In simple words, Google Shopping feed taxonomy refers to the list of categories into which Google distributes and places the products you upload onto your Google Shopping product feed. It is the system of classification and categorization employed by Google for all product feeds on Google Shopping which is why it is called the Google Shopping feed taxonomy.
Taxonomy generally refers to such systems of classification in the field of biology. This Google product category list has around six thousand entries of different product categories. While the manual classification of products was required in the past, Google now offers an automated categorization process.
Google product categories under the Google Shopping taxonomy enable Google to understand precisely what you are selling and when and to whom advertisements to your products can be displayed in response to relevant search queries.
Google Shopping feed taxonomy in detail
Google Shopping feed taxonomy files for download
While Google Shopping has now automated the process of departmentalizing products on a product feed, this automated process can still be circumvented by using the ‘google_product_category’ attribute in your feed.
However, the product type data you are submitting to Google Shopping must conform to the exhaustive list of product types recognized by Google. The latest version of the Google Shopping feed taxonomy text file can be downloaded from here.
For more straightforward navigation through Microsoft Excel, you can download the Google product category list in excel format here.
Note that the Google product category list is available in different languages. Scroll down to the bottom of the Merchant Centre Help page dealing with the ‘google_product_category’ attribute and choose your preferred language. Doing so will update the files as well, and you will be able to download the text or Excel file in the language of your choice.
When to use product type & when to use the Google product category in your Google shopping feed?
As already explained, the Google product category attribute allows users to categorize their products on their Google Shopping product feeds in accordance with the entries in the Google Shopping taxonomy list.
The need for a uniform product category list arises from the fact that Google needs to determine the best results to be displayed in response to a specific search query. If product categories are fully customized, and no standard list exists, sellers can find it challenging to attract potential customers through Google advertisements.
On the other hand, the Google product type attribute enables users to employ their system of classification based on personalized values that are not predetermined. Users can easily customize their product feed to include their preferred product categories.
This classification will be used by Google Shopping to help the user organize and manage bidding on Google Shopping campaigns and reporting purposes. This is particularly helpful when you categorize your products on your website, or online store cannot be captured by the predetermined categories in the Google taxonomy.
You want to personalize the campaign management on Google Shopping to ensure greater efficiency and better insight.
Therefore, the primary difference is that the Google product category attribute is used when categorization is done in line with the Google Shopping taxonomy. In contrast, the Google product type attribute is used for custom values that you can assign to your product feed to divide and subdivide your products into the preferred categories.
Why should you categorize your products?
Google Shopping campaigns are a form of paid online marketing. When you invest financial resources into such campaigns, you do so in expectation of returns in the form of more customers and more significant sales and revenue.
The reason why product categorization is so important is to ensure that you are getting the best returns possible out of your investments in Google Shopping campaigns. The following are some of the significant advantages of product categorization.
With streamlined and accurate product categorization, you will make it easier for Google to understand precisely what you are selling and identify the appropriate target audiences for your product advertisements.
Therefore, Google will ensure that your product shows up when the relevant search queries are made by users, which will directly translate to more customers and sales. With fully optimized product categories, you ensure that no potential customer is lost out to false or erroneous categorization. You will undoubtedly improve your returns on investment in online marketing via Google Shopping campaigns.
Improved Click-through Rate (CTR)
Your Click-through Rate or CTR refers to the ratio of the number of users who click on your advertisement and visit your online store to the total number of users who view your product listing on Google.
With well-defined product categories, you can ensure that your products are being advertised by Google to the right users and respond to relevant queries. This leads to your CTR improving significantly, driving down advertising costs and increasing returns.
Expand online presence
Apart from Google Shopping, several other popular platforms such as Facebook and Bing Shopping also use Google’s product categories to list products. With a well-optimized product feed, you can quickly expand your marketing effort to these other platforms without any hassle.
Diversifying your online marketing efforts helps capture a wider pool of potential customers. You will not miss out on business from sections of users who do not use Google for their online shopping needs.
There is a direct benefit of having improved reach and greater relevancy, and that is enhanced returns on investment; for each penny spent on Google Shopping campaigns, there will be more significant income generated when compared to investments in campaigns advertising poorly categorized products.
Ways of categorizing your products
The use of Google product categories in your product is usually not compulsory. Still, it is mandatory for specific types of products such as ‘Media’, ‘Software’, ‘Apparel and Accessories,’ etc.
However, it is highly recommended that you optimize your feed thoroughly with accurate product categories since this leads to a considerable improvement in relevancy, thereby bringing in greater returns. There are three ways by which you can categorize your products on your Google Shopping product feed.
Manual categorization refers to the process of manually entering categorization values into your product feeds without using any third-party applications or software. The primary advantage of this method is that it saves a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on the paid third-party software.
However, there is also a significant disadvantage to manual categorization: the amount of time and effort it takes to enter the values and keep track of the changes and modifications to the Google Shopping feed taxonomy list.
Manual categorization is only recommended if you have only a handful of products to sell since it is an uphill task. If you are a seller with thousands of products, it would be a massive waste of resources. Sellers with many products may consider outsourcing the job to different companies that offer exclusive services in product categorization.
At one point in time, merchants on Google Shopping had to enter all product categories into their feeds manually, but now Google offers automated categorization.
Google Shopping uses the data from your product feed such as product titles, descriptions, and other product information to automatically classify your products under the various categories in the Google Shopping taxonomy list.
The most significant advantage of automated categorization is obvious, and it saves a lot of time and effort. However, there are a couple of disadvantages as there is a significant room for error where a product could be wrongly placed into a category, and this could affect the reach and success of your Google Shopping campaigns.
Such category mismatches could create plenty of issues in terms of tax calculations and poor returns. Therefore, it becomes essential to keep a tab on the categorization and implement changes when necessary. The accuracy of product data must also be high.
There is another form of automated or automatic categorization which involves the use of a third-party tool. With specific tools and software, you will be able to create your very own categorization rules according to which your products will be categorized in line with the Google taxonomy.
This places greater control in your hands when compared to Google’s automatic categorization, which uses an algorithm to decide categories based on product feed data, thereby reducing the risks of error. However, please note that almost all third-party tools that are effective require a certain fee to be paid before they can be used.
A blend of manual & automated categorization
More often than not, the perfect way to categorize your products is by finding a middle path between manual and automated techniques.
A classic example of this would be a seller offering a range of men’s shirts and t-shirts. While the computerized category may look something like this; ‘Apparel and Accessories > Clothing > Shirts and Tops’, the seller might wish to customize the types further since he offers a wide variety of shirt tops.
With manual categorization, the seller can use the ‘product_type’ function and add several subcategories to the existing categorization, such as ‘V-neck t-shirts’, ‘Half-sleeve shirts’, and ‘Full-sleeve shirts’. This allows for the ease of automatic categorization and the customization benefits of manual categorization and is therefore widely preferred by sellers across the world.
While automated categorization will help you save significant time and manual effort, manual categorization may be required to streamline product feeds further and maximize revenue and marketing potential.
Several third-party apps can be used to do this, and one such application is the App for Google Shopping by AdNabu. With this app, you will get customized product information recommendations to enhance your Google Shopping product feed with optimized keywords, SEO, and quality descriptions.
The app integrates seamlessly with your Google Shopping account and the Merchant Centre and will help you get the best possible results out of your online marketing campaigns.
Best practices for categorizing your products
Find the best Google product category
As you categorize your products, you may find that some of them fall under multiple categories. For example, if you are selling a pair of earphones, they may fit under both the ‘Mobile Accessories’ and the ‘Music Equipment’ categories.
What is crucial in such situations is to choose the most appropriate Google product category from the list since Google Shopping does not allow you to place your product under multiple categories. Picking the best possible option will enable Google to place your ads before the right users at the right time.
Use the ‘product_type’ attribute if needed
Although not a common occurrence, there is a chance that your product does not accurately fit under any one of the six thousand odd categories on the Google Shopping taxonomy list. In such cases, it is advisable to use the ‘product_type’ attribute to add custom product categories to your Google Shopping product feeds.
This ensures that you do not lose out on potential customers due to category mismatches and inaccurate classification. Moreover, the ‘product_type’ attribute is also helpful if you want to further subdivide an existing category in the Google taxonomy list with custom values.
This will help you get more detailed and accurate reporting from Google Shopping while also giving you more clarity and control in terms of campaign management.
Use the latest category lists
Google updates its product category list regularly, and the entries may also vary from one location to another. Therefore, it is essential always to make sure that you are using the most recent product categories list updated by Google. Using an outdated list may lead to categorization errors that will throttle your campaign reach and performance by not listing your products according to the appropriate search requests.
The best way to ensure that the list is not outdated is to download it straight from the Google Merchant Centre Help page and avoid third-party websites or portals that offer the lists for download.
Frequently Asked Questions about Google Shopping feed taxonomy
What is Google Shopping MPN?
Google Shopping allows merchants to assign Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPN) to their products with the help of the ‘mpn’ attribute. Therefore, each product can be given a unique identity that differentiates it from the other products manufactured by the same manufacturer. Customers can also use this MPN to search for a specific product and ensure greater relevancy and reach.
What are Google product categories?
When you use Google Shopping and upload your product feed, there exists a list of categories into which Google distributes and places your products. The system of classification and categorization employed by Google for all product feeds on Google Shopping is based on the Google product categories list which is updated from time to time and consists of over 6000 different product categories.
How do I find my Google product category?
The list of Google’s recognized product categories contains over six thousand entries but can be relatively easily navigated with the help of a simple search tool. Access the Google Shopping taxonomy list and search for the relevant product type using keywords related to and describe your product. The list can be found here.
What is the Google product category in Shopify?
All Shopify users can set Google product categories with a valid Merchant Centre account, and Google Shopping can be linked to a Shopify store. The way the Google product category works is the same, whether you are accessing it via Shopify.
On your Shopify admin page, click on Google Shopping under the ‘Apps’ menu. Once you reach your Merchant Centre page, you need to click on the ‘Product feed’ option followed by the ‘Edit Google Shopping feed’ selection.
On this page, click on the ‘Product categorization’ option, and this will take you to a page wherein you can edit the Google product category for your products.
Is MPN the same as the model number?
A Manufacturer Part Number or MPN is a unique identifier assigned to a product that differentiates it from the other products also manufactured by the same manufacturer. It is not the same as a model number since while the MPN is used to identify the source and origin of the product, a model number has more to do with the product itself and the variations of the same product that are jointly available in the market.
As a seller online who is making a significant financial investment into Google Shopping campaigns to boost marketing efforts, there is nothing more frustrating than not getting good returns on investment solely because of technical errors and lack of optimization.
With the appropriate Google product categories specified, you will be able to make your product visible to the right people at the right time and thereby significantly improve the performance of your Google Shopping campaigns. After reading this article, we hope you know precisely how Google product categories work and how they can be leveraged for greater returns.