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Is your GMC ready for the holiday season?

Join Roy on a quick tour of the biggest threats to your Google Merchant Center (and, by extension, your Google Ads account) that you should resolve before your 2023 holiday season.

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Especially going into Q4, we want to make sure that’s as healthy as possible.
But the best run Google Ads account can’t do that without having a well-configured Google Merchant Center account because that product data feeds your shopping and Performance Max campaigns.
So we’re going to look at the biggest red flags that you see potentially causing trouble down the road in your GMC account that you can fix now to make sure that you have the best Q4 possible.
The first thing to watch out for is by far the most critical, and that’s any account warning.
Treat them all as if they’re deathly serious.
Now, most of them come with a 30-day warning period during which you have a chance to fix it before you’re at risk of a suspension, but don’t assume that you’re going to be able to fix it quickly and that you have time to procrastinate.
You do not.
Google’s going to respond more and more slowly to support requests as
we get into Q4, and so you don’t want to still be trying to hash this out as you go into Thanksgiving and Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Further, sometimes those warning periods are shorter.
I haven’t seen that very recently, but it used to be pretty common.
And some types of these warnings don’t even carry a warning period.
So you should become familiar with the types of things that Google is watching out for in terms of these warnings, because whether it’s before or without a warning period, you do not want to have to navigate an account suspension.
It is much easier to keep an account in good standing than it is to resolve an issue that got an account suspended to begin with.
And a suspended account is going to cut off all the product data that is making your shopping and or PMAX campaigns work.
At all account warnings are serious business and you should fix them as quickly as you possibly can.
While all product disapprovals are worth resolving, policy violation disapprovals are the ones that you want to watch out for the most.
They can actually contribute to the risk of an account suspension, as we just discussed.
So these are your leading indicators of that kind of threat.
Those policy violations may not be the easiest to diagnose, because it’s not always clear what policy was violated.
So if you can’t quickly figure out what the solution is to fix those products, you’re better off excluding them from your feed to begin with, and then diagnosing them on your own time.
With your policy violations either fixed or excluded, it’s time to look at the rest of your item disapprovals.
These may not be quite as dangerous as policy violations, but they do still prevent those items affected from participating in your campaigns.
It’s easier to sell more stuff if you have more stuff to sell, and these are already items that you’ve gone through the trouble of sourcing and pricing and merchandising, so let’s make sure that they’re able to participate in your campaigns through the busy season.
Next up, you should do everything you can to try and earn a top quality store badge.
Now normally, I wouldn’t be too worried about these things that appear fairly cosmetic, but this is basically telling Google how good an experience are their shoppers, that you would like to become your shoppers, going to expect from you.
So you do want to look as shiny as possible.
Use the shortest shipping and handling times that you can safely use.
Google will use the worst case scenario out of both of those ranges to grade you.
So if you have 1 2 days of handling time and then 3 6 days worth of delivery time, Google is going to add that up to 8 days, which is pretty lousy.
If you’re using USPS, UPS, or FedEx, turn on Automatic Shipping
Improvements so that Google can show even faster delivery times when the origin and destination locations work.
Next up, you need to configure your return policy.
This one’s really easy, you basically just provide it with a URL, and it’s a requirement for the badge, so you might as well check that box.
Next up, you’ll need to have at least one e-wallet configured in your carton checkout.
That’s something like PayPal, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc.
Now, you only get credit for one of them.
There’s no benefit to having more than one as far as Google is concerned.
So, you’ll want to at least make sure you have PayPal installed.
And, if you don’t require a login to checkout, Google will automatically crawl your site, detect that you have that installed, and give you credit for it.
Next, you’re going to need to set up your seller ratings.
These are sometimes called merchant ratings, but that is to distinguish it from product ratings.
These are the stars associated with you as a store, not with your products.
You’re going to need to sign the agreement to opt into that from the account owner, which can sometimes be a hurdle and you will have to make a small tag change.
You’ll also need to meet some requirements in order for those stars to show up in your campaigns.
For example, you’re going to need an average star rating of 3 – 5 stars.
If you’re down around that level or lower, you have other things to fix first.
The domain and the ad has to match the domain that the review was received for, which is pretty obvious.
Your reviews must be from either Google’s customer reviews, which are free, so you might as well implement them, or a list of approved review partners, some of which have other features that are worth considering.
On average, most retailers have to have at least 100 reviews in the country that they’re trying to sell into in the last 12 months to qualify as well.
That’s everything for the Google Top Quality Store Badge, and we move on to the next section, which is GMC Promotions.
This is something you can set up in advance, and you absolutely should.
The main reason for that is Google will get slower and slower and slower about their review and approval process for these promotions as we get into the busier and busier parts of the season.
One year we saw it take a full week for them to approve something, so if you’re only planning out a week with your promotion schedule, you’re going to end up running out of time and not being able to get these things.
Approved quickly enough to actually use them.
The other thing to consider is that you probably don’t need a promo feed.
It’s a little fiddly for most users.
Simply set up the promos directly in Merchant Center and then if they only apply to some products, tie them to a promotion ID.
Then you just use feed rules and your normal shopping feed to give the affected products that same promotion ID.
So you’ve prepped all you can prep, and now you’re going into the season.
What should we be thinking about doing while we’re in the middle of the busiest peak?
Well, the first thing you’re going to be doing is monitoring.
Monitor performance, monitor for alerts, watch for anything that breaks.
That may be obvious, but the point is, you’re not really going to be changing very much about your campaigns in the middle of the peak.
You’ve placed your bets, you’re largely there just to make sure nothing breaks, and pick up the pieces if something does.
The next thing to do is watch for any more item level disapprovals.
Go after those policy violations.
First, as we discussed earlier, but any spare time should be invested in tracking down any other sources of disapprovals that might pop up and then finally, keep an eye on your price competitiveness report.
This may not be as feature rich as some third party price tracking software, but it’s free and it can still give you a heads up if your competition is doing something that you didn’t expect that you may need to respond to.
If you’re not comfortable making the changes to your Google Merchant Center that I’ve recommended here, or if everything that I just told you is totally Greek, that’s fine.
My team can probably help.
Just go to slash GMC 2023 and let us know what you’re running into.
We’ll get back to you as quickly as we can and we’ve probably seen it before.
Other than that, have a great Q4 and may your charts be up and to the right.

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