Follow the Merchant Center guidelines
Before creating a Merchant Center account and setting up your product data, you'll need to make sure that your business complies with the Merchant Center guidelines described here:
- Promote only products available for direct purchase
- Use an official language
- Tell customers about your return and refund policy
- Collect user information responsibly and securely
- Follow the Shopping ads policies
- Verify and claim your website URL
- Website requirements
- Make sure your data meets the product data specification
- Sign in to your Merchant Center account regularly
Promote only products available for direct purchase
The products that you promote in Shopping ads need to be available for purchase through your store. You're not allowed to use Shopping ads to promote affiliate or pay-per-click links to products—except when participating in the Affiliate Advertising Beta or as a Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
Links promoted in Shopping ads need to lead users directly to a page that allows them to buy the advertised product.
Use an official language
When advertising your products to a specific country, use an official language of that country.
You can also advertise your products in more than 1 official language. Just make sure that you submit different product data for each language and that the product data links to landing pages in the same language.
Specifically, use the same official language for:
- Your website
- The product data that you submit
- The language you select when registering your product data
When users buy from your site, they should be able access your return and refund policy. Make sure that your return and refund policy is clear and easy to find. Even if you don't offer returns or refunds, still state your policy explicitly.
Your policy should explain exactly how you handle returns and refunds, including:
- What the user is required to do
- Under what circumstances you offer returns and refunds
- Timeframe in which you accept returns
- When your user can expect a refund
Keep in mind
You'll need to process returns and refunds on your own. Google doesn't approve or handle returns or refunds.
Collect user information responsibly and securely
Be careful with the information that you collect from users. Specifically, follow these guidelines:
- Collect personal information, such as credit card numbers, securely on an SSL-protected page
- Don't sell your users' contact info
- Don't use users' personal information or images in ads without their consent
- Your site's primary purpose shouldn't be to collect users' personal information
- Don't offer free items or incentives except in certain circumstances:
- With purchase of a product
- As part of a marketing campaign
- When the primary purpose is not to collect personal information from users
Follow the Shopping ads policies
Google has other policies that aren't specifically called out in this article about exactly what kind of content you can and cannot advertise through Shopping ads. So before you sign up for a Merchant Center account, make sure that the products you plan on advertising comply with the Shopping ads policies.
Verify and claim your website URL
To ensure that you're the owner of your site and to prevent others from claiming your site, you'll need to claim and verify your domain in Search Console. To verify your URL, you'll need to be able to edit the HTML of your website or be able to upload files to your server.
We have a set of policies that outline site-level requirements for your site. Based on the Merchant Center Programs that you participate in, we may check your site for some basic requirements:
Accurate contact information. Your website must display sufficient and accurate contact information, including a telephone number and/or email.
Secure checkout process. Payment and transaction processing, as well as collection of any sensitive and financial personal information from the user, must be conducted over a secure processing server (SSL-protected, with a valid SSL certificate - https://).
Return policy. Your site must provide a clear and conspicuous return policy to users.
Billing terms and conditions. Your site must provide clear and conspicuous billing terms and conditions.
- Complete checkout process. Ensure users are able to successfully add items to the cart and fully complete the checkout process.
Make sure your data meets the product data specification
When you're ready to submit your products through the Merchant Center, you'll need to format your product data to meet the product data specification. These are formatting guidelines that explain how to submit your data so that we can understand it.
While there's a lot of information in the specification, it can be helpful to read through it now so that you understand what kind of info you'll eventually need to submit.
Sign in to your Merchant Center account regularly
Sign in to your Merchant Center account at least once every 14 months so that your account stays active. Signing in every once in awhile lets us know that your product data is fresh and not out of date.