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In this help center, you can find content for both Merchant Center Next and the classic Merchant Center experience. Look for the logo at the top of each article to make sure you're using the article for the Merchant Center version that applies to you. 

Abuse of the free listings network

A custom icon for Merchant Center Classic and Merchant Center Next.

This policy applies to free listings. Learn more about Shopping ads policies.

Our policy

Google wants free listings to be useful, varied, relevant and safe for customers, so we don’t allow any of the following:

  • Malicious content
  • Sites that offer little unique value to customers and are focused on traffic generation
  • Retailers who try to gain an unfair advantage in ranking
  • Retailers who try to bypass our review processes

All of our policies are crafted to protect a high quality user experience, and we have enforcement systems and processes to stop content that falls below these standards from being shown to customers. We take any attempts to trick or circumvent our review processes very seriously, so play fair.

Examples of what's not allowed

Malicious software

“Malware” is software that aims to harm or get unapproved access to a computer, device, or network. 

These requirements apply to your listings and any software that your site or app either hosts or links to, regardless of whether the software is promoted through the Google network. The following is not allowed:

Intentional distribution of malicious software or "malware" that may harm or gain unauthorized access to a computer, device, or network
Examples (non-exhaustive):
  • Computer viruses, ransomware, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, keyloggers, dialers, spyware, rogue security software, and other malicious programs or apps
  • Forced redirects, e.g. redirecting customers to an unknown site infected with malicious software without the customer actually clicking on the listing
  • HTML5 ad stealing user credentials from a publisher’s page
Compromised sites

A compromised site refers to a site or destination whose code has been manipulated to act in ways that benefit a third party without the knowledge of the site or destination’s owner or operator, and often in a way that harms the site’s users. The following scenarios would lead to disapproval for Compromised Site:

Destinations which are hijacked and hacked
Examples (non-exhaustive):
  • Sites injecting scripts or code that transmits customer data without consent, e.g. a credit card skimmer, installing malware on end user devices, launching pop-up ads, redirecting customers to other websites, and doing things with customer data without the end user’s consent; operating a website using a content management system with known security vulnerabilities, where it has been exploited.
Unwanted software

Any software that your site or app hosts (or links to) should provide a positive experience for customers. Google’s Unwanted Software policy addresses characteristics of software that are potentially harmful to the customer experience.

The following scenarios would lead to disapproval for Unwanted Software:

There is no clear description of the product in your listing or a landing page
Examples (non-exhaustive):
  • No information about the product type (app, extension, software) in the listing or landing page; failure to be transparent about the functionality that the software provides; description of the functionality of the software differs from the actual functionality.

Failing to disclose the full implications of installing the software to the user

Examples (non-exhaustive):

  • Making system changes or changes to the browser settings without the user’s consent and knowledge; making it difficult for users to disable or uninstall the software; failing to include Terms of Service or an End User License Agreement; bundling software or applications without the user’s knowledge; transmitting private information without the user’s knowledge
Low-value content
Products that are designed for the primary purpose of showing ads or promotional content
  • Examples: Driving traffic (through “arbitrage” or otherwise) to destinations with more ads than original content, little or no original content, or excessive advertising
Sites that don't give all customers a way to complete the purchase of a product
Content that's replicated from another source without adding value such as original content or more functionality
  • Examples: Mirroring, framing, or scraping content from another source
Landing pages that are solely designed to send customers elsewhere
Gaining an unfair advantage
Using the Google network to gain an unfair traffic advantage in Shopping campaigns
  • Examples: Clicks or impressions generated by a market participant clicking their own listings, automated clicking tools or traffic sources, robots, or other deceptive software; duplicate listings
Gaming the Google network
Engaging in practices that attempt to circumvent or interfere with Google’s systems and processes
  • Examples: Cloaking; use of dynamic DNS to switch page or product; manipulating product data or site content in order to bypass our automated system checks; restricting crawler access to your landing pages. Learn more about Google search essentials

What you can do

Here's what you can do if your product is disapproved or if your Merchant Center account is impacted:

Product disapproval

Products that don't comply with our policies may be disapproved. When a product is disapproved, it won't be eligible to serve. 

  1. Read our policies to learn what we don't allow.
  2. Update your website. If your ad or listing leads to content that violates a policy, update your website to meet the requirements and be in compliance with our policies.
  3. Remove the violating products from your product data. You’ll receive an email with details about the violation. 
    • If you have products in your product data that violate the policy (or policies), you'll need to remove the offers from your feed.
  4. Update your product data in Merchant Center. If you created a schedule for automatic uploads, update your product data manually or wait for your product data to be automatically updated before requesting any reviews.
  5. Request a review of your products or appeal the decision taken on this issue.
    • If the violating products are removed, you won't need to request a review or take any additional action.
    • If you fix your product-level issues by editing your product data via your chosen upload method (such as a file) or directly in Merchant Center, your products will be re-reviewed.
    • For certain issues, you can disagree with the issue but you may need to complete additional steps such as provide an appeal reason and/or upload required documentation.
    • If you use a third-party platform to list your products, you can refer to your third-party if you want to request a review. You won’t be able to do this in Merchant Center.
    • If a review or appeal is successful, the issue will disappear from Merchant Center.
Account disapproval

For most violations, we'll send you a warning email detailing the policy violation and give you 7 or 28 calendar days to fix your issue.

  1. Read our policies to learn what we don't allow.
  2. Update your website. If your ad or listing leads to content that violates a policy, update your website to meet the requirements and be in compliance with our policies.
  3. Remove any violating products from your product data. You’ll receive an email with details about the violation. If you have products in your product data that violate the policy (or policies) you'll need to remove the offers from your feed.
  4. Update your data in Merchant Center.
    • Review your account and submit any missing information or complete any unfinished steps.
    • If you created a schedule for automatic uploads, update your product data manually or wait for your product data to be automatically updated before requesting any reviews.
  5. Request a review of your account or appeal the decision taken on this issue.
    • If your account is still within the warning period, it will automatically be reviewed again at the end of the warning period. If the violating products are removed, you won't need to request an account review or take any additional action.
    • If your account is suspended and you've taken actions to resolve the issue, request an account review.
    • For certain issues, you can disagree with the issue but you may need to complete additional steps such as provide an appeal reason and/or upload required documentation.
    • If you use a third-party platform to list your products, you can refer to your third-party if you want to request a review. You won’t be able to do this in Merchant Center.

Note: Account reviews typically take 7 business days, but may take longer for complex reviews. If you remove violating products, the warning will be removed. If a review or appeal is successful, the issue will disappear from Merchant Center. In the case of account suspension, we will approve the account and allow products to be displayed again.

Account issue that limits product visibility

Your account has an issue and is operating with reserved functionality, therefore your products have limited visibility. An email was sent with a notice on what to do and the steps needed to resolve your account issue.

  1. Read our policies to learn more about our requirements.
  2. Update your website. If your ad or listing leads to content that violates a policy, update your website to meet the requirements and be in compliance with our policies.
  3. Fix any other open policy violation in your account. Review your products and your account details.
    • If products aren’t supported, remove them from your feed.
    • If account details are missing, complete them in Merchant Center.
  4. Request a review of your account or appeal the decision taken on this issue.
    • If your Merchant Center account is still within the warning period for certain policies, it will automatically be reviewed again at the end of the warning period.
    • If your account is affected and you've resolved the issue, request a Merchant Center account review.
    • For certain issues, you can disagree with the issue but you may need to complete additional steps such as provide an appeal reason and/or upload required documentation.
    • If you use a third-party platform to list your products, you can refer to your third-party if you want to request a review. You won’t be able to do this in Merchant Center.

Note: Account reviews typically take 7 business days, but may take longer for complex reviews. If you remove violating products, the warning will be removed. If a review or appeal is successful, the issue will disappear from Merchant Center. In the case of account suspension, we will approve the account and allow products to be displayed again.

 
To ensure a safe and positive experience for customers, Google requires that retailers and market participants comply with all applicable laws and regulations in addition to our policies. It's important that you familiarize yourself with and keep up to date on these requirements for the place where your business operates, as well as for any other places your listings are shown. When we find content that violates these requirements, we may block it from appearing. In cases of repeated or egregious violations, we may ban you from listing content with us.

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