Google Product Category Now Only Optional in Google Shopping

The first of 2019’s Google Product Feed Specifications updates is now official!

Emails have just been received – Google Product Category has now been made optional for ALL PRODUCT TYPES. Changes will take effect starting March 27th, 2019.

IMPORTANT: Should you submit improper or no Google Product Category, Google will automatically assign one based on its own internal signals.

As defined by Google – “Use the google_product_category attribute to indicate the category of your item based on the Google product taxonomy. Categorizing your product helps ensure that your ad is shown with the right search results.”

How did it change?

At one time, Google Product Category was required for the following product types when submitting a feed to Merchant Center:

  • Apparel & Accessories > Clothing (1604)
  • Apparel & Accessories > Shoes (187)
  • Apparel & Accessories > Clothing Accessories > Sunglasses (178)
  • Apparel & Accessories > Handbags, Wallets & Cases > Handbags (3032)
  • Apparel & Accessories > Jewelry > Watches (201)
  • Media > Books (784)
  • Media > DVDs & Videos (839)
  • Media > Music & Sound Recordings (855)
  • Software > Video Game Software (1279) (includes computer games)

Retailers were also required to submit the entire tree from the taxonomy and could not simply bundle all products under one “parent” category.

Here’s a screenshot of the official email from Google regarding the change:


What should you do?

If you are already submitting Google Product Category then you’re all set, nothing to worry about. The same goes for if you aren’t because now Google will automatically assign them on your behalf.

More importantly, retailers should continue to submit high quality product data to help Google align your products with the proper categories.