Can Google Merchant Center ban your account for dropshipping? Anton answers this question in today’s episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast.
As always, if you have any questions and suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Don’t forget to share this with someone who needs to hear it.
What's Covered in This Episode:
Dropshipping is allowed on Google, but there are things that we can all do to protect our accounts. Here are some things that everyone should implement right away:
If your account does get suspended:
Links From This Episode:
What's up everybody, Anton Kraly here from ecommercelifestyle.com and welcome back to the podcast. If you're new here, just know that this show comes out twice a week, every single Monday and Thursday, with a new episode. And on the show, I discuss different ways that e-commerce store owners can increase their revenue, automate their operations, and become the authority in their niche and build a true lifestyle business by leveraging the power of e-commerce. Now on that journey of building and of building a business that can support you financially and give you that freedom, there are going to be hiccups and roadblocks and things that happen along the way, and what you do when those things come up really that's the difference maker between are you going to be successful and are you not. So in today's episode, I wanted to talk about one of those roadblocks that might possibly come up and what you can do to overcome it and keep moving forward instead of just thinking, "Okay, that's it. Everything is over." And throwing your hands in the air.
Also, I want to give you some tips on how you can potentially avoid this, so hopefully you don't find yourself in the situation that has to be overcome to begin with. Now, what we're going to be talking about is Google Merchant Center and having your Google Merchant Center account suspended. So real quick, 30 second overview for anybody not aware, Google Merchant Center is basically a tool from Google that allows you to connect your e-commerce store product feed to Google. So it's a way for you to sync your product catalog, whether that be on Shopify or BigCommerce or WooCommerce or Volusion or whatever, it allows you to basically link your products, upload them to Google Merchant Center, so then you can run Google shopping ads to your products. So it's in between your store and Google Ads.
Now we had a post come up in our private Facebook group for members of my coaching program, Dropship Lifestyle, and this just popped up a couple of days ago, and it was from a guy named Nathan and he said, "Has anybody's Merchant Center account been suspended for simply being a dropshipping store? Google has suspended my store and although they have not given a specific reason or way to resolve it, I suspect it is to do with that it is a dropshipping store from reading a few comments online." So I posted, in this thread, in our Facebook group, but I wanted to go a little bit deeper. And first off, just let everybody know that Google does not ban dropshipping stores, you are a hundred percent allowed to have a Google Merchant Center account and a Google Ads account and have your products uploaded and have ads running if you are dropshipping
That always has been how it was, that is, in my opinion, how it will be into the future. There is no specific, at this point, there was actually in the past, but there's no specific verbiage in Merchant Center's terms of service that has anything to do with dropshipping. So before I talk about how this can be resolved, let me say a couple of things first, one thing that for as long as I can remember Google has not been fond of and has closed accounts for, is people that are trying to basically game the system, and one, either use Google Merchant Center to upload their products that they're promoting as an affiliate rather than selling on their site, and also people that are running on the arbitrage model. So even people that are accepting sales direct on their site, but then getting a sale from their store and then buying that product from eBay or Amazon or something and having no real connection to the brands or products they sell for.
So those things are not allowed, those things, in my opinion, even years ago, could get your account banned and would. The second one, the arbitrage one, more so if they find out, but either way that has been against their terms for, again, as long as I can remember. So with that being said, the guy that posted this question, Nathan, I think when he was doing his research, he might've seen some comments about that and just assumed, "Wow, you can't have a Google Merchant Center account. If you're running on the dropship model." Which again is not true, I linked to some resources and he found some of his own that proved that's not true. So let's clear that up right away.
Now, with that being said, with Google and your Merchant Center Account, there are many different reasons and many different possibilities that can have your account suspended. So I'm going to go through a few of them and hopefully give you ideas for how to avoid them so this doesn't happen. So first off when Google Merchant Center is having their algorithm run and possibly suspend accounts, there are some easy things to avoid. One of them, one of the biggest ones, is your settings inside of your Google Merchant Center account. So when you're setting it up and after it's set up and you're logged in, you have a setting section, and in that setting section, it asks for things like your business information, it asks for things like your shipping rates and your tax rates, and you have to enter them all there, you literally type it in, you manually enter it.
And then what's going to happen is, first of all to get your products approved, those will have to be entered and completed. But then even when they are, let's just say you do what we do, and you put shipping is $0, inside of Google Merchant Center, shipping $0, we offer free shipping, what Google is going to do, not literally a person, but their system, their bots, it's going to go to your website, it's going to add products to the cart, and it's going to see if shipping is actually $0. And if you say, in Google Merchant Center, my shipping is $0, and Google's bot goes to your website and adds a product to the cart, and it says, shipping is, whatever, $20, then that's a big red flag. So things like that, they need to be completed inside of Google Merchant Center, and they need to match with what is actually happening on your site. So first of all make sure that that is configured correctly.
The more contact methods the better, because basically what Google is doing as they're checking different accounts, is seeing is this a trustworthy business? And one way they rate is this a trustworthy business, is if a potential customer or someone that actually bought from you, can they contact you should they need to. So you want to make sure you have those multiple contacts options up there for the people.
Now, also some things I'll say, let's just say you do that all, and somehow your account does get flagged and you get that message that nobody wants to see that says your Merchant Center account has been suspended, there's also a ton of different things in Google's terms of service, things like prohibited products, so some things that just aren't, I guess, Google friendly that they wouldn't want you to be advertising, other things like deceptive marketing practices, so a lot of times you see those fake, I'm not going to name names, but certain Shopify themes you see these timers everywhere that obviously are fake, they just keep resetting and you see three left in stock, two left in stock, one left in stock, so things like that that Google can consider a deceptive marketing practice. If they find stuff like that on your website, definitely they can suspend your account.
And again, there's other terms, but really it's all things similar to that. What Google wants, just like every company that allows you to use their services, is for the people that find you, meaning the store, through them, they want those customers, their customers, Google's customers, Google's users, to have the best experience. So you want to make sure you're reading through Google's terms of service, in this case specifically with Merchant Center, and make sure that you are doing whatever they want you to do. And honestly, they're just good business practices anyway, to give shoppers the best possible experience. I'll post the link in the description of this podcast, and you can open up those terms of service if haven't seen them recently, go through, make sure all of your stuff is up to date.
So, again, let's say even you do all that, and you're confident, you're a hundred confident you've done everything right, and it was, I guess what I would consider a false flag, so Google's bot went through your website and it was just a mistake. It messed up, it said, "This account should be suspended for XYZ." When really it shouldn't have. What I'll say is right now we're going through COVID and I don't know why companies as big as Google are using that as an excuse to limit their customer service. So recently I've tried to contact them a few times and it's shown that their phone number isn't available, but live chat always has been during normal business hours. So my advice is if this happens to you, first off don't panic, second, don't jump to assumptions and just think, "This is because of Y, that's it, I'm done."
Again what you want to do is go through all of those things that I've just listed out, you then want to go, again, through Google's terms of service and see if there's anything that you possibly could have done and slipped up on. If you notice anything that should be changed, you want to implement those changes right away. And then you want to go to Google's Help Center, and you want to click on the buttons that take you through the process of connecting to a real person, it kind of takes you through a little series of questions first to see if they can just push you off to their FAQ, but you want to click on the button that says, talk to a person, if the phone number option is available, my advice is always get on that call because that could be the most instant realtime feedback.
If that's not available, second option is go with live chat and simply say, "Hi, my Merchant Center account was flagged or suspended because of..." Whatever the reason they gave you was. And then if you notice something, say, "I realized that I should have contact information and a contact page, that wasn't there, it's now been added. I have a phone number, email, contact form, and address. Please see this link and please let me know what we need to do to reinstate my account." Something as simple as that. Again, if you don't see anything glaringly obvious, just say, "Hi, my account was suspended. I've went through all of the terms of service multiple times, I can't find anything that would cause this. I think there was an error. And can you please manually review my store." So try that.
What might happen, what's happened to us in the past, is the first time you go through that process, you might not get anywhere. So that can definitely be disheartening, but don't, again, throw your hands up in the air and say, "This first person said it is what it is. So I'm done." Simply follow up, literally every day, because Google has such a big team, you're going to get different people on live chat. If the phone number is available, you're going to get different people on the phone. And I'll tell you, I'm going to knock on wood, but every time we've had an account suspended, we have always gotten it back. Sometimes it's been the same day, sometimes it's taken a few weeks and following up and finally getting the right person on the phone or on live chat, but again, make sure, review those terms of service, go through what I said in this episode, implement that stuff sooner rather than later.
And then if it does come to a day where you get that notification that said your account been suspended, specifically in this episode we're talking about Google Merchant Center, follow those steps to get it resolved, and I'm sure you'll do just fine. Don't panic, keep pushing, keep trying to connect, always be nice, always be respectful to whoever you're talking to because that's going to be the person that makes the decision of whether or not your account is good to go or not. But remember it has nothing to do with dropshipping, dropshipping, when you do it the right way, like we do, is a hundred percent allowed on all of Google's platforms and it's something that myself and our students have made tens of millions of dollars with.
So as always hope you found this episode helpful, if you did, do me a favor and go to Apple Podcasts and leave a review really means a lot. And if you're not subscribed yet, make sure you click the subscribe button so you can get brand new episodes every Monday and Thursday. Also, if you are just listening now and you're like, "Anton, this sounds awesome, but I don't even have a store yet." Be sure to go to dropshipwebinar.com, I'm going to link it in the description. It's spelled D-R-O-P-S-H-I-P webinar.com. And you can get a free training from me there on how we build highly profitable, semi-automated stores. So that's it, thanks for listening, and I will talk to you in the next one. See you.