What Structured Data/Markup is and how to implement for Shopify
Standing out on SERPs as an ecommerce merchant can be difficult at times. One way that your pages can catch the eye of search users is through rich results, where Google displays extra bits of information alongside your page link. How does it get that extra information? Structured data.
What is structured data?
Part of your store’s technical SEO, structured data markup is a piece of code that’s inserted into a page’s HTML which tells Google and other search engines more information about that page. If it’s a blog then that might be the author or publication date, and if it’s a product page then it could be ratings or stock availability. It also makes it more likely, though not guaranteed, for the result to appear as a rich snippet.
Here's a sample of what structured markup looks like:
This is the resulting rich snippet as it appears on a Google SERP:
Structured data offers search engines something beyond the necessary title tag and meta description. It also offers search users a better experience, as they can get more information from SERPs without having to click through each link.
Why is structured data important?
The better search engines can understand a page, the better for that page’s SEO. They want to provide a great user experience, and to do that they need to display high quality, relevant content for search users. The more useful information they can offer, the better that experience will be. Structured markup allows search engines to see a lot of extra information that they can use to determine the content and quality of a page. This is obviously great as a merchant, as it means that you’re giving Google more reason to rank your page.
Moreover, it has the potential to increase how your page is displayed in SERPs through rich snippets.
Rich snippets display that extra structured data info that users might find useful. These are more eye-catching than a standard result, and this may in turn improve your click-through rate on that link. In the above example, a user can easily see how well-rated the product is, how much it costs, and that it’s available to purchase. These may be all the details they need to convince them to click the link and make a purchase.
It’s worth noting that rich snippets aren’t always guaranteed, however it’s worth implementing structured data regardless to give your store pages the best chance possible to appear as rich results.
How to add structured data to your Shopify store
Before we look at how to add structured data, let’s talk about formats and schemas.
Google’s Webmaster blog describes structured data formats as “define a small number of fixed structures that can be used to encode descriptive data.”. The three most commonly used formats are JSON-LD, RDFa, and microdata. Google recommends JSON-LD, and this is the most commonly used format for Shopify also.
Markups also use a common vocabulary structure called schema. Schema is used as a sort of dictionary to define terms for types such as person or organization, properties like a logo or name, and relationships. These ensure that every site uses the same language to define their markup, making it easier to use with different formats and more consistent for search engines.
Common schema markups for ecommerce include:
- Product - This allows you to display information such as price.
- Offer - This can be used to show if there’s an offer on the product.
- AggregateRating - You can aggregate star ratings and display this alongside how many reviews there are.
- BlogPosting - This can be used for blog articles to include author, publication date etc.
- LocalBusiness - For local SEO when you have a brick-and-mortar store.
You can browse the full list of schema markups at the Schema.org website here.
Step 1: Implement structured data
There are a few options open to merchants looking to add structured data markup to their store’s HTML.
Option 1: Do it manually using Shopify Liquid
This is the more DIY option, and most complicated as it requires knowledge of Shopify Liquid and JSON-LD in order to implement.
Option 2: Work with a Shopify SEO expert
If you’re unfamiliar with coding languages but want to take a somewhat DIY approach, then you should work with a Shopify expert who understands both SEO and how to implement JSON-LD. This will be more hands-on, and may take a longer period of time to define and implement.
Option 3: Install SEO Manager
This is by far the easiest option for implementing structured data into your Shopify store. SEO Manager is available to merchants via the Shopify App Store, and takes the work out of implementing structured data markup throughout your store.
SEO Manager can automatically inject JSON-LD structured markup into your store, including product, product review, and blog post data. It’s tried, tested, and trusted by some of Shopify’s biggest brands including Skims, Atoms, and Red Bull.
Step 2: Test your page for rich results
Whichever way you choose to implement structured data markup, it’s always worth testing to ensure that it’s been set-up correctly and eligible for rich results. You can do this using Google’s Rich Results Test, and the Schema Markup Validator.
The Rich Results Test will tell you whether or not your page is eligible for rich results. Enter a URL or code snippet, and it will give you the thumbs up or down as well as the ability to preview what a rich result may look like for that page.
The Schema Markup Validator allows you to check that your markup has been set-up correctly in line with Schema.org and check syntax. It will highlight any errors, which should be fixed as a priority to avoid any potential impact to your ranking.
This tool was previously known as the Structured Data Testing Tool, however this was redirected to the Schema Markup Validator in May 2021. Google recommends that merchants use the Schema.org tool to validate their set-up, but continue to use the Rich Results Test and other official Google documentation to check markup for rich results.
In SEO we want to make the most of every opportunity to stand out in SERPs. Implementing structured data is just one way you can optimize your pages by helping Google better understand and interpret your store. This in turn could result in rich snippets, catching users’ attention and driving them to your Shopify store.