Solving Product Category Issues in Google Shopping can be like watching wet paint dry and when you go to touch it up, one mistake can change the whole look. Time-consuming and unpleasant? Yes, but there are solutions. Read how you can proactively optimize your product categories for Google Shopping before you get a warning or worse your products are disallowed by GMC.

Google Shopping Optimization: Product Category Requirements

The product category field serves a dual purpose. First, it helps search engines find your products when users type in specific search queries. Second, you can also use categories to organize your AdWords campaigns and translate this structure into effective bidding strategies.

Shoppers on a busy street.


Google Shopping Category: Structure Best Practice

Use the lowest-level Google-defined value.

For google_product_category use the lowest-level, exact, Google-defined, taxonomy value that best categorizes the physical item or how the physical item might be used.

For most items, the highest-level value is sufficient except for items that fall under apparel or apparel-accessories. Apparel & Accessories alone cannot be submitted as a value.

For example: Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Suits > Pant Suits

Included below is Google’s recommended best practice for formatting your product feed category.

Google Shopping Product Category:  Format Best Practice

Follow these formatting guidelines to make sure Google understands the data you’re submitting.

Google Supported Values

Predefined Google product category: the ID or the full path of the product category

Download a list of all Google product categories:

  • Excel sheet (.xls)
  • Plain text (.txt)

To prevent garbled text in the .txt version, use one of these methods:

  • Change your browser encoding to Unicode UTF-8. 
  • Download the .txt version: right-click on the link, and then click Save Link As

Limit : 1 category per product

Google Shopping Product Category: Additional Tips

These are tips that can help you go beyond the basic requirements to optimize your product data for performance.

*Use the most recent categories.

In AdWords, bidding on Shopping campaigns are based on the latest categories. You can submit previous versions of categories published after August 2011, but Google has to translate these to the latest version. If you use old categories, what you submit could look different from the final version.

What capabilities does your product feed provider need in order to structure your categories properly?

  • Ability to take existing product categories and map them to GMC specifications
  • Product feed editing functionality to edit categories that may change
  • Experience working with Google to problem solve GMC category issues

Additional Resources

How to handle products in Google Merchant Center (GMC) that are disapproved

Google Shopping Optimization: Product Titles

Google Shopping Optimization: AdWords Custom Labels

Product Listing Ads Frequently Asked Questions

Product Data Specification

Let us know your experience with fine tuning your Google Shopping categories in the comments!


Contact Highstreet.io to set-up and manage your Google Shopping product feed. We have a wealth of experience with maximizing your shopping campaign performance in the areas of fashion, apparel, consumer electronics and household item products listings.