PPCs have long been using Google Merchant Center to manage their shopping feeds and optimise product information using on the Google Shopping network. Historically Merchant Center has only been available to merchants running Google Ads campaigns. But now Google has opened it up to be available to everyone, irrespective of whether they are running any PPC activity.
Why should retailers care about the update?
In short, because every retailer can now freely access all of the information used in Shopping Ads. You no longer even need a Google Ads account to be able to upload product information. This information is now eligible to be shown not just in the Shopping results anymore, but has now opened up to organic search and image results too. Google has said that occurrences of product data being pulled through to organic results will be based on what it feels is most suitable in each scenario for each user, as is currently the case for rich snippet results. The major benefit of using Google Merchant Center for this product data is that this data can now be submitted in real-time rather than relying on schema markup.
The development comes as the latest in a series of changes Google has made in the past year. There have been recent updates to Search Console, most notably the addition of a ‘Products’ section for reviewing product markup performance, a well as improvements to product visibility via Google Manufacturer Center.
The rollout will begin in the US, expanding to additional countries later in 2019.
“I think it’s great that Merchant Centre’s capabilities are now open to even more ecommerce retailers – I’m surprised Google didn’t do this sooner! I’d be interested to see how marketers begin to leverage GMC to enhance their organic search strategy – with feed rules and supplemental feeds, the optimisation possibilities are virtually endless.”
– Lauren Capon
“Digital marketers have long been discussing ways to integrate SEO and PPC strategy. While several tactics exist, nothing this explicit has ever been made available. It’s very exciting, and hopefully paves the way for more search marketing synergies in the future. By reducing the reliance on structured data, it also lowers the barrier to entry for less technically-savvy SEOs to start having their sites eligible for rich snippets.”
– Pete Jovetic
“Google continues on its mission to provide relevant information to its users. Merchants should absolutely take advantage of this – there’s no reason not to.”
– Liam Wade
“It’s interesting that Google is effectively auto-generating schema for you if you use Merchant Center, this makes sense as it will help to drive revenue for Google and add more value to their overall product. From a technical perspective, it means that some websites who don’t have their schema in order can have an easy win by using Merchant Center.”
– Charlie Norledge
How to set up a Merchant Center account
Since we’ve established how much benefit this update can bring to different retailers, you might be wondering how to take advantage of it. First of all, you’ll need to create a Merchant Center account. This is a fairly simple process and completely free of charge. As mentioned, you will no longer need a Google Ads account to create a Merchant Center account. However, you will need to create a new Google account, or use an existing one.
You’ll then need to submit some basic details about your business, including business name, location, and website URL. All websites must meet the Merchant Center Guidelines in order to be accepted by Google for use. You’ll also need to verify and claim your website to prove to Google that you own the site, and there are a few different ways to do this:
- Uploading an HTML file to your site
- Adding an HTML tag to your site
- Via Google Analytics
- Via Google Tag Manager
Once you’ve verified your website, you’ll be able to begin the process of generating a product data feed. After you have submitted the feed, Google will take a short amount of time to process the data, then it can begin pulling feed information into your search, shopping, and image results.