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Beginners Guide to Google Base/Product Feeds

In the world of ecommerce if you’re not taking advantage of Google Product Feeds/Base then you’re missing a huge trick.

I know lot of companies who should have experimented haven’t because of the perceived complexity of the system. I know that I was put off initially.

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But it’s not that bad, in fact we’ve even put together a beginner’s guide to break you in gently.

The Basics

So let’s start at the beginning; Google Base is an online database provided by Google providing ‘meaningful structured data’. A user can add any type of online or offline content, ie text, images and structured information in formats like XML, PDF, Excel, RTF and Word Perfect.

If Google finds your product relevant it may appear on it’s shopping search engine, Google Maps, or even ‘universal search’ results on regular Google web search pages.

Google Base is free and products are submitted via data feeds or the Google base API. It has recently been split into Google Base and Google Merchant Centre. Google Base is now used for events, jobs and vehicles, while Google Merchant Centre is for everything else.

How can Google Base and Google Merchant Centre help you?
Typically a search might trigger a small number of Google Product listings, and people can either click straight through to the merchant’s site or browse more similar products. If they browse more, they are taken to a page where they can refine their search based on a number attributes users can specify about products.

Generally the more information you provide about the product the better. Not every company has gone to the effort of submitting their products, so often it can be a great way to get more result page real estate and drive more business through your ecommerce site.

If you are a product-based business you need to sign up for a Google Merchant Centre account to enable them to upload products.

An account can be created here

Product Attributes

You will need to create a list of attributes to associate with your products. Google Merchant Centre provide a list of attributes that can be associated with any product, and you can also create your own attributes.

Popular Attributes

  • title
  • brand
  • color
  • model number
  • condition
  • description
  • id
  • image_link
  • link
  • price
  • product_type
  • payment_accepted
  • location
  • payment_notes

You can also create your own customs attribute, you need to start the attribute with a “c:”

There’s more information on attributes, over at Google

Once you have chosen your attributes and described all of your products in this way you need to upload it.

Though there are several formats you can use, an XML document is usually the easiest (in fact your CMS may be able to generate this automatically, so do ask your developers).

And that’s the basics covered, it can get a lot more complex that that but hopefully this will be a good 101 lesson to get you started.

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2 Comments
  • adamSEO on January 15, 2010

    Great post Kelvin, I’ve been playing around with this in Magento recently and was surprised at the lack of competition for shopping results in some niches.

    Some CMS’ make Google base feeds so easy, definitely one of the most underused addition to improving exposure in universal search IMO.

  • Web-Design-Cornwall on July 27, 2010

    I think that it is worth mentioning that the ‘condition’ is now a compulsory requirement for Google, and that it isn’t included by default in the Magento config – just something to watch out for!

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