If you’ve dealt with Google Shopping Feed Errors before, you know just how hard it can be to get a straightforward solution.

Google Merchant Center support articles are vague.

Since the last Google Ads Community’s redesign, many of the forum posts aren’t available.

There’s no one place to get all of the answers.

Well, we’ve dealt with most of these by now and I’ve decided to use our experience and fill in the gaps by scouring the internet and put together a complete list of all Google Shopping errors and warnings, as well as their solutions!

Feed issue categorization

Errors – these issues require priority in solving as they indicate disapproved products, or, in some cases, account suspension.

Warnings – these issues could be negatively impacting the performance of your ads and could result in account suspension if not dealt with.

Here are the error and warning areas covered:

 

Unique Identifiers (GTIN, MPN, Brand)

 Missing value [gtin] (old: Item from a designated brand is missing a GTIN)

The brand you provided is required to have a GTIN attribute. GTINs are unique item number identifiers that are assigned by the manufacturer.

Solution: Depending on the country/continent, these can be the following numbers: UPC (North America), EAN (Europe), JAN (Japan), ISBN (Books), ITF-14 (all of these are located below the barcodes on the items). Recommend checking Google’s support article on GTINs, to learn more about GTINs and where to find them. If these are custom products, you should skip the GTIN, MPN and Brand values and submit your Identifier_Exists attributes with a value of FALSE.

Item uses an unrecognizable GTIN

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Review your data feed and make sure that you have the correct number of digits (GTINS are 8, 10, 12, 13 or 14 digits in length). If the number of digits is correct, check this guide by GS1 US to verify whether your GTIN is valid or search their database of GTINs. If the GTIN is correct, contact Google Merchant Center support by phone or live chat (by clicking the 3 dots in the top right-hand corner of your account and selecting ‘Help Center and Support’). If the GTIN is incorrect, contact your manufacturer.

Invalid GTIN value (same as Incorrect product identifier [gtin], and Invalid value [gtin])

There are 2 different solutions to this issue, depending on the cause:

Cause 1 – you provided incorrect GTIN values for the products you’re submitting.

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Make sure you’re using the correct values for your GTIN. These can be one of the following depending on your location: UPC (North America), EAN (Europe), JAN (Japan), ISBN (Books), ITF-14 (all of these are located below the barcodes on the items). Recommend checking Google’s support article on GTINs, to learn more about GTINs and where to find them.Cause 2 – you provided GTIN values for custom products, which don’t have those.

Solution: Skip the GTIN, MPN and Brand values and submit your Identifier_Exists attributes with a value of FALSE.

From experience, another cause for this issue can be certain shopping feed apps generating their own GTINs if none are provided. In this case, I’d recommend switching to different Shopping Feed apps.

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Insufficient product identifiers: Missing two out of three attributes [GTIN, Brand, MPN]

This error means that at least 1 attribute is missing/incorrect out of the required 2.

Solution: When having product identifiers (i.e. in case of mass-produced products), you are required to provide at least 2 out of 3 attributes:

  • Brand and GTIN
  • Brand and MPN (for products that don’t have GTINs)

Refer to this Merchant Center help article to find out about the required formats for each attribute

Remember that, if possible, it’s recommended to submit all 3 attributes to help Google understand your products and maximize your performance.

Unsupported value (restricted) [gtin] (same as Restricted usage GTIN)

You used a GTIN in the restricted range that starts with 2, 02 or 4. According to Google, these GTINS aren’t eligible for sharing externally.

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Make sure you’re using the correct values for your GTIN. These can be one of the following depending on your location: UPC (North America), EAN (Europe), JAN (Japan), ISBN (Books), ITF-14 (all of these are located below the barcodes on the items). If everything looks correct, but the numbers start with 2,02 or 4, contact your manufacturer.

Incorrect product identifiers

Solution: The 3 product identifiers are Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPNs), and Brand name. Ensure that each of these attributes adheres to the requirements listed in this Merchant Center help article.

 Ambiguous value [gtin] (same as Ambiguous GTIN code)

This means Google doesn’t recognize the GTINs you provided.

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Make sure you’re using the correct values for your GTIN. These can be one of the following depending on your location: UPC (North America), EAN (Europe), JAN (Japan), ISBN (Books), ITF-14 (all of these are located below the barcodes on the items). Recommend checking Google’s support article on GTINs, to learn more about GTINs and where to find them.

Images

Invalid images

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Review your data feed and make sure that the disapproved items image_link parameter is pointing to the correct URL. According to Google, the most common issues are

  • The image URL leads to a web page instead of an image
  • The image can’t be found on the server (404 Error)

Worth noting that using a new URL is the fastest way to get your products approved (up to 4 days). Otherwise, it can take Google up to 6 weeks to check your images.

Invalid URL

Solution:

  1. Check whether your URLs contain invalid characters (spaces, symbols)
  2. Check whether your URLs contain backslashes (\). Only forward slashes (/) are allowed.
  3. Check whether your feed contains valid URLs (https://www.acmestore.com) instead of (www.acmestore.com)

Images too small

Solution: The product image is too small to be used in Google Shopping ads. Its minimum dimensions are as follows:For apparel products, the images need to be at least 250×250 pixels.

For all other products, the images need to be at least 100×100 pixels.

Images can’t be larger than 16MB.

Similar to fixing invalid images, a new image URL is the fastest way to get your products approved (up to 4 days). Otherwise, it can take Google up to 6 weeks to check your images.

Unexpected image processing error

Solution: Ensure that your images meet the minimum image requirements:

  • Accurately display the product you’re selling
  • Use an accepted format: non-animated GIF (.gif), JPEG (.jpg/.jpeg), PNG (.png), BMP (.bmp), and TIFF (.tif/.tiff)
  • For non-apparel products, use an image of at least 100 x 100 pixels
  • For apparel products, use an image of at least 250 x 250 pixels
  • Don’t submit an image larger than 64 megapixels or a file larger than 16MB
  • Don’t scale up an image or submit a thumbnail
  • Don’t include promotional text, watermarks, or borders
  • Don’t submit a placeholder or a generic image Exceptions:
  • In Hardware or Vehicles & parts categories, illustrations are accepted
  • In any paint category, single-color images are allowed.

Similar to fixing invalid and small images, once you fixed your images, a new image URL is the fastest way to get your products approved (up to 4 days). Otherwise, it can take Google up to 6 weeks to check your images.

Image not retrieved (crawl pending)

Solution: Unfortunately, waiting for 3 days is your only solution here. As explained by Feedarmy, Google’s bot doesn’t crawl every page every day and you simply need to wait for it to get to your image URLs. If the message persists after 3 days with no update (the time left isn’t decreasing), contact Google Merchant Center support by phone or live chat (by clicking the 3 dots in the top right-hand corner of your account and selecting ‘Help Center and Support’)

Promotional overlay on image [image link]

Solution: Remove any and all overlaying text on your product images. Once you fixed your images, a new image URL (image uploaded to a new URL) is the fastest way to get your products approved (up to 4 days). Otherwise, it can take Google up to 6 weeks to check your images.We’ve created a useful infographic you can use to help you optimize your images for best performance on Google Shopping.

Missing value [image link]

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Make sure that your products have a link to the image provided for the image_link attribute. 

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Shopping Ads Policy

Violation of Shopping ads policy (same as “Automatic item disapprovals due to policy violation”)

One of the most annoying reasons for disapproval. It means Google’s algorithm thinks that your products could be violating one of Google Shopping’s policies, but won’t tell you which one. According to Feedonomics, this violation is more common in the pharmaceuticals and cosmetics markets, but I’d expand that to any store selling products with potentially restricted substances.

Solution: As a rule of thumb, in this case, it’s always better to start by contacting Google Merchant Center support (I’d recommend picking live chat if available, so you could have the response in writing). From experience (and additional research), the most common issues are:

  • Restricted products (Types of restricted products; List of unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements)
  • Restricted substances as keywords on the landing pages (i.e. in product descriptions)
  • Any claims that fall outside the common and acceptable scientific approaches without clinical/scientific proof (i.e. reduce weight by 50%). Unfortunately, from our experience, in many cases, it’s not allowed even if there IS proof.

Restricted Products (other message used ‘Violation of Shopping ads policy’)

Solution:Make sure that your products aren’t on the restricted products list (Types of restricted products; List of unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements)

If you didn’t find your product(s) in the list, contact Google Merchant Center support (I’d pick live chat if available, so you could have the response in writing).

 

Product pages

Unavailable desktop landing page

There are different reasons for this disapproval (seen when clicking on ‘View samples’ beside the error):

  • 404 Error – means that your landing pages aren’t available anymore. In other words, your product was deleted or hidden from the store (by you), but still hasn’t been deleted from the feed.
Solution: Go into your feed/feed app and make sure these products are deleted. If using a feed app, it will usually detect this automatically and update the feed within 24 hours.
  • Could not connect (or HTTP 5xx response) – means your ecommerce platform (Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.) didn’t respond to the Google bot’s request to crawl the page
Solution: Check the disapproved products’ pages and see whether you can access them fine. Contact your ecommerce platform’s customer support and explain the situation, stating that you can see the pages while Google returns the mentioned errors.
  • DNS Error/Hostname not Resolvable/Timeout on DNS Lookup – means there is an issue with your DNS (Domain Name System).
Solution: Contact your DNS provider (this is usually the same as your hosting provider) and ask for help configuring your DNS.

Unavailable mobile landing page

Solution: same as for the ‘Unavailable desktop landing page’ error

Unsecure Checkout

This means you’re not using SSL-encrypted (https) checkout pages (or without a valid SSL certificate).

Solution: Purchase an SSL certificate from your hosting provider or install a free Let’s Encrypt certificate (also from your hosting provider account) if such is available. If, however, you’re using an ecommerce platform, such as Shopify or BigCommerce, and your plan includes an SSL, contact Google Merchant center support to clarify the issue. 

Shipping and Taxes

No Tax or Shipping

Solution: Set up your tax rates and shipping information.

Target Location without Shipping and Tax

Solution: Make sure you’ve created separate tax rates and Shipping for separate locations. US states, as well as other countries, require their own shipping methods and tax rates. Here are instructions on how to set up and submit feeds to multiple countries.

Missing value [tax]

Solution: You need to submit the taxes that you collect. This attribute is required for the US only. Here’s a Google support article explaining how to set up standard tax rates, non-standard tax rates, as well as tax categories.

Missing value [shipping] (same as Missing shipping information)

Solution: Specify a shipping method. Also, don’t forget to set up different shipping methods for different countries and set the shipping methods appropriate for the items you’re selling (different methods apply to light vs. heavy items). Please refer to this Google support article for more info on how to set up different shipping methods. Here’s a great step-by-step guide from Simprosys on how to create different shipping methods.

Incorrect shipping costs

It’s important to pay attention to this warning and fix it as soon as possible. Providing incorrect shipping information at a large scale can become a reason for account suspension.

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Make sure that your shipping costs are configured properly for these items. If not, specify different shipping costs at the product level by updating the shipping attribute as it will override your account-wide rates. 

Encoding

Invalid UTF-8 encoding [description]

This has to do with Google Merchant Center not recognizing certain symbols in your descriptions (most often these are special symbols, proprietary characters, diacritics). This issue could be happening because of using Microsoft Excel, which could be saving your data in different types of encoding.

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Make sure there are no special symbols. Update your feed with new product descriptions and re-upload the feed.If this doesn’t work you can try changing the text format to UTF-8, uploading your new descriptions and reuploading your feed. As suggested by Zendesk, if you have a Gmail account or have used Google Drive previously, you can:

  1. Open up Google Drive.
  2. Create a new Google Sheets document.
  3. In the new Google Sheets document, import your CSV file.
  4. Once you import your file, you can click on File>Download As>Comma-Separated Values to save the file to your computer.
  5. The file should now be in UTF-8 encoding.

Encoding problem (double UTF8 encoding) in attribute: description

According to this Google Ads help forum response, double-encoding usually indicates that the original site/database text had used different or a mix of various encodings such as latin1/cp1251/etc – especially special symbols, proprietary characters, diacritics, or similar, and then later encoded as UTF-8, which isn’t allowed.

Solution: Use standard UTF-8 encoding for your text and make sure there are no special symbols or hidden white spaces. As explained in the solution above, use Google Sheets to save your descriptions in UTF-8, then reupload your feed.

 

Missing/Invalid feed values

Temporary item disapprovals due to incorrect prices (same as Mismatched value [price] (page crawl))

This can be caused by mismatched prices between your landing pages and your ads.

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Make sure that the prices submitted through the feed are the same as the prices seen on the website. Update your feed/website.Another cause as described in this article by Highstreet.io, could be the automatic currency switchers that use IP addresses to automatically convert the default currency to the visitor’s (i.e. this Auto Currency Switcher for Shopify). According to the article, such apps are not allowed as they change the landing pages’ content and landing pages need to be identical for all users. The solution to this is to create separate landing pages or country-specific domains/subdomains.

As an additional tip, make sure your Automatic Item Updates are enabled and your Schema is configured properly. This will help you reduce the number of price mismatches caused by Google “not keeping up” with your product page changes.

Unknown ‘Google product category’ value (same as Invalid Google product category)

Solution: Make sure the Google Product Category value you’re submitting is taken directly from the Google Product Taxonomy. Remember to provide the full path of the category, i.e. Arts & Entertainment > Hobbies & Creative Arts > Musical Instruments > Bagpipes (this is a real category 🙂 )

Missing value [color]

Solution: There’s an easy solution that makes use of Feed rules. As explained by FeedArmy, if you have colors written in the title, you can:

  1. Log in to Google Merchant
  2. Download the disapproved items report
  3. Navigate to Products > Feeds > click on feed name > (Tab) Feed Rules
  4. In this section click on Add Target Attribute and choose ‘color’
  5. Click on the radio button next to ‘Create a value based on criteria in a feed field:’
  6. Then select ‘title’ from the select field and ‘contains’ from the select operator
  7. Add the color in the text field. For example ‘blue’
  8. Set the value for ‘color’ to ‘blue’ from our example
  9. Click ‘Continue’
  10. If you have more colors to add, click on the +condition and repeat the process.

If you don’t have the color attribute in the title, you’ll have to do it manually in a spreadsheet, or through a Shopping Feed app.

Missing value [size]

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Check whether these items have sizes assigned to them and whether your sizes adhere to the standardized sizes accepted by Google. (example: S, M, L). Update your feed with new product descriptions and re-upload the feed.

Missing value [description]

Solution: Submit a valid description. Remember to optimize it for usefulness over keyword stuffing and make sure it is properly encoded (UTF-8)

Invalid value [price] (same as Incorrect price)

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Make sure that your feed is up-to-date (you’re submitting the same value as shown on your landing page). Also, make sure that you’re not submitting your sale_price value as price.

Missing value [age group]

Age group is an attribute required for all products that vary by age. In order to fix this error, you need to assign a value to every product. If all of your products are for one age group, it’s an easy fix both whether you’re using a spreadsheet feed or feed management software.

Solution: If your products have been produced for adults or teens, you can apply the ‘adult’ value for this field in bulk. If, however, your products differ by age group, you need to assign either of the following age groups: newborn, infant, toddler, kids, adult. See here for the age ranges appropriate for each type.For products meant for different age groups (kids and adults), submit the age group value as ‘adult’.

Missing value [gender]

This attribute is required only for the Apparel and Accessories category.

Solution: Download the disapproved items report. Make sure that your products have the appropriate gender assigned – female, male or unisex.

P.S. This is an ever-growing list. If you spot errors or warnings I missed, feel free to let me know in the comments below and I’ll happily update the article.

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