Planning on selling products such as vitamins, dietary or nutritional supplements and advertising on Google Shopping? Unless you familiarize yourself with Google Shopping’s policies, in particular to the Healthcare and Medicine section, you may find yourself struggling to get approved and having your products banned.
When Google announced it was ending Google Product Search and moving to a paid model called Google Shopping, they made some major changes besides charging for this new service. One of the biggest changes was Google decided to make Google Shopping a “family-safe” shopping experience to ensure a positive user experience. They want the products listed to be “safe for all users” who use their search engine. Merchants who had become accustomed to generating free traffic and conversions from Google in the past were now going to have to pay to be listed, and depending on what you sell, may not even have an opportunity to be listed. Nineteen categories such as Alcohol (including wine), Tobacco products (including accessories), Weapons (including accessories), Traffic Devices, and Healthcare and Medicine were affected by these changes.
Healthcare and medicine is perhaps the most difficult vertical for Google Shopping, because merchants are continually being flagged inappropriately for selling “drugs” or “medicines” that aren’t approved by Google. For example, a merchant selling vitamins or supplements that contain similar ingredients to drug names may be banned by Google, even if the products don’t contain drugs. Other reasons for products being banned is that the product or supplement may make a claim that can’t be substantiated, or may contain dangerous or unapproved ingredients.
So what do you do if you want to sell vitamins, dietary or nutritional supplements? Well, the easiest way according to Google is to become a registered online pharmacy. In the Heathcare and Medicine section of Google Shopping’s restricted products, they do allow the promotion of prescription drugs by online pharmacies, as long as you are accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy VIPPS program (NAPB website – https://nabp.pharmacy) and certified by Google. (Google online pharmacy application form – https://goo.gl/bkGm4.)
If you’re reading this article, then chances are you’re not an accredited online pharmacy and probably don’t want to become one. Good news is that Google Shopping does allow for the promotion of certain pharmaceuticals and supplements, irrespective of any claims of legality.
Google does give some very basic examples of what this policy does and does not allow:
- Google DOES allow the promotion of these products
- OTC products
- Dietary supplements
- Google DOES NOT allow the promotion of these products
- Dietary supplements containing harmful ingredients
- Products containing Ephedra
- Prescription drugs sold by unauthorized and unregistered online pharmacies
Google states on the Restricted Products List under Healthcare & Medicine that “Google Shopping doesn’t allow the promotion of certain pharmaceuticals and supplements, irrespective of any claims of legality.” For a non-exhaustive list of prohibited pharmaceuticals and supplements, please see Google Advertising Policies “Unapproved Pharmaceuticals and Supplements” – https://goo.gl/T7Uov
If you find yourself having issues getting your products listed there are a couple things you can do. First, to make sure that your products will get listed and seen, you should thoroughly adhere to “Google Shopping Policies” which can be reviewed at – https://goo.gl/glNXG. Review Google Merchant Center “Restricted Products List” – https://goo.gl/DzWab. If you are still having issues with disapproved products or feeds, you can contact Google Merchant Center at https://goo.gl/4cFxh or you can call Google Advertising at 1-800-826-9988 or Google Adwords at 1-888-2GOOGLE.
So, check your email at least once a week to ensure you haven’t received any notifications from Google about products being disapproved. If you are still having issues, you can always contact our experts by calling us at 1-888-277-5429 or filling out our contact form here.