In Part 1 of the PLA Series we jumped right into the nuts & bolts of creating product level ad groups within your Product Listing Ads campaign. For this installation we’re going to take a step back, and address some Google Merchant Center basics. Specifically, we’ll discuss how to check for problems in your Google Shopping feed.
If you’ve been working with product feeds in the Google Merchant Center, then chances are you’ve encountered some issues. Don’t worry, we all have. Errors, warnings, suggestions… what do we make of all this? Well, we’re going to give a basic rundown, so at least the next time you encounter issues, you’ll be able to quickly understand what they mean.
Let’s start with how to get around. When you sign into the Google Merchant Center, you’ll arrive at the dashboard. Here you’ll see a graph illustrating how many products in your shopping feed are approved/disapproved.
To understand the disapproved products in your data feed, click on ‘Data Feeds’ in the left sidebar.
Once on the Data Feeds tab, click on ‘view warnings’ next to the feed you’re using for PLA’s
Here you’ll see errors and warnings pointing out problem areas in your feed.
First off, lets distinguish the difference between Errors vs. Warnings.
Warnings- These are suggestions from Google, letting you know that a line item could be improved. However, it shouldn’t be the type of issue that would prevent that particular product from showing up in Google search results as a product listing ad.
Errors- These are more serious and could mean that a particular product is actually disapproved & won’t show up in Product Listing ads. In some cases a whole feed could be shut down. Usually a line item is missing a required attribute.
*Special Note: Our Google Rep has informed me that sometimes errors show up as warnings. So I wouldn’t necessarily assume that just because it’s a warning it’s not ‘serious.’
Ok, so once you’re looking at errors & warnings, you can see what Google doesn’t like. You can even click on examples of the problem and see what the line item looks like.
You’ll get a pop-up window where you can scroll down to the attribute highlighted in red.
This is a great way to get a quick understanding of what you may need to change in your data feed.
Another way to shed some light on which products aren’t working properly is to click into the ‘Products’ tab.
This tab shows which products are showing on Google Shopping, and alludes to which products may have problems in the feed – namely, the ones with a red circle/backslash symbol.
The products tab is not as revealing as other tabs in the Merchant Center, but I sometimes jump in there to take a quick look. It’s also a way to see a newly uploaded feed as it processes.
The Data Quality tab is yet another place to see problems and how to fix them. In the account below you can see there’s a critical error involving 11% of the feed. So approximately 139 out of 1232 items have landing pages that Google cannot find.
This is a critical problem, and Google has disapproved these products from showing in Product Listing Ads. You can even click the download button to get a spreadsheet of the disapproved products. Also, you can click on the arrow left of “Product pages cannot be accessed” to get a drop down with further explanation.
Below the critical errors, you’ll see suggested optimizations. As implied, these aren’t serious, and are simply opportunities to improve data quality.
In this example, Google is letting us know that 12 products have a title longer than the recommended 70 characters.
So that’s a basic run down of Google Merchant Center data feed trouble-shooting! There’s obviously much more to know about the Merchant Center and creating effective data feeds for your Product Listing Ad campaigns, but hopefully this helps provide some basic guidance. For more info, you can refer to Google Merchant Center Help. Please feel free to send questions and feedback our way.