What is categories management?

The taxonomy is crucial for the product ads as it helps Google to identify quicker if the products in each feed are a good match for a given shopper query.


While selecting the right category for your products is no rocket science, the downside is that Google has more than more than 6,000 categories. Finding the right category for your products becomes a cumbersome job. This is true for all merchants, but it becomes unmanageable especially for those that have large feeds with hundreds and thousands of categories.


Still, there are countless benefits of going very in-depth with your categorization and here’s why you should take the time and do it properly.




  • Google will be able to identify quicker if your products are a good match for any given search query. Adding GTIN to your feed also enables Google to do that, but Google Shopping is also a Comparison Shopping site that is using the Google Product Categories for navigation and comparison.
  • The right category increases the chance that your products will show up for the right search queries and your CTRs will improve
  1. By having better CTRs your product ads will have better chances when competing with similar products
  2. If your ads become more relevant, the costs of your PLAs will go down
  3. Other channels use Google’s Product Category: Bing Shopping, Facebook Dynamic Product Ads, Criteo and once you are done with selecting the right categories for Google you can proceed and expand your multi-channel strategy
  4. If you are selling in more than one country and you have mapped your categories in English, you can use the categorization for all the other countries where Google Shopping has a presence.
  5. Categorizing feeds with many different product types is a tedious job, but the benefits are big enough to spend a few hours executing it. If you can’t make the time: outsource this to a freelancer to do it for you; it’s money well spent!

General categorization


Let’s say you’re just starting with Google Shopping, or you simply don’t want to spend hours choosing the sub-sub-sub-sub category for all your products.


You can get away with only listing the top category for the types of products you’re selling, without the need of going in depth. So, if you’re selling ski equipment, you could get away by simply setting the top category: Sporting Goods > Outdoor Recreation.


This way you know for sure that your products will not be disapproved in Google Merchant Center and that you can start advertising for your products right away.


Manual Categorization


The title says it all: you should manually categorize all products. For doing so, you need to go to Google’s Taxonomy page, download the entire list of categories and subcategories and then proceed to select the best category for each product.


You can download the list of products here and the use the search functionality in Excel to find the best categories for each product. This strategy works well if you don’t have lots of products in your feed.


Keep in mind:

  • You always must keep up with the changes in Google’s Product Category and update the category in the product feed file. Or else, your products will be disapproved.
  • Choose wisely: an item could be a good fit for more than one category, so in this case, you must select the most appropriate one.


Automatic Categorization


Can be done only with the help of a third-party tool. Such a system could work as follows, each product type will be matched to the most appropriate Google subcategory:

  1. You select the General Category so that the products don’t get disapproved
  2. Choose your list of products
  3. Generate rules based on the product type in the data feed
  4. Type in a few letters and select the best category for that type of product

The process is much faster and pain-free than having to do it manually. And to make it even better; if Google changes anything in their taxonomy the third-party tool could automatically update your categories.

By mapping your categories using such a system you cut down the risk of having products disapproved in the Merchant Center.


Manual & Automatic categorization


Sometimes, a combination between the two of them works best, because it allows for more personalization.

So, for example, let’s say you sell dresses and you create the auto-generated rule as in the example above and assign the generic category Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Dresses.

But, if you sell different types of dresses it’s best to be as specific as you can and not put them all in the same category.


For that you can go to Manual rules and create more specific rules, such as:

Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Wedding & Bridal Party Dresses if title includes wedding.


Keep in mind:

  • Rules added manually have a higher priority than auto-generated rules and you can overwrite auto-generated rules with manual ones.
  • So, if you have wedding dresses in the Dresses category in your store, it will go to Wedding dresses not to generic Dresses, since manual rule overwrites the auto generated one.


Add Product Type


Sometimes there is confusion between the product type and the Product Category in Google. Thus, merchants provide Google with their product types instead of the required taxonomy.

The product type is what merchants use to categorize the products on his website, and the Google Product Category is the required taxonomy that merchants need to provide to be able to sell on Google Shopping.


Even if the product type is not a required field by Google, it is very important to have it in the feed because:

  1. it gives even more detailed information to Google about your product offering
  2. if you can’t be very specific with Google’s categories, it becomes important because it provides Google the information about your product
  3. it adds another descriptive layer to the taxonomy
  4. you can use it to bid on your product types to get better results
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