Changes to Google Product Search from September 2011

[quote]Changes to Google Product Search - Summer 2011



Google Product Search strives to help users find and discover products quickly while shopping online. In an effort to better serve our users, we are planning to make a number of changes to the Google Product Search user experience, including showing availability data and better browsing for product variants and clothing.



In order to support these enhanced shopping experiences, we are making a number of changes to the Google Product Search Feed Specification and Policies. These changes affect all merchants. Please read our updated Feed Specification and Policies carefully and update your product information accordingly to ensure that your products will continue to appear on Google Product Search.



Enforcement



We will begin to enforce these changes starting 22 September. These changes only apply to Google Product Search and will not affect your Product Ads and Commerce Search, if you participate in them. In addition to the changes to the feed specification described below, please remember that we have already announced a requirement to provide unique product identifiers, which will follow a different enforcement schedule, and tax and delivery information, which we will also start to enforce in the US, UK, Germany and France, starting 22 September.



Feed Specification Changes

For a visual summary of the attributes now required, including all the changes described below, please refer to this table. For sample files including the new attribute requirements, please refer to the Supported File Formats.



We have retired a number of attributes, including: quantity, feature, manufacturer, genre, featured product, year, author, edition. You may still include these attributes in your feed, but the information will not be used in Google Product Search. In particular, please note that the 'quantity' attribute is no longer an acceptable method of indicating “out of stock” products - you must use the 'availability' attribute instead.



Image Attributes - Now Required Worldwide (except Japan)

Most merchants are already providing images of their products via the 'image link' attribute. We are now making this attribute required. We have also added a new attribute called 'additional image link'. If you have additional views of your items, make sure that you submit them by using the 'additional image link' attribute, rather than submitting multiple images in the 'image link' attribute as before.



Make sure that you submit a high-quality image of the item in both attributes. We recommend an image of size at least 400 x 400 pixels. Keep in mind that placeholder images (such as “no image available” or your store logo) are still prohibited.



Availability Attribute - Now Required in US, UK, Germany and France

We've introduced the 'availability' attribute to let you specify the status of your items and are now also making this attribute required. You have to specify the availability status of all your items by using this attribute.



We have changed the accepted predefined values for this attribute. There are now four possible values that you can submit: 'in stock', 'available for order', 'out of stock' and 'preorder'. Make sure that you read the Feed Specification carefully to use the right values for your target country.



New Google Product Category Attribute - Required for US, UK, Germany, France and Japan

We are introducing a new, required attribute to specify the category of your products, as specified in Google’s taxonomy. The 'google product category' attribute is required for seven product categories:



•'Clothing & Accessories > Clothing'

•'Clothing & Accessories > Shoes'

•'Clothing & Accessories'

•'Media > Books'

•'Media > DVDs & Films'

•'Media > Music'

•'Software > Video Game Software'

You are required to submit the appropriate value for all products that belong to one of these categories, but we also encourage you to provide this attribute for all of your items. You may also leave the attribute blank for non-required product categories.



This attribute does not replace the existing 'product type' attribute, in which you can specify the type of product according to your categories. If you have not already been submitting this attribute, we also recommend that you include your own product category information in this attribute.



New Clothing Attributes - Required for US

For clothing, a number of additional attributes are required - 'gender', 'age group', 'size' and 'colour' - for feeds targeting the US. The gender and age group attributes only accept specific values that you need to submit according to Google’s specification. For colour and size, you can submit the values as you have specified them. It is particularly important that you include the 'size' attribute for all clothing and shoes. We also encourage you to use the 'additional image link' attribute to provide additional product views of your clothing products.



For clothing products which are also variants, please remember that you must provide the variant attributes as applicable to your clothing products, as well as the 'item group id' attribute. Therefore, in addition to the 'age group', 'gender', 'colour' and 'size' attributes, you must also submit 'pattern' and 'material' variations if your clothing products vary by pattern or material, and the corresponding product image for that variant in the 'image link' attribute.



Note: The 'colour' and 'size' attributes for Clothing and for Variants are the same attributes. Please do not submit this attribute twice for products which are variant clothing products.



In addition, you are required for US, UK, Germany, France and Japan to submit the 'brand' attribute for all clothing items.



New Variant Attributes - Required for US, UK, Germany, France and Japan

Variants are versions of a product which vary by size, colour, pattern or material. To submit product variants, you must submit one item for each variant and include the 'item group id' attribute for item variants which belong the same product. Variants of the same product share the same 'item group id' value. The four variant attributes are 'colour', 'size', 'material' and 'pattern'.



For all variations of the same product, make sure that you include the attributes appropriate to the ways that the item varies. For example, if a shoe is available in multiple colours and sizes, include the 'colour' and 'size' attribute for all of them. Or, if a T-shirt is available with multiple prints, make sure that you specify the name of the print in the 'pattern' attribute.



Please remember that the image included in the 'image link' attribute has to display the particular variant of the product. If you don’t have an image of the particular variant, you may not submit the item as a variant product.







Changes to Product Search Policies - Applies to all countries

We have updated the Google Product Search Policies to make them more specific and we have introduced some changes in how we enforce our policies. The main changes are regarding quality standards and prices on landing pages. Read our updated policies for details.



Quality Standards

In order to provide a high-quality experience to our users, the product data provided to Google needs to accurately describe your items and has to reflect the status of the products on your website at all times. We will periodically check your products to ensure accuracy of your product data.



If your product data doesn’t meet our quality standards, your products will be suspended from Google Product Search until the issues have been addressed. In case of repeated violations of our quality standards, your products will be suspended for at least one week after the second violation and for at least one month after the third violation.



We have created a simple way in Merchant Center for you to check whether your data meets our standards, and we’ve put together some tips on improving your data quality, such as submitting your feed several times a day, ensuring that the updates happen at the right time or moving to our Shopping Content API. You'll find the information in this article.



Prices



To make sure that users have a smooth experience when they come to your website from Google Product Search, we now require the most prominent price on the landing page to be the same price as on Google Product Search. In addition, if you have products on sale, you must either submit the sale price in the 'sale price' attribute or submit the sale price in the 'price' attribute.



In particular, this affects membership sites, where often, the most prominent price is the members' price. As Google Product Search requires you to submit non-members' prices, the non-members' price has to be the most prominent for users coming from Google Product Search.

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Do we have the ability to make the necessary changes in CS CART (v2.2.1) without spending money on special mods?