google shoppingIf you use Google Shopping, you may have an email that says images are disapproved because of Google Shopping feed specifications. Maybe you received Google’s “risk of disapproval” email, followed by the “preemptively disapproved” email.

Or, if you’re a distributor or manufacturer, maybe you recently (Sept. 2018) have an email from one of your major resellers, along with a spreadsheet of disapproved products due to image problems.

There are a lot of changes with Google Shopping images right now. But don’t worry, we break it all down for you, right here:

Google Shopping management for aftermarket parts

google shopping feed specificationsGoogle Shopping is a great way to sell aftermarket or OEM auto parts. It also has a nice conversion rate and ROI. For many companies selling auto parts online, Google Shopping is their primary source of paid search revenue.

It’s a big deal when auto parts drop out of a Google Merchant Center product feed.

It takes time to fix, and your Google Shopping campaigns do not show these products.

We’ve seen Google getting stricter on reinforcing Google Shopping feed specifications for aftermarket auto parts in recent months (as of Sept. 2018). When you get warnings from Google on your auto parts images, it may not make total sense. This article explains how Google’s image disapprovals work and how you can do a better job at Google Shopping management.

Google’s image requirements for Google Shopping are pretty clear. We’ve also seen a trend where images are at risk of disapproval if they don’t also follow Google Shopping best practices.

Google’s artificial intelligence scans your images

Google is getting better at identifying images that don’t pass quality guidelines. Images below Google’s quality standards are flagged. Sometimes, the algorithm is a bit too aggressive, too.

Disapproval due to missing image, a real Google Shopping management headache

google shopping feed specificationsMissing images are bad for Google Shopping management, and always have been. Google doesn’t like auto parts with missing images. If you got by with missing images so far, you are lucky.

You’re under the microscope when you’re “caught.”  Eliminate all auto parts with missing images now. Don’t wait for images to be disapproved. That way, you avoid close scrutiny in the future.

Google Shopping doesn’t allow auto parts listings without an image, or with a generic “missing image” image.

Google Shopping disapproval due to “promotional text or logos”

google shopping feed specification image exampleGoogle’s shopping feed specifications do not allow text to appear in an auto parts image. Google’s image requirements state, “…all items on Google Shopping require an unobstructed image that does not contain additional promotional elements.

google shopping feed image specificationsIn the first example, we pulled this crate engine image from a popular aftermarket auto parts website. It’s a great image for a website! But, this image violates Google’s policy on promotional text or logos. This product image will be disapproved.

The “FREE SHIPPING” icon is the reason for the disapproval. This product has a secondary image without the icon and in this case, that secondary image would be perfect for Google Shopping.

In this second example, two logos appear in the exhaust parts photo. These logos are in violation because these are “promotional elements.” This image does not comply with Google Shopping image specifications.

Google Shopping disapproval when an auto part image has text

google shopping feed image specificationSome auto parts, shirts or hats have text or logos on them. Do they fall under the “no promotional text or logos” rule?

No. These product images are fine to use in Google Shopping. Occasionally, Google’s algorithm “reads” text in the image and interprets it as promotional text or a logo. Recently, it seems like these misinterpretations have increased.

If you were previously flagged for a disapproved image, you’re also subject to additional scrutiny like with missing product images mentioned above.

Here’s an example of an image for a Banks Monster-Ram. It could potentially be flagged as having promotional text. If this image would get disapproved, Google has a method of requesting a manual review of disapproved images. There’s a link to request a manual review in the email you receive from Google.

Google Shopping disapproval when a kit has multiple parts in an image

google shopping feed specificationsgoogle shopping feed specificationAnother automated disapproval comes from images showing multiple parts because they’re part of a kit.

This is actually fairly common.

Here are two examples of auto parts. One is OK but the other one violates Google’s image specifications.

The first example is a kit. In a Google Shopping feed, Google’s artificial intelligence may disapprove this image because it shows several parts instead of one.

This first image is actually OK for Google Shopping. If you get a disapproval notice, submit this for manual approval like the Monster-Ram above.

The second example shows an auto part in one image from two different views. It displays two parts, but it sells in units of one. In this example, the quantity required is 1, UOM (“unit of measure”), is “ea” (“each”).

If used for Google Shopping, it violates Google Shopping specifications. It needs a new photo showing just one product, not two.

You must use two separate images to show a product from two angles.

Google Shopping disapproval due to image background

google image feed requirementsGoogle’s description of low image quality says, “…we recommend your main image…use a solid white, gray, or light colored background.

Don’t believe that it is merely a recommendation.

To be safe, consider this recommendation a requirement.

Google evaluates images on best practices, as well as published requirements. We recommend all images use a solid white, gray or light colored background. Images that don’t have a solid white, gray or light background risk disapproval.

This example shows a product on a black background. This is great for a product page but this photo is not a valid image for a Google Shopping feed. It doesn’t comply with Google Shopping specifications.

Google Shopping disapproval due to watermarks

google shopping image specificationsGoogle Shopping feed specifications don’t allow watermarked images. “Watermarked” means a logo appears on top of an image. This is prevents others from stealing the image from a website.

While watermarked images may not be flagged at first, once they do, Google sends a “risk of disapproval” email. You must submit new images within about 30 days.

This example is a clear violation of Google Shopping feed specifications. It does not comply with Google Shopping specifications.

If you have concerns about someone stealing images from your Google Shopping feed, don’t worry. Unless someone is logged into your Google Merchant Center they don’t have access to your full-size image and it can’t be stolen. They can only copy the tiny version displayed in Google Shopping.

Some eCommerce platforms let you display a watermark on top of an image programmatically. This lets you display a watermark on your own website but also keeps the image clean for Google Shopping. It also avoids the need to manually add watermarks and maintain two separate files of images.

Google Shopping management: other reasons for image disapproval

Image size is important for Google Shopping. Auto parts images must be at least 100 x 100 pixels or larger. They must be less than 16 MB. Images for apparel, including automotive T-shirts, hats, jackets or hoodies, must be at least 250 x 250 pixels.

Google Shopping feed specificationsImages must be photos of the actual product, not a placeholder, “looks like” image, or a “representative part” image. Image formats must be non-animated GIF (.gif), PNG (.png), JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg), BMP (.bmp), or TIFF (.tif or .tiff) files.

There are two Google Shopping categories where an illustration is acceptable: Hardware and Vehicles & Parts. Illustrations still can’t show text, part numbers, frames, or multiple products in one image.

Questions on Google Shopping management for auto parts? Call us

We’re experts in using automotive data to build, manage and optimize Google Merchant Center feeds. We manage millions of rows of data for Google Shopping. We’re also experts at Google Shopping feed specifications as well as the new Smart Shopping campaigns. If you need help with your Google Shopping management we’d love to talk to you!