A product feed, otherwise known as a data feed, is an excel, .txt, or .xml file that contains all of your products’ information.
It is sent to shopping channels like Google Shopping to communicate all the information your product listings will contain.
Also check out Google’s product/data feed overview here.
Here is an example of a product feed:
Why Do I Need A Product Feed?
You need a data feed to put your products on the shopping channels like Google Shopping and Amazon. Submitting a product feed to a CSE is a required early step when starting a campaign. Product feeds are essentially the technical product communication between your business and a given CSE, and so it needs to be comprehensive and accurate.
Perhaps more importantly, product feeds tell the CSEs what searches your products are relevant for, and so if a shopper is searching for a product similar to yours, it pays to include a lot of product details so that your products show up for long-tail searches.
Here’s an example of a long-tail search and the listings that provided that information:
Data Feed Formats For Google Shopping And CSEs
Once you’ve generated your product information, you’ll need to make sure you are communicating that information to the shopping channels.
Imagine you are explaining something to Google, but Google is deaf. For Google to understand you’ll need to sign what you want to say rather than say it. If you don’t know how to sign, you’ll need to learn the basics so you can talk to Google.
Check out all the major CSEs’ data feed specifications and examples here.
For a Google Shopping specifically, check out their product feed specifications here.
Product Feed Best Practices
1. Update your product feeds regularly, if not daily.
To ensure that the information presented on your product pages is accurate and up-to-date with your real inventory, updates/adjustments to your product feed will be periodically required. Google and Amazon are particularly good at flagging retailers with inaccurate product feeds, resulting in lower rankings or even a stall in the campaign.
2. Include both the required columns and the recommended/not required columns.
Here’s an example of an empty Google product feed with required and recommended fields:
3 .Use unique product descriptions, titles, and images if applicable in your data feed.
4. Use product descriptions in your data feed which are optimized for SEO, to boost your products’ organic traffic.
5. Send your data feed via FTP (service).