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
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
Each target country has its own policy in regards to VAT. Check Requirements.
Limitations surround instalment payments, and in the majority of cases, they are not permitted.
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.
- “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.
- “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..
- “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.
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.
- “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.
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.
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.
- “Your Merchant Center account is in violation of the following policies: Return and Refund Policy”
Correctly identifying your items as Mature/Adult should avoid this situation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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