Onboarding guide

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:

Only promote 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 shop. You're not allowed to use Shopping ads and free listings 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 and free listings need to lead users directly to a page that allows them to buy the advertised product.

Learn more about the 'Abuse of network' policy

Learn more about marketplaces and agencies

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 that you select when registering your product data

Learn more about supported languages

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 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

Bear in mind

You'll need to process returns and refunds on your own. Google doesn't approve or handle returns or refunds.

Learn more about the 'Misrepresentation of self or product' policy

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

Learn more about the 'Irresponsible data collection and use' policy

Follow the relevant policies

Google has other policies not specified 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 that 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 programmes. 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.

Learn more about how to verify and claim your URL.

Website requirements

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:

  • 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 that users are able to successfully add items to the basket and fully complete the checkout process.

Learn more about landing page requirements

Make sure that 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.

Learn more about the product data specification.

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.

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