According
to the latest Online
Consumer Report
, organic
search engine results are responsible for 18% of the traffic to online
retailers, with Google accounting for 80% of these searches.

If you are an
e-commerce merchant it is crucial you learn how to work with Google and comply
with their rules and regulations.

From September 22 Google
started to enforce its new data feed compliance rules (you can download a guide to these here), and merchants will need to ensure
product information is accurate. We’ve put together the following tips to help
online merchants get the best results from Google Shopping.

Get to know the Google Dashboard 

    One of the best things to do is
    spend some time in the Merchant Center itself, learning where to find the
    issues and building a bank of knowledge.

    The graphs on the dashboard are
    sometimes not a clear indicator of your performance as they are only a seven day
    snap shot. Always refer to the performance report for an extended time line.

    Be
    aware that the clicks graph on the dashboard is two days in arrears whereas the
    product search is up-to-date. With a better understanding of the dashboard you
    will be able to spot new features quickly.

    Follow Google’s advice

      This may sound obvious but it pays
      to do exactly what Google advises as soon as possible, if only to get the jump
      on your competitors. Google delivers feedback on data quality so you should aim
      to achieve a 100% positive response.

      Remember with a continuous poor data quality
      score, your items can be removed from product search entirely. Google gives plenty of warning over changes and it pays to start adapting early as data for some
      new fields could be hard to come by, such as EANs and MPNs.

      If you are worried
      about the data quality in your data feed you can test
      it
      in the Merchant Center.

      Prioritise between data feed errors and data quality errors

        There are two types of errors that
        occur in the Merchant Centre, data quality errors and the less damaging data
        feed errors.

        The feed errors are warnings on the file you have uploaded and
        often hint to forthcoming required fields that will become data quality issues,
        such as shipping weight. The quality errors need to be addressed as soon as
        they are spotted and prioritised over feed errors.

        If you are experiencing more
        errors than normal it may be due to changes in Google’s specifications. It is
        our belief that the data quality score affects the rankings on Product Search
        more than any other variable you can control.

        Optimise*

          It is possible to optimise the feed
          you upload. The first step is to address the data feed errors mentioned earlier
          but there are several other small changes you can make to enhance your feed.

          Firstly,
          evaluate your titles and descriptions and see if you can include extra product attributes
          available in your feed. Be careful however, as you only have a set number of
          characters to play with.

          Google specifically requests that you provide as many
          attributes as you can in the feed specification, so make sure you do so. Ensure
          that you have a named contact and correct email address in the general settings
          so Google can contact you in case of any problems or changes.

          Robots.txt

            One of the most frequent error
            messages received by new customers in the Merchant Center is “Product Crawl
            Issues”. These are sometimes caused by the robots.txt file on your website stopping
            Google bots from checking your products. Ensure that you robots.txt file is not
            blocking anything including “User-agent: googlebot > >> Disallow”.

            According to RichRelevance, the
            company behind the report, the merchants that succeed will be “those who effectively wrap the e-commerce experience
            around each shopper”. By following these top tips your data feed will appeal
            not just to Google but to customers themselves.

            Good luck in implementing them
            all!