So your google merchant center account has been banned and you don't know what to do.
We know how out of the blue this experience may be especially when everything was okay the day before and then suddenly you can’t advertise your business anymore.
It’s a pretty big deal given the average eCommerce site has at least 30% of revenue coming from paid channels.
We have seen this happen before and have helped many clients out of this pickle. Unfortunately for you and me, Google policy violations can be very generalised and vague and don’t pinpoint the exact items that have triggered the violation or provide much help and guidance on how to fix the issues.
Things you have probably already tried
- Google Support Chat or Phone
- Community Forums and Blogs
- Agencies or Freelancers
Most people would start with Google support centre, and don’t get very far. Then they will end up looking in forums and blogs. Some will reach out to agencies for help. Hopefully not, but maybe, you already have an agency and they're not showing up to help out or take accountability to resolve.
So if you’re reading this now because you're facing a suspension (or worse, already suspended!) and you’ve had no luck with support then we hope the guide below will get you back up and running.
What happens when your Merchant Centre account gets suspended
- Your shopping ads won’t run (ouch!)
- Your Google Merchant account and the product performance history are not transferable and you may need to start again.
The first thing you might try doing is to create a new google merchant center account, our first piece of advice is to fight the urge to do this at all costs as this could result in a permanent ban from Google.
Our top 5 list of things not to do
- Appeal instantly without figuring out what triggered the suspension
- Don't assume your arent violating the policies
- Don't create a second account - could lead to a permanent ban
- Avoid a confrontation with google, you’ll lose (they’ve got the deeper pockets)
- Don't submit more than one appeal
Let’s figure out what went wrong
There are two main reasons you’re facing this issue and that
- Pricing mismatch
- Inventory mismatch.
Pricing mismatch occurs when the pricing on your product page isn't the same as in your product feed. Google has a feature in the merchant centre to automatically update pricing in the feed if it detects a variance (say because you had a sale and your feed doesn't reflect those prices). That's NOT the reason most people encounter long-term issues with pricing mismatch.
The second possibility is inventory mismatch which refers to the stock levels listed on the ads being different to what’s listed on the product page. For example, running an ad for a product that is out of stock. These are flagged as critical errors because Google wants to protect the customer's user experience.
You may be asking yourself, how does this happen? I thought I set up my account correctly, Google merchant center has auto pricing and inventory updates. They are all valid questions, and we may have some answers for you.
Most people when setting up their eCommerce CMS like Shopify aren’t setting up a proper data schema that is easily crawlable by Google. Most apps and plugins designed to help sellers build complex product pages with multiple variants and bundles do not follow the standard Schema.org conventions. Google’s auto pricing and inventory update will get tripped up over this and not be able to understand the product page correctly.
This isn't a small issue and you're not alone, have a read of the over 400+ negative reviews of the native Shopify-Google integration here.
So why does the Shopify-Google integration cause issues in merchant center?
When you use the Shopify-Google integration there is a possibility (strong probability) of an improper set-up in the development of your product pages that may be triggering the account ban. So technically the issue exists outside of the app itself.
Why is this a problem for Shopify users?
Well, that is because Shopify doesn’t translate your data when it sends it to Google merchant center. Unintended changes get pushed directly to the merchant center and there is no quality process that prevents any item being published to Google Merchant Center.
When you use a feed management tool like GoDataFeed, you can create publishing rules to maintain quality and completeness of items before they go to Merchant Center.
There are many other benefits of using feed optimisation software which we'll cover another day.
How do I detect the issue is with my data schema?
Your best starting point is to grab an affected URL and run it through the schema validator.
If you don't know exactly what you're looking for we recommend reaching out for some help.
There are a few other recurring issues for account suspensions that come up and if you are facing that situation, please reach out to the team at alphawhale for support.