Google Product Category vs Product Type: The Difference & When to use What?

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One of the most critical tasks in digital marketing is understanding your competitor and outdoing their performance while spending less. In case you want to do that on Google, you’ll have to place your bets on sharpening Google’s Taxonomy. Google Product Category is a crucial aspect of Google Shopping Campaigns, and in case you’ve not paid attention to it, now’s the perfect time to do so. 

Getting the taxonomy right is vital as Google can identify the different products present in a product data feed for a particular shopper query. Categorization of products has been the task of the merchant, and more often than not, it’s been cumbersome. With the latest Google update, merchants can enjoy the Automatic Category Assignment.

This feature is optional, and it allows Google to recognize a company and align it with any future client’s quest. As details get more precise and simpler for each product, click rates will also increase. If the query is highly specific, there are higher chances of results being shown correctly and ultimately, improving the CTR. 

What is Google Product Category?

Google Product Category is an attribute that helps categorize products or objects. The products are picked from the Google taxonomy, and the entire list can be discovered here. Placing items in the product category makes it easier to help potential buyers learn more about your company and what it does. 

Product data has to be added to be published and placed on the Sharp Shopping campaigns. With the Google merchant center feed guide, it becomes easier to create the necessary segregations online. It’s essential to choose the right product category because customers can have trouble selecting exactly what they want.

To gain the best high-quality data for any of your products, you can follow this Google feed specification guide

  1. Use a Google product category that’s predefined – You can opt to select the ID exclusively or the entire category path of the product for submission. Use the product type attribute to define your product category as well.
  2. Use the category that defines your product best – You can pick a group based on a company’s key feature. For example, if an MP3 player comes with particular functionality, its primary purpose is to be an MP3 player like a clock. You can segregate it as such – Electronics > Audio > Music players > MP3 player (233).
  3. Be as specific as possible – If you have an MP3 charger, you can use the MP3 players’ accessories category – Electronics > Audio > Audio Accessories > MP3 Accessories (232). Don’t use just Electronics (222)

Here’s an example to consider –

Apparel –

  1. Product – Skater Dress
  2. Title – Skater Dress – Black
  3. Google_product_category – Clothing & Accessories > Clothing > Dresses

What is Product Type in Google Shopping Feed?

The “product type” is an optional attribute that can be useful because it allows you to go forth and let Google know you’re using your categorization system. While it corresponds to the default category path, the values of this type of “product type” match the same titles as your category. 

The “Google Product Category” attribute, however, works for values that are predefined by Google. As you submit values, they can be used to organize any reporting and bidding needed in the AdWords Shopping campaigns.

For example, if you’re looking to categorize it in the Product Type option, Google breaks down the entire category path – Electronics > DVD Players > BluRay.

In a majority of cases, the product path can be fetched properly. In case you have products for which the path is limited to the “home” default category of the shop, then you can have a “replacement” value, which can be entered in the tag that says “product_type.”

The section says, “What type of products are you selling?”, you should enter a name for the value that is replaced. You could enter “home products” or “home” or even enter an example of the kind of products you’re looking to sell (“Shoes,” “Electronics” etc.) The name makes it easier for you to find the products on your own Google Adwords setup, after which they’ll become sorted into a category where the title becomes the value replaced.

 There are a few best practices which can be followed for Product Type –

  1. Use the > symbol to distinguish multiple category levels. You can also insert a little space either after or before the > symbol. For, eg. Home > Adults > Shorts > Denim shorts.
  2. After this, submit the product_type, which is used for a particular campaign type. As the product_type is entered, comprehend what’s being sold and help your users connect better with the sold products. Work towards also utilizing the values you submit to organize the entire campaign with the values that are of your choosing.
  3. In case you use the product_type to make it organized, it’s best to not enter more than a single value.
  4. The personal categorization of products comes with multiple levels, you must include all of it. If the products are denim pants, you must list the entire string – Home > Adults > Shorts > Denim Shorts. 
  5. You can also utilize the entire “breadcrumb” information. Include granular categories that classify products a bit more accurately. For example, the breakdown Fiction > Sports > Football is just the word Football.
  6. You can also provide Google for values that include a value of the same category supported by them.

Benefits of Categorizing Products 

There are plenty of benefits that come with categorizing products on Google. Categorizing the products makes it easier to help Google identify if the products are an excellent match for a particular search query or more. It’s important that customers are able to access your products with minimal effort, and Google will help you do that if you provide the right details to them. By making and entering the right category, you’ll be able to enhance your chances of being found on Google.

As you enter the right category, your chances of showcasing your products for the right search queries, as well as the CTRs, also improve with time. It’s highly important you make this happen as it’ll help you stand out from the rest of the competition and create an ecosystem that ensures your products come with proper segregation and filters. 

Having correct CTRs on your website increases every chance of conversion because customers have searched for that specific product, and your Product Category exercise made it easier for them to do so. 

If you’re in a highly competitive market, this can be the one crucial determining factor that can make your ads more relevant. With this hyper-relevance level, it becomes simpler for you to bring down the costs of your PLAs and start maximizing all of the profit you end up making.

The Difference Between Google Product Category and Product Type 

Generally speaking, the Google Product Category is a required field for any one of the products that come under the below categories –

  • Media
  • Apparel and Accessories
  • Software

The Google Product Category is highly recommended for all products in your portfolio, but only for categories specific to the ones above. In case you do use this particular field, you will have to also opt for the best category from the product taxonomy that Google offers. It is in the process of standardizing most of the common products into those categories that include better categorization and searching too. 

The Google Product Category plays by the category rules set up by Google, and the Product type is the seller’s categorization of the items.

The attribute for Google Product Category in the Shopping extension contains all of the product categories according to Google’s taxonomy rules. The Product Type has all the categories, according to your personal taxonomy. 

For the Product Category type, Google attempts to standardize all standard products into proper categories for enhanced searching. 

Google defines Product Type as the product category that’s according to your version of the taxonomy. In case the product doesn’t fit into what categories are offered by Google. If you think there’s a category that people will use for your product, you can customize it as per your need, and that’s precisely what this is for.

It can get a bit confusing as these fields can be identical and overlapping. However, Google uses both fields to make the products standardized, thus giving you more freedom to work with the taxonomy you see fit. Hopefully, that’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved. 

To Wrap Up

Ultimately, Google Shopping is all about showcasing the ads for your products to relevant audiences as much as possible. This can be achieved by the Product Type and the Google Product Category, albeit from various perspectives. Even if the Google Product Category and the Product Type aren’t required within the product feed, it’s always better to use them as much as possible.

By mixing it up, you increase your chances of getting more people to discover your product. You’ll also be able to discover a taxonomy that works best for you and use it to move forward in your efforts to deliver the best digital experience to your customers.

About the author

Ra Karthik

Ramachandiran Karthik is the Digital Marketing Manager at Adnabu. He loves to help Shopify stores grow their business with Google Shopping & Google Ads, using advanced features like multi-currencies, multi-languages, Metafields. Karthik has a lot of experience in digital marketing and enjoys exploring new ways to make advertising more effective for both advertisers and customers.

By Ra Karthik