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
The products that you promote in Shopping ads and free product listings need to be available for purchase through your store. You're not allowed to use Shopping ads and free listings to promote affiliate or pay-per-click links to products — except when participating as a Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) in the European Economic Area (EEA), the United Kingdom, or Switzerland.
Links promoted in Shopping ads and free listings need to lead users directly to a page that allows them to buy the advertised product.
Use a supported language
When listing your products, use a language that is supported in Merchant Center.
You can also list your products in more than one 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 language for:
- Your website
- The product data that you submit
- The language you select when registering your product data
Tell customers about your return and refund policy
Add your return policy information to your Shopping ads and free listings to improve the customer experience. Google may add special features and experiences based on your return policy, especially when a return policy or experience is compelling and competitive.
Note that even if you provide your return and refund information in Merchant Center, when users buy from your site, they should be able to 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 relevant policies
Google has other policies that aren't specifically called out in this article about exactly what kind of content you can and cannot include in your Shopping ads and free listings. So before you sign up for a Merchant Center account, make sure that the products you plan on listing comply with the relevant Shopping policies.
There are policies for advertising products with Shopping ads, listing products for free on Google, selling products with Buy on Google, and other Merchant Center programs. Learn more about the Shopping ads policies
Verify and claim your website
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 (also known as your website address), 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 features that you use, we may check your site for some basic requirements which include the following:
- Accurate contact information. Your website must display sufficient and accurate contact information, including a telephone number, physical address and/or email. Make sure that your site provides users with at least two out of the three types of contact information listed above. Note that a contact form does not suffice.
- 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://).
- Payment methods. Make sure at least one conventional method of payment is available to users during checkout. For example, credit card, debit card, invoicing, or payment on delivery. Be sure to inform users of all the available payment methods before checkout.
- Refund policy. Make sure to include a return and refund policy which clearly states how you handle these actions, including all requirements and any timelines. If returns and refunds are not accepted, you’ll need to clearly state this on your site.
- Billing terms and conditions. Your site must clearly and conspicuously disclose all related conditions before and after purchase as well as disclose the payment model and full expense that a user will bear before and after purchase.
- Complete checkout process. Ensure users are able to successfully add products to the cart and fully complete the checkout process. Learn more about landing page requirements
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 a while lets us know that your product data is fresh and not out of date.