Google Merchant Center: The Full Guide 

Over 500,000 businesses use Google Merchant Center, according to Google. The Google Merchant Center is a way to make sure your products or services appear when people use Google to search for products or services like the ones you offer. 

What Is Google Merchant Center?

Google Merchant Center is an all-in-one, single-dashboard platform on which business owners can manage all of their information about the products they sell online, in person, or a combination of both. This information includes product descriptions, pictures, prices, inventory, shipping costs, and more. This data can then easily be used to sell and manage products through other Google services, like Google Shopping and Google My Business. You can also set up Google Merchant Center to work with third-party e-commerce platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce. 

google shopping

What You Can Do With the Google Merchant Center

Through this program, you can:

  • Manage Google Shopping listings: When a potential customer searches for a product like the ones you sell, your goods – with photos, reviews, and descriptions – may appear near the top of a results page. The products may appear under Google’s main results page, and/or under images, maps, and shopping.
  • Keep an eye on Google AdWords: Paid ads work based on how much you bid for certain keywords. From this dashboard, you can track relevant AdWords and their costs. 
  • Monitor Google Analytics: Google Analytics 4 monitors website traffic and what users do on your website. Through the Merchant Center dashboard, you can set up a way to see how much the Merchant Center is helping you. 
  • Keep tabs on product reviews: When people search for a term, the first thing they often see is how many stars Google users have given your products or business. Google’s Merchant Center highlights the 4.5- and 5-star reviews you’ve received. 
  • Send people directly to your website: If a potential customer clicks on a listing set up in the Merchant Center, they’ll be directly routed to your website. 
  • Tell people where they can physically purchase your products or services: So if you are selling sun hats in Chicago, and set up your products through Google Merchant Center, Google will direct people to your brick-and-mortar location.

How Do I Set Up a Google Merchant Center Account?

Like most of Google’s services, getting started is easy. First, you should set up or log in with an existing Google account, like your Gmail account. Next, make sure your website and business are already listed in Google My Business. This means you need to provide Google with a physical address (even if your store is only online), a contact number for the owner, and make sure your website already has a secure checkout process. Lastly, include all product information, like prices, availability, and shipping information. Google requires that you provide this information in a certain file format, like TXT or XML. If you already manage this information through Shopify or another e-commerce management tool, you can simply import this information into the Merchant Center. 

If this all sounds like more work than you have the time for, SEO Design Chicago can take care of this for you. 

google merchant center dashboard

What Does the Google Merchant Center Have to Do With Google Shopping?

If a person searches for patio furniture in Google’s search box, one of the first things they’ll see are products (with images, reviews, and prices) at the top of a search results page. However, your products will not appear in Google Shopping unless you have a Google Merchant Center account. 

Note that despite your Google Merchant account being free, when people click on one of your Google shopping ads, you’ll pay a fee. Think of your Google Merchant account as a vase. The flowers are your Google Shopping ads. If someone picks out a flower from the vase, you pay. If they don’t, and just admire your product, it’s all free. But without a Google Merchant Center account, no one will see your vase or flowers. 

What Is the Google Merchant Center Feed?

A Google Merchant Center feed is one part of your dashboard. It is a spreadsheet that organizes all of the information Google needs to create shopping ads for your goods. This information includes product names, images, prices, reviews, shipping costs, and the product’s category. You can also create other feeds to manage sales and promotions. Another feed will show users how many items your company has on hand to sell. Google then takes the information you’ve added to your feed or feeds to create Google shopping ads.

Note: You don’t create the ads. Google does. Awesome, right? That’s one less thing you have to do. If you already use Shopify or WooCommerce to manage your product data, you can connect it to Google easily to make this step even easier.

How Do I Upload Product Images and Descriptions?

If you have an e-commerce platform already, you can simply link it to the Google Merchant Center. When you upload new products or modify products in a platform like Shopify, Google Merchant Center changes your Google products at the same time.

If you don’t use an e-commerce platform, you can upload your product images, videos, and associated text with supported files or with a spreadsheet. If you only have a few products, you can also enter them manually.

At SEO Design Chicago, we can help you decide if you need a third-party e-commerce platform or if using Google Merchant Center directly is a better choice. Then we can help you get your products into either system. 

guide to google merchant center

How Do I Set Up Shipping in Google Merchant Center?

When people shop online, shipping time and costs matter. According to the National Retail Federation, 75% of customers expect free shipping, regardless of how much they are purchasing. The good news is many customers are willing to pick up an item locally if they aren’t charged for shipping and pickup can be fast. That’s good news for business owners.

What most consumers want is transparency about shipping costs and speed.

Through the Google Merchant Center, you can (and in fact, must) detail shipping costs and times for most countries. But the Merchant Center allows you to easily make adjustments.  That’s great, for example, if you’re willing to forgo shipping costs if a customer agrees to pick a product up at a brick-and-mortar location. Google also highlights businesses that offer free and fast shipping, so that anyone can compete with Amazon.

Do Businesses Really Use Google Merchant Center?

Yes! As we mentioned earlier, over 500,000 companies use Google Merchant Center.

They include:

  • Aeropostale – They saw a 400% increase in online sales within a year
  • Sharper Image – They noted 35,000 free clicks when they listed their business
  • Woodland Direct – They increased their revenue by 5% after using Google Merchant Center
  • IKEA – After the furniture giant listed their products in the Google Merchant Center, in-person visits to its stores doubled
  • Sportline – The Argentina-based sports store increased its conversion rate by 227% and saw a 621% increase on return-ad-spend overall 
  • SportsCheck – Their in-store visits increased by over 100% after their products were listed in local inventory
  • Get FPV – This drone manufacturer increased their online organic traffic by 25% once they listed in the Merchant Center
  • Safeviah – This home furnishings business saw a 46% increase in impressions vs. benchmark categories and a 35% in clicks vs. benchmark categories

google merchant center

What Else Do I Need to Know About Google Merchant Center? 

The Google Merchant Center offers a comprehensive help center called the Google Merchant Center Help Center. Here, you can easily find solutions to common issues, understand how to measure how and if the platform is helping you, and more.

That said, for some business owners, it’s still too confusing or time-consuming to upload products and manage them. At SEO Design Chicago, we’ve helped many companies get started with Google Merchant Center or maintained the service for them. 

We can also help you decide if you should wait until 2024 when Google will unveil Merchant Center Next. Google says this upgrade will make it easier for businesses with large inventories to use the Merchant Center. Still, don’t just assume waiting is the best bet. During these times of high-interest rates, some businesses can’t afford to wait. It’s also unclear when this feature will be offered in 2024. Google has only said, “We are committed to rolling out the new version at a responsible pace that brings users over when they can expect feature parity that meets their expectations.” Having experts on your side comes in handy, especially when Google makes changes to its features. 

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