Google now has an easy way to submit product data without the need for any complex schema mark-up.
Why Schema Mark-up can Help with SEO
Schema mark-up gives meaning behind simple words, numbers, ratings & dates to search engines. Without it, search engines may not be able to draw any accurate conclusions from the web page code, apart from easily found fields such as telephone numbers or email addresses.
You can see schema mark-up in action within searches such as local restaurant reviews, movie review scores or recipes to name a few. Once indexed and approved, these can appear as rich snippets within search engine results:
Studies have shown that search engine results with rich snippets are much more likely to get clicked on than standard results. Google themselves say “These rich snippets help users recognize when your site is relevant to their search, and may result in more clicks to your pages” on their page about rich snippets.
Although schema mark-up can help improve click-through rates, there is yet to be any evidence that it can boost search engine rankings which Google officially confirms. This is possibly due to the very low number of web pages online using schema mark-up language, or the likelihood that some Webmasters will start spamming them to manipulate results. They could be checked more thoroughly in the near future for quality and play a bigger role in search engine results.
Rich Snippets for Product Data
Product listings within Google can include the price, an in or out of stock message, review rating, number of reviews, brand name, ID number or release date of an item, making for some useful product listings within the results:
Google does not always show rich snippets unfortunately for product listings, but when they do appear they take up an extra line within the results (pushing competitors down) and greatly entice the searcher to click on the result. They really help search engine users find information without having them click through to the website.
Product images may also appear besides to search results, these used to appear regularly back in 2013, but are rarely seen now. This is possibly due to paid product listing ads taking precedent or quality issues with the product images themselves, Google will forever tweak how results are displayed so the may come back strongly one day.
Webmaster Tools Data Highlighter
Google provides a really simple tool to highlight your product data without the need for schema mark-up or any other HTML tagging.
Login to Webmaster Tools to begin the process and select your domain name: https://www.google.com/webasters/tools
(Note: if you don’t see your domain in Webmaster Tools then read Google’s latest guide here on how to prove ownership)
Now go to: Search Appearance > Data Highlighter > Start Highlighting
Now you need to visit a typical product page on your website and copy the URL of the page from the address bar into the next section:
We are highlighting product data, with an example product URL and we want to tag many more pages like it in this case.
Tagging the first page should be simple, you need to highlight important product attributes on the page by left-click dragging text areas which contain the key data and then clicking the right field on the popup list:
Above we have tagged the product name, image, price and the SKU identifier. The more elements you can tag, the more information is available for Google to use within rich snippets. Name and price are required fields so you cannot do this if prices are hidden behind a sign-up form or login area.
On the right hand side you should see all the data collected together to confirm it, the data highlighter will flag up any potential issues with the data next to the incorrect field if so:
After this Google may or may not pick up all the product pages on the website, depending on how common the product page templates are laid out.
Organised Product Page Structures
If the same data is in the same place on every product page then this procedure then involves looking at all the pages on a website and picking out the product pages vs. other non-product pages on the website.
Google will present several page examples from the website and try and highlight the same data fields for other product pages. Half the web pages Google will show will be un-related pages such as:
- Category pages (main groups of products)
- Sub-category pages (sub groups of products)
- Blog / News / Gallery / Video pages
When an incorrect page appears you need to press “Remove Page” in the top right corner to ensure that they are not tagged:
If a correct product page appears then check that the correct data is being drawn into each field correctly and press “Next”, you’ll need to approve 5 product pages before Google confirms the location of all the data.
Afterwards you can review a few more examples of product data which Google has detected and publish the results. You can see how many products have been tagged roughly which should match up to the number of products on the website.
Un-organised Product Page Structures
You may have to break down the product URL’s into their different categories if each category on the website shows a different product layout.
If there really is no structure to your ecommerce website then you will have to tag each page individually unfortunately! There’s lots of SEO and CRO advantages to having a commonly structured website so it may be worth investing in a new website restructure.
If you have any more issues then it’s worth viewing Google’s data highlighter help guide at this URL: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2692952?hl=en
You can easily tag product data using Google’s data highlighter found within Webmaster Tools to enhance click-through rates on Google’s search results. A long term and a more robust solution for all search engines would be to code schema mark-up within your product templates using the official product schema tags from Schema.org.
If you have any articles, book reviews, events, local business information, films, restaurants, apps or TV episodes on your website then these can also be added with the data highlighter.