Some of the worst news an ecommerce retailer can get is that your Google Merchant Center account has been suspended, effectively removing your products from Google Shopping product listing ads.
With a variety of highly enforced and ever changing rules that apply to all Google merchant data feeds, suspensions happen to retailers of all sizes and across all categories.
Even poor data feed quality is an easy way to get suspended.
It may seem like the world is ending, but we assure you it is not, and it is important you focus on taking the proper steps to get your account re-instated ASAP instead of the hard fact that you will be making no money from PLAs for an unknown period of time.
Today, we’ll walk through best practices for preventing a suspension before it strikes and we’ll also cover the steps to take once you have already been suspended.
How to Prevent a Google Merchant Center Account Suspension
When it comes to preventing a Google account suspension, the best defense here is a good offense.
Here are some best practices:
1. Always know your product line and, more specifically, if you sell prohibited items.
There are many items and product categories not allowed by Google.
Be familiar with those, and don’t think you will get away with it forever if you haven’t been caught yet–Google will find and suspend you eventually.
Vitamin & Supplement vendors need to be especially vigilant here. The toughest part is that the Google given resources are admittedly not exhaustive, meaning a product may be banned even if Google doesn’t list it as banned.
Even one prohibited item can lead to a suspension, so mistakes can be costly here and come without warning.
2. Make sure your most recent data feed is in the Google Merchant Center.
Keeping your latest feed in the Google Merchant Center account will keep your data at its most accurate as far as pricing, inventory, product condition, and image/product links.
Non-matching data between your feed and your site is a fast way to get suspended.
3. Monitor the Google Merchant Center weekly or after major changes for errors.
Many issues can be solved just by noting the data quality details provided from within the Merchant Center Login.
Keep in mind that critical errors are just that, CRITICAL. These errors will get you suspended the fastest and should be addressed as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
4. Heed warning emails that outline data quality errors.
Consider yourself lucky if you get a forewarning. These messages often come with a deadline to make fixes by, so you may have some time to get your feed straightened out. Couple tips here:
A couple tips here:
- Realize that the review that occurs on the day of the deadline date is comprehensive and you can be suspended at this time for items that you have not been warned about previously. You need to be squeaky clean on this date.
- If you are unable to make the changes as suggested by Google, we suggest you remove the products whose data contains the errors from the feed completely. You will lose less money by removing products from your feed, than bearing the brunt of having your whole feed down via suspension.
Note: This regards suspension and why you should attempt to avoid it by all means.
Once your account has been suspended, you will be under increased scrutiny by Google moving forward and the suspensions often get longer and more severe as multiple infractions pile up.
Staying on Google’s good side should be your priority. It will save many headaches and lost revenue down the line.
Google Account Already Suspended? Steps To Take
So you have done your best to try a keep a quality feed and heeded all of Google’s suggestions but you still get suspended.
First off, try not to take it too hard. It happens to a lot of retailers, and it may be completely out of your hands.
So what can you do next to get back up and running?
1. Fix data feed errors.
This should be your primary mission. Start by focusing on critical errors reported within your Google Merchant Center account, and work your way through to recommended issues.
The critical errors are most likely what got you suspended, so get those cleaned up first.
There’s no sense in attempting to get reinstated if these reported errors are not fixed.
If you are not sure why you were suspended in the first place, skip to Step 3.
2. Re-upload your updated feed and submit a reevaluation request.
You can re-upload your feed via the Google Merchant Center account login once errors are fixed within your feed.
Note: In some cases Steps 1 and 2 will be all you need to do. This is usually the last step if you have received emails outlining necessary feed fixes. The email may be titled:
“Data quality suspension warning of your Google Merchant Center account”
This is typically not a true “suspension” but a rejection of the whole feed. Feed rejections are typically minor and almost always come with a warning email.
In the sample rejected feed below, we had to remove the products in policy violation and then resubmit the feed, lowering the product count.
3. Call the help number in your AdWords account.
I find this to be very helpful, especially given that the Google Merchant Center has no phone help line.
If you are aware of the feed errors and have fixed them, let them know, and they can often time be a small catalyst in getting your account reinstated more quickly.
This is no guarantee though. Depending on the severity of the infraction and history of prior account suspensions, it could still take a while.
If you have no idea why the account was suspended and there are no critical errors within the Merchant Center, request a reason for suspension and they will most likely escalate the case, which should get you a definite answer for suspension within a few days.
This will also give you a direct email thread to a Google rep who will assist you through the re-review process.
4. Be patient.
This is the hardest step by far. Once you have done everything you can on your end to fix your feed and let Google know you have done so, all you can do is wait.
We have seen accounts come back online within a day or two, and some may take up to a few weeks or longer. It is 100% at Google’s discretion and outside of the above steps, there is very little you can do to expedite this process.
The Bottom Line
Your Merchant Center account can be suspended for containing even a single banned product.
While it is extremely frustrating and potentially damaging to your business to be suspended from PLAs, it is something that MANY retailers go through. You’re not alone.
As mentioned above:
- Stay vigilant in monitoring your data quality within the Google Merchant Center
- Always promptly make corrections to errors given in warning emails
- And work to stay on top of eliminating banned products from you feed
You are now armed with the tools to prevent your Google Merchant Center account from being suspended and how to react if your account goes down. If you need more information about feed optimizations, download the free guide below.