We recently talked about why you need to have a Google Shopping Feed, and why that need is only becoming more urgent. In case you didn’t read that post (you really should, by the way), here’s a recap. Google is making changes and adding features that depend on a current and comprehensive shopping feed.
Previously, a feed was only useful if you were marketing with Google Shopping Ads. That’s no longer the case. Even if you never plan on paying for pay-per-click ads, there’s now good reason to employ a feed. By not having the one connected to your Google Merchant Center account, you’ll be missing out on their newest offer, selling on Google Shopping for free.
For those of you who do use Google Shopping Ads as part of your marketing strategy, you will know that populating your GMC manually is tedious and time consuming. Google has strict specifications for the information they require from you about your products, and will produce errors if you improperly enter data. If your feed data isn’t correct or complete, they may choose to not display your products at all.
We’ve created a solution to help you manage and automate your Google Shopping feed, whether you’re using it for ads, or not.
Miva’s Built-In Merchant Feed Option
It’s true, Miva does offer an automated solution to produce a Google Shopping feed… But can it be considered a solution if it creates more issues than it solves? While the built-in Miva Marketplace feed does give you the ability to automatically generate your product feed, it fails on several levels. What are the limitations with the built-in Miva Marketplace feed?
Let’s say you already have an active Google Shopping account. You’ve been adding products to it manually for a while now, maybe years. But your product catalog is growing, or perhaps your schedule can no longer support adding items manually. Whatever the case, you decide it’s time to automate. So you turn on the built-in Miva Marketplace feed feature. Miva will automatically populate all the products at once.
When you import your products via the Marketplace feed, Miva replaces your product codes with a seemingly random and nonsensical string of characters. Now, when you try to manage your feed, you’re left looking at product codes like “b2ff4976j43096he9f19caaac0” instead of your logical product code. It makes managing your products in your Google Merchant Center more difficult and confusing than it needs to be.
Maybe the change in product code isn’t that big of a deal for you. If your products are easily distinguishable, and you don’t rely on your original product code to tell them apart, then random product codes aren’t really a big problem.
By uploading the Miva generated feed, it overwrites all the data you already had in your account. On the surface, that may not seem like such a bad thing. The products are all up there, right? Why does it matter if they are the ones originally entered? Well, when your product codes are changed to Miva’s random string of characters, it wipes out all the historical data tied to your products.
Google Shopping takes your product history into account, creates a sort of relevancy ranking for it, then adjusts your pay-per-click pricing based on that data. All of a sudden, your well-established products have been erased, to be replaced with these new and untested items. Your pay-per-click bids skyrocket, costing you real money and essentially eliminating all the progress you’ve made with your Google Shopping account up to this point.
So, you don’t have any existing GMC data to worry about. And maybe you aren’t so concerned about Miva making up random product i.d. codes for you. You are happy to use the Miva Marketplace feed despite those drawbacks. It’s still going to be a huge time saver for you, right? Maybe not.
When you enable the Marketplace capabilities in Miva, while it can automatically produce the feed, it doesn’t automatically populate the Marketplace settings. That means for every product you decide to add to your Google Shopping feed, you have to manually enter much of the data into the fields of the Marketplace tab. It will automatically carry over some of the most basic details like product title, price, and description. However you’ll be left to complete the remaining fields for each product.
It also means that when you make changes to products that already exist in your feed, you need to remember to update the Marketplace tab, and re-process the Miva feed. If you forget, the product information on your site may not match the submitted feed. When Google crawls your site, it will detect the discrepancies and you could end up with errors, leading to products being excluded from Google Shopping Ads.
Our Solution To The Problems With Miva’s Google Shopping Feed
While the issues with the feed seem obvious, there doesn’t seem to be a solution or fix from Miva. Our developers created a custom shopping feed to provide a smoother and more intuitive option. In case you were wondering, here’s what makes our feed so easy to use:
- Auto-population. The feed automatically populates Google’s required fields with the information already found on your product page. This includes product code, product title, description, price, images, plus any applicable custom fields that you may have set up that would fill Google’s Shopping requirements (ie. Size, Material, Gender, Brand, etc.).
- Product exclusion. By simply clicking a checkbox, you can add or remove products from the feed. And that can be made even easier with a simple product export/import. If you have products you don’t want included (ie. items prohibited by Google, samples, sale products) you can choose to leave them out.
- Smarter data. We’ve given logic to the feed fields. That means our developers can apply instructions to the feed to use specific pieces of data already provided. It stops you from having to enter data over and over, and from products going into the feed with information missing.
- Hands-off updating. We can help you schedule a recurring, automated task that reproduces the feed for you. Setting this to run daily ensures your feed is up-to-date with any changes you may have made throughout the day. In addition to producing the feed regularly, it also imports into your GMC on your behalf, so you can set it and forget it.
With this feed, we can help you free up a lot of time that might otherwise be spent pulling your hair out doing data re-entry. Does simplifying your Google Shopping feed process appeal to you? If you’d like to avoid the pitfalls of the built-in Miva Merchant feed, contact Glendale Designs.