Why Google Product Category Matters

Dan Barbata Google Shopping Leave a Comment

When you’re optimizing your data feed, do you give each product the same attention to Google Product Category (GPC) as you do to attributes such as titles, descriptions, SKU, brand?

Most people don’t. They simply map their Merchant Categories to GPC nodes. Who has time to classify each SKU to exactly the right GPC? It seems impossible, but it could be worth the effort.

There are 3 major problems that we see with this sort of approach:

  1. You end up in the Wrong GPC. Retailers’ categorization may not be perfect. Unless your own taxonomy perfectly mirrors Google’s, odds are there will be some divergence. What if you’re selling “Hats & Scarves” in a category, and map that to “Hats”? Now your scarves are misclassified, and Google won’t trust you.
  2. The Category is Too General. You want to avoid mistakes so you decide to not map as deeply. Instead you map your “Hats & Scarves” to “Apparel & Accessories.” This isn’t wrong, but it’s not telling Google exactly what you’re selling. Now the shopper won’t easily find either your hat or your scarf.
  3. There is No Category. What if your on-site marketing team has created categories for “Clearance” or “On Sale”? Now you’ve completely lost what the product actually is. Maybe here you can only say “Apparel”.

We can only speculate on exactly how important the GPC is for Google, but our research says it’s very important.

Being Relevant & Trustworthy

If we speculate that Google has some sort of quality score for products, it’s hard to imagine GPC not being the quality score anchor. If you’re saying “Hat” and your product title/description doesn’t contain Hat (or any other indication of being a hat), your score will suffer. Likewise, if you’re saying “Apparel” you certainly won’t get the same bonus as someone else who is explicitly saying “Hat.”

Building Shopping Campaigns

You can use GPC to build your Product Groups for Shopping Campaigns. It doesn’t make much sense to have the same bid for all of your “Apparel” products. At the very least it’s much better to have one bid for “Hats” and one bid for everything else.

I’ll be posting more on GPC and what you need to do to get it right.

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