categorization as possible. It is not urgent, as long as you follow the basic guidelines

Another change Google is imposing is that all images must include image_link for all products. This is especially for those products residing in the “Apparel & Accessories” category. Additionally, all products that fall into this category (and each of its sub-categories), you will need to provide unique images for products that vary by color, pattern, or material. For instance: when a customer clicks on a red t-shirt, he should see a red t-shirt image, not a black one. All countries, except for Japan, must follow this new rule.

If you want your site to continue to benefit from Google’s efforts and rankings, make sure you’re compliant with their new requirements and specs.


  • CPC_Andrew says:

    Great post! Regardless of your category I’d include a google_product_category column. It helps Google place your products in the right spots. What’s interesting is that shipping and tax requirements are required for all merchants but are not being fully enforced yet, and some merchants are taking advantage of this and duping customers with their Product Search listings. Something to think about…

    • Operation ROI says:


      Nice to hear from you guys over at CPC. You make a very valid point about the use of the google_product_category column. For you do-it-yourselfers, if you need help finding the right categories visit ( About halfway down the page is a search box that when you enter your product category Google will guide you into the right category. For example if you sell “ski bindings” Google will present two valid category strings: “Sporting Goods > Winter Sports > Cross-Country Skiing > Cross-Country Ski Bindings” OR “Sporting Goods > Winter Sports > Downhill Skiing > Downhill Ski Bindings”.

      Thanks for the feedback.

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