Google has published a list of best practices to help ensure that its search engine understands the products that are being referenced. The list contains an explanation of how Google identifies products, as well as tips for manufacturers, retailers and publishers.
How Google identifies products. Google recommends using Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs) and brand names when referencing products. This helps the search engine more accurately identify products and match them to offers and relevant searches. When using product identifiers, Google recommends the following:
- Use unique identifiers. Products shouldn’t share identifiers with other products. The identifiers you use should also be accurate and consistent so that they can be used across the ecosystem, both online and physically.
- Use verifiable data. Using verifiable identifiers enables marketplaces to check that your product data is complete and accurate.
- Use widely recognized identifiers. Applying globally recognized product identifiers, such as GTINs, makes identifying your products easier for stakeholders in other markets.
Advice for brands and manufacturers. To help Google identify products, it recommends that brands and manufacturers use its Manufacturer Center to submit product data. Adhering to the following tips can help Google make the most out of the data you submit:
- Make sure your products have GTINs. Products must have a unique GTIN to be submitted in Manufacturer Center. You can visit the GS1 website to learn how to assign GTINs to your products.
- Don’t recycle or share GTINs. Each product should have its own unique GTIN. Recycling or sharing GTINs across multiple products can make marketplace catalog data inaccurate.
- Custom products should also follow product identification best practices. In the case of bespoke, artisanal or similar products, brands can use unique SKUs or MPNs to identify their offerings.
Advice for retailers. Retailers can follow the practices below to ensure Google can properly identify their products.
- Apply structured data. You can add structured data markup to your site and submit structured data to Google through a product feed.
- When possible, provide a GTIN. The GTIN can be included in a page’s structured data and/or in the product feed. When a GTIN isn’t available, retailers should use brand and manufacturer part numbers to identify the product.
- Avoid using the wrong GTIN. Google discourages recycling GTINs. Retailers should also avoid registering their own GTINs unless they’re also the product manufacturer.
Advice for publishers. Some publishers create content based on products, such as reviews or tutorials. It’s also important for those content creators to accurately identify the products their content is about.
- Use the exact name of the product. This may make it easier for users and search engines to understand what is being referenced.
- Apply structured data. You can markup your content with the appropriate structured data, including the GTIN, to tell search engines what your page is about.
- Use the correct GTIN. If you can’t find one, or there isn’t one, do not invent or use a GTIN from another product.
Why we care. Making it easier for search engines and marketplaces to identify your products will also make it easier for potential customers to discover and therefore purchase those products. This is helpful for users at every point of the funnel: If they’re using broad search terms, providing search engines with accurate product data can help them match your product to the query. If they’re looking specifically for your products, this information can also be used to build out your product knowledge panel, which could help them make a purchasing decision.