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Google Sep. 22 Update

Jul 17, 2011

As you may be aware, Google announced a set of major changes to their data feed requirements last week, which will take effect on September 22, 2011.

While the new requirements may be onerous for some merchants, we expect that they will allow for a vastly improved experience on Google Product Search for shoppers. We believe that this will lead to improved sales for merchants who invest the time to meet the requirements. By using our feed service, improvements to your catalog for Google can also be applied to your other data feeds.

Google Feed Analysis
To assist you with the new requirements, your service includes a free tool that will tell you what information (if any) is missing from your data feed. To access this tool, log into your Aten account, click 'Manage' for your Google feed, and then click 'Google Feed Analysis'. Read on for a detailed explanation of the changes.
1. Unique Product Identifiers (brand, gtin/upc, mpn)
These are going to be required starting Sep. 22 for non-apparel categories. Your data feed is pre-configured to submit this data. Check your Google Feed Analysis to see if your feed is compliant.
2. Availability
Your feed submits the 'in stock' value in this attribute by default. Your feed automatically filters out items with a zero price, and items with Orderable set to 'No'. Therefore, no change is required on your part unless you want to submit item-specific information.
3. Google Product Category
We are going to rename the existing 'product_type' field to 'google_product_category', and 'c:store_department:string' to 'product_type', as required by Google. This will happen automatically without any action required on your part. Advanced feeds will be reviewed and updated individually. For more information, please see here: Google Product Category (google_product_category) attribute.
4. Images
Google will now require an image for every item. Manufacturer logos, store logos, and 'image not available' images will not be accepted and may result in an account suspension. We have mechanisms available to help you filter out such items if necessary; please contact us for details.
We are going to add a new field called 'additional_image_link' that will allow you to submit additional image URLs from your catalog for each item. We will announce more details on this once it is available.
5. Data Freshness
Google now wants you to submit your product data as soon as it changes in order to provide a better experience for shoppers. We are planning to offer a "Continuous" update frequency option for your data feed. This option will submit an updated feed to Google shortly after you publish your Yahoo store (with limitations), as well as submitting at least once per day. Due to our continuous investments in feed processing speed, we are planning to include this option for no charge in your feed service.
We will announce more details on this once it is available. For now, all Google feeds should be set to "Daily" update frequency with "Auto-Skip" disabled. Note that unlimited submissions are included with your current feed service.
6. Apparel
The greatest changes are for merchants selling apparel. You will be required to submit the following information:
  • color
  • size
  • material - if applicable
  • pattern - if applicable
  • gender - 'male', 'female', or 'unisex' are the only allowed values
  • age_group - 'adult' and 'kids' are the only allowed values
  • image_link - an image of the specific color/material/pattern must be submitted (size variations are excluded)
  • item_group_id - your feed can handle this automatically

See the Google support article, Submitting Apparel Products, for complete information. In order to meet these requirements, you have two options:

A. Submit Only One Variant for Each Product

You will need to add fields to your Yahoo Store catalog for color, size, material, pattern, gender, and age_group, or define default values on your Define Fields page. We will also create a way to submit the first color and/or size option value. In that case, just make sure the main product image coincides with the first size/color option.

B. Submit All Variants of the Product

We have the capability to submit all variations of your items based on supplemental data you provide to us. This service requires an Advanced feed and there is a setup fee of $299. For more information, please refer to our Product Feed Multiplication Service.

Please consider our Data Feed Optimization Service for Apparel Merchants for $79. This one-time, flat-rate service, includes a review of your store data, configuration of your data feed, and a customized optimization report that includes a strategy for meeting the new requirements. Submit a request here.
7. Data Accuracy and Quality
Please be aware that Google is planning to enforce quality standards more stringently. It appears that you will be notified in case there are issues. In case of repeated violations of their quality standards, your items will be suspended for at least one week after the second violation, and at least one month after the third violation. After the third violation, they may suspend your items for an extended period of time - potentially indefinitely.
Legacy Stores
If you have a Legacy Store, you can add the new attributes to your default item type and then populate the data via Store Editor. We can then install a RTML template in your Yahoo Store to export the data so that our system can submit it to Google. For complete details on this service, which costs $99 and includes optimization service, please see here: Legacy Yahoo Store RTML Template to Export Custom Attributes as CSV.
Optimization Service for Non-Apparel Merchants
If you are confused about all the changes and would like some assistance, we offer a feed optimization service for non-apparel merchants for a one-time fee of $59. We will review your store data, configure your feed optimally, and email you a customized optimization report outlining what steps you need to take to improve your feed. If you are interested, please see here for details on submitting an optimization request.
Facebook and Twitter
In order to improve communication with our customers, we will be cross-posting announcements on our new Facebook page and Twitter feed. If you would like to become a fan or follower, please visit our Facebook Fan Page or Twitter Feed.

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