Structured data has become an essential component of technical SEO. It helps Google display reviews, prices, and even similar items related to users’ queries right in the search results! In this blog, we’ll review:

  1. What markup you need on your ecommerce site
  2. How it presents in search &
  3. Benefits of implementing markup

Adding markup can be daunting and a little confusing if you’re unfamiliar, but hopefully this blog will convince your boss or client to set aside development time to add product markup to their webpages.

Types of Data Markup: Microdata vs. JSON-LD

There are different ways to markup HTML elements. The two most popular are Microdata and JSON-LD. Google recently stated that JSON-LD is the recommended format, but you’ll see many sites using Microdata since it was the first method for markup. Developers usually prefer JSON-LD simply because it’s easier to implement. We’ll show you why.

example of microdata in the source code
Microdata
JSON-LD markup in the source code
JSON-LD

Microdata must be attached to each HTML element it’s describing, so nesting Microdata can easily throw errors in your code if you miss something. JSON-LD, on the other hand, only needs to be placed once on the page, in the head or body, with all the markup information you want to include. It’s completely separate from the HTML.

Pro Tip: “Schema” is another word used to describe markup, whether Microdata or JSON-LD. Schema is the vocabulary (name, image, brand, etc) while Microdata and JSON-LD are the methods used to markup HTML. Google, Bing and Yahoo created Schema.org so webmasters could have granular descriptors for their HTML elements.

What Markup Do You Need on Your Ecommerce Site?

Schema.org has a whole library of properties just for ecommerce under the Product markup type. Let’s review the top seven properties for the Product type. The more you can markup the better, but make sure you have these seven.

Required Attributes: (1)Name and (2)Image

When using the Product type, the name and image properties must be present in the markup for it to validate. These are both easy properties to understand and implement. The name property is the name of your product while the image property is the url of the main image showing your product.

(3)Price & (4)Currency

Some marketers may not want to display the price of certain products, especially if they are high-ticket items. This will depend on your product, but including the price has positive effects. This brings us to our first example of why markup is important for an ecommerce store.

Similar Items feature in the mobile image SERP
The Similar Item feature in action in mobile image SERP.

Google announced this spring that it would start displaying related items in mobile image search. The only requirements for eligibility: having name & image, price & currency, and availability properties marked up on product page. This gives brands free exposure to customers that are actively looking for their products and might be unfamiliar with their brand.

Finding price and availability information was one of the top Image Search feature requests from our users.

This statement from Google shows why it’s helpful to include price information in your markup – Google likes it and users like it. While it’s up to your discretion and marketing goals, sometimes the benefits outweigh the cons.

(5)Availability

The most common values associated with the availability property are in stock, out of stock, or pre order. It’s a huge disappointment when users like a product, just to find out it’s not available so for user experience it’s worth adding up to date information about product stock. It’s also a required property for the Similar Items feature above :]

(6)Reviews & (7)Ratings

It’s possible to mark up reviews in text form and aggregated ratings like 4.4 out of 5. Reviews are one of the best ways to entice users to complete a purchase or click through action. With review markup, you don’t need to wait until they get to the product page to display them.

The stars display due to the Aggregate Rating property.
Markup in the source code. Notice it’s in Microdata format.

Adding review markup places the reviews directly in the search results so displaying a high rating or review could mean winning the click through when competing in the top organic spots.

More Beneficial Ecommerce Markup

  • Running a holiday sale or limited time offer? Use validFrom and validThrough properties for the Offer type to designate your sale price. This will prompt Google to display an end date for the offer, creating a sense of urgency.
  • Have a product demonstration video? Videos can rank too and have their own markup. Use JSON-LD or microdata on your videos so they have a chance to rank, just like URLs and images.

Best Practices

When marking up your HTML elements, ensure you only markup what is actually on the page. Don’t try to manipulate HTML with your added markup. Also, markup is about semantics. Although your code could have the correct syntax, make sure it’s also semantically correct. For example, you don’t have an image of your product, but the image property is required so you markup your logo. That will validate, but it’s not semantically correct.

Make sure to test your markup after you add it to your code in Google’s testing tool. This shows any errors and warnings in your markup. Errors mean you’re missing required fields or there are syntax errors. Warnings are signals for additional fields you can markup to improve search performance. But remember if these elements aren’t on the page don’t mark them up. Warnings can be ignored if you can’t fulfill them, but errors must be addressed.

Review of Markup Resources

Schema – Product
Google’s Markup Testing Tool
Google’s Introduction to Schema Markup
Google’s Advanced Use of Testing Tool – Prototyping, Testing, & More

Need more ideas for your schema markup? Or need help getting started? Schema.org has a huge library filled with options to describe your HTML, contact us for any markup implementation!

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