Structured Data: What is it and the Benefits for eCommerce Websites

eCommerce websites are notorious for having thousands or even millions of pages. For Search engines like Google, collecting all the information on the page is critical but the most important elements are those that affect search rankings. Website content is probably the best SEO Section every eCommerce marketing professional should focus on. Aside from giving value to your customers, website content is what you present to search engines as your website identity. To have a clear idea as to what are the most important page elements to optimize, Here is a list from Brian Dean of Backlinko of the content elements that needs optimization:

8 Important On-page Elements

  1. URLs
    • URLs should be SEO-friendly. It should contain the keyword and should not be too long (more than 125 characters).

Ex. Unoptimized URL – url.com/182379/

SEO URL – url.com/what-are-ecommerce-websites

  1. Title Tag
    • Title tags should contain the main keyword for the page. Make sure to create unique title for your landing pages. Optimized length for each title is around 60-70 characters
  2. Meta Description
    • Other than containing the keyword, Meta Descriptions should be just that, a description of the page. Less than 160 characters is the optimized character length.
  3. Header Tags (H1, H2, and H3)
    • Header tags are essential for Main Keyword placement (H1), Subheadings (H2 and H3) for subtopics that you want to consider.
  4. Multimedia and Images
    • Multimedia and Images should be entirely relative to the page. Images specifically should have alt-text tags. The Alt-text attribute is the textual equivalent of the image.
  5. Word Count
    • The number of words in your page is critical not only as a number but also the overall thought and value of the page. A good word count can go as little as 300 to as much as 2500 words if the value of the page needs it. Google will always compare content between competing landing pages. The better overall content will mean better rankings overall.
  6. Keywords used on Content Body
    • Proper use and placement of keywords is always based on the overall quality of the content. Use keywords creatively and with proper grammar and thought in mind.
  7. Content Quality
    • For any website, providing value on your content should be your number one priority. Top Competitors will provide excellent insight on what type of content works well.
  8. Comments and Reviews
    • User generated content is almost equivalent to a backlink. Comments and reviews is either a positive or a negative reference on your product and services.

 

The Power of Search Engine Crawlers

 

In 2016, there was about 1 Billion websites. That staggering number is multiplied to hundreds and even thousands of web pages. Those pages are crawled by Search Engine Crawler Applications a.k.a bots. Although it’s a very powerful application, there is a limit to its capacity in terms of the number of website it can crawl. Prioritization is given to websites that are optimized for speed and content quality. Just like any website aiming to be on top of search engine results, optimization of a website now includes Structured Data to provide crawlers with an easier way to “read” your page. Structured data is often used as the content for the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). To better understand structured data, the next section will deal with the difference between Structured and Unstructured data.

 

What is Unstructured Data?

By definition, Unstructured data is any type of information that does not follow either a predefined model or is not arrange to certain predefined manner. In simple terms, if data is being used over and over again that it resembles a template then it should be used based on the template created. Any other usage would result in an Unstructured data. The best example would probably be the way we arrange our name based on usage. If a fill-up or registration form requires a format that uses First_Name-Middle_Initial-Last_Name then anything data that deviates the format can be considered as an Unstructured Data. In Websites, unstructured data exists through none prioritization of website data and information. This type of coding standards puts a strain to crawlers and search engines to make the decision on what data to capture as the most appropriate equivalent of the website.

 

Social Media is one of the main sources of Unstructured data that can be harness for research.

In addition to social media there are many other common forms of unstructured data:

  • Word Doc’s, PDF’s and Other Text Files – Books, letters, other written documents, audio and video transcripts
  • Audio Files – Customer service recordings, voicemails, 911 phone calls
  • Presentations – PowerPoints, SlideShares
  • Videos – Police dash cam, personal video, YouTube uploads
  • Images – Pictures, illustrations, memes
  • Messaging – Instant messages, text messages
  • In all these instances, the data can provide compelling insights. Using the right tools, unstructured data can add a depth to data analysis that couldn’t be achieved otherwise.

 

In terms of SEO, using unstructured data on your website is equivalent to fully turning over control to Search Engines on what your SERPs will be.

 

What is Structured Data?

 

By Website definition, Structured Data is a pre-defined format for providing information about web pages and classifying the page content. In simple terms, it is the complete opposite of Unstructured Data. A simple example is when you are offering products. Elements includes should be Product name, Description, Price, Availability, Other Related Products, and Reviews.

 

The main use of Structured data for Search Engines is that it makes it easier for their bots to gather website information relevant to the website and its content. For instance, Google uses structured data on websites to present special search results features and enhancements.

 

Structured data is done using in-page or schema markup on the page where the information is present. The main purpose of structured data on the page is to describe the page content. Structured data should not created using blank or empty pages and should you not add structured data about page information that is not visible to the user, even if the information is true and accurate.

 

There are 3 formats to go about implementing structured data in your website. These are JSON-LD, Microdata, and RDFa.

 

3 Formats for Structured Data

 

Most structured data uses Schema.org formats and syntax. You can also refer to Google Documentation on Schema markup for a more detailed list of instructions. Google as the largest search engine would like to make their own standards as what Structured data to implement based on the type of website information you provide. Google currently supports 3 formats of structured data for Google Search. The table below will provide description for each format.

 

Format Type Description
JSON-LD* (Recommended) JavaScript notation embedded in a <script> tag in the page head or body. The markup is not interleaved with the user-visible text, which makes nested data items easier to express, such as the Country of a PostalAddress of a MusicVenue of an Event. Also, Google can read JSON-LD data when it is dynamically injected into the page’s contents, such as by JavaScript code or embedded widgets in your content management system.
Microdata An open-community HTML specification used to nest structured data within HTML content. Like RDFa, it uses HTML tag attributes to name the properties you want to expose as structured data. It is typically used in the page body, but can be used in the head.
RDFa An HTML5 extension that supports linked data by introducing HTML tag attributes that correspond to the user-visible content that you want to describe for search engines. RDFa is commonly used in both the head and body sections of the HTML page.

 

Here is sample code block for each format of Structured ata in comparison to Unstructured data:

 

Unstructured Data for Recipes

Mom’s World Famous Banana Bread

By John Smith, May 8, 2009


<img src="bananabread.jpg" alt="Banana bread on a plate" />

This classic banana bread recipe comes from my mom — the walnuts add a nice

texture and flavor to the banana bread.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Yield: 1 loaf

Tags: Low fat

Nutrition facts:

240 calories, 9 grams fat

Ingredients:

– 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed

– 1 egg

– 3/4 cup of sugar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix in the ingredients in a bowl. Add the

flour last. Pour the mixture into a loaf pan and bake for one hour.

140 comments:

From Janel, May 5 — thank you, great recipe!

 

JSON-LD Structured Data

<script type="application/ld+json">

{

"@context": "http://schema.org",

"@type": "Recipe",

"author": "John Smith",

"cookTime": "PT1H",

"datePublished": "2009-05-08",

"description": "This classic banana bread recipe comes from my mom -- the walnuts add a nice texture and flavor to the banana bread.",

"image": "bananabread.jpg",

"recipeIngredient": [

"3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed",

"1 egg",

"3/4 cup of sugar"

],

"interactionStatistic": {

"@type": "InteractionCounter",

"interactionType": "http://schema.org/Comment",

"userInteractionCount": "140"

},

"name": "Mom's World Famous Banana Bread",

"nutrition": {

"@type": "NutritionInformation",

"calories": "240 calories",

"fatContent": "9 grams fat"

},

"prepTime": "PT15M",

"recipeInstructions": "Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix in the ingredients in a bowl. Add the flour last. Pour the mixture into a loaf pan and bake for one hour.",

"recipeYield": "1 loaf",

"suitableForDiet": "http://schema.org/LowFatDiet"

}

</script>

In this example, every essential field for the structured data for recipes are present on the unstructured data. Although it is the best practice to have all the needed data included as part of the structured data but Google suggests that you should only use information that is both present on the page and correctly stated. In simple terms, quality over quantity.

 

Important Structured data to implement for eCommerce Websites

 

According to Moz.com, there are 5 essential Structured data that every eCommerce website should have. Using this structured data on ecommerce websites will lead to the creation of rich snippets. This Search Result feature makes your website standout against your competitor on the SERP. You will be able to add visual features like ratings, images, and pricing on search results page. This will in turn improve your Click-through-rate, traffic, and revenue. In addition, you will be able to guide Search Engines like Google to capture this information and have this represent your website on their search results page. It means that you are in control and improvements. Let us now dig deeper on the 5 structured data your eCommerce website needs.

 

The 5 Essential Structured Data for any eCommerce Website

Product

 

  • Just like any other eCommerce website, product pages is what you should focus on in terms of providing structured data. The resulting Search placement will be more appealing for possible customers as they would include a much richer content. The image below is an example of Product Schema.

product schema sample in SERP

Based on the example, It clearly shows the price for the product. This structured data can be paired with other types of schema markup. For the complete guide on product schema, you can refer to Google’s guide.

Rating and Reviews

Ratings and reviews are often used for product pages. There is also an effective way to use this type of structured data. It can implemented to present customer testimonials or services ratings like shipping, customer service, after-sales handling, and more. Using this type of structured data to your advantage will improve the overall trustworthiness of your website and your products.

  1. Pricing
    • Any potential customer will always look for the price of the product or service. It would be great to have your webpages present this just before they click those link on the Search Results. The Structured data for price includes currency and the priced number. It is a great practice to have different currency prices available based on your market. This will help your customers see the equivalent price to their currency choice.

 Availability

  • This structured data is focused at providing product availability information on the Search result. Shoppers will always like to know this information first hand as this will lead to transparency on your end and earning the trust of your customers. In addition, presenting product availability will also produce subscription for your website. Shoppers will look to know when the product will be available and this is where your subscription will come in.

Paid Product Search

  • Google Adwords allows advertisers to use Structured data to present their ads in a more attractive way. You can use product rich snippets on your Ad posts just like you do your organic search results.

 

There are two types of pages where you would typically use Product Schema markup:

  •     a product page that describes a single product
  •     a shopping aggregator page that lists a single product, along with information about different sellers offering that product.

 

Here is a complete example of these two types of Product Schema Implementation:

 

Schema Type Sample Code
Product Page <script type="application/ld+json">

{

"@context": "http://schema.org/",

"@type": "Product",

"name": "Executive Anvil",

"image": "http://www.example.com/anvil_executive.jpg",

"description": "Sleeker than ACME's Classic Anvil, the Executive Anvil is perfect for the business traveler looking for something to drop from a height.",

"brand": {

"@type": "Thing",

"name": "ACME"

},

"aggregateRating": {

"@type": "AggregateRating",

"ratingValue": "4.4",

"reviewCount": "89"

},

"offers": {

"@type": "Offer",

"priceCurrency": "USD",

"price": "119.99",

"priceValidUntil": "2020-11-05",

"itemCondition": "http://schema.org/UsedCondition",

"availability": "http://schema.org/InStock",

"seller": {

"@type": "Organization",

"name": "Executive Objects"

}

}

}

</script>

Shopping Aggregator Page <script type="application/ld+json">

{

"@context": "http://schema.org/",

"@type": "Product",

"name": "Executive Anvil",

"image": "http://www.example.com/anvil_executive.jpg",

"brand": {

"@type": "Thing",

"name": "ACME"

},

"aggregateRating": {

"@type": "AggregateRating",

"ratingValue": "4.4",

"ratingCount": "89"

},

"offers": {

"@type": "AggregateOffer",

"lowPrice": "119.99",

"highPrice": "199.99",

"priceCurrency": "USD"

}

}

</script>

 

Note: To check and preview the results of your Structured data, Google provides an easy to use tool for this purpose. Use this link for the tool.   

 

Steps to Implement Structured Data

 

Now that you know what and why structured data is critical to the success of your eCommerce business, it is time to implement it on your website. Here are is a step-by-step guide on how to effectively implement Structured data:

 

  1. Choose the Landing pages to implement structured data.
    • Alternative: Consult with your Web developer to utilize your website’s product page template.
  2. Crawl Landing pages to collect the following data using a web crawler tool like Screaming frog:
    • Page Title
    • Meta Description
    • Price
    • Ratings
    • Total Reviews
    • Image URL
  3. Use JSON-LD Product Schema codes to have more code independence in implementation.
  4. Quality assurance on the implementation through Google’s Schema Checker.

 

Important Quality Guidelines

 

Google provides a list of quality guidelines to ensure that your website data is accurate and helpful to your customers. High-quality structured data should not provide misleading user experience.

 

  • Use the correct and appropriate Structured Data for the page.
    • Ex. Product Schema for Product pages, Recipe Schema for Recipe Pages.
  • Structured data should not be used to hide content for the reason of user deception. Honesty is the best policy.
    • Ex. If the Product structured data describes an Iphone, then the webpage should also contain content that is relevant to an Iphone.
  • Structured data content must not promote pedophilia, bestiality, violent or cruel acts, and other inappropriate website content.

 

  • 07/26/2017

About the Author

Elizar is an SEO Professional here at ecomtuning.com He handles clients in need of SEO for their Ecommerce Websites. He loves spending time with his wife and daughter. He also loves to play basketball and table tennis during his spare time.

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