Google Product Search – Confusion Between Type and Category

As we mentioned last week, Google is requiring more data for product feeds. One of the new required fields is “Google Product Category”. However, Google also has a field named “Product Type” that is “strongly recommended”. Product Type has been around for a while.

Confused yet?

So what’s the difference?

Google Product Category is a new required field for any product that falls into one of these categories:

Apparel and Accessories

It is recommended for all products, but only required for the specific categories above. If you do use this field, you need to choose the proper category from Google’s product taxonomy. Google is trying to standardize common products into categories for better searching and categorization.

Product Type is required for all products. Google defines this option as:

This attribute contains the category of the product according to YOUR taxonomy.

(“YOUR” emphasis added by me.)

So, if your product does not fit neatly into what Google offers for categories, or you think there is a better category people will use to find your product, feel free to customize it as needed. That is what this field is for.

It is confusing, as the fields may be identical, and may appear to be overlapping. But Google is using both fields to standardize your products while allowing you more freedom to categorize your products as you see fit. Hopefully it’s a win-win scenario.

We’ve received a few emails and calls about these Google fields, so I thought a quick summary and explanation would be helpful to merchants.  :)

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  1. David Brooks says:

    …but the *real* question is:

    Since Google allows you up to 10 different product types, what is the best strategy to optimize each? Ideally to choose highly searched keywords that help customers identify your products beyond the narrow choice from the single mandatory Google Product Category.

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