What is Structured Data and why does it matter for my Shopify store?
SEO isn’t the simplest of topics. It might also not be the sexiest sounding way to optimise your store. But it does work. (And 100,000 Shopify app users installing Plug in SEO must mean there’s something to it.) Most importantly, it’s something you can get stuck into by yourself, for a relatively low cost, with a little helping hand from your friends at Plug in Useful (and especially with a little help from our SEO app).
Let’s assume that you know the very basics of SEO: researching keywords, building backlinks, creating fresh content, etc.. If not, hop on over to our basic beginner’s guide to Shopify SEO.
What else can help improve your visibility, positioning and click-ability? Join us on a(n only mildly technical) journey and explore the world of structured data: what it is, how to optimize it and how it can help you grow. We’ve been working hard, under the hood, to release an update for Plus users which significantly enhances your ability to fine tune this data. But, enough about our fancy apps, let’s start with the basics!
What is structured data?
Structured data is, simply put, the language a webpage needs to speak so that Google understands your store, products, collections, etc. It’s all very well that search engines recognise that you’ve got a website and it’s got a well-described (nice keywords!) product listed on it. But there’s so much more that search robot would like to know. When you search for a product in Google, you know how the results look. Something a bit like this:
The title of the page and the short description come from your metadata, a standard Shopify feature, editable down at the bottom of every product on the admin side. Plug in SEO can help you to optimize these data too, especially with our templating system if you have a lot of pages titles which need to be fixed in a hurry. But meta title and meta description are just one piece of the structured data puzzle.
If you start researching by yourself, you may notice there are many ways folks are talking about passing this extra data from Shopify to search engine: JSON+LD, microdata, rich snippets, schema, structured data… Then, if you visit schema.org, you might discover there are over 600 different individual kinds of structured data available! Don’t worry – you don’t need to learn (or implement) anything like that.
What structured data means, in basic terms, is pushing all that neat, useful extra data (price, rating, availability) straight into search results. To understand what means what in your store, Google needs you to label your data appropriately. And, yes, that data needs to be coded in a special language so that search robots know what’s what. In the next section, we’ll look at the most common and most useful structured data categories for ecommerce.
How much you charge for the product vs competitors is important. Has your product’s price changed? Is it on sale? I’m sure that’s something you want your customers to know! If you’re looking for sales via organic search, google shopping and/or shopping ads, sending this structured data is super important.
Your shoppers need to know that the product is in stock and that they can order right away. Or else they’ll find it elsewhere. They’re probably also interested to know if you’ve only got three limited edition pairs of sneakers online or 5000 individual paper serving plates in your catering supply store. If it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or you’re the biggest paper plate seller on the Eastern Seaboard, you can help establish your position with this handy structured data nugget.
More Product Details
Different sizes, weights, colors of a product? You set it up in your Shopify admin and the data can be structured for any Google robot visitors. Last but not least, you can let Google know each product’s SKU. Might not sound very useful or glamorous, but Google Merchant Center requires every product to have a structured-data-encoded unique identifier. Make sure you have that sorted out on the Shopify side and we’ll make sure it syncs up ok!
How much do previous purchasers like your product? Pulling aggregate review data into your search engine results has a significant effect on click-throughs and conversions. You want our customers to know you have the products they need, but also that they’re great quality and that your store takes care of its customers well. Plug in SEO works with most of the leading review plugins out-of-the-box, but if you have any questions about compatibility, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our support team.
Local Business Listing
If your business straddles the realms of online and offline, don’t forget to structure that data too. Setting up your business address will sync your offline store with Google Maps and help shoppers in your neighborhood to discover you too. For Plug in SEO Plus users, you can find this feature in your general store settings.
How can I test my structured data?
Visit Google’s Rich Results Test for a real-time preview of your current search engine appearance.
For a more technical view, the Structured Data Testing Tool will double check your configuration and suggest fixes:
Why is structured data important?
With well-configured structured data, your potential customers get a richer experience, not just seeing a snippet of text about your product but all of the important details. If you’re lucky, your theme might include some decent structured data as standard and, if you have a developer working on your store, they may have upgraded things too. With Plug in SEO, we’ll keep your store compliant with the latest updates and give you tools to manage any future changes. We’re always interested to hear if there’s anything else we can do to improve your SEO performance.
There can be competition between Shopify theme setups and apps to feed out structured data. To give the most obvious example, running two SEO apps together will almost certainly give you some weird structured data results. If you’re unsure of how Plug in SEO will work for you, the Plug in Useful team would be more than happy to review out your setup and make sure everything plays well together.