More Details on Google’s New Product Search Requirements for Online Retailers


In addition to the amass of emails that were sent out yesterday to Google Product Search merchants, here is another resource for questions regarding the new google requirements.

Google Product Search Feed Specifications
Retailers in the Clothing & Accessories category seem to be the ones most affected by the new requirements, so here is a breakdown of the upcoming required changes:

  • Image link – When to include: Required for all items (For feeds targeting Japan, this is a recommended attribute, not a required attribute).
  • Additional image link – When to include: For all items with multiple images.
  • Color – When to include: Required for all apparel items in the ‘Apparel & Accessories’ product category in feeds that target the US.
  • Material – When to include: Required for all apparel items in feeds that target the US that differ by material.
  • Pattern – When to include: Required for all apparel items in feeds that target the US that differ by pattern.
  • Size – When to include: Required for all variant apparel items in the ‘Clothing’ and ‘Shoes’ product categories in feeds that target the US.
  • Gender – When to include: Required for all apparel items in feeds that target the US.
  • Age group – When to include: Required for all apparel items in feeds that target the US.

The new color/size/gender requirements makes sense considering the shopping engine’s recent efforts to clean up some of the search results. But the work required from apparel merchants is quite large, and largely at the disadvantage to smaller retailers with less data crunching resources.

Google Product Search has required that tech merchants submit UPCs for all their products in order that all product match up on the appropriate comparison pages.  It now looks like they are now taking a stab at cleaning up the listings in the Clothing & Apparel category, especially with the addition of the groupid attribute.  Clothing variations will most likely end up looking similar to the dropdown listings for tech products.

How to submit variant data

Google Product Search has specified that all variants of qualifying items should be submitted as individual listings.  In other words, no more parent-SKUs, now they’re requiring all the children-SKUs.

“Submit one item per variant. For example, if you offer a t-shirt in 4 colors and 5 sizes, you need to submit 20 items (if you offer all color size combinations). Don’t submit the master item as a separate listing, only all “child” or variant items. Each variant must have a unique id value, but must share the same value in the item group id attribute. Each variant within the group must have the same set of variant attributes, and the combination of values of those attributes must be unique”

This is going to grow the size of the feeds significantly and it’ll be interesting to see how Google Product Search uses this new info to clean up the shopping space.

Also, bandwidth will also become an issue with the dramatic increase in the sizes of all Clothing & Apparel feeds.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

For more expert tips on Google Product Search click here to check out our recorded webinar with Hubspot by CPC Strategy CEO Rick Backus.

About the Author+David Weichel is the Director of Paid Search at CPC Strategy. He specializes in conversion rate optimization, search behavior research and attribution analysis. David graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.S. in Management Science. See all posts by this author here.