Yesterday, Google sent out two emails to their Google Shopping Merchants, both referencing something called “automatic item updates.”
Everyone on the Merchant Center received one of two emails, based on whether or not they were opted in to automatic item updates:
Email 1: Merchants Not Currently Using Automatic Item Updates
Email 2: Merchants Currently Using Automatic Item Updates
What are Automatic Item Updates?
Automatic Item Updates allow Google to update your product price and availability automatically based on your website listings.
Automatic Item Updates aren’t new–you could have them enabled in your GMC account as long as you had the proper Schema.org structured data markup set up properly on your website.
Quick aside, in case you’re not sure what “markup” we’re referring to:
Google introduced “rich snippets”, or “structured data markup” way back in 2009. Essentially, these snippets enable site owners to control how their website content appears organically on the SERP–think star ratings, images, and data charts–and they’re built with a structured data vocabulary established by Yahoo!, Google, and Bing.
In the past, the proper schema.org data markup on your website was required in order to use Auto updates, or you’d see item-level disapproval. That’s no longer the case.
Lewis Brannon, Paid Search Manager at CPC Strategy, spoke with Google support to find out what this change actually means:
“Google has developed new technology that allows them to look for other signals on a website page to determine price and availability, so merchants are not required to have the Schema.org markup in place in order for this feature (Automatic Item Updates) to function properly.”
The bottom line is it’s a good idea to have Schema.org markup in place anyway–but if you don’t, Google should still be able to deliver the accurate price and/or availability on the SERP in the event that your Shopping feed doesn’t accurately depict your website product data.
How to React to This Change
Technically, Automatic Item Updates will be enabled automatically on 10/31/2017. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to take action. Here’s how to deal with the shift.
If You’re Not Using Auto Item Updates or Structured Data
If you’re not currently using Automatic Item Updates and aren’t planning to employ structured data markup on your site before 10/31, Brannon recommends one of two options:
Option 1: Rely on Google to make it work, and allow Automatic Item updates to be enabled. Keep a close eye on your account in case it doesn’t fully work and some items are disapproved.
Option 2: Choose to keep Automatic Item Updates off, and double-check on 10/31 and 11/1 to ensure the feature doesn’t enable.
If You’re Currently Using Structured Data and/or Auto Updates
For clients already using Automatic Item Updates in conjunction with schema.org, no change is needed.
If you’re not sure where to find auto updates in the merchant center, take a look at the screenshots below:
Any questions about this change? Concerns? Write to us in the comments, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.