Google Product Category: How to get it right without going crazy?

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Monica Axinte

Google Product Category

If you want to outperform your competitors on Google Shopping and pay less for the product ads, the secret lies in nailing Google's Taxonomy. The Google Product Category is a fundamental element of all Google Shopping Campaigns and if you have neglected it until now it's time to give it your full attention.

The taxonomy is crucial for the product ads as it helps Google to identify quicker if the products in a given feed are a good match for a given shopper query.

While selecting the right category for your products is no rocket science, the downside is that Google has more than more than 6,000 categories. Finding the right category for your products becomes a cumbersome job. This is true for all merchants, but it becomes unmanageable especially for those that have large feeds with hundreds and thousands of categories.

Still, there are countless benefits of going very in-depth with your categorization and here's why you should take the time and do it properly.



  • Google will be able to identify quicker if your products are a good match for any given search query. Adding GTIN to your feed also enables Google to do that, but Google Shopping is also a Comparison Shopping site that is using the Google Product Categories for navigation and comparison.
  • The right category increases the chance that your products will show up for the right search queries and your CTRs will improve
  • By having better CTRs your product ads will have better chances when competing with similar products
  • If your ads become more relevant, the costs of your PLAs will go down
  • If you are selling in more than one country and you have mapped your categories in English, you can use the categorization for all the other countries where Google Shopping has a presence.

Categorizing feeds with many different product_types is a tedious job, but the benefits are big enough to spend a few hours executing it. If you can’t make the time: outsource this to a freelancer to do it for you; it's money well spent!


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1.General categorization

Let's say you're just starting with Google Shopping, or you simply don't want to spend hours choosing the sub-sub-sub-sub category for all your products.

You can get away with only listing the top category for the types of products you're selling, without the need of going in depth. So if you're selling ski equipment, you could get away by simply setting the top category: Sporting Goods > Outdoor Recreation.

This way you know for sure that your products will not be disapproved in Google Merchant Center and that you can start advertising for your products right away.

It's not what we recommend, but it's good to know that you can get away with just setting the high-level category.


2. Manual Categorization

The title says it all: you have to manually categorize all products. For doing so, you need to go to Google's Taxonomy page, download the entire list of categories and subcategories and then proceed to select the best category for each product.

You can download the list of products here and the use the search functionality in Excel to find the best categories for each product. This strategy works well if you don't have lots of products in your feed.

Keep in mind:

- You always have to keep up with the changes in Google's Product Category and update the category in the product feed file. Or else, your products will be disapproved.

- Choose wisely: an item could be a god fit for more than one category, so in this case, you have to select the most appropriate one.


3. Automatic Categorization

Can be done only with the help of a third party tool. At DataFeedWatch, we have created a system to match each product type to the most appropriate Google subcategory, in a matter of seconds:

  1. You select the General Category so that the products don't get disapproved
  2. Choose your list of products
  3. Generate rules based on the product type in the data feed
  4. Type in a few letters and select the best category for that type of product


Assign Google Product Categories


The process is much faster and pain-free than having to do it manually. And to make it even better; if Google changes anything in their taxonomy we are automatically updating your categories.

By mapping your categories using this system you cut down the risk of having products disapproved in the Merchant Center.


4. Manual & Automatic categorization

Sometimes, a combination between the two of them works best, because it allows for a higher degree of personalization.

So, for example, let's say you sell dresses and you create the auto-generated rule as in the example above and assign the generic category Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Dresses.


Automatic Google Product Categories


But, if you sell different types of dresses it's best to be as specific as you can and not put them all in the same category.

For that you can go to Manual rules and create more specific rules, such as:

Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Wedding & Bridal Party Dresses if title includes wedding.


Google Product Category Wedding Dress


Keep in mind:

- Rules added manually have a higher priority than auto-generated rules and you can actually overwrite auto-generated rules with manual ones.

- So, if you have wedding dresses in the Dresses category in your store, it will go to Wedding dresses not to generic Dresses, since manual rule overwrites the auto generated one.


5. Add Product Type

Sometimes there is confusion between the product type and the Product Category in Google. As a result, merchants provide Google with their product types instead of the required taxonomy.

The product type is what merchants use to categorize the products on his website, and the Google Product Category is the required taxonomy that merchants need to provide to be able to sell on Google Shopping.

Even if the product type is not a required field by Google, it is very important to have it in the feed because:

  • it gives even more detailed information to Google about your product offering
  • if you can’t be very specific with Google's categories, it becomes important because it provides Google the information about your product
  • it adds another descriptive layer to the taxonomy


6.You already have the Google Product Category in your feed

Sometimes merchants that decide to automatize their feed management have already the Google Product Category in their feed.

For them, it would make no sense to spend again the time to map the categories, so we have a quick and painless solution: they can use the categorization they already have in the feed and add it as an optional field to the data feed.


Rename Google Product Category



Google Product Category is crucial in improving the performance of product ads on Google Shopping. You can nail the right category by investing the needed time to this task by:

  • Using the General Category
  • Manual categorization - need to download the Taxonomy here
  • Automatic categorization
  • Manual and Automatic categorization combined
  • Adding the product types to the feed - you can also use the product types for your bidding strategy
  • Add the taxonomy as an optional field to the feed



Love it or hate it, Google's categorization is indisputably an advantage for all the retailers that know how to make the most out of it. We encourage you to make it a priority if you are advertising on Google.

It doesn’t have to be this Sisyphean task, especially now when with the help of third party tools you can get the job done more accurately and with less time spent on it.

If you have questions on how to best use Google's Product Category drop us a line. Or else, if you have insights please share them in the comment section down below.





About DataFeedWatch

DataFeedWatch is data feed optimization and management software that enables merchants on Magento, Shopify, Volusion3Dcart, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, OpenCart, VersaCommerce, and numerous other shopping carts to optimize their product data feed for Google and 1000+ Shopping Channels in 50 countries. The most intuitive and easy data feed management and optimization tool on the market. Free trial and live demo available.

Posted in: Google Shopping, Optimizing campaigns

Written by Monica Axinte

Monica Axinte is the VP of Marketing for DataFeedWatch.
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