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Automatic item updates

Benefits of automatic item updates

Enabling automatic item updates in your account allows us to update your items on Google Shopping based on the structured data markup we find on your website. Issues such as latency between updates on your website and updates to your data submissions to Google Shopping can result in inaccurate or stale product data. For example, if your most recent data feed contains an item that costs $4 but your product landing page lists it as $3, we will update the item to $3 on Google Shopping. Automatic item updates are currently offered for price and availability information only.

Automatic item updates lead to an improved user experience, more traffic to your Shopping ads, and to higher conversion rates because users already see the correct price on Google Shopping and are not sent to out-of-stock items. Since we’re updating your Google Shopping product data with information found directly on your landing pages, this feature also minimizes the number of mismatches between Shopping and your website. This in turn reduces the risk of account suspension for price and availability mismatches. If too many mismatches occur, however, automatic item updates will stop working and your account will be subject to disapproval.

If you choose not to enable automatic item updates in your account, items with mismatched price and availability will be temporarily disapproved rather than updated.

Automatic item updates isn’t a replacement for your feeds or for regular updates of your product data. It is designed to fix small problems with your price and/or availability accuracy for a small percent of your items. You should continue to provide accurate product data to Google Shopping frequently as we will not be able to cover all of your items with automatic item updates.

Please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any updates performed; however, we've designed various checks and safeguards for this feature to prevent incorrect updates. For more details please refer to the troubleshooting section below. Please also review our landing page content and pricing and payments policies for details on accepted pricing models for Google Shopping and requirements for the data on your product landing pages.

Example automatic item update

In the image below, you can see when we update the price and availability of an item, using price information and a .txt data feed for this example. When you upload an item (green icon) with a price of $1, a Google Shopping user (blue icon) will see this price. If we find a price mismatch after your upload, we will update the price of the item automatically. In this example, we find a price of $2 on your website, which doesn't match the price provided in your most recent data submission. From this point on, the user will see $2 as the price of the item. The next feed upload (time B) will overwrite this update and the user will now see a price of $3.

Getting started with automatic item updates

1. Implement valid structured data on your landing pages

The first step to getting started with automatic item updates is ensuring that you have valid structured data on your item’s landing pages. If your landing pages don’t contain any structured data, or the structured data markup is not valid, we won’t be able to start updating items automatically and the item will be subject to temporary item disapprovals. Learn more about getting started with structured data.

2. Enable automatic item updates in your Merchant Center account

You can enable automatic item updates by visiting the Automatic item updates section in the 3-dot icon dropdown in your Merchant Center account. You’ll be able to pick from the following attributes for updates:

  • Price only
  • Availability only
  • Price and availability

If you choose to update availability information, we will update items that are out of stock on your website but in stock on Google Shopping. You will also have a second option to select if you want to use automatic updates for items that are out of stock on Google Shopping but in stock on your website.

Note: If your Merchant Center account is configured as a multi-client account, by default each sub-account will use the settings of the parent account. Sub-accounts can also select the option to specify their own settings.

3. Review items that have been updated

You can view the current status of automatic item updates on the Automatic item updates section of your account if you’ve enabled this feature. You can also find all items that were recently updated automatically in the downloadable report available in the Diagnostics page under Products.

Troubleshooting issues with automatic item updates

In order to ensure that updates are done correctly, we may temporarily stop updating items automatically if we detect an error. You can view these errors in the Diagnostics page under Products in your account. Once all of the errors are fixed, we’ll start updating items automatically.

Be aware that we need to access your product landing pages and extract structured data markup information successfully before the the issues in the report can be resolved. This may take a couple of weeks.

The errors below will result in a temporary stop of automatic item updates:

Insufficient match of structured data and Google Shopping product data

We require a minimum match level between the product data you submit to Google Shopping and the structured on your landing pages. If this data differs too often, we stop updating items automatically until the match level has reached the required minimum. To improve the match rate we recommend you provide more frequent updates of your Google Shopping product data.

Note: We often see price mismatches due to sales prices. When a product is available at a discounted price this needs to be reflected in the structured data and in your product data on Google Shopping. Another common source of mismatches are price ranges and variants. If there are multiple variants shown on the landing page, you can use the 'id' or 'gtin' attribute to specify which variant a price corresponds to.

Incorrect structured data markup

In order to ensure that updates are done correctly, we compare the user-visible information on your product landing pages to your structured data for a sample of offers. If we find a mismatch, we stop updating items automatically. Please review the landing pages of the listed examples and ensure that they contain valid structured data markup. The Structured Data Testing Tool can help you debug any issues.

The errors below will prevent us from updating items automatically, so the feature won’t be available for your account:

Missing structured data

If your product landing pages do not contain any structured data, we cannot update items automatically.

Invalid structured data

If your product landing pages have invalid price and/or availability information in the structured data markup, we cannot update items automatically. Please go through the listed examples and ensure that they contain valid structured data. The Structured Data Testing Tool can help you debug any issues.

The error below will significantly reduce the scale at which we’ll be able to update items automatically:

Limited crawling capacity provided

Automatic item updates rely on our ability to access your product landing pages frequently to provide updates in a timely manner. Google Search Console allows you to control the rate at which Google is crawling your web site. These settings will also be used for your landing pages provided to Google Shopping.

On the server side, we recommend treating requests from Google (user agent 'GoogleBot' and 'AdsBot') like requests from regular users and not apply any throttling of requests.

Reverting an automatic update

You can revert a specific automatic update by uploading your product data again.

To revert all past updates and prevent future ones, you can disable automatic item updates by selecting “Do not update price and availability information” in the Automatic item updates section.

Limitations of automatic item updates

We won’t be able to update items effectively in all instances depending on the frequency of price and availability updates on your web site. As a rule of thumb, automatic item updates won't be very effective if the price or availability of the majority of the items on your website is updated multiple times per day. This includes, for example, scenarios where prices are regularly updated based on currency exchange rates. In these cases we recommend that you use the Content API to update your product data.

Advanced: Accounting for site latency

One of the causes of inaccurate or stale product data is latency, which is the time between updates on your website and updates to the product data you submit to Google Shopping. We’ve factored in this latency period to automatic item updates.

The image below depicts how latency may impact how we update your items automatically, using price information and a .txt data feed for this example. The yellow bar represents a latency period before a feed upload. Let’s say you have an item that is displaying to the user at $3. We then detect a price mismatch within a latency period (time C). A user will now see a price of $4 even after a feed upload has provided a price of $5 because the detection of the mismatch happened within the latency period of this feed upload. The next feed upload (time D) will then change the price to $6 because the detection of the mismatch didn't occur within the latency period of this feed upload.

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