In AdWords the ability to utilize the product ads option of linking a client’s Google Merchant (otherwise known as Base) account to their AdWords is a oft-used and loved feature by Portent. Google Merchant Center is free and of course, anything you can do in AdWords to stand out on a SERP is a plus- but in order for a site to appear in the Shopping feed, the URL must be verified through Google Webmaster Tools. Which means that things can get complicated.
Especially if something or someone needs to be transferred.
So here’s the skinny: a Google Merchant Account CANNOT be transferred.
Only one account can have ownership of a URL at a time. This means that the profile in your account must be deleted and a NEW account created using a different Google Account email. When a site is entered into your account, the URL is claimed and verified through your Google Webmaster Tools file. (For our example today- the verification method is uploading an HTML file.) Once that file is uploaded and verified, the URL can then be claimed in Google Base. Note that Webmaster tools files are unique to the account they are in, but are the same for every site in that account and can co-exist on the same website. (We did try it – nothing blew up.)
Your HTML Webmaster Tools file can sit by another other HTML file- but if that account is new, there won’t be any stats yet and it will stay that way until Google’s next crawl of the site. Each time Google crawls the site, it refreshes the information in Google Webmaster Tool, thus populating both accounts with fresh data.
How to Transfer a Google Merchant Account and Google Webmaster Tools
- Establish what the new Google Account is going to be.
- Set up a new Google Base account with the new Google Account email, copy over the old information to the new account. (Items like site description, address, customer service, phone numbers etc;) Don’t verify yet- the info will just sit there happily in the meantime.
- Unlink the AdWords Client ID in the old Google Base account for the site.
- Set up a new Google Webmaster Tools account with the new Google Account email. Add the site’s URL and get the HTML file for verification.
- Upload this HTML file to the site’s root directory, right alongside the old file.
- Verify the new file in the new Webmaster Tools account.
- Delete the old account/profile in Google Base for that site.
- Add the site URL to the new Google Base account, click “Verify.”
- Keep in mind that Google might not have caught up to you yet- this could be completed in 5minutes or up to 24-48hrs. If it won’t let you claim the URL yet, you’ll just have to be patient and try again later. (Yes- this means your product feed is dark during this time.)
- Once the URL has been claimed by the new Google Base account, upload the product feed.
- Link up the AdWords account back up with the new Google Base account.
- Delete the old Webmaster Tools file from the site’s root directory AFTER the new Google Webmaster Tools account has populated with data from the next crawl.
One other alternative- if you only need to move the Google Base account and NOT Webmaster Tools, follow the above- but instead of a new Webmaster Tools account, simply add the new Google Account email that you used to set up the new Google Base account as a user to the current Google Webmaster Tools account. This will allow you to verify the URL under the new Google Base account, but let you keep the Google Webmaster Tools the way it is.
Thanks to Evan Fishkin for letting me use his website as a guinea pig.