Everyone wants better ranking but that’s not really what they want.
Stores want more traffic.
They want that because it leads to sales.
Sales is what really matters.
All of SEO is just a marketing channel to get more visitors who turn into customers.
The main FIX for SEO is better rankings
What if there was a way to get more sales with the existing rankings you already have?
By convincing more searchers to click on your search listings.
More clicks == more traffic == more sales.
What we’re talking about today is a search enhancement in Google called Rich Snippets, specifically Product Rich Snippets.
They enhance your existing search results with more data and pixels.
Eric Davis joins us today to walk us through it in easy to understand terms.
Eric is founder of Little Stream Software, which helps Shopify entrepreneurs customize their Shopify stores using public and private Shopify Apps.
- Why we should invest in structured data
- What structured data does
- How it affects your appearance in search results
- When and why Google might rewrite your title and descriptions
- What Google’s motivations are
- Which rich snippets are available to help you sell more
- When you may not want to use semantic markup
- And how to test for it and use it in your store today
- How to get in touch with Eric for a free review of your structured data
- Newsletter: Eric’s Daily Shopify Tips
- Google Structured Data Testing Tool
- App: JSON-LD for SEO
- Article: Uncover all of your Shopify store’s rich snippets with this one search
I want to send you a sample chapter of Ecommerce Bootcamp, absolutely free.
Tell me where to send your sample at ecommerce-bootcamp.com
Kurt Elster: Recording from Ethercycle Headquarters outside Chicago, this is the unofficial Shopify Podcast and I’m your host Kurt Elster. Today, let’s take a little trip down memory lane. I recall we were doing a lot of just web development, front end development stuff, really exciting, back in say 2012. That feels like a lifetime ago already, maybe 2011. There was a lot of talk about this thing called semantic data or structured HTML or structured data, semantic HTML. Basically, the World Wide Web consortium who makes these standards that we used to development websites came up with whole bunch of fun HTML tags to try and describe the content of a site to robots essentially for Google’s benefit.
We would wrap our content in these fancy tags and then ideally Google would understand, “This is what this stuff does,” or what this is about. In theory, we would all go along with it, because by implementing this, by going through the effort of adding in this extra code to describe your page to Google, you would get more relevant results, more relevant search queries, better qualified traffic. There’s a whole host of reasons to do it. It was really exciting. We’re going to have structure data for just about everything you could come up with. It never really went anywhere. For two reasons, there’s a lot of work for people and because Google got much better at figuring out what it was looking at.
It did survive in one vertical and that’s ecommerce. They still have this stuff for reviews and for product data. It’s still out there. Where you’ve got these extra HTML tags that are going tell Google when it looks at a product page, “This is what’s on here.” Then it could do all kinds of cool stuff with that data. We’ve got, ideally, this great SEO benefit and opportunity from this fairly straightforward technical thing that we can implement in Shopify themes. Why would we do it and why do we engage in SEO or even talk about this or mess with it? Well, it’s because everybody, every store owner wants better rankings. Isn’t that really what they want? What they want is more traffic to the store?
Well, do you really want more traffic? No. You want more sales, sales is what really matters. All of SEO is just a marketing channel to get more visitors who turn into customers. The main fix for SEO is better rankings, but what if we could get more sales with existing rankings you already have, so we don’t have to mess with getting more backlinks or trying to con Google into pushing our rankings up. Well, using this rich snippet data, in theory, we could get more qualified traffic and increase our click-through rate. There’s one issue here, I don’t entirely understand the concept. There’s a lot of nuance in this, so I have brought our friend back who’s been on the show before, Eric Davis.
He was here almost exactly a year ago talking about his suite of Shopify apps. He has a new one that does exactly this, that adds this structure data to your Shopify store. Eric is joining us. He is the founder of Little Stream Software, which help Shopify entrepreneurs customize their Shopify store using public and private Shopify apps. The guy is a development guru, but what I like about him is he’s a renaissance man. He’s got development skills and he understands this technical SEO and he definitely understands the importance of marketing. He even produces a wonderful weekly newsletter for Shopify stores that you should subscribe too. I subscribe to it. I’m going to include it in the show notes for you.
Eric. Thank you for joining us.
Eric Davis: Thanks for having me Kurt.
Kurt Elster: My pleasure. All right, a little long on the intro that time for me. I apologize for being a bit long-winded. It’s a technical issue and I wanted to get people engaged and interested as to why we’re talking about this. Tell me, what are we talking about?
Eric Davis: I think you covered it pretty well. Structure data, rich snippets, the whole point of that is getting more traffic or more sales to your store. It’s funny, because I actually have customers who will buy one of my apps. They’ll email me like, “Hey, I bought your app, it’s going to give me more sales, but I don’t know what the heck it does, can you check it for me?” There’s knowledge on this topic, but it’s very technical and most stores, even if you’re slightly in a technical bid a little bit like you’ve done some theme work. This is way beyond. I was talking about standards, how web stuff works, how search publish works.
Kurt Elster: Right and to be clear. The implementation itself is not that complicated. It’s the concepts around it and making sure it’s actually working.
Eric Davis: Exactly, yeah. It’s one of those things where when it works, it’s like, “That’s pretty simple, I understand it,” but getting all the bits to point the right way and not screw up, that’s the hard part. I mean like you said, it’s almost every store owner I talk to; they want more traffic from SEO if they’re using it as a channel. They want more traffic. That almost always is sold to them from SEO consultants as you need better rankings, you need to get these keywords and you do keyword analysis like some jargon, jargon, jargon.
Really, the end goals, the store owner just needs more people coming to their store that are qualified and want to buy their products that end up buying their products like its ecommerce 101 stuff. The interesting thing is structure data and what I call search enhancements that Google does like rich snippets. That’s one really good way to get this without like fighting, incline everyone for better rankings in the search results.
Kurt Elster: Okay. The pitch here, the idea is you’ve got an existing store. We’re already ranking for something in Google, but we’re not necessarily number one, two or three. If we implement this technology into our Shopify theme, then it’s going to do what?
Eric Davis: What happens is, let’s assume you put the data in right, you do the few technical bits. Google reveals your site, analyzes it. It says, “Thumbs up you’re doing the right stuff.” Google will change how your search results appear. Let’s say your result number four in the search results. Instead of looking like everyone else, you can get say like these orange stars. Let’s say like five out of five, so like a 128 people reviewed it. It might show a price or a price range. You have a line of shirts that will show $10 to $30 dollars, it will say if it’s in stock or if it’s out of stock. The big thing from a UX design point of view is this is your same search listing. You just got all these extra data.
If you look at the pages, just a bunch of pixels, your search result, even if it’s number four, has more pixels than number one. Especially if you get the review stars in there, which are orange, Google’s page doesn’t have a lot of color other than the logo. Having orange on a page that’s mostly white and blue, it’s like, boom, there’s your call to action. I’ve heard of stories that are ranked like four for seventh, getting more traffic than the first search result.
Kurt Elster: Okay, so it sounds really cool. We’ve got the standard search listing is just title and then description. If we’re lucky, we have optimized our meta description and Google chose to do it, chose to show it. It’s because they don’t necessarily do it.
Eric Davis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: If found, if you over optimize page title and description, sometimes Google will mess with you and they will rewrite both of those things as they see fit.
Eric Davis: Yeah and actually if we write those based on your queries. If you have it prefect and working perfect for a brand query, if it’s more detailed like, “I want to buy something, something,” if Google decides that there’s other data on the page that is more relevant to the actual search term from that one user, they will rewrite what’s your description and title looks like on the fly. I had one customer where he had a screen shot of a search results, the title and what was highlighted in the content weren’t even on his page at all. They weren’t even on his site. Google rerouted and reworded it and he changed the search result on that search.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Eric Davis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: I knew it was happening. I didn’t realize to what extent or why. You’re right, it has not occurred to me that it’s based on the search query, because ultimately, all Google wants is, just same as you, they want a good customer experience. For them, it’s, “Hey, the person is asking us a question, let’s get them to the right answer. The best answer as fast as possible.” That’s what they’re looking for. They’re including experience and part of that.
Eric Davis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: The structure data is going to help-
Eric Davis: They want the best query and they also want you, the searcher to be satisfied with it, because Google will track if someone comes to your site and it comes right back with the “back” button and goes somewhere else. They track that data. They know if you have a great meta description that gives you a great listing, but when they go there and they bounce right away, Google will take that as a factor. They want people to go to a place and be happy and satisfied with the store and basically never come back to Google for that search again.
Kurt Elster: Okay. I search for something; Google might rewrite my title and description to match the query. If I’m lucky, the person clicks through. Then if they land in the sight and it didn’t match, it didn’t meet their expectation based on the page title and description or it didn’t answer their original query, they’re going to click “back” in Google, because you’re probably running Google Analytics on your site. Google is certainly running analytics on their own site. They see when that person clicks “back” and ends up back on Google. I was saying, “Your biggest enemy isn’t a competitor, it’s the “back” button.” This is even more reason to believe that’s the case. Then Google knows if it happens a couple of times, they’ll know, all right, this is the wrong result to give for that query.
Cool, okay. This is ideally where now, because we’ve described this data to Google, we’ll have more qualified traffic, we also get a much bigger search listing. It’s got more screen real estate. It’s got a different color, so it really pops and stands out. Even if we’re not number one through three, that top box, it’s still very likely that we could possibly beat out one through three if they don’t have the structure data showing or the rich snippet as they say. Then it’s going to help qualify the traffic better. If they were giving them more info upfront, they become that much more likely to click “back” and further hurt our search ranking, correct?
Eric Davis: Exactly. Yeah. For example, I’ll put it in the show notes, but one day I just searched for red flannel shirts, because I just wanted some product that everyone knows. I have a screenshot of the actual results I got. The first, we got two hits from Target, Forever 21, Amazon and JCPenney, so the top results. You don’t have to know much about SEO to look at that and say the fourth result from Amazon is the best looking result. The other ones are like category or collection results or there’s no data there, but the Amazon, I can see it’s rated to 3.5 stars, 780 reviews. I see they have different sizes. Rich snippets, especially if your market doesn’t have it, if your competitors don’t have them, can be really, really powerful.
Another interesting aspect to them is even if all your competitors have rich snippets and you’re just basically trying to meet them. If you see 10 different listings from 10 different companies for a product and it all shows they’re all out of stock or they have a price of $300 or $400. If your listing is in there with a lower price or better reviews or something else, you might actually let the searcher, your potential customer do a price comparison without even leaving the search results.
They would look at it and be like, “This person is a little surprised with the best reviews,” or whatever their criteria is, maybe it’s a product that’s out of stock and want to separate your store. They’re going to come to your store primed to buy and just basically click to your store, click the buy button, checkout and done. We’re talking about 30, 60 seconds on your site have purchased that right there.
Kurt Elster: To be clear, this is still organic search. I don’t have to pay anything to Google for this?
Eric Davis: Correct.
Kurt Elster: Awesome.
Eric Davis: Yeah, this is all organic and just because Google screwed up on the name. Honestly, these are called the rich snippets. There’s another thing called rich cards, which they’re not available for products, but you will see them for recipes especially on mobile for like news items. They’re on a carousel up top, but they use the same data, but they’re not for products.
Kurt Elster: They’re probably like answering queries.
Eric Davis: Yeah. It almost looks like it in the product listing and ads, the actual page Google thing where it looks like it’s product rich cards, but that’s a paid thing. People get it confused, because Google is I think playing with the names and trying to get people to buy ads for products. Rich snippets, well, we’re talking about structure data. This is organic stuff. Google doesn’t give it to everyone, but most stores I’ve seen and worked with get it when you have the data right. These benefits are free. They’re on your site as long as your data is still there, as long as your data is correct too.
Kurt Elster: Yeah.
Eric Davis: It’s pretty easy.
Kurt Elster: Google, they want a good experience for the searcher, so it’s in their best results to show this stuff. They just need you to actually set it up in your theme.
Eric Davis: Exactly.
Kurt Elster: Is this different from Google Answers?
Eric Davis: Yeah, this is completely different.
Kurt Elster: All right. Yeah, right. What gets confusing is all the different nomenclature. To recap, if the thing that you’d have to put into the code of your website, into your Shopify theme is called structure data, correct?
Eric Davis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: All right.
Eric Davis: Yeah. That data like you said it’s top of the show. That helps identify what parts of the page. This is a page about a product. Here’s the data, the product price, the description. They’re called offers to like variants, what different types of products here. That’s for rich snippets, but Google will also use that for other things like the answers for what’s called sitelink search, what that they call they like their business knowledge [structurally 00:14:04], once you give that data to Google that goes into a bunch of different places too. That and all of that other stuff is very murky in like Google secret sauce. The rich snippets are pretty much pretty good A to B to C almost direct result.
Kurt Elster: Okay. Down the road, there’s no reason not to do it. We’re future proofing our site, because there may be new features that Google adds down the road. We seem to be doing more and more of this Google Answer stuff.
Eric Davis: That’s right.
Kurt Elster: When I say Google Answer as an example, if you type in who is Lady Gaga, the first result is not a result, it’s a box with a quote that they think answers the question. It’s got info from biography.com and Wikipedia where it’s trying to give you a faster result.
Eric Davis: Exactly.
Kurt Elster: Some of those queries I know they do manually, some of it may be on rich snippet data. It’s cool. The thing it shows in the product listing in my search listing, those features are rich snippets, correct?
Eric Davis: Correct.
Kurt Elster: All right and then to run through the rich snippets that it can add, the most basic is sitelinks where it’s going to show internal links that links to other pages internally on your site. We’ve seen an example where it shows the reviews and will show that screenshot in the show notes where you could see the reviews on the product, which is cool. The third one, it could show variants like sizes.
Eric Davis: Yeah, I see some of those.
Kurt Elster: I’ve never seen that, that’s cool.
Eric Davis: Yeah, there’s another one I saw. I looked at the data on the page and I think it was like a manual thing, they Google Plus them, because it was like it’s from REI.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Eric Davis: Some popular large company. It actually showed product attributes. Price and all that like people can get, but it actually had the listing. Then there’s another probably another two lines-ish of text underneath it. That was like four bullet points and two columns. I think it was jacket, what the material is made out off, the sizing like what extra large, large that sort of thing and a few other things. Actually, I’ve never seen that on any other site, except for like a travel result, which actually use emojis, which was interesting. Yeah, you can get some product details, product attributes coming up too. That might be a new thing. It might be like only higher insights will get that manually, but yeah.
Kurt Elster: Okay. I found a good example of one. I searched YETI Cooler, very popular product. I figure that would come up with something. Sure enough, first result is the brand store. Yeah, it’s yeti.com and it has a bunch of the sitelinks under it. Then the second result is REI and it has this rich snippet data in here where bright orange, it’s got five stars. It says rating 4.9, 1,377 reviews, $350 in stock. It’s got reviews, price and availability.
Eric Davis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Super cool.
Eric Davis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: I don’t have to say anything for this. Let me ask the devil’s advocate question, is there any reason I wouldn’t want to set up rich snippet data in my store for semantic markups, sorry?
Eric Davis: One customer shared a really good point of it. I ended up talking through it in a week. He went ahead and did it, but he didn’t want his prices available publicly. He wanted them. He was doing a wholesale thing. He wanted to have availability and review shown, but not prices just due to the way that the structure data like the more technical aspects work. He couldn’t do that. Prices are required for the products. We were going to try to do something different, whereas just reviews coming through, but we heated up saying, “You know what? I’ll just show the actual retail price and then when people create an account and are approved for membership and all that, that’s when I’ll show the actual price instead of the retail one.”
There really isn’t any other reason other than you don’t want SEO or organic traffic as a channel. If you’re getting everything from social or just paid traffic, it might not be worth the few hours it takes to set this up. It’s one of those, if you get any kind of traffic from SEO like it’s just nice to have.
Kurt Elster: Okay, I am sold on this. I love it. Tell me what I got to do to get it into my store. All right, I want to do it. What’s the next step?
Eric Davis: The good news is you might already have it in the store. I think Shopify has a requirement on their themes that all themes have to have structure data. Now that’s the bar. The problem is that bar is way too low. Without exaggerating, at least a hundred stores, probably 200 or 300. Almost every one of them, their theme has some structure data, but it either has errors. It is missing information like a product description, something kind of important or they flat out don’t have anything or it’s missing the products that might have stuff about this is the website or this is the breadcrumb category navigation. It doesn’t have details of the product.
Kurt Elster: Sorry, let me another devil’s advocate question. If set my rich snippet or my semantic, what’s the correct term for this?
Eric Davis: Structure data.
Kurt Elster: Structure data, okay.
Eric Davis: This is like the modern-
Kurt Elster: Okay, structure data. This is why it’s confusing. It’s harder. I don’t even know what phrase to use when I’m searching for it. Clients, asked me about it. They’re like, “You know the thing in the search listing?” I’m like, “Yeah, because there’s no good way to describe this.” All right, so semantic data; is there any risks to setting it up and then mostly I screwed up where I’ve got blank fields or something misattributed, is that a risk or would Google just ignore it?
Eric Davis: There’s two big risk with it. The first one is the most common one and that’s, you’re missing a key value, like I said, price is required. Price also has to be formatted a certain way. If you’re missing a field and I guess you’re linked to Google’s tool, which will tell you if there’s errors. If you’re missing a field, Google just flat out ignores that data. If you’re missing the price on a product, Google just ignores that product and doesn’t consider that paste you have the product structure data.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Eric Davis: Sometimes price is a weird one, because structure data is just spaghetti in general across the entire internet. It’s just bad.
Kurt Elster: Spaghetti code being a developer term for interval, messy, ugly code.
Eric Davis: Yeah. Almost every site is going to have if they’ve never done anything that’s going to have some problems and issues. Google, they’ll bend the rules a little bit. Price is the big one on themes. It has to be a numeric value. No commas, no currency symbols any of that stuff. If you have the price with a currency symbol, which is technically invalid, Google will flag it as a warning. They’ll say like, “This is wrong, you should fix it. We understand what you’re doing here and we’ll let this work in the rich snippet's system for now, but you should correct it in the future before we kick you out.” Most themes have some of this already. I’ll show you links to check your theme, it’s pretty easy.
There’s also different apps you can sell. I have one that focuses on it, but some SEO apps will add structure data. Review apps are also really good at adding some structure data around reviews, which are on their own. They don’t do very much, but when you attach them to products like the product structure data that’s where you get the orange stars. That’s the best goal for ecommerce right there, is getting product with reviews, there’s orange stars, prices, availability and if you can, which I don’t know how it works yet, but those product attributes, that’s the gold standard.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, I know the first review app I saw doing this probably was Yappo has that. It’s one of the, I believe it’s a premium feature.
Eric Davis: Yeah, it’s on their [higher earn plans 00:22:09], but yeah, they do it.
Kurt Elster: Very likely worthwhile to do it. Okay.
Eric Davis: Shopify is product reviews app, which is the most common one. It does it too. To put it nicely, it had some difficulties in the past with structure data. It’s like I’ve actually reported bugs with new fixes to help them. My app actually does an integration with them, but even the free apps.
Kurt Elster: Cool.
Eric Davis: I have an integration with eight of them. Well, six of them are free or have a free plan that I can get you the review structure data. It’s not like you don’t have to pay to get into that. You can get that review database on your app and Shopify is product reviews app, which is free. It’s good starting one. It can get that data out too.
Kurt Elster: You said that Shopify’s theme requirements, because we learned in the last episode, there are only about 50, maybe less than 50 themes in the theme store. It’s very restricted and it’s really tough to get a theme in. Even then, they’re not only the likes, some are certainly better than others. You’re saying structure data is a requirement at least for the product information.
Eric Davis: Yeah, it’s weird. It’s like a checkbox like you have to have structure data, but I think every Shopify free theme that I’ve looked at like the major popular ones, probably a dozen, they’ve all had a problem out of the box.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Eric Davis: Out of the sandbox, one customer has their theme. Their theme actually, if I remember, they were one of the only ones that had good structure data, but I don’t remember, which one it was or that. This stuff changes, one difficulty with structure data especially if you’re using it in your theme, which is called either microformats or microdata, so there’s more jargon for you, so you can use it.
Kurt Elster: It just keeps getting worse.
Eric Davis: Yeah, but if you have structure data in your theme, the big problem is that it’s like interspaced in HTML. If you edit your theme, install an app, to have someone customize the theme or anything like that. There’s a strong chance that they don’t know how structure data works and is organized. They could break.
Kurt Elster: Okay. We’ll say it’s fragile. It’s easy to screw up.
Eric Davis: Very fragile. Yeah.
Kurt Elster: I’ve downloaded my theme from the Shopify theme store in say the last year. We’re assuming it’s got rich snippet data, because it was a requirement to be in the theme store. We don’t if it actually works or not. There are plenty of reasons it could be broken like an app could have changed the code messing around with the theme could have broken the code. It may not have worked right from the beginning or requirements have changed and it no longer works. Tell me, how do I test for it? How do we know that I’ve got this structure data setup correctly in my Shopify theme?
Eric Davis: I got some good news and bad news. The good news is there’s a tool that Google actually created that’s free, anyone can use it. It’s very robust, very powerful. Bad news, is that it’s kind of developer-level tool. You can use it, but don’t get afraid of what it’s doing. I guess one big thing is if you want to try it and you’re confused or you don’t understand the results, you can email me. The best way to be from my app on the app store is just use the contact support. I go through, we’ll say half a dozen, you may even have a couple dozen stores a week of like, “Hey, would this work on my store?” It takes me a couple of minutes to actually go through, but basically what you do is you take your store URL.
I use the product URL, because that’s going to be the most important one. Put that in the tool. It will spit out HTML on the right side and your structure data on the right side, HTML on the left side. Ideally what you’ll see is you’ll see you have a product, you have an organization like a website and you can drill on to the data. That’s actually takes the structure data in your HTML and puts it into a better format. For example, that YETI Cooler you just talked about, I threw into this tool and I could see there’s product. Your name is Tundra 45 Cooler, here’s a brand, here’s the reviews, which are called aggregate ratings, there’s 1,377, here’s the offers, here’s the SKUs.
It basically represents the data. If you can run that and see product or if so on the product, did you see product and at a minimum organization or it could be like local business or something on like a business-y type of data there and there’s no errors, you're probably good to go. You might want to inspect the actual data. I think I might have an article. It belongs to like the minimum data you’re going to want. If you do that and you don’t see any data on the right side or you see errors or even a warning, your theme probably isn’t like it’s probably not going to be good enough. You probably want to do some tweaks whether manually or through an app or something.
Kurt Elster: Okay, you’re right, because we had a store with a perfectly legitimate theme. It was modified heavily. Then when we phase the last test before we launched the store, we went and checked. We use this Google Structured Data Testing Tool. We run the product page in. Sure enough, we had one error and it was price. It was because the theme. I don’t know if this was multiple people worked on this theme.
I don’t know if it was like that from the beginning or an app changed or something changed it, but it had the currency. It was calling it currency inside the price. It turns out that’s enough to break it. What you’re saying, I thought that Google could figure that out. That’s not complicated. In the testing tool, did give it as one error. One error, you screwed up the price buddy by adding-
Eric Davis: Yeah, that one error prevents you from getting rich snippets for that page completely.
Kurt Elster: Yeah. We went and we fixed it. It was an easy fix, but had we not checked it and cared, that one thing would have totally borked this where it wouldn’t show at all. Yeah, no good.
Eric Davis: Yeah and I was going to say to like all the reviews that I do with stores, problems with the price field is the number one by far. 80/20 were like 80% of them have price problems. It’s either they’re missing a price or they have a currency in there, because there’s a separate field for currency. Google gets that from a different place. It has a currency in there, where on some products if there’s a comma of like the 1000ths place. They shouldn’t have the comma in the data, so that’s another one. Another common one especially on international stores or multilingual, is that some apps or some tweaks will put in spam tags and stuff around price or currency to just switch the currencies.
Well, if that goes into the structure data that’s invalid. You can’t have HTML as your data for that. Price is a big one. Even if Google helps you and says, “This is a warning.” You need to fix that. Google did an update three or four months ago that basically affected most Shopify stores and basically wiped out their rich snippets for a short period of time. Yeah. I even noticed it on my apps, even though it’s not a store, but the apps use the same stuff. I myself when my apps had a 40% drop in organic traffic over that period. Something [inaudible 00:29:28]. No ranking has changed any of that stuff for the app. Yeah, use Google Structured Data Testing Tool, it is kind of geeky, it is developer-level tool.
Kurt Elster: It’s very straightforward.
Eric Davis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: You copy and paste the URL of your product page. I just tried it right now. Paste it into the structure data testing tool and then it will pull out the structure data; show it to you in a nice little format. Right in the top right, it says, “Errors, warnings,” so you know right away, like a warning. Okay, it means you can get away with it, maybe, but fix it ideally. An error means they’re probably not going to show your stuff.
Eric Davis: Yeah and more detailed stuff would be like getting into it and saying like, “Do you have this specific data? Are all your variants showing up? Do you have your reviews linked in there or the review is separate probably not going to get in the data?” That stuff is important too. The first part, like you said, if it says no errors and you have a product data-type listener, you’re pretty good to go on the first part.
Kurt Elster: Okay, so if I do it on the store and I can do this myself, I don’t have to be technical. I can run this thing through and get a good idea if it works or not. Let’s say if scenario one, the data is there, but it’s showing errors, what do I do?
Eric Davis: We use the price, because that’s an easy one. If the price is there what you can actually do on the right side or showing the data, you can open up and click through things. You can actually click on the price field. That will update the HTML on the left side to show you where it is. Sometimes, if you know a little bit of HTML, you can look at them and be like, “Yeah, I can just remove the currency symbol from the front of that in my theme,” and you’re good to go.
Some other times, you might need to get a developer to come in to change how the structure data is. Instead of wrapping the actual price that’s shown in the structure data tags, maybe we’re going to take that out and put it in its own hidden area. You can actually format it and if you did your currency conversions, you can do it outside of the structure data, just to keep the structure data pristine.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Eric Davis: If you have and if there’s like a few errors, it’s kind of some basic HTML tweaks. Now there is one thing, my app does it, but there’s other apps that do too. The way structure data works with rich snippets, you can have duplicate data. Unlike normal stuff with Google, duplication or copies is bad. Well, structure data, it doesn’t matter. If you have two copies of your product structure data, it’s the same product, but one has this warning or error and one is pristine and good.
Google for the search, well, actually, look at that and be like, “This one is kind of crappy. This one’s good. I’m going to use the good one.” This basically what my app does. You can install a really good high quality version of it. You don’t even have to worry about fixing your theme. You can just kind of let those areas go away.
Kurt Elster: Cool, all right. If I run it through and there’s nothing there, now what do I do? I know for a fact, okay, we got no structure data, what should I do if I want to get the structure data in there?
Eric Davis: Yes. You’re going to have to add it. You’re going to either have to market up in the theme, which would be the microformat, microdata, which my opinion, as a developer doing this, that’s a pain in the ass, you’re not going to want to do it, it’s really hard. That’s what’s fragile. You can add it using JSON-LD. It’s a technical term for the way the data is setup. That’s easier, but it’s less fragile or like I said, you can install my app or other people’s apps that add that data for you. My app and I’m pretty sure the other ones are the same thing.
We get our data from Shopify through Liquid. It’s like super easy to do that and you can write a snippet in your theme itself if you want to do it by hand. You just pull out the product data. Pull the reviews data if you have it. The formatting of that data is the hard part of like you said take out the currency symbol or this thing needs to be quoted or this is just a URL. You do that and as long as you can keep that snippet of code with your theme, if you upgrade your theme or change your theme, you should be good to go.
Kurt Elster: Even if I do, I try and get the code in there myself. It’s possible that the structure data requirements change over time and who’s not going to tell me about it. Unless I’m staying on top of this, it’s one more thing to worry about.
Eric Davis: Yeah, I think about once like eight months ago or maybe nine months ago. There is a change where the business data, if you’re using a certain type, you would have to add a price range field and I think it was a logo field, because Google wants to use that price range when you’re doing like a map result of like showing how expensive different places are.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Eric Davis: That was just a change. They just switched it and it’s required. It was a kind of thing, if you don’t have it, all of a sudden you would get errors in this, the data testing tool and you’ll lose rich snippets, because you’re missing it.
Kurt Elster: That’s the advantage to using an app is they’re going to stay on top of the rich snippet data. In theory, an app will merely notify me or they’ll update it, correct?
Eric Davis: Correct. Yeah and there’s. Those changes, that changes every now and then. I have seen two or three. They’re like Google Algorithm updates where it can break everything and change stuff, but no one talks about it. I discovered that the last one that want to hit solo Shopify stores. I discovered that one because a customer said, “Hey, some things going on,” I looked into it. It actually wasn’t my app. It was actually a different app that I was integrating with.
It basically was like Google just flipped the switch and turned off a bunch of features that people were using and relying on. There’s no public information about it. Actually, I ended up writing an article on it just so that there’s something about, “Hey, this is what happened on this date. Here’s how you change it, here’s how you test it, here’s how you upgrade it.” We’ll say that process would take five minutes per product in your store. Some customers that I have of like five, 10,000 SKUs like that would be a weeks of work just to get upgraded and lose ground of where they were.
Kurt Elster: Okay, let’s say I don’t want to mess around. I just want to go. I want use an app. Get this done, so I don’t have to think about it. What’s the name of your app?
Eric Davis: Yeah, so I would just say buy my app. It’s JSON-LD for SEO. Unlike other SEO apps like it only focuses on structure data.
Kurt Elster: Right.
Eric Davis: I’m giving you the greatest structure data possible using Shopify. It’s a one time charge, you pay for it, install it. You get to the snippet. You’ll get updates for as long as the app is going for your store. I have ruled out a couple updates a month. The biggest, the bigger ones I do is I integrate with review apps, like I said I think there’s eight I integrated with. It’s the kind of thing of all of a sudden, you get that integration and it’s pushed out to your store or if there was changes scheme that goes out.
I want don’t want to say it’s in beta, but it’s something I’m testing. There’s some also some integration I’m working with Google Shopping or Merchant Center, five listing ads and all that stuff, because Google added features there. Basically, every customer who’s installed in the past year and a half, they’re going to get that update for free just as included in the price.
Kurt Elster: What is that price?
Eric Davis: Right now, it’s $69. I do adjust the price as I go, being a business. I have another-
Kurt Elster: Monthly or one time fee?
Eric Davis: One time fee.
Kurt Elster: Okay.
Eric Davis: If you paid, you’re good. If you paid the $69 today and it goes up to $99 tomorrow. You’re good with the $69 and there’s no concern about that. I do have a higher earn plan, which has more guarantees. I kind of do some manual monitoring and checking of your store. That’s more recent, but I will say, what was the number? I think it was 83% of the stores who bought the higher earn plan, got rich snippets within the first two months. One of them was amazing, the search engine, basically, their store with their products, because like page after page of high quality rich snippets. I was. I’m going to talk to them and try to do a case study, because that shows you how good this stuff can work.
Kurt Elster: I just looked at your Shopify app listing for JSON-LD for SEO. It’s got a 102 reviews. It’s five stars. If someone who has an app, that’s a great sign. It is tough to get people to write reviews.
Eric Davis: Yeah and I’m really proud of that. I was joking with one guy. He said that my reviewers will write five-paragraph essays, because he loved the service so much.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, sure enough. I scrolled down, not only are they positive reviews. The reviews, many of them are very detailed.
Eric Davis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Also, it’s not mentioned there; when you install you also get the standard on boarding. I tend to teach you about rich snippets, show you examples of it. More on the education like here’s the benefits you’re going to get not telling you what you need to do. It’s one of those, you install it and it’s done. It’s a couple of clicks automatically updated. If you change your theme, it will automatically change or reinstall itself.
Eric Davis: That’s a clever trick.
Kurt Elster: Yeah, it’s really hands off.
Eric Davis: I’m going to probably add a couple of features. I might let you customize and tweak some advance features, but it’s pretty much automatic. One thing, you also get. You get those emails, but you also will end up getting my daily email list, if you want it, which is just every day, every work day, there’s a bunch of tips and tricks of Shopify stuff like SEO, traffic, conversion rate optimization, getting a little bit right now into conversion rate optimization for adding to cart. Getting people to get their products in the cart, so they can start checking it out or you could start sending up any cart sequences. There’s a lot of educational components baked into the product too that you get.
Kurt Elster: Very good. All right, we’re coming to the end of our time together. Any closing thoughts, anything you’d like to add?
Eric Davis: Yeah. I’ll give you some links. Really, whether you have an SEO tool, when you get mine, you want to do it by yourself or you want to have a developer. You need to at least run a search and see how your store is going. I’ve kind of tweaked a lot of Google advance search options here. I have an article that describes how you can do a search to see all the products on your store and actually the rich snippets for them. Recommend, run that, go through, depending on your product, how long, three or four, five pages and see where you’re at. If you have rich snippets for 30 products, you’re probably good. If you don’t see any rich snippets or you see like just price coming through or just some basic data, there’s going to be optimizations you can make for that.
Like I said earlier, if you’re concerned about this and you want a better review with it, just go to the apps or page with the contact support, that will come to me and just say, “Hey, Eric, I heard you on Kurt’s show. Can you just do a quick check on my store?” I’ll get back to you basically and give the honest advice. You’re good to go or here are some things you can tweak and also like if my app would actually help me or not. Yeah, see where you’re at. If you feel like you’re not good or you can improve, ask me to do a review for your store if you want and add all the structure data you need.
Rich snippets, is like almost a free lunch Google is giving people right now. It takes a couple of weeks for you to get them, but it’s very low effort to do it at first and it’s just better traffic. It’s free. It’s not paid traffic and the conversions are really good. I have one customer who he basically doubled the amount of traffic to his store within a couple of weeks. Do it, check out what your store is doing. I’m there for questions if you have any, but you got to take advantage of this if you can.
Kurt Elster: I think that’s, that’s the title of the episode right there is how to get better traffic for you. That is the end outcome of this. That’s what I’m going to use for the title. Perfect. Okay.
Eric Davis: Yeah.
Kurt Elster: Eric, thank you. I appreciate it. Genuinely, I was familiar with structure data. I’ve had to troubleshoot it, but I didn’t feel entirely confident talking about it, because it’s so technical. Now having walked through this, it’s the ideal outcome. I learned something new. Our listeners learned something new along with me. It’s fantastic. I really appreciate your time. Thank you, Eric.
Eric Davis: You’re welcome. Glad to be here. I hope a lot of listeners get some benefit from this, because it is very powerful and useful.
Kurt Elster: I’m sure they will. That’s it for us today at the Unofficial Shopify Podcast. I would love to hear your thought son this episode, so please, join our Facebook group, search for the Unofficial Shopify Podcast. You’ll find our insider’s club group on Facebook and talk to us or sign up for my newsletter, kurtelster.com, shoot me an email and I will reply to any thoughtful email. Either way, you’ll be notified and whenever a new episode goes live. Of course, if you like to work with me on your next project, you can apply at ethercycle.com. As always, thanks for listening and we’ll be back next week.