Although Google seems to expect online merchants who get penalized or kicked off Google Shopping to understand why, this isn't always clear to ecommerce business owners.
Moreover, Google doesn't always do the best job of communicating why your data feed is getting rejected, blocked, or flagged. If you've gotten in trouble with Google, here are some steps to help you identify why.
Got Kicked Off Google?
If you sell on AdWords, Product Listing Ads, or remarket through Google, you need to send a data feed through the Google merchant login.
Google has very specific feed requirements for format, content, and Google policies, which is typically the number one reason merchants get kicked off Google.
1. Does Your Data Feed Follow Google Data Feed Specifications?
What your Google data feed contains and what it looks like are major determinates in why your products may be rejected. Your data feed should follow Google's data feed specifications in terms of formatting and contents.
Remember that if you sell unique items (e.g., antiques, bundled products), or products in specific categories (e.g., clothing), your data feed has different guidelines it needs to follow.
2. Does Your Google Data Feed Include Restricted Products?
Google has a pre-set list of restricted products on Google Shopping, such as gambling and illegal drugs.
Google isn't going to give you the benefit of the doubt if it looks like your data feed has products in any of the restricted categories. For example, a toy gun may be noted as a weapon due to the term "gun" in the product title or description.
Supplements which have banned ingredients similarly can get a whole feed disapproved. Google doesn't always note which products are getting your feed flagged, and there are also ingredients which aren't on the banned list which can get your feed in trouble.
If you sell antiques or collectibles, you should review Google's used and refurbished policies.
Are There Any Google Data Feed Errors In Your Google Merchant Login?
If you are following Google's data feed specifications, and your data feed is still getting rejected, be sure you don't have any other data feed errors. Check your Google Merchant Login frequently for data feed errors and optimizations.
You can see overall data feed information in AdWords, but your Google Merchant Login has a more in-depth breakdown of data feed errors and optimizations.
View your Google errors and suggested optimization's by clicking on Data Quality Details under Data quality in the Google Merchant Center Dashboard:
Under data quality details, Google outlines existing data feed issues in your data feed, with some examples:
Any critical errors here have the potential to have some or all of the products in your data feed disapproved or rejected.
You'll notice that Google doesn't list all of the products with each error on this page, just 3-5 examples per each error or optimization. It's likely more products have the same error in your data feed, so be sure to check the whole thing.
Critical Errors vs. Suggested Optimizations
Remember that critical errors can get your data feed products blocked on Google. These are products which aren't following Google's policies in some way.
Suggested Optimizations, which are also noted on this page, refer to changes Google suggests you make, but won't affect your data feed processing.
Check out this list for major Google data feed errors and solutions including title warnings, duplicate group IDs, and robots.txt errors.
If your Google Shopping account is suspended, here are four introductory steps to take.
Get Back In Google's Good Graces
Once you've made your mea culpa to Google and addressed any feed errors or specifications violations, make sure you reach out to Google. Let Google know you've corrected your mistake and re-uploaded your data feed.
For account warnings and suspensions, Google allows one week to rectify any feed violations, but Google is also notorious for suspect support.
If you're troubleshooting an issue with Google customer support or trying to get your feed live, be persistent and courteous with support. Use this resource for best practices when dealing with AdWords support.
In addition to checking your Google Merchant Login, it's also a good idea to stay on top of Google news through the Google Commerce blog.
If you follow the list above for your data feed, you should be out of Google's dog house in no time.