It’s no secret that strong product data is the key to successful product listings. 

However, "strong product data" doesn't just mean persuasive language and pleasing images.

Strong product data includes key information that connects listings to relevant search queries—as efficiently as possible. It isn't until your products consistently appear for relevant search queries that you're scoring the necessary impressions for sustainable growth.

Consistently scoring impressions should lead to better click-through rates... and better CTR will lead to higher conversions.

The key information that your product data needs won't just present itself without some work, and it won't be timeless. Research and testing will net you the data you need, while vigilance and ongoing optimization will keep it relevant for as long as you're on top of it.

To help you get the most out of your product data, we came up with a list of common data setbacks and the best ways to overcome them.

1. Price and Inventory Inconsistencies

If it’s been a while since you have given your data some love, then you're most likely pushing some outdated prices and inventory levels.

When it comes to Google Shopping, this won't fly. If the price and availability fields in your feed are inconsistent with what is on your site, you'll be seeing some item-level errors in your Google diagnostics tab.

Having inconsistencies in your marketplace feeds can cause an even bigger headache. Stale inventory levels may lead to overselling, which may lead to cancelled orders. Cancelled orders may incur penalties and net you some unhappy customers—and unhappy customers leave negative reviews. Negative reviews deter shoppers... and now we've come full circle. Now, that's a big headache.

bad data and your online sales

Manual fix: Make a habit of consistently updating inventory and price in your feed(s). You know your data best, so you should have an idea of how often it needs to be updated.

Automated fix: A feed management platform can make this a problem of the past. If your shopping cart platform is properly synchronized with your feed, price and inventory should automatically reflect what is on your site. If you need more frequent updates, add more submission times.

2. Product Data Isn't Universal

If you do a data dump directly from your site into your feed, your data will most likely be unoptimized. What works on your site might not work well in a channel.

Let’s say you are a brand owner trying to sell on Amazon. Among other clothes, you're selling a women's blouse, titled 'Blue Button Down Blouse,' that is doing well enough on your site. On a marketplace such as Amazon, you'll want to be more specific than that to show up in search results. Something along the lines of '[Brand Name] Women's Button Down Blouse - Long Sleeve Chiffon Shirt' should greatly outperform its unoptimized alternative.

Now, let’s talk Google taxonomy.

While it is not a required field for all products, categorizing your products helps them show up in search queries. If you don't have internal categories and a field for this, it may be difficult for you to categorize your products to match Google’s taxonomy.

Manual fix: Refer to the title tips found here and individually update your listing titles. Regarding Google’s taxonomy, you will need to choose a category for each product and modify your feed file accordingly.

Automated fix: Feed management software allows you to create bulk customization rules. These come in handy when trying to build optimized titles; you can use fields in your data to build product titles like Brand + Size + Material + Product Type.

Besides creating custom rules for titles, you can also create custom rules for categorization based on  product type. For example, you can have a rule to place products into the Google category 'Animals & Pet Supplies > Pet Supplies > Dog Supplies' when the product name contains 'dog leash.'

Regardless of what you choose/what you're using, your automated feed software should have Google’s taxonomy built into it. All you need to do is match up categories using a field in your data such as name or product type.

3. Missing Product Attributes

Channels may recommend or even require certain attributes based on your product types.

According to their feed specs, Google requires product material if it's relevant to your variants. If this is the case for your products and your data is missing a field dedicated to material, you’ll run into issues when submitting to Google.  

Google also requires GTINs for all new products that have a GTIN assigned by the manufacturer. We’ve seen our fair share of merchants run into issues on Google due to empty GTIN values.

product listing data freshness

Manual Fix:  Figure out what fields are required or recommended for your product types and add these additional fields to your feed file.

Automated Fix: With data feed management software, you can create custom rules based off other fields in your data. Going back to the ‘material’ example, if you have the material of the product in your description, you can create a custom rule to set ‘material’ to ‘cotton’ where ‘description’ contains ‘cotton.’ If you don’t want to add GTIN values to your website, you can add a merge file containing GTIN values.

4. Compliance Issues

Certain product copy on your website may not go over too well—or may be plainly unacceptable—on your preferred platform(s).

While advertising ‘free shipping’ in the description of your product on your website may be a good idea, using that in the description of your Google feed will result in item errors. The same goes for sales information, details about your competitors, as well as other products and/or accessories.

Besides bad product copy, your data may contain products that are prohibited from certain channels. For example, prohibited products on Amazon include firecrackers, sparklers, alcoholic beverages (except pre-approved wine sellers), and used clothing.

Manual Fix: Individually go through all product descriptions and titles, and remove anything that goes against the channel’s policies. Also, check your products to make sure you’re not attempting to list prohibited products.

Automated Fix: Use your automation software to create replace text rules to remove promotional text and/or excessive punctuation in bulk. Filter out prohibited products by using conditions based on fields in your file. For example, you can filter out all products where title contains ‘firework.’

5. HTML Remnants

Copying data from a formatted source and pasting it to a WYSIWYG editor without considering potential back-end HTML is almost always a bad idea.

Copy-pasted macros can lead to display problems like jumbled text, spacing issues, and extraneous characters.  These bits dilute product details, erode credibility, and can make it hard for shoppers to understand your product information. Aside from potentially hurting your SEO value, it's sure to negatively influence shopping experiences—which is great for alienating customers.

ecommerce success

Manual Fix: Be vigilant with what you copy/paste and set your macros up for clean transfer. If broken HTML is already an issue with your product data, use an HTML editor like Dreamweaver to remove unwanted code. There are also online tools like DirtyMarkup that can help you clean up some messy HTML; however, you should be warned, this is tedious and time-consuming. You'll need to copy/paste cell by cell for whatever number of products you have.

Automated Fix: The feed software you are using should have the ability to scrub HTML out of your import file, preventing it from sending to different channels.


Closing Thoughts

Bad data hinders good products. It makes product listings perform poorly and yields inconsistent results.

The sooner you address bad and/or stale data, the sooner you'll restore your product listings' potential. If you're not currently utilizing feed automation software, you'll need to fully understand the scope of the manual changes you'll need to make and upkeep. Fixing bad data often involves tweaking minor details, but the amount of data you have to work with/update can quickly become too much to effectively maintain.

Complete feed management solutions like GoDataFeed greatly simplify all of these tasks, freeing up your time and saving you money in the process. 

Feel free to contact us, or book a demo to better understand how we can help you.