Providing Trusted Product Identification Helps Google to Identify Online Products

Avatar for Wouter Maatman
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Product identification helps Google
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Google relies on accurate and trusted product data to precisely identify products that are available for shoppers. Providing clear product identifiers helps Google to match offers to products and subsequently, match products to relevant search queries. You can improve Google’s understanding of products by using unique product identifiers like the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), Brand Product Codes, and brand names. Google adopted GTINs as a standard in 2015, so by adding GTINs retailers and manufacturers reach more customers online.

When using product identifiers, Google recommends that the identifiers follow these best practices:

  • Uniqueness. Firstly, each product should have a unique identifier that can consistently and accurately be shared across Google’s ecosystem. But also identify a product in both the physical and digital worlds of commerce.
  • Verifiability. Secondly, a product’s identity, for example, who is the manufacturer, and other product characteristics should be verifiable through a trusted source. This allows marketplaces to verify that product data is accurate and complete through global registries, the organizations that issued and manage the identifiers. Icecat is such a trusted source as it only relies on original brand data for producing product data-sheets, and the respective brand owners are involved in quality control.
  • Global Reach. Finally, with e-commerce making the world more connected, it is necessary to rely on a seamless identification system that can be used across the ecosystem globally.

Besides, for products sold through a variety of sellers and marketplaces, registering products with the GS1 Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) System provides internationally recognized standard identifiers for the unique identification of products. For both physical and e-commerce stores. Registration makes it possible for consumers to identify the source of the product.

Tips from Google for brands and manufacturers

Brands and manufacturers can submit product data through Google Manufacturer Center for free, and as part of this process, share the product information to identify the products to Google uniquely.

1. Ensure your products have GTINs

Your products must have unique Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) to be able to use Manufacturer Center. To learn how to assign GTINs to your products, visit the GS1 website in your local region.

2. Never reuse product identifiers

GTINs should never be shared across multiple products. A single product should map clearly to a unique GTIN. Reuse of GTINs can cause marketplace catalog data to become inconsistent, creating confusion and wrong purchases. By obtaining product identifiers from unauthorized sources, for example, identifiers sold through bankruptcy proceedings, you run the risk of mixing up the identity of a previously registered brand owner with your own.

3. Follow best practices for product identifiers for custom products

In certain situations, for example for artisan products, customizable products, or one-off products, a brand can adopt a proprietary approach to solve product identity by managing its products with unique Brand Product Codes, e.g., Stock Keeping Unit numbers (SKUs) or Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs). The key here is for manufacturers to incorporate the principles around uniqueness, verifiability, and global reach to ensure maintaining data integrity.

Tips from Google for retailers and 3rd-party sellers

Retailers should ensure accurate product identification on their websites. In addition to general guidelines around GTIN, Google recommends:

1. Submit high-quality product data

Submit structured data to Google in a product feed or add structured data markup to your website.

2. Provide a GTIN only when it exists

Retailers must provide GTINs when they’re selling products that have GTINs. The GTIN can be included in both the product feed as well as the page’s structured data. If a product does not have a GTIN, retailers and 3rd-party sellers should rely on Brand Product Codes to uniquely identify the product. Never invent a fake GTIN!

3. Use valid and unique GTINs

Don’t reuse existing GTINs for a new product. And, retailers should not create their own GTINs at GS1 unless they are also the product’s manufacturer or brand owner. To ensure that a GTIN points to one unique product and that there’s no GTIN inflation: too many GTINs from different companies are pointing to the same unique product.


Avatar for Wouter Maatman

Digital Marketing Manager at Icecat N.V.

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