Google Updates: Merchant Listing Expansion & New Search Console Reports

Harshal Shah | September 12, 2022 | 4 Minutes Read
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The e-commerce industry is expanding by leaps and bounds. To address the demand of this growing market, Google announced an array of new features, functionalities, and availability around online shopping and product experiences in Google Search.

The first update is the expansion of Google merchant listing experiences with additional structured data properties. The second vital update is releasing new features on Google Search Console reporting.

This blog will talk about these new Google updates in detail.

Let’s get started!

Expanded Eligibility For Websites Venturing Into Direct Product Selling

Google has been a pioneer in extending rich product experiences to shoppers in search results.

Now, to make such immersive and highly-functional experiences more accessible to website owners, Google has extended eligibility for business and ecommerce websites that implement structured data.

For website owners, Google releases two fundamental categories of experiences:

  • Merchant listing experiences: Specifically designed for web pages that enable customers to purchase a product on the site.
  • Product snippets: Specifically designed for a broader set of web pages with detailed product information (includes web pages that directly sell products, publish product reviews, and/or combine insights from other websites and pages).

Why Was The Update Released?

The new release was centered around two functionalities:

  • Initially, the product snippets in Google search results were fundamentally powered by schema.org Product structured data.
  • Merchant listing experiences were typically powered by product details supplied or shared via a Google Merchant Center feed.

With the newly expanded eligibility, merchants are now eligible for merchant listing experiences solely by providing product data on web pages. You don’t need a Google Merchant Center account anymore.

The credit for new and improved updates goes to the recent extensions to product-related properties, functionalities, and types in schema.org.

Enhanced Product Experiences

To illustrate and precisely define enhanced product experiences, Google presented two examples:

Once you add structured data, merchant listing enhanced experiences encompass:

  • Shopping Knowledge panel and Popular Products,
  • Shopping experiences in Google Images and Google Lens.

You can go through Google’s Product structured data documentation to learn more about structured data requirements for merchant listings and product snippets.

How Can Business Owners Benefit?

If your business involves directly selling products, and you wish not to use Google Merchant Center, your products/offers may now still get displayed in more places, in a more enriching way, than before.

You only need to ensure that you use product structured data and/or Merchant Center to benefit from this.

New Search Console Reports For Site Owners

For business websites to enjoy benefits from these enhanced experiences, the existing Search Console report for Product structured data has now been replaced with primarily two reports:

  • A new Merchant listings report.
  • A Product snippets report (which includes the old Product report).

In the Search Console navigation bar, you’ll find these reports grouped under a new Shopping section.

The reports enable you to identify errors, view warnings, and see valid pages for markup implemented on your website.

The Rich Result Test tool also reflects the reporting changes.

Report 1: New Merchant listings report

  • Discovers structured data problems for free listing experiences in search results.
  • This reporting is relevant to web pages that directly sell products.
  • Encompasses the wider range of schema.org structured data properties and types used by the Product type

Report 2: Product snippets report

  • Helps to identify structured data concerns for product snippets in search results.
  • This reporting is relevant to pages that share product review details or aggregate product data insights from multiple sites. However, pages solely concerned with selling products may also include product reviews.
  • This new report replaces the existing Product structured data report with modifications pertaining to the separation of merchant listing validations into a dedicated report. The report also retains the history of prior validation errors.

Who Should Use Which Report?

If you are a merchant/ business owner with an online store, you should:

  • Use the merchant listings report for your web pages selling products.
  • You can also use the Product snippets report if you’ve dedicated web pages or sections in your web store publishing product reviews that don’t sell products.
  • The “product results impressions” are no longer a part of the Product snippets report. To view impressions for product results, access the performance report.

If you don’t sell products directly online but still actively publish product-related content pages with Product structured data:

  • Check the Product snippets report.

Wrapping Up!

Google has been bringing a plethora of new functionalities and features to e-commerce and product listings over the past few months. You should expect more upgrades for a better experience over the coming months.

Harshal Shah
Harshal Shah is the CEO of EcomVA. He has an overall experience of more than three decades in the E-commerce industry. His area of interest lies in writing fascinating pieces of content on topics relevant to growing E-commerce businesses with virtual assistant services. He wants to ensure that readers get acquainted with virtual assistant services for growth hacking E-commerce businesses so that we can build a technology-driven world for the future.
September 12, 2022