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What Is Google Merchant Center & How to Use It

The Google Merchant Center is the beating heart of every Google Shopping campaign. Here’s how to set it up, and why you need to get it right.


Get even more from Google Shopping with Yotpo's official integration.

Itay Vladomirsky
Director of Partnerships, EMEA

Yotpo is an eCommerce marketing platform offering the most advanced solutions for reviews, visual marketing, loyalty, referrals, and SMS.

For small businesses setting up an online store, it isn’t necessarily true that “if you build it, they will come.” Instead, you need to drive traffic to your store and attract the types of shoppers who are interested in your products.

This is where Google comes in. About 82% of retail queries without a brand go through Google Shopping. That means most people looking for a “blue scarf” or “cordless drill” will start their online shopping with the Google search bar. The top of the search results will have a carousel of products, and the Google Shopping tab will offer the shopper even more options.

Even the smallest retailers can get their products listed, and it all happens with the platform called Google Merchant Center. Find out how Google Merchant Center can help you make more sales and increase your customer base.

What is Google Merchant Center?

Google Merchant Center is an online platform where retailers upload product details so that they can appear within Google search results.

GMC isn’t an online store where you’re selling products. Instead, it’s a listing service that can help shoppers find the products that you’re selling on your website or in an online marketplace. By adding product data to the Google Merchant Center, you’ll attract potential customers who are looking for the products you have.

Products added to Google Merchant Center can be used in two ways:

  • Free product listings are displayed in the Google search window, the Shopping tab, or the Images tab.
  • Paid product listings are displayed throughout the Google ecosystem, and a Google Shopping campaign gives you a range of tools to advertise your products.

Which Google services can you access through Google Merchant Center?

The Google Merchant Center is used for your product feed, but it’s not a standalone app. Instead, you can link it to other Google services, as well as tech platforms outside of Google. Through these integrations and linked services, you’ll be able to optimize your digital infrastructure and streamline operations.

  • Products (Google Merchant Center)
  • Business Info (Google My Business)
  • Paid Advertisements (Google Ads)
  • Reporting (Google Analytics)

The Google Merchant Center can integrate with:

Google My Business

This overview hub for your company lets you set your location, contact information, hours, link to a website, and business description. Registering your business gives you control over the information Google displays, and your company profile can be displayed as a sidebar alongside search results or within Maps.

Google Ads

Formerly called Google AdWords, this is a paid advertising platform that you can use for different types of paid display across Google’s brands. By linking Google Ads to your Google Merchant Center account, you’ll be able to use your product listings in your advertising campaigns.

Google Analytics

This reporting tool can help you better understand online activity. There are performance reporting tools available within the Merchant Center, but Google Analytics can provide additional reports on product traffic including organic and paid results.

Remember that you are not limited to Google-to-Google integrations. You can sync with platforms like Shopify and connect with a range of third-party apps or Google partner services like Yotpo.

7 benefits for small brands using Google Merchant Center

Google Merchant Center is useful for companies of all sizes. However, the platform has specific advantages for small businesses.

1. Ability to think big

Your business may be small, but your online strategy doesn’t have to be. With Google Merchant Center, you have the opportunity to get your products displayed right next to the leaders of your industry.

2. Grow your audience

Listing your products on Google improves your discoverability. Because of your product listings, a new customer may find that you’re selling the best product for their needs. Businesses that have a storefront can also attract local customers through local inventory ads which tell shoppers that you have an in-stock product nearby.

3. Build trust

Anyone can sell online, but Google product listings can give you authority and credibility. Shoppers perceive information displayed on Google as independent and verifiable. For example, if your product listing has 50 five-star reviews, that will hold a lot of sway with future shoppers.

4. Perform price research

Google’s price competitiveness report provides free data about the pricing of similar products so you can understand how you stack up to the competition.

5. Stand out from a crowd

It can be hard for small businesses to break out amidst tough competition, but Google’s level playing field can help you compete. The key is to use every available optimization technique so that even if shoppers don’t recognize your brand name, they’re curious to know more. For example, one of our Google Shopping case studies explained how clothing retailer Alala was able to get an advantage over well-known competitors because they had the only product with strong customer ratings.

6. Capture shoppers with high purchase intent

In a retail storefront, you may be able to spot the browsers from the buyers when they walk in the door. Similarly, online product listings are more geared toward searchers who have buying intent. This is why Google Shopping Ads have a 30% higher conversion rate than text ads on Google.

7. Spend as little or as much as you want

If you’re on a tight budget, you can list your products for free and only choose to implement paid ads where you have the potential to see the biggest results. Larger retailers may try to be ranked in multiple categories, but the flexibility of the platform allows small businesses to focus on the ads that could have the most impact.

How to get started with Google Merchant Center

It’s easier than you think to add product listings to Google.

  • Account: Log in to your Google account, such as your business Gmail, or create an account.
  • Get Started: Go to the Merchant Center and click “Get Started.”
  • Details: Enter your business information such as address, store name, and website. Enter the buying parameters for your store, and select any third-party platforms you’d like to integrate with such as your eCommerce platform.
  • Add Products: There are two methods for inputting products to Google Merchant Center. You can do it manually or you can use a product data feed file.
  • Follow the Rules: Remember, it’s important to follow all Google Merchant guidelines or you risk being banned from the platform.
  • Optimize: Optimize everything including the product title, product information, keywords, images, product category, and feed management. These 11 Google Shopping optimization tips can help.
  • Use Google Partners: Working with a trusted partner can help you leverage technology to improve visibility. Retailers see a 24% average increase in clickthrough rate by adding ratings, reviews, and customer photos. You don’t have to go it alone, though. Using a Google partner for reviews can help you maintain compliance and streamline operations to create easy pathways for purchasers to leave reviews, which in turn drives more sales.