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Google Merchant Center Quick-Start Guide

Providing Google with more information about your B2C products can increase the chances of having them appear in organic search results. Integrate Google Merchant Center into your ecommerce digital marketing strategy to improve search visibility and reach more potential customers.

Feb 23, 2024

5 m read

Looking for ways to get more eyes on your products? Google Merchant Center helps you do just that by showing your products within Google Shopping, Images, and Maps. What’s more, it gives you access to detailed performance data you can use to optimize your ads.

But what is Google Merchant Center, and how do you get started? This guide will walk you through the initial steps, including registering an account and entering your product details.

google merchant center

What Is Google Merchant Center?

The Google Merchant Center serves as a central hub where you can enter product information needed to appear in Google Shopping results and show ads across various Google services, including:

  • Google Images. Listings shown alongside image searches can perform particularly well because they allow users to see what a product looks like and imagine how it will fit their lifestyles. For example, people looking to change their curtains may check Google Images for inspiration and then make a purchase due to the convenience of having suitable products listed within the results.
  • Google Maps. Many people search for specific products through Google Maps because the service does an excellent job of referring them to businesses — both online and brick-and-mortar — that sell those products. You can even use local inventory listings to let searchers know whether the product they want is in stock in your physical stores.
  • YouTube. YouTube videos can show shoppable ads, and the YouTube Shopping service also allows channels to promote products. As with other Google services, the data for these types of ads comes directly from your Google Merchant Center account.

Benefits of Google Merchant Center

Registering with the Google Merchant Center website is necessary if you want your products to appear in most Google services, but that’s not the only benefit. Having an account also provides:

  • Google Shopping capabilities. Both free and paid Google Shopping features can help drive more conversions for your business.
  • Easier Google AdWords management. You can use the data from product listings in Google Merchant Center to create ads quickly. However, the data also automates ad updates, maximizing relevancy. When your products change, searchers will see the new information.
  • Improved ad range. While traditional ads can be effective, they tend to feature a smaller range of curated products. The Google Merchant Center lets people see your entire product range, driving more sales.
  • Improved brand awareness. The Merchant Center raises your brand’s visibility across several key Google products, which can improve sales performance in tandem with Google Business Profile optimization and product page SEO.
  • Access to performance data. The detailed performance data available through the Merchant Center lets you see metrics such as click-through and conversion rates for all your products, allowing you to understand customer behavior and improve ad optimization. Pair this information with data from ecommerce SEO tools to manage all aspects of your brand’s marketing.

How To Register With Google Merchant Center

Ready to get started? Setting up your Merchant Center account is simple.

1. Have a Google Account

A Google account is necessary to access Merchant Center, Google Ads, and most other Google services. It also lets you create a Google Business Profile, which is essential to local SEO and can help you increase website traffic.

To create your Google account, go to the signup page, then enter your name and other details as requested. While you can set up a regular account to access Merchant Center, a business account gives you access to Workspace and shared access for easier team collaboration.

2. Verify Your Business on Google Business Profile

If you don’t already have a Google Business Profile, you should create one next (or claim your existing automatically-made profile) as it’s necessary to using Google Merchant Center. 

To do this, sign in to Google Maps and either right-click anywhere on the map and select “add your business” or do so through the top-left menu.

Next, you’ll need to verify your profile. You’ll have to do this through one or more of the following options, depending on the type of business.

  • Phone or SMS
  • Email
  • Video recording or live video call
  • Mail

Google may need to review your verification, which takes up to seven business days. It can then take a few weeks for your info to update across all services if you claim an existing profile.

3. Submit Product Data…

Before using the Merchant Center to display products on Google, you need to enter information about each item. This is done via a Google Merchant Center feed.

To create a feed:

  1. Click the left-hand navigation and access ‘Feeds.’
  2. Click the plus button under ‘Primary Feeds.’
  3. Follow the prompts to enter all necessary data, such as target countries and languages.
  4. Select an input method (Google Sheets or an XML file).

Your input file needs to organize data using attributes that tell Google how to use each piece of information. You’ll need to include the following at a minimum:

  • ID: A unique identifier for each product
  • Title: Identifies the product you’re selling and forms part of ad listings
  • Description: Detailed information about the product to help Google show it to the right people
  • Link: The product’s landing page URL
  • Image Link: The product’s image
  • Price: How much the item costs (shown to users in Google Shopping and other services)
  • Product Category: The type of product, such as electronics, clothing, or software
  • Condition: New, refurbished, or used
  • Availability: Whether the product is in stock
  • Brand: The product’s brand name
  • GTIN: The manufacturer-provided Global Trade Item Number

Of course, there are more forms of data you can provide through your feed than the above essentials. It’s important to look through Google’s product data specification information to fully understand each possible attribute.

For example, if you sell clothing, you should add attributes such as size and material since these enhance your ads. Likewise, people buying cosmetics may want to know the ingredients so they can check for potential allergens. You’ll generally need to use the product detail attribute to provide these extended details.

4. …Or Link Your Ecommerce Store to Your Merchant Account

Setting up a feed can be a little tricky the first time. Fortunately, you can skip the process entirely if you use certain ecommerce platforms since many can integrate with Google Merchant Center, including:

  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce
  • BigCommerce
  • PrestaShop

To integrate your ecommerce platform with Google Merchant Center:

  1. Log into your account and click the tools and settings icon.
  2. Navigate to ‘Linked accounts’ under the settings section and click the ‘Partners and platforms’ tab.
  3. Click the link button and enter all necessary information.

Google Merchant Center FAQs

Is Google Merchant Center Free?

Yes, Google Merchant Center is free. It helps you organically connect with potential shoppers searching for your products. You can also promote your products through Google Ads if you want to increase your visibility.

How Do I Add Products to Google Merchant Center?

To add new products to Google Merchant Center, update your feed file or enter the new product manually. To do this, open the Google Sheets or the external file that contains all the data and edit it accordingly.

To add a product manually:

  1. Click ‘Products’ from the navigation menu, then ‘All Products.’
  2. Click the ‘Add Products’ button and select the one-by-one entry method.
  3. Fill out all the data fields.
  4. Save the product.

Alternatively, if your ecommerce platform integrates with Google Merchant Center, update your details through that platform. This will automatically update your Merchant Center.

How Do I Create a Data Feed for Google Merchant Center?

To create a data feed for the Google Merchant Center, you’ll need to fill in a few details about the feed and then set an input file to provide data about each product.

Your input file needs to be either a Google Sheets file or an XML/TXT file. It must contain the following attributes: id, title, description, link, image_link, availability, price, google_product_category, brand, GTIN, and condition. These attributes provide the information that determines who finds your ads and what they see.

Get the Most Out of Your Presence on Google

Need SEO strategies for ecommerce marketing and other effective ways to improve your brand’s online visibility? SEO can help propel your business-critical pages to the top of search results. Supercharge your brand awareness and search visibility by combining SEO with your Google Merchant Center product listings. Schedule a free SEO consultation to see how a search-first strategy can benefit your business today.

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