Google Products is a Google search tool that allows users to search for stuff to buy. Unlike regular Google search, you don’t get listed there just because you exist. You have to actually submit your product listings to Google Products. Is it worth your time/effort? In my experience yes. It’s driven considerable sales to my e-tail business with no cost or effort (once I set things up). That’s right, Google Products is FREE, it just requires a little technical know-how to get on there.
Below is a step by step of what’s involved:
1. Visit the merchant center.
If you already have an account: Go ahead and log in
If you don’t have an account: click the “create an account now” link, create your account and then log in.
2. Click Settings (left nav bar)
a. REQUIRED: Under “General” you’ll want to fill out all the required information about your online shop and then click save.
b. OPTIONAL: If you click FTP it will tell you you can use this area to copy a file from your computer to Google’s server. (Meaning the file with your product listings). This is one option for getting your product listings into Google Products although it’s not one I’ve messed with. If you want to go that route click their “Learn More” link for details.
c. OPTIONAL: Taxes and Shipping
You can use this section to enter details about your shipping methods and where you charge sales tax. This isn’t required information but you can fill it in if you want.
d. OPTIONAL: Adwords
This area lets you link your Adwords account to your Google Products account. If you use Adwords and you want to connect it the process is pretty straightforward, you just enter your Adwords account number. If you don’t use Adwords, skip this.
e. OPTIONAL: Checkout
Only needed if you actually want to use Google Checkout, otherwise leave the Do No Use Checkout radio button checked. If you do want to use Google Checkout you’ll be able to use this screen to connect your Google Checkout to your Google Products
3. Click Data Feeds
This is where you’ll actually start uploading products.
a. Click New Data Feeds
i. Enter your target country, feed type (choose Googlebase unless you already have a feed set up for shopping.com or shopzilla, you probably don’t), and file name (this can be any name you want, like myproducts.txt). When you are done, click “Save Changes”
ii. You’ll now be on the Data Feeds dashboard and you have TWO options
FIRST: Manual upload. This is best for people who aren’t very technology savvy. You create a feed file on your computer (see step 4) and you upload it. The good news is that this is super easy, the bad news is that Google Products listings expire after 30 days so you’ll need to upload a new file at least every 30 days. If you want to go this route you’d click manual upload, find the product feed file on your local computer and click upload and process.
SECOND: Scheduled uploads. This is what I do and it’s more involved to set up but it also means I never have to log into or think about Google Products unless I want to. The short answer to how my set up works is this:
- I have all my products in a database (If you use Zencart or OScommerce or some other shopping cart software then you do too)
- I wrote a PHP/mysql script to query my database and grab all my products and put them in a text file formatted for Google Products
- I set up a cron job to run my script every week and refresh my text file.
- I then click “create” under upload schedule for my data feed, put in how often I want Google to check my text file and where Google can find it.
I realize to most of you that’s going to be some pretty confusing technical jargon. If that’s the case, stick to manual uploads for now or work with a web pro who can set your system up as I described above.
4. Create a Data Feed File
If you are going to do a scheduled upload, you’ll have your website create your data feed file for you. You’re probably pretty tech savvy if you are doing this and can find the specs on your file format here.
If you are doing a manual upload, you probably need to create your data file manually. You can review all the instructions on how to create data feed files here, but below are some CliffsNotes:
Open a new file in Notepad (or another text editor) and save the file as myproducts.txt (or whatever name you used from step 3 section a.i. for file name).
The first line of the file will have your headings for your feed. The ones I recommend are title, description, price, link, condition,id, image_link, and product_type. Each of these headings needs to be separated with a tab. You can use additional headings if you want. Check Google’s documentation to review all the options.
The second line will contain a product. You’ll enter the product’s name (tab) product’s description (tab), product’s price (tab), link to where the product can be purchased (tab) condition of product (tab) product id (tab), link to picture of product (tab) product type.
(Notes: link to where product can be purchased can’t be your main website, it has to be the product page. Condition of product is probably new unless you sell vintage items, in which case you can enter good or whatever you want. If you don’t use product ids just give each line a number like 1 2 3 etc. Product type suggestions can be found here, just scroll down.)
Now you have your file ready for upload. You can upload it using the manual upload process described in step 3. As you have more products to sell, you’ll need to add them to your text file and re-upload them to Google. (Unless you’re using an automated system like mine.)
Once your products are uploaded you’ll be able to click “My Products” and see all the active products you have and how many clicks and impressions they got. You’ll also be able to click “Data Quality” to find any problems in your feed. The performance report will summarize how your listings are performing overall. You can use the Analytics data to try to make tweaks to your listings and increase traffic and sales.
Hope this Google Products Tutorial helps some of you get started with Google Products. I realize this tutorial may have been a little confusing/technical so if you would like help setting up with Google Products I can be hired on a consulting basis to give you personalized help. Otherwise, you may be able to find answers to your questions on Google’s user forums or by doing a search for answers to your questions.
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