Solving Google Shopping issues can be tough. To get the most out of Google Shopping and Google Ads, you need to consider many factors, including the quality of product feeds, compliance with Google policies and rules, bidding strategy, the accuracy of product data, etc. All this may sound like too much but, with a systematic approach, all of this can be tackled easily. In this blog post, we’ll cover the main aspects that you should pay the most attention to when making your way to success on Google Shopping.
1. Non-Optimized Product Feed and Incomplete Product Data
Your product feed is the backbone of your success on Google Shopping and Google Ads. Preventing issues and avoiding mistakes when setting it up and then pushing it to Google Merchant Center should be one of the main priorities for any store owner.
Feeds with poor optimization and/or incomplete data can lead to the following consequences:
- ❗ loss of potential customers
- ❗ low product/ad reach
- ❗ disapproval of products/ads
- ❗ limitations in product/ad reach
- ❗ suspension of your Google accounts.
Basically, the first two consequences are triggered by minor mistakes and are not imposed by Google itself due to the store’s owner violating Google’s policies and rules. You may eventually get a warning from Google but that would be more of a recommendation rather than an actual warning for doing something bad.
Simply put, you’ll be the only one to blame for wrongs that lead to the mild or poor performance of your products on Google. Lifting these roadblocks is relatively easy compared to situations when Google lets you know you did something out of the ordinary that must be fixed.
So, missing out on bringing in potential customers and, hence, getting a low product/ad reach is usually a result of utilising a poorly optimized feed. To avoid problems, make sure you do the following.
How to Detect the Issue
For more detailed tips on product feed optimization for Google Shopping, download our free guide.
2. Violation of Google’s Rules and Policies
The three other consequences that were mentioned above—disapproval of products/ads, limitations in product/ad reach, and suspension of Google accounts—are usually triggered by violations of Google’s rules and policies. It is, indeed, trickier to get out of such a situation, and in many cases, your product feed is the source of the disturbance. The sticky situation can even lead to Google Merchant account suspension, Google Ads account suspension, or even both—depending on how severe the policy violation was.
How to Detect the Issue
You have to follow these, so to say, codes of law and conduct:
How would you know if something is wrong with your product feed? Well, Google will let you know—you will receive:
- ❕❕ a notification (not that much of a worry but still needs to be tackled)
- ❕❗ a warning (time to get a grip on yourself and do something ASAP)
- ❗❗ an alert (the worst out of the three—something that was supposed to be fixed yesterday before you even got the message).
It is crucial to meet Google Shopping Policy requirements to avoid suspension of your product feed. Here is what you should pay attention to.
- ⛔ Problems occur if your business sells prohibited or restricted products, such as illegal drugs or adult content.
- 🧩 It is also important to have a relevant landing page for your Shopping ad to direct users to the correct product. If the landing page is broken or irrelevant, Google may disapprove of the product or the entire feed.
- 📦 Additionally, your website must have a clear return and refund policy, and provide detailed information about delivery and shipping services. It is recommended to modify shipping settings via the Merchant Center to avoid confusion and override product feed settings.
How to Detect the Issue
So watch out for those but still ensure that you do everything to get as least fun-poking messages from Google as possible. Mainly, when it comes to the product feed, do this:
- 🔠 check if you provided the right attributes everywhere and they don’t contradict one another
- 📥 resubmit the product feed on a monthly basis, even if you did not update it
- 🗄️ don’t create massive product feeds—break them into multiple feeds—and don’t switch items between multiple feeds.
It is also important to note that violation of Google’s rules and policies touches upon not only the feeds themself but all of the data and information along the customer journey, including your store’s website.
3. Missing Data and Data Discrepancies
Data and information discrepancies are a broader phenomenon going beyond the data and information in your product feeds and ads and also include what’s published on your website. This means the data in your Google accounts must always match what your website says, including:
- 🏷️ product prices—these must be identical both in your offerings on Google and on your website
- 📦 shipping and return policies—if you’re not transparent about this or do not fully include it, Google can send you a notification/warning/alert or suspend your account
- ℹ️ product information—make sure the attributes in Google offerings match the information on your website, like colour, size, availability, etc; start using automation tools to ensure your feeds are instantly fresh and coincide with the data on the store’s website
- 👚 product images—your product photos must follow Google’s guidelines and match those on the shop’s website
- 🔗 product URLs—incorrect URLs for [product_link] attributes or the use of redirect rules can trigger problems.
Let’s take a closer look at the types of data issues you may encounter in your Google Merchant Center account.
The Most Common Data and Product Visibility Issues in Google Shopping Campaigns
Products Not Ready to Serve
Google ads can be challenging due to the quality of the Google shopping product feed. To participate in a Google ad auction, your product must meet specific criteria. These include approval in your Google Merchant Center account, activation in your Google ads account at both the campaign and ad group levels, and availability in stock.
To ensure that your products meet these requirements, you should examine the columns in your Shopping campaign. Specifically, you should review the submitted, approved, active, and ready to serve columns. By analyzing these columns, you can identify any issues with individual products and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that your target audience can see them.
Disapproved Products in Google Shopping Campaigns
When a significant portion of your products gets disapproved, it can hinder your ability to thrive in Google Shopping. Let’s dive deeper into this issue and explore the reasons behind product disapprovals and how to address them effectively.
The approval of products is crucial as it determines their visibility to potential customers. If a significant portion of your product catalog is disapproved, it means that these items won’t appear in search results or product listings, severely limiting your reach and sales opportunities. There are various reasons for product disapprovals, including broken product links, incorrect GTIN, policy violations, data feed errors, and missing or insufficient product information.
Additionally, incomplete or inaccurate tax and shipping details can also lead to product disapprovals, as customers rely on this information when making purchase decisions. It is important to address these issues in order to ensure that your products are approved and visible to potential customers.
To ensure that your products are approved for Google Shopping, it is important to address disapproved products effectively.
- 🔍 Regularly review your product listings for any errors, such as broken links, incorrect GTINs, or policy violations, and correct these errors promptly.
- 📜 Familiarize yourself with Google’s product listing policies and ensure that your product listings adhere to these guidelines.
- 💾 Pay close attention to the data feed you submit to Google and ensure that it contains complete and accurate information for all your products.
- 🚩 Continuously monitor your product listings and data feed for any issues, and regularly maintain and update them to prevent disapproval.
- 👂 Listen to customer feedback and reviews to identify and rectify any issues with your products, including missing information or inaccuracies.
Products Not Receiving Impressions
It is common for Google ads to not be seen by potential customers, which can be a problem. This occurs when products are not receiving impressions on Google, even though they are ready to be shown (ready to serve).
- 🔖 To solve this issue, check the product bid. If the bid is too low, the product will not appear in the ad auction. To fix this, consider increasing the bid to the recommended amount suggested in your Google ads account.
- 🏦 Additionally, review your campaign budget. If your ads are not appearing, you may need to raise your campaign budget. Look for any campaigns that are labeled as “Limited by budget” in your Google Ads account.
How to Detect the Issues
4. Messy Bidding and Campaign Strategies
Even if you got all the shopping data right, you still may not yield good results on Google. One of the reasons for that may lie in how you approach your bidding activities and ad campaign structuring.
There are several bidding models out there that you can choose from, like Performance Max, EPPC, Maximize Clicks, etc. Usually, the general approach boils down to mixing these models. Finding the right recipe that works for you takes time but don’t expect that repurposing just one bidding model will work like a charm. But also remember to take into account the following.
- 🔧 Differential bidding can enhance the performance of your Shopping campaign, but it’s not a fail-safe solution. You can increase or decrease your bids for mobile devices, but you need to understand how people buy your products and how your competitors are behaving to pitch your bids accordingly.
- 📍 If your target market is specific or you don’t deliver to certain areas, location bidding is critical. Analyze your market, delivery areas, and delivery times to set your bids accordingly.
- 🗓️ Ad scheduling is also important because there are certain times of the day when people are more likely to shop online. Analyze the times when your products are sold and researched to optimize your bids.
- 🤑 Finally, audience bidding is a valuable strategy because returning customers or site visitors are typically more valuable to your business than new customers. Use audience targeting to adjust your bids based on the value of each user to your business.
How to Detect the Issue
Campaign-wise, you should follow two key principles:
5. Misuse of Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are an essential tool for any Google Shopping campaign. They help to exclude specific terms and phrases that are irrelevant to your product, preventing ads from appearing in irrelevant searches. This is important to avoid wasting budget on irrelevant clicks that do not generate conversions.
However, choosing the right negative keywords can be challenging, as what may be irrelevant for one product could be relevant for another. It’s important to carefully select negative terms with precision and context, and to create granularity in negative keyword lists to avoid inadvertent exclusions.
Managing negative keywords requires ongoing monitoring and adjustment, and data-driven decision-making is important to identify if a negative keyword is blocking relevant searches consistently. Striking the right balance between exclusion and inclusion is key to maximizing the benefits of Google Shopping campaigns while avoiding common pitfalls. To prevent misuse of negative keywords in your Google Shopping campaigns, here’s what you should pay attention to.
- 🤷 Using generic negative terms like ‘free’ or ‘review’ can have both positive and negative consequences. While these terms can help filter out irrelevant searches, they can also prevent your products from appearing in valid searches. This is especially true when you have products with similar keywords but different nuances, such as gluten-free products or books with ‘review’ in their titles.
- 💎 Creating granularity in your negative keyword lists is crucial. For example, if you sell both wood flooring and wood floor cleaner, it is important to apply negative keywords appropriately. Adding ‘cleaner’ as a negative term to the group of wood flooring products, but not to the group of cleaners, is necessary to avoid unintentional exclusions.
- 🎯 In certain cases, using modified broad match for your negative keywords can be beneficial. Modified broad match allows for variations of a term, which can help reduce the risk of over-excluding.