Are you having trouble getting your Google Shopping campaign to work with a BigCommerce store? Jump to the solution.
Recently BigCommerce, a popular ecommerce platform, announced a Beta integration with Google Shopping, a specialty SEM program. As a Google Agency Partner, I'd spoke with a dedicated representative from Google, whom advised me that Google was putting a big push behind Google Shopping, so this would be a high-value investment for my clients. A client for whom we were doing AdWords who is on BigCommerce was agreeable to a test program of this new feature.
BigCommerce dropping the ball
I like BigCommerce and believe it is an excellent e-commerce solution for clients. However, they seriously dropped the ball repeatedly on this one. First, they sent a Beta invite to customers. On my client's behalf, I responded...but it only led to a link on Google about Google shopping, not to be part of the Beta. So I reached out to customer service...who a few days later responded that I needed to reach out to sales. I used the link on the site to Sales, only to, a few days later, get a response that you can't email them, but rather use the online help request. A few days later I got an automated response that I needed to talk to a channel partner.
We had missed the deadline by this point.
So, we figured we'd set this up independently with Google directly.
Google dropping the ball
I worked with a Google Shopping Specialist to set up the initial campaign...while I believed I could likely do this on my own, for a new program, I figured I'd take advantage of having someone from Google who works on this new program, to make sure everything was spot on for a quick launch (September 1 we needed to be live). Well...
The "description" field in the merchent center spreadsheet for the campaign is whence the keywords for AdWords are matched. In other words, you do not build a keyword list, but rather write the description to incorporate, natively, the appropriate keywords. A product can only appear once, so testing is limited - something I would love to see addressed. Thankfully, with the specialist, we did an initial test. The way he told me to write the description would not have included any of the keywords we were actually after. I pushed the issue and proved that my description would trigger for our target group while the description drafted by the Google specialist would not. So, we finalized the descriptions.
BigCommerce or Google?
However, once everything was in place, the campaign wasn't live. We continued to get error after error message. The problem was in the robots.txt file, but what was specifically wrong?
In speaking with BigCommerce, they had no idea. BigCommerce, by default, disallows pages that relate to your cart, so that your analytics are not thrown off - makes sense. (https://support.bigcommerce.com/articles/Public/Understanding-the-Robots-txt-File)
The Google specialist gave a variety of variations to replace the BigCommerce default robots.txt file, but none of these eliminated the error.
In the end, we had to allow everything on the BigCommerce store to be viewed, which now appears in the analytics report, skewing the stats there.
By October 2 (one month after deadline), the Google Shopping campaign finally went live and is, as Google promised, doing well. What I don't understand is why, when a Beta program had already been released and well in the works, did neither party - Google or BigCommerce - know about the robots.txt issue nor have a solution at the ready.
It is possible that the images we were using were part of the issue...Google does not allow text to be on the graphics, so where we grabbed the url was different than the norm, I suspect. However, this will hardly be the first or only time this would happen.
My purpose for this post is not to insult BigCommece or Google - I'm still fans of both. Rather, anyone else who is facing these issues - I want to save you a month of emails and false starts and trials. Just use
for both the http and https in BigCommerce.
REMEMBER, though, that your Google Analytics will now include: