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Avoiding Shopping Disapproval - Potential Website Violations

 

A suspension can happen at any time, including years after uploading the same items.  Today, I plan to cover the most common website-related suspensions I have experienced, both professionally and within the AdWords Community Forum.

 


Availability & Price

  

Shipping

 

  • “Account warned for violation of feed specification: inaccurate shipping costs (due to inconsistent shipping costs between the feed and the landing page”

 

Your landing page may offer numerous shipping options, however, the lowest charge cannot exceed the data feed value supplied. Ideally, identical values should be provided, if this is not possible an over-estimation should be supplied in your data feed.

 

Availability

  • “Your product listings are currently at risk of suspension because Google Shopping doesn’t allow product listings with inaccurate availability status”

 

Regular updates to your data feed should eliminate the occurrence of incorrect status. At times, Google can crawl your site before your daily upload, causing an overlap to occur. Further action can be avoided by ensuring this is correct before a further crawl is made.

Pricing

 

  • “Your product listings are currently at risk of suspension because Google Shopping doesn’t allow product listings with inaccurate prices (due to inconsistent pricing between the feed and the landing page)”

 

Price ranges and Multiple prices should be avoided. This can cause confusion on automated reviews. Although a manual review can resolve this, repeated reviews, resulting in the same violation, could result in permanent suspension.

Price should be displayed with no sign-up or membership being required in order to view.

 

Value Added Tax

Each target country has its own policy in regards to VAT. Check Requirements.

Instalments

Limitations surround instalment payments, and in the majority of cases, they are not permitted.

 

Bulk Pricing

If offered on your landing page, the price submitted in your data feed must match that of the lowest quantity available for purchase, (e.g. 1 = £1.00, 10 = £0.25 each). Resulting in your data feed value being £1.00.

 

Currency

 

  • “Your product listings are currently at risk of suspension because Google Shopping doesn’t allow product listings with inappropriate currency”


Most commonly, this will occur if your site uses geolocation to alter the price and currency to suit the visitor’s IP. If this is required, and your site/e-commerce platform supports this, it is best to pass in a parameter to specify the currency. This URL can then be supplied directly to the appropriate target country.    

 

Purchasing

 

  • “Your product listings are currently at risk of suspension because Google Shopping doesn’t allow product listings with generic or dysfunctional landing pages.”

 

You are not permitted to restrict access to your website, regardless of user location, device, language or other circumstance. Each visitor must be able to view and interact with your site. You are not, however, required to ship or accept sales from outside your chosen target country.

 

An “add to basket” button is required and should be both visible and actionable. Your customer can then continue to browse, access your secured checkout, or be taken to an external website such as PayPal, WorldPay, etc..

 

Images

  • “Account warned for violation of feed specification: inappropriate images”

Inappropriate images can be anything other than an image depicting the product advertised. A suspension can arise if your images are compromised by logos, borders, promotional text and watermarks. Adult Images should be supplied along with the adult site selection within your Google Merchant Center account.

 

Duplicate listing

 

Marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy, Amazon etc. submit items for merchants. Further assistance will need to be sought directly with the corresponding company if you wish to opt-out.

 

A catalog split between two or more data feeds can incur this issue. This is most common with fluctuating ID values. Ensure your ID’s do not change, where possible. If this cannot be avoided, it is imperative no individual item is found more than once across all data feeds.

As with data feeds having more than one store, selling the same items is also considered trying to gain an unfair advantage in results, by duplicate listing.

 


 
User Safety & Transparency

 

  • “Your Merchant Center account is in violation of the following policies: user safety (e.g. missing contact information, missing terms of service)”

 

The above warning is used to describe a number of potential issues. User safety, includes all steps in the buying process and is crucial if you wish to partake in Google Shopping. Detailed below are the most common associated problems.

 

Contact information

Seller communication must be available during and after the buying process. A contact form is not sufficient. A manned telephone number, company and email address should be supplied.

Secured Checkout

 

Store checkout and collection of sensitive information must be completed on a page secured with a Valid SSL Certificate. Paypal and similar can avoid the need for a secure website checkout, however, the aforementioned collection of data still remains.

 

Return & Refund Policy

  • “Your Merchant Center account is in violation of the following policies: Return and Refund Policy”

 

A complete, easy to understand return and refund policy informing the customers, if unsuitable, damaged or lost, how their refund will be handled is necessary. Global visibility of this page is recommended. Footer placement is perfect for this, along with your privacy policy.

 

Audience

 

Correctly identifying your items as Mature/Adult should avoid this situation.


Google Merchant Center Settings - AdultGoogle Merchant Center Settings - Adult

 

Fraudulent Items

 

If you are submitting designer items at a low price, you may be believed to be offering counterfeit products. In a situation where this is incorrect, you may need to work with Google and show proof of authenticity, however, this will be at their discretion.

Dropshipping

 

You are required to hold the stock listed within your feed and handle all aspects from ordering, shipping and even, if needed, return and refund of an order. Incorrect identification of a dropshipper can happen, i.e. unusually large catalog of unrelated items etc. If this is the case, communication and transparency with Google are necessary. Purchase orders and stock inventory counts can be offered to Google for consideration.

 

Chemist/pharma

 

Medical items depend on not only target country, prescription & approval status but also whether a registration with the local pharmaceutical authority in all areas you intend to target is present.

You will also be required to register for an approval and further certification from Google.

 

A responsibility to ensure medications which could cause harm to a customer are not listed is incredibly important, so, referencing Google’s help documentation on the subject BEFORE listing your items is strongly advised.

 


 

Landing Page Contents

 

Pop-ups

 

Certain pop-ups are permitted on your landing page, with the condition that there is no obstruction to the buying process. These should be located in the upper right corner, i.e. live chat. Any pop-up found to violate policy, e.g membership sign-up to proceed, etc., can result in a suspension.

 

Redirects

 

Not to be confused with the adwords_redirect attribute. When clicking on your product within results, it must return this items landing page. No redirect to an alternative URL can be made, even if this does result in the user ending on an alternative landing page for the product.

 

Back button deactivated

 

If you do not allow the visitor to your site to leave through the “back” button on your website and return to the search results you will be in violation and risk suspension.

  


 

The reasons found above are in no way an exhaustive list, however, I hope this offers some helpful insights.

 

 

In matters of suspension, it is best to work with Google to remove any infringing items or make changes where required and you will, in turn, build a good, honest relationship with Google and your customers.

about Tom Wilson

I have now been managing, creating and optimising Google Merchant Center feeds and accounts since 2008. My experience has seen me carry this process out for customers in US and UK , with over 1,000,000 items being uploaded on their behalves. I have also been able to work with and help those throughout the world within the forum. Over the last two years, I have now taken clientele within Adwords, as a standalone service as well as that of Shopping Campaigns.

Comments
Michelle R
March 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 9.37.35 PM copy.pngHi Tom, thank you for this very informative post! I am hoping you can help me with an issue I am experiencing but for which I can get NO definitive answer. Several experts here have posted a lot of technical information in response to my earlier posts but as far as I know no one has replied with a concrete answer and I am desperately seeking the right answer. The issue centers around duplicate listings and gaining an unfair advantage. I sell on Etsy and my ads are part of the campaign submitted by Etsy. While researching a current drop in my Google Shopping views I came across the ads of an Etsy seller (a competitor to me) completely dominating the landing pages of many common searches. For example, a search for "red pillow covers". This one seller (seller name edited out) I refer too has TEN ads (as I searched tonight) showing on the first landing page of search ads. Five of those ten ads include the SAME photograph (subset screen shot attached and you will be able to spot the identical photos) but slightly different worded titles and descriptions to make it appear that they are different products. When you click the ad, however, the size and price variants are identical for each listing, thereby making them the same product, in my opinion. Etsy permits sellers to create duplicate listings of the same item as long as you have it to sell. You can basically game the Etsy search system and gain more traffic by squeezing as many search terms as you can in the differnt titles. Some sellers are creating two, three and more duplicates of the same listing. As a result those sellers can dominate the GPLA campaign as is shown here. Before I adopt the same strategy I am looking for a definitive answer on whether or not these ads (same photograph, same size variants, same price variants, different titles/descriptions) violate Google's policies. When I read the policies and philosophy of Google about gaining unfair advantage, it seems to me this shouldn't be allowed.  But maybe there is some technical explanation making it OK? That's what I am trying to figure out. By the way, I did reach out to Etsy but they will not directly answer my question and only say the work closely with Google on best practices. Thank you for reading this far!

Tom_Wilson Top Contributor Alumni
March 2016

Hi Michelle,

 

Only Google has the ability to provide you a definitive answer in regards to this issue. 

 

With that being said, whilst listing with a Marketplace, such as Etsy, you have no control over which items are sent on your behalf, along with that of other sellers. Due to the listing platform, these items I believe are variants, and therefore, will list at the same price and even may show the same image, although this is not best practice. Without the links to the items in question and the relative search results pages, I cannot look into the individual items personally. This would also be the case when it comes to individual seller accounts. 

 

If you have spoken with my fellow colleagues within the community regarding this and feel you are still unsure you may wish to discuss directly with Google. 

 

I would not feel comfortable instructing you to follow a practice of others without first ensuring this would not be a violation with both your marketplace and Google. 

 

Tom

 

 

Flavio F
September

Hi Tom,

thanks for your detailed post.

 

All of the products that we fed have been disapproved and the only reason we can think of is a supposed inconsistent pricing between the feed and the landing page ... the issue is probably caused by the fact that we also aoofer an optional handmade embroidering as shown for example here:

http://www.manimagiche.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=39_41&products_id=6

We cannot remove that possibility and the pricing is actually accurate, any hints/suggestions on how we could sell in Google Shopping?

 

Thanks for your support

 

Bobo Z
December

Please help me, the malicious software I used I don't understand. this is only my source of income if not running then am doomed... 

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