Starting on April 6, Google will begin enforcing price accuracy between Merchant Center feeds and checkout.
Google announced that, beginning on April 6, it will start enforcing its longstanding policy of requiring merchants to show the price of an item from their Google Merchant feed on their e-commerce page, all the way through the checkout process. If you show a higher price than what is on your landing page, Google can suspend your account.
The guideline. Google posted its guidelines for the checkout requirements over here, it, in part, reads:
“People expect to pay the advertised price for your products. If the price of a product advertised in a Shopping ad or free product listing is different from the price shown in a customer’s shopping cart, that could create a negative experience for the customer and could result in the loss of a sale.
To ensure that your product’s price is clear, follow these requirements. The price of your product should be consistent throughout the checkout process, not just between the product feed and your landing page. The price shouldn’t increase at checkout. It may, however, be lowered after the product is added to the cart if a promotion is added.”
The enforcement. “Beginning April 6, in addition to reviewing and enforcing price accuracy between your Merchant Center product data and your landing pages, we will begin to review and enforce price accuracy at checkout,” Google said.
The penalty. If you do violate this guideline, Google said “you will receive a 28-day warning to resolve these mismatches, otherwise your account will be subject to suspension at the end of the warning period.”
How Google enforces this. You may remember that several months ago, Google told us that GoogleBot can add items to your shopping cart. The purpose was to not mess up your conversion metrics, but rather to have “automated systems to ensure consumers are getting accurate pricing information from our merchants.”
So, Google knows about some merchants violating this rule and has decided to start enforcing it with suspension notices.
Why we care. If you run an e-commerce site or have a client that runs an e-commerce site, you should ensure that the price that is displayed at checkout matches (or is less than) what is displayed on the landing page.
Google wrote “consistent and accurate pricing is one of the most important factors shoppers take into considerations when making a purchase. If the product’s price at checkout is higher than the price shown in an ad, free product listing, or on a product landing page, shoppers are more likely to abandon the purchase.”
Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.