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GSS expert offering solutions to common issues in merchant's GMC account

5 common account & item-level GMC issues and how to fix them

Marina Schmid & Carolina Fernandez, Account Managers, Google Shopping l Expertise Series [March 2022]

To make the most out of your Shopping campaigns, it’s very important to keep your feed data up to date and limit both account warnings and item-level disapprovals. In this article, based on our experience with various clients, we’ve gathered 4 key types of warnings and 5 common issues merchants encounter in their Google Merchant Center (GMC) accounts, and offer solutions on how to best address them.


4 key types of warnings

Before we dive into the issues, let’s have a look at the difference between an account warning versus an item-level issue. This is very important to understand as it plays a role in how to troubleshoot and quickly resolve the issue in place.

4 common types of warnings, from account-level to item-level issues:

Five of the most common GMC issues

Common GMC issues and how to fix them: A. Account-level issues

[Important]: These issues should be fixed as soon as possible in order to keep your account live. 


1. Wrong shipping costs

What it means:

A mismatch in shipping costs between your feed and landing page.

Common causes:

It is often caused by the wrong submission of costs through product data or on Merchant Center level. If this is not solved before the 28-day resolution deadline, it will cause a total account suspension for the specific country of sale.

How to fix:

  • Make sure you understand where the discrepancy is coming from.
  • Pick 2-3 items listed in the Merchant Center email you receive and test them in your checkout process to see where the crawler might pick up a mismatch as compared to the costs you state in the Merchant Center.


KEY TIP: Advertisers can specify shipping costs at the account level or at the product level. We recommend starting with a shipping setup for the whole account and then using product level to override data when necessary. If you’re unable to provide exact shipping rates, you can slightly overestimate the costs provided in the Merchant Center.



2. Pre-emptive item disapproval

What it means:

A mismatch of price or stock between your feed data and your landing page information.

Common causes:

  • Multiple product options on the landing page with various pre-selection and price/stock ranges.

  • Time difference between updates on your website and updating your data in the Merchant Center.

How to fix:

In some cases, the warning may be caused by incorrect microdata. In this scenario, your data feed could contain the correct values, but the structured data markup on the landing page contains the wrong ones. As a result, the crawler is overwriting availability with incorrect information. To prevent it from overwriting values, correct the structured data markup and temporarily disable automatic updates.


KEY TIP: Check your structured data using the Rich Results Tool. Having a valid structured data markup allows Google to read the product data from the landing pages reliably. This is essential if you want to prevent price or availability mismatches. This tool will allow you to visualise the information that the Google crawler would see. 



3. Misrepresentation Issues

What it means:

The information clients need to make decisions is not accurate.

Common causes:

  • Business address is incomplete, because your account is missing some contact information.

  • Unclear returns policy that does not explain exactly how you handle returns and refunds.

How to fix:

Check your Merchant Center’s Business Information page to see if you’ve provided the correct business address and phone number, and verify that phone number. Also check if you provided the same physical business address (not PO Box) on your website’s footer and main web pages. In addition, you should clearly state what the user is required to do, under what circumstances you offer returns and refunds, the timeframe in which you accept returns, and when your user can expect a refund.


KEY TIP: A link to the return and refund policy must be visible on the website’s footer, homepage, and product landing page. It’s recommended to provide at least two of the following on your return and refund policy page: full physical business address, phone number, email address. It is suggested to request an account review only if you are certain that you fixed the issue in place. 

Overall best practice: How to tackle any account-level issue in a strategic manner

  1. Carefully read the warning email and relevant policy. Ask for clarification if needed.

  2. Make sure the issue is resolved before asking for a third review to avoid the one-week cool down period during which the review button will be blocked.

  3. Expect a re-review and reactivation of all products to take up to 7 days to be completed and 1-3 days upon approval for the products to reactivate.

Common GMC issues and how to fix them: B. Item-level issues

IMPORTANT: These issues should be fixed in order to showcase your whole inventory to potential customers. 


4. Promotional image overlay

What it means:

Your images are not in line with the expected data quality.

Common causes:

All items on Shopping ads require an image with an unobstructed view of the product and without additional promotional elements. Items that don’t meet these requirements will remain disapproved until fixed.

How to fix:

  • Filter the downloaded Affected Products Report for items with ‘Issue title’ = Promotional overlay on image [image_link].

  • Turn on image improvements to automatically fix images if impacted by minor issues (i.e. smaller overlays, watermarks etc.).

  • Search your product data for affected products (using the ID) and ensure each product is a high-quality image without overlays.

  • Change the URL that you’ve submitted for the ‘image_link attribute’, pointing it to the correct product image.


KEY TIP: Submitting a new URL rather than updating the existing one with new content will force a faster fetch of the new image.




5. Fix ongoing item-level GTIN issues in order to activate your offers 

What is a GTIN?

Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) is a unique identifier assigned to each product which helps Google to correctly classify the product and match the ad with more relevant customer queries.

Some common causes for this issue:

The error usually occurs when one or more of the values you submit for the GTIN is invalid. This is often because the value contains characters that aren't numerals, it has an invalid checksum, or it uses formatting that doesn't match one of the standard GTIN types. If the incorrect GTIN is inserted into the product data feed file in the GMC, it will be deprioritised to a similar item with a correct GTIN.

How to fix:

Be sure to submit correct GTINs, MPNs, and corresponding brands for all your products. This will improve the richness and relevancy of the ads shown to potential customers. You must only use GTIN numbers as they have been assigned by the manufacturer, so contact them to request the correct UPI (Unique Product Identifier) for your products. 


KEY TIP: If you’re unable to provide the correct values for the products that are currently disapproved, we recommend removing the GTIN value for these items. 


Below you can find easy implementation guidelines on how to fix your GTIN warnings:

This article was published by Google Shopping (CSS). Google Shopping is Google's CSS and a Premium CSS Partner.