Main reasons why Google Merchant Center gets blocked
Google Merchant Center is a service you need to run your Shopping ad campaigns. It is where sellers post information about their products, their availability, terms, and cost of delivery. This data is what makes up a Google Shopping ad.
Since sellers can independently enter and edit all information about their products, Google closely monitors its accuracy, relevance, and compliance with the requirements for advertisers. If the requirements are not met correctly or the algorithm reveals a discrepancy between the data in the Merchant Center and on the seller’s website, the entire account or individual products may be blocked. In this case, the advertisement will not be displayed.
To protect advertisers from unforeseen situations, we will tell you about the main reasons for blocking Google Merchant Center and further actions if your account is already blocked.
Prohibited content in Merchant Center
Certain types of products are prohibited from advertising on Google. That is, the system will not allow the following categories to be listed in Merchant Center:
- Fake items, replicas of famous brands
- Arms and ammunition
- Explosives and pyrotechnic products
- Narcotic substances
- Tobacco products
- Software for hacking, creating forged documents, fraud
Some categories are not directly prohibited but subject to restrictions. Ads can only be shown if all conditions are met in accordance with the legislation of the target country, as well as taking into account the age of the targeting users. Here is a list of these categories:
- Adult content
- Medical topics
- Political content
- Copyright content
Restrictions may vary depending on the products promoted and target countries. Before you list any Restricted Content items on Merchant Center, please make sure they meet all the requirements.
Basic rules and mistakes when creating an account
Even at the stage of registering a Google Merchant account, you can face problems. To avoid them, the site must meet the following requirements:
- The site uses HTTPS
- The correct contact information is provided
- Payment is available both online and in cash on delivery
- Terms of payment and returns are described in detail
When creating an account, you will need to confirm the rights to the site. This can be done by connecting your Merchant Center account to your Tag Manager or Analytics account if you have one. If not, you will have to add a unique HTML code to the site.
After that, correctly indicate the name of the store. Please note that the title will be visible to customers in the ad. Also, it should not contain special characters or the form of ownership of the company. For example, the reason for blocking may be the indication in the name of LLC, FLP, Inc, GmbH, etc.
If any of the registration rules are not met, the account may be blocked.
Mistakes when adding product details
When the account is set up, you can start filling it. To do this, you need to create a data feed, i.e. a file with information about your range of products. The feed should consist of a list of required attributes and their values. The following attributes are required for absolutely all products:
- Unique ID
- Brief description
- Product URL on the site
- Product image URL
For some product groups, the list of required attributes may be larger. For example, for items of clothing, you need to indicate the sex.
If at least one of the required attributes is not specified, trade ads will not be displayed.
Mistakes with GTIN/MPN
GTIN (Global Trade Item Numbers) is a unique code for marking and accounting for logistic units. It is usually listed next to the barcode on the product package. The code contains information about the product and its origin, which helps Google systems to correctly identify it. This attribute is required, that is, without it, products will not be eligible for display.
GTINs are of different types depending on the type and country of origin of the product. Most often, the code contains 13 characters but has exceptions in some countries. In Europe, the code is called EAN or GTIN-13. In North America – UPC, aka GTIN-12. In Japan – JAN. And if we talk about specific products, the books use a code called ISBN.
If for some reason there is no GTIN, instead of it you must specify the product manufacturer’s code, MPN (Manufacturer Part Number). This code can contain any number of characters, as manufacturers generate it at their discretion. For example, according to the in-house rules of the company.
The data feed must include either GTIN or MPN if the first is missing. For the entire range of products, it is imperative to prescribe the value of this attribute.
Inconsistent information about products
If Google notices inconsistent data between your site and your feed, it may block products from displaying. Often such problems arise with the “price” attribute. On the landing page of the product, as well as at the stage of the cart, the cost of the product must match the one that you specified in the feed. Sellers can deliberately set a lower price in the feed because it will be displayed in the ad. But if the price in the ad differs from the actual price on the site, the user is unlikely to make a purchase. In this case, the seller will waste the advertising budget on clicks and will not succeed. And since Google is not interested in losing advertisers, the system blocks products with discrepancies to avoid loss of the advertising budget.
Mistakes regarding inconsistent data most often concern the following attributes:
- Availability (in stock, on request, etc.)
- Condition of products (new, used)
- Shipping cost
- Tax, if any
- Language (data in the feed must be in the same language as the landing pages with products)
If you encounter blocking due to data inconsistencies, simply correct the information about the products in the feed exactly with the actual price on the site, availability, etc.
The image is a must-have element in the Shopping ads, therefore, the product will not be displayed without it. To add an image, you need to add a link to it in the data feed. Problems can arise in the following cases:
- Image scanning blocked by robots.txt
- Logos, watermarks, calls to action, and other overlays added onto the image
- Invalid link. For example, if it contains spaces or characters. Spaces in the reference should be replaced with “% 20”, and the “&” character with “% 26”
To avoid problems, upload high-quality images to the site that clearly show your product. Such images will save you from blocking products in Merchant Center, and will also be more attractive to potential customers, which directly affects sales.
Delivery information problems
Google Merchant requires merchants to provide targeted shipping within the country of sale. In the delivery settings, specify its cost and terms. If you deliver goods free of charge, enter “0” in the “cost” field. If free delivery is possible only for a certain amount, write it down in the appropriate field.
It is important to describe the delivery information as detailed as possible and make it coincide with the actual conditions that the buyer sees when placing an order.
What to do if your account is already blocked
You can find out the reason for blocking in the Diagnostics section inside the Merchant Center. This report provides data on product-, feed-, or account-related issues by tabs. There you will find the reason for the blocking, and when it is eliminated, you can submit a request to unblock your account in the same menu.
If you have fixed all the issues but the unblock request was rejected, please contact Google technical support to clarify the situation. Consult the support via online chat or email by filling out the form in Help Center.
If however the problem is too specific and you cannot find a solution, please contact us for help! We have already encountered the blocking of our Merchant Center account at Well Web Marketing and will find a solution. We will also help you optimize your account for maximum advertising efficiency and successful sales.