Google has announced very important and potentially costly changes for merchants who submit their feeds to Google Product Search.
As of September 22, 2011, there will be a new feed specification and an updated policy for those feeds in place.
The changes impact most of you who submit feeds to Google Product Search. The key U.S. changes are below but you can find all the changes for each country and region over here.
- Availability: We’d like a user to be able to find your products even when they are out of stock. For this reason, the [availability] status of all your items will be required.
- Google Product Category: We have added a new required high-level attribute called [google product category] that contains the category of the item in Google’s taxonomy (currently only required for a select number of categories). This is in addition to the current [product type] attribute.
- Images: We’re making [image link] required and we encourage you to submit up to 10 additional product images through [additional image link]. This way, you can improve the visual representation of your products.
- Apparel: In order to create a better experience for product variants such as dresses or shoes that are available in multiple colors or sizes, we ask you to include information like [size] and [color] in your product feed. In addition, we require you to provide [gender] and [age group].
- Data Freshness: We will continue to regularly check feeds for accuracy of pricing, availability, and general product information, and take action against accounts that violate our standards.
Ronald from Google said in the Google Merchant Help forums:
We understand that Google Merchant Center users will have a lot of questions, comments, suggestions and feedback about these changes. In order to collate all these in one place, we are creating a new category in the Google Merchant Center help forum called "Products Feed Specification changes." Please post your questions, comments, suggestions and feedback about these changes in this category.
For more details, see the Google Merchant Blog.
Forum discussion at Google Merchant Help.