Traffic under Google/product_sync Surged After Connecting Shopping Feed With Google Merchant Center

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New Member
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After syncing products from the Shopify store to Google Merchant Center - we noticed a huge volume of traffic labelled Google/product_sync. The traffic comes from locations outside of our market (Quincy, North Bergen, Clifton, New York). Once we disconnected the feed the traffic went away. We see this traffic using Google Analytics. 

Google Merchant Center says the /product_sync parameter is not native to Analytics - they said its something that the Shopify Product feed is creating. From what we can tell there is something going on between the Shopify product feed that syncs with Google Merchant Center. 

Has anyone encountered this problem? Any tips? Feedback. 

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Shopify Partner
62 2 13

Hi @WeLovePets20 

This is indeed caused by the Shopify Google Shopping integration. When Shopify uploads your product feed to Google Merchant Center, it appends the following UTM tags to the product url:

 
&utm_medium=product_sync&utm_source=google&utm_content=sag_organic&utm_campaign=sag_organic
You can confirm this by going to your Merchant Center > Products > All Products > and click on one of your products that was uploaded via the API. Look at the product url / link and you will see the utm tags in there. Depending on how your analytics is configured, this can cause any traffic coming from Google Shopping to have "product_sync" as it's medium.
 
To fix this and  remove the UTM tags from your products:
  1. Go to Merchant Center > Products > Feeds
  2. Click on "Content API" feed
  3. Click on Feed Rules tab
  4. Click + button and type "link" and select "link" to create a new rule for the link attribute
  5. Click cancel under Data Sources and then Modifications > Add Modifications
  6. Optimize URL > Remove Parameter
  7. Type utm_medium and click add
  8. Repeat for utm_source, utm_content, and utm_campaign
  9. Click OK and look in the right side column preview to see if the link has been properly updated.
  10. Click Save as Draft
  11. Click Apply
  12. Wait a while for your feed rules to take effect.
More discussion about this here:
 
Hope this helps.
 
Best,
Alex
Digital Marketing @ Manitobah Mukluks
Shopify Digital Marketing Blog: business.czarto.com
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Shopify Partner
539 14 106

I now understand what this is. Do not remove this appended query string. It is used to track organic clicks in the shopping tab.

If you remove it, you will not get any organic data in Google Analytics.

Google currently has no way of showing you data from organic shopping clicks. Hence why appending this query will allow you to see this.

I have written an article about it here: https://feedarmy.com/kb/how-to-track-google-shopping-free-listings-in-google-analytics/

I'm a Google Shopping Specialist & a Google Ads Platinum Product Expert (Only a hand full of Platinum experts in the world!)
Need a Premium Data Feed Management Tool? Get in touch. (DIY/Managed)
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Shopify Partner
62 2 13

Thanks @EmmanuelFlossie -- That's a good find.

After also digging into it some more, I've come to these additional conclusions:

  1. sag_organic stands for Surfaces Across Google organic traffic
  2. I think a better way to track this traffic would be to set
    utm_source=google
    utm_medium=organic
    utm_campaign=shopping
    This way your standard GA reports look the same (everything bundled into google/organic) but you can segment by Campaign to figure out how much of the traffic is from Organic Shopping Listings. Optionally, you can include the product.title in utm_content which would allow you to further segment on what specific products are sending you the organic traffic.
  3. missing canonical_link: A bigger issue with Shopify's implementation is that the canonical_link is not being set. Without this, Google could start including your UTM'd product urls in it's main search index, which will cause havoc on your Analytics data.

If you use tracking parameters in your link attributes, it is recommend that you use the canonical_link attribute to provide a canonical URL. Use the canonical_link attribute to ensure that products are associated with the correct URL in the Google Search index.
https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/188492?hl=en

I've added a walkthrough on how to change both the UTMs and to set the canonical_link tag using Merchant Center rules here:
Digital Marketing @ Manitobah Mukluks
Shopify Digital Marketing Blog: business.czarto.com
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