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If you run an online store or use product ads in Google Ads, you’ve surely heard of Google Merchant Center more than once. GMC is another of the free tools from Google that makes it easy to manage Ecommerce of any kind. Whether you sell thousands of products every day, or there are only a few dozen products on your store’s virtual shelves, you should have an account here. Millions of companies around the world use GMC to manage their product feed, optimize attributes and eventually upload product data to Google Ads and Google Shopping.
How to create an account in GMC?
Google Merchant Center, like its other services, requires a Google account. The account in question is the same one you use to use YouTube, Google Ads or receive mail via Gmail. If you don’t already have such an account, you can set one up by selecting the appropriate option on the Google website If you already have a Google account, you can add the Merchant Center service to it. When registering with GMC, Google will ask us for basic information about the company – including website address or store name. Next, we will need to upload a product feed, but more on that later in the article.
After logging into GMC, you need to do some basic account configuration. In the top bar you will find several options, but the most important at this stage is the gear wheel, responsible for account configuration. After expanding it, you will notice two submenus – tools and settings.
This submenu gives us the ability to configure basic information about our store. As we click through the options, we should focus primarily on deliveries and returns and company information. If we do not configure these options correctly, displaying product ads will not be fully possible.
The second part of the menu is items strictly related to the GMC account. Here we will set permissions for users using the account, the display language or time zone. However, the most important element is the “Linked Accounts” tab. Once there, we have the option to connect the GMC account with the Google Ads account on which we want to display product ads. To do this, we select the “Connect Account” option, and in the window that appears, we enter the Google Ads customer ID and send a connection request. Then, in the Google Ads panel, we select “Tools and Settings,” “Linked Accounts” and find the Google Merchant Center icon. Next to it, there should be an option to accept the invitation.
After we have familiarized ourselves with the menu at the top of the panel and completed the necessary information, we can move to the side menu. It contains the most important functions of Google Merchant Center. It allows you to verify the products uploaded to the tool, check reports and track development opportunities. All options are divided into five categories: overview, products, results, marketing and development. Overview is nothing more than a summary of the files we upload to the tool, information about the programs we use (more on this later) and the effectiveness of ads. All this information is described in more detail in the following tabs:
A subpage that allows you to view and manage all the products you submit to the tool. Here you will find, among other things, the number of active products, a list of products that need to be improved (e.g. due to missing attributes) and the ability to edit each product individually. The heart of the entire tool, i.e. Product Data Files, is also located here. This is a particularly important element, so I will discuss it in more detail later.
The products we use get specific results – views, number of clicks or CTR. We can analyze these and many other data after accessing this subpage. We can filter traffic by brand, category, products or location. In addition, we can create a personalized report to help us analyze the data in the future.
If we have already created product campaigns in Google Ads, we will be able to preview them in this segment. In addition to displaying campaign results such as number of clicks, conversions or cost, we can also make simple edits here – change the name, budget or products used in a given campaign. It is also possible to create a Performance Max campaign from this level, but its optimization and addition of resources we must already do in Google Ads.
The tab that most often of all gets new updates from Google. New options for the store, development opportunities and recommendations appear here. If we agree to Google’s terms, we can check the price competitiveness of our store (the option compares products on the basis of EAN code and price, among all stores that have joined the program). In addition, we can find industry bestsellers, statistics on customer shopping impressions and a separate tab for programs available in GMC – programs are described in more detail below.
Programs available in GMC
Google Merchant Center allows you to join free programs to achieve better results when displaying your products on Google. At the time of writing this article (November 2022), there are eight programs, but Google adds new options for promoting your assortment from time to time. Currently, customers can choose from:
Free product information
A joining the program will allow your products to be displayed to customers who use various Google services, such as YouTube, Google search, Google graphics and the Shopping tab. Displaying your products in this way, of course, is not as effective as paid promotions, but it can be a supporting element to your main activities. As I mentioned earlier – the program is free, so even if it should not bring the desired results, it is worth giving it a chance.
The most important program available – it allows you to use images, prices and product features in Google Ads. For most people, this is the main task of Google Merchant Center – submitting products to Google Ads. If you do not join this program, product ads will not work properly.
Dynamic remarketing is reminding a potential customer about a product they viewed some time ago, but didn’t decide to buy. It differs from the classic one in that the customer is shown a specific product, rather than a graphic banner or store logo. After joining this program, we get the possibility to use dynamic remarketing when creating campaigns in Google Ads.
Consumer Reviews and Product Ratings
These are two separate programs, but they address the same issue – store credibility. How important customer ratings and reviews are when presenting a product goes without saying. They affect reliability and are often the deciding factor in the final stage of the sales funnel. When you join Google’s programs, it will collect the reviews sent by customers and allow you to display them under the product in product ads. It will also allow you to display seller rating badges on your site. A product with five stars, coming from a store with good reviews, is sure to attract more attention than one with two.
Free local product information
Program useful especially for stores that also operate offline. If you have a stationary store, it is worth using this program – it will allow you to display your local assortment so that customers can see what products are available in the store. Unlike, for example, the “Product Ads” program, you will not need any paid campaign here.
Google Ads also allows you to advertise products from traditional stores – when you select the appropriate type of campaign, local product assortment ads will be displayed online. Of course, as long as you join this program beforehand – otherwise local assortment ads will not work.
Discounts, rebates and gifts are what attract customers’ attention. When you join this program and set up promotions, customers will see a special message next to product ads, free information and local assortment ads. The content of the message depends on your settings, but the options are really many – starting with promo codes, percentage discounts and gifts added free of charge to the order.
The descriptions of the programs sound interesting – especially considering their price. However, there is a small detail. To join each program, our store must meet specific requirements. Some involve GMC settings or product feed content, and others involve adherence to special rules. Still, it’s worth using them, even if it were to cost us a few hours of extra work.
Product-file in GMC
I have mentioned above many times the important role of the product file (feed) in the tool. A product file is a document that contains all the information about the products that are in the store. Each product is assigned in it, among other things, its name, price, description, availability, EAN code, etc.
Where to get the product file?
If you are running an online store, this question should not cause you any problems. Most popular store systems have the ability to automatically generate such a file – whether in the form of a link, the contents of which will change dynamically, or in a static .xml or .txt file. However, if the system you use for your online store doesn’t have this capability, you can create the file manually.
Any tool that uses product files requires it to conform to rules. These concern, among other things, required and optional attributes and their content. In GMC, the mandatory attributes are:
- identifier [id]
- title [title]
- description [description]
- link [link]
- link to image [image_link]
- availability [availability]
- price [price]
- brand [brand]
- GTIN – EAN [gtin]
Some product categories also require other attributes, such as in the case of clothing, where the color or material of the product must be selected. All attribute requirements in the feed file are described on the Google website
Add a product file to GMC
When you have prepared a valid product file, you need to add it to Google Merchant Center. You will find the appropriate option by selecting “Products” and then “Data Files” from the side menu. By selecting the blue button with a white plus, we will be taken to the feed configuration. Here we need to select the country where we want to sell products, the language of the descriptions and the destinations. Then we can name the file to be uploaded and choose how to configure the data file. Here we have a choice of Google Sheets (the file must be properly configured, the columns must have appropriate headers), scheduled download (using a link generated by the store management system) or manual upload (when we decide to update the file manually, e.g. using Excel). Next, we fill in the necessary data, such as the frequency of updating the file (the faster the turnover of products in the store, the frequency should be higher) or the link to the file. After entering all the data, we can create the file – it should automatically upload to the tool. If everything went successfully, the content of the “All products” tab will be completed.
Sell with Google Ads!
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Google Merchant Center is an almost indispensable tool for online stores that want to compete online. It allows you to reach more potential customers, allows you to use your products in Google Ads, and offers a number of other options. It is a tool that is enhanced with new features from time to time – no wonder so many companies use it.
Hi! I have been involved in internet marketing for almost two years. I click on the computer and spend money that is not my own in such a way that it is most profitable for the owner of that money :) Despite a relatively short presence in the marketing industry, I have dealt with the largest Polish e-commerce companies. At UpMore I am responsible for managing projects including: in Google Ads, Facebook Ads and Apple Search Ads.