You grab your favourite superhero mug, fill it with piping hot tea, and take a moment to admire your cat's latest antics as she chases a laser pointer around the living room. You sit down at your desk, all geared up to tackle the day's tasks, when you see it. Google (or our Google Shopping Autopilot app if you're using it) has informed you that your Merchant Center account has been suspended. Just like that? Suddenly, your plans to conquer the day are derailed, and you're left scrambling to figure out what went wrong.
Unfortunately, Google Merchant Center Accounts (MCAs) may get suspended without warning. Google rarely provides an in-depth explanation for why your product or account has been flagged, and contacting Google support can be a process that doesn’t yield any answers quickly. In this article we’re going to help you solve one of the most frustrating Google Merchant Centre violations, the “Misrepresentation of self or product” message. To address these issues effectively you can also download our free Google Merchant Centre Account Suspension Checklist, designed to help you quickly fix the Google misrepresentation issues. Not only will this guide help you fix MCA suspensions but following the steps outlined can also improve your customers experience, conversion rates and stores growth rate.
Understanding Misrepresentation in Google Merchant Center: Ambiguity in Explanations
Google's explanations for account suspensions can often be ambiguous and vague, leaving merchants puzzled about how to address the issues at hand. While these guidelines and rules are in place to ensure a high-quality experience for end shoppers and protect them from deceitful practices, they can sometimes unintentionally impact honest merchants who are striving to comply with all of Google's requirements.
The ambiguity in Google's explanations can make it challenging for merchants to pinpoint the exact problem that led to their suspension. They may find themselves caught in a frustrating game of whack-a-mole, constantly addressing issues only to have their account suspended again. This process can be time-consuming and disheartening, as merchants invest hours, days, or even weeks trying to decipher and rectify the issue that caused their suspension.
The more times a merchant's account gets suspended, the more difficult it can become to lift the suspension. As Google's systems and staff scrutinize the store more closely, the merchant may feel increasingly overwhelmed and uncertain about how to proceed. It is essential for merchants to carefully navigate this complex landscape and seek out guidance to address their account suspensions efficiently and effectively.
Google Merchant Centre may flag your account for "Misrepresentation of self or product" due to issues like "Untrustworthy promotions," "Omission of relevant information," "Unavailable promotions," and "Misleading or unrealistic promotions." To resolve these issues, follow the guidelines below.
Google flags accounts with untrustworthy promotions when businesses conceal or misstate information about their products. To resolve this:
- Investigate the error: Check for clues in Google Merchant Center notifications and messages.
- Secure your checkout: Ensure your checkout process has a valid SSL certificate to protect customer data.
- Update contact information: Make sure your website provides accurate and up-to-date contact information.
- Keep your Google Merchant Centre information current: Ensure your account details match your website information.
- Fix mismatched errors: Make sure prices, sale prices, SKUs, and GTINs in your product feed match your website.
- Review products: Remove items from your product feed that could violate Google's policies.
- Contact Google Support: Submit an appeal or request more information about your violation.
Omission of Relevant Information
This warning indicates insufficient product details or missing crucial information on your website. To fix this:
- Check your pricing: Ensure accurate pricing, including taxes and shipping fees, in your Merchant Centre settings or product feed.
- Ensure there are no hidden fees for customers purchasing your products.
- Enable Automatic Item Updates: Keep your product data updated to prevent suspension due to discrepancies.
- Ensure correct product URLs: Make sure URLs point to the correct product variations.
- Clearly communicate product offerings: Be transparent about what customers are purchasing.
- Display relevant information: Update and prominently display policies like refund, return, and charity information on your website.
This message occurs when promoting out-of-stock products or when ad prices don't match website prices. To resolve this:
- Update product availability: Ensure your product feed accurately reflects stock levels.
- Use an inventory threshold: Prevent overselling by setting inventory rules for multichannel sellers.
- Ensure accurate structured data: Use Google's Rich Results Test and schema.org markup to provide accurate product information.
Misleading or Unrealistic Promotions
False claims or improbable results can trigger this warning. To avoid it:
- Review product descriptions: Remove any banned keywords or claims.
- Be honest about product benefits: Avoid exaggerating results or guarantees that don't align with your product category.
- Be transparent about affiliations: Don't claim certifications, licenses, or endorsements that aren't true.
- Avoid harmful content: Refrain from sharing harmful health claims or information that contradicts authoritative scientific consensus.
- Be accurate with shipping promotions: Ensure your marketing messages align with your actual shipping offers.
Fake Reviews or Imported Reviews from Another Website
One of the reasons Google might flag your account for misrepresentation is the presence of fake reviews or imported reviews from another website. It's crucial to maintain the integrity and authenticity of your customer reviews, as they play a significant role in building trust with potential customers. Fabricating reviews or importing them from other websites can mislead shoppers and create a false impression of your products or services. To avoid falling foul of Google's misrepresentation rules, ensure that all reviews on your website are genuine, submitted by real customers, and pertain specifically to the products or services you offer.
- Remove fake reviews and reviews imported from other websites that are unrelated to your business
- Leverage industry leading review services like Trust Pilot, Yotpo and Reviews.io.
- Encourage your customers to leave reviews in an honest and transparent way. Try not to incentivize positive reviews with rewards that could subsequently mislead users.
- If you are working with influencers who are providing reviews, their content and reviews must clearly state if and when they have received products for free.
Another potential cause of misrepresentation suspensions is the difficulty in locating important legal pages, shipping and returns information, and privacy policies on your website. These pages provide essential information to your customers and demonstrate transparency in your business practices. To comply with Google's guidelines, make sure these pages are easily accessible and clearly visible on your site. Furthermore, ensure consistency in the information provided throughout your website. For instance, if you promote free shipping, be cautious about the conditions and parameters under which customers can qualify for it. Misleading promotions can result in violations of Google's misrepresentation policies, so always provide accurate and clear information regarding shipping and returns to avoid potential suspensions.
- Include navigation links to these pages clearly within your footer.
- Ensure consistent messaging within these pages.
- Match the actual shipping process within your shipping page, including all relevant information.
- Ensure you are shipping products in a timely manner to customers and that they are able to receive your goods within 1 week.
Preventing a Google Merchant Centre account suspension is ideal, but if you find yourself facing one, understanding the "Misrepresentation of self or product" violation and following the guidelines provided can help you resolve the issue quickly. Remember that proactive feed management and keeping your account in compliance with Google's policies can significantly reduce the chances of account suspension.
If you need further assistance with resolving Google Shopping disapprovals or account suspensions, don't hesitate to download our comprehensive Google Merchant Centre Suspension Checklist. This resource will help you navigate the process more efficiently and get your account back in good standing as soon as possible.
Always stay updated with Google's policies and best practices, and consider seeking professional help if you're unsure about how to manage your Google Merchant Center account effectively. With the right approach and knowledge, you can maintain a successful and compliant account, ensuring a smooth and profitable experience with Google Shopping.