Creating an XML feed for Google Merchant Center (Shopping)

How to configure a Google Merchant Center (GMC) feed for Google Shopping

In this article, we are going to show you how to set up an XML feed for Google Shopping using Plytix. This requires you to have a Plytix account with the Channels feature enabled.

Setting up an XML Channel

Attributes for Google Shopping

Choosing Products

Customizing the feed for GMC specifications

Processing the feed


*Skip to any section in this article by clicking on the links above


Setting up an XML Channel

Like all Channels in Plytix, your XML Channel is completely customizable. It lets you choose the products and attributes you want to use to automatically populate your template. To get started you first need to create a Channel:

  1. Go to the 'Channels' area in the top navigation menu.
  2. Click 'Add Channel'.
  3. Select the 'XML' format option and the purple 'Add Channel' button.

    choose the XML format option to add a new channel 

Once inside the Channel, you need to select the attributes you want to include in your Google Shopping XML feed. 

💡 Once your first Google Shopping XML feed is set up, you can duplicate the Channel to easily create new feeds.



Attributes for Google Shopping

The second tab under the name of your XML Channel is called 'Attributes'. This is where you add all the content you want to appear in your XML feed.

 

ℹī¸ Some product types or countries have special requirements, and this article will only go through the basic content requirements for the ability to serve ads.

Google Reference Material

Google's requirements could change at any time. Please refer to these documents provided by Google to have the most up to date information about setting up these feeds.

Choosing and Transforming Attributes

In the 'Attributes' tab, you need to select the attributes you want to make up your feed.

  1. Click 'Add Attributes'.
  2. Select the attributes that have the content (not necessarily the name) that matches the content you want to output in the feed.

    add attributes to create a google XML feed

💡 All attributes can be configured to show a different output name and other handy output options. You can also create new attributes based on formulas by adding a Computed Attribute.


Now that you have selected your attributes, you may need to transform them. To make any transformations, click 'Add Attributes' and then '+ New computed attribute'.

select the 'new computed attribute' button to transform an attribute

Common transformations Use
CONCAT formula in a Computed Attribute To set up new, competitive titles or descriptions based on other attributes 
Image re-formatting from TIFF to JPEG or PNG To get an acceptable image format output
Image resizing To make sure all high-res images meet the file size requirements
Date re-formatting (%Y-%m-%d) To get the correct date output for Google (YYYY-MM-DD)
Math formulas To set the right price for Google Shopping
LOWER operation To set options to all lowercase
JOIN operation To create multi-options like for the "material" attribute

⚠ī¸  It should be noted that changing the names of attributes in the "Output Label" column will not change the name of the attribute in the XML feed. We will show you how to change the names within the XML feed later on in this article.

 


Choosing Products

Add a "Product List" containing the products you want to include in your feed or ' + Create a list'

select a product list from the dropdown menu to add to your Google shopping channel

 


Customizing the feed to fit GMC specifications

Next, navigate to the 'Format' tab, to set up the feed so it conforms with the specifications set by Google Merchant Center. With the attributes and product list selected, the feed already includes the attribute data for each product. Below we we look at how to further define the XML feed.

format your feed for Google Shopping by selecting the 'Format' tab

 

ℹī¸ Learn more about working with XML data in Plytix here: Defining the Data Format For XML Channels

Example Feed

For this example, we will use the following sample feed:

example xml feed for Google Shopping


You can see full feed examples
here. To learn how the feed should be formatted, click to download a RSS 2.0 example file or find it here. Refer to these examples as you work with setting up your feed.

Header

The first part <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> is automatically applied by Plytix. 

RSS Node

Our first task is to add the RSS node. To do this:

  1. Click the '+ Add node' button on the top right of the "Nodes" area.
add a node to the XML feed by selecting 'Add node'

 

2. An "Add node" panel will appear where you can customize the node.

3. In the "Node Tag" input, remove "new_node" and write "rss".the add node panel appears for node customization options

4. Add the additional information that we saw came after "rss" in the example feed shown above. This extra information will be contained in node attributes, which you can add by selecting '+ Add attribute'. A node attribute looks like this: "xmlns:g" and its value is: "http://base.google.com/ns/1.0" We add that information in the "XML Attribute" and "Value" fields as shown below.

add an XML attribute to the RSS node


5. Finally press 'Add node' at the top of the settings to add the node to the Feed Builder.

Channel

Our next task is to add "channel" as a subnode to the "rss" node. To do this:

  1. Add a new node using the 'Add Node' button.
  2. Set the "Node Tag" to "channel".
  3. Then, declare a "Parent Node" using the dropdown box to select "rss".  This will place the "channel" node below the "rss" node in the Feed Builder. To finish, click the purple 'Add node' button.
select RSS to be the parent node of the 'channel' node

Leaf Nodes

We can now add "title," "link," and "description" nodes. These three nodes must all share the "channel" node as parent and they must be created as Leaf nodes.

  1. On the "channel" node, click the 'Add subnode' icon. 

    add a subnode to the 'channel' node by clicking the 'add subnode' icon
  2. In the "Add node" panel that appears, add "title" as the "Node tag." 
  3. Check the 'Leaf node' box. This will give us a field where we can write in the corresponding value. 

    create a leaf node  as a subnode of channel and name it 'title'
  4. Press the purple 'Add node' button.
  5. Repeat these steps for the "link" and "description" nodes. 

This will create the nodes as direct subnodes to the "channel" node. 

leaf nodes for the title, link, and description appear as subnodes of channel

The 'LEAF' text in front of your node values simply indicates the type of node; this text will not be included in the feed.

Product Specifications

As you may have noticed in the examples above, the hierarchy for the "products" and
"product" nodes does not yet conform to the specifications in the example feed.

To update this: 

  1. Go into the settings of "products", by clicking the 'Edit node' icon. 

    edit the product node by clicking the edit node icon
  2. Change the "Parent node" to "channel".

This will move the "products" node and all of its subnodes under the "channel" node.

make channel the parent node of the product node by selecting it from the dropdown menu

By default in Plytix, a product node is called "product", so we need to change this to "item" in order to meet the GMC specifications. 

closeup on the node tag of the products node which says 'product'

To do this:

  1. Click the orange "product" node's 'Edit node' icon.
    edit the products node by clicking the edit node icon
  2. After changing the "Node Tag" to 'item' it should look like this.
change the node tag of the products node to say 'item'

Next, we must delete the topmost "products" node that all our items currently live under. GMC lists all their items one after another (not under an "items" hierarchy level), so we do not need this "products" node.

To do this, click the 'Delete node' icon (X) on the righthand side of the top "products" node.

delete the topmost products node

Deleting the "products" node moves everything up a hierarchy level, and we can now see that our feed content and hierarchy is starting to take shape:

comparison of the feed builder and preview of the feed, which now conforms to Google

Changing Attribute Names

Next we must change the attribute 'Node Tags' so they match GMC's naming convention. Using the example we have been working with, we need to change the attribute names to the following: 

Name in Plytix GMC Requirement
SKU g:id
Label g:title
Description g:description
product landing page g:link
Hero Image g:image_link
Availability  g:availability
Price  g:price
Brand g:brand
GTIN g:gtin


To change these names: 

  1. Click the 'Edit node' icon for each attribute node individually.
  2. Change the "Node Tag" for each attribute, and a preview of the output name will display beside the attribute names with opening and closing tags (< >).
  3. Press 'Okay' after editing each node tag and then 'Save changes' at the top of the Channel page.
  4. Repeat for all attributes requiring a name change.
Change the node tags of all attribute nodes to make them conform to Google specifications

Processing the feed

Our feed is now completed. All our necessary data is there, our hierarchy levels are in order, and naming conventions are adjusted for GMC.

To finalize the feed, you need to process it. This will apply and update all your product information and generate a feed link and file that you can plug into GMC.

To process your feed: 

  1. Go to the top of the Channel area.
  2. Click the 'Process Now' button. In the panel that appears, adjust the settings to process the products you want, then click the 'Start Processing' button.

Once the feed has completed processing, you will see a link to your feed appear

a feed link appears below the name of your channel

This can be copied and pasted from Plytix into your GMC account. Once your feed link is in your account, you can update and process your Channel to update products directly in GMC without needing to replace the link. 

💡 Schedule recurring processing in the 'Settings tab of your Channel to automate product content updates.

 



What's next?

 

If you have any questions just click on the chat box in the bottom-right corner and we'll be happy to answer them...

 

and please let us know 👇