Search engines are constantly improving the algorithms by which robots rank sites in search results. Every year there are new factors influencing this process. Recently, structured data has joined these factors. We tell you what you need to know about structured data for the owner of an online store in order not to lose to competitors. At the end of the article, we provide specific solutions for the CS-Cart platform.
What is structured data and what structured snippets look like in search results
Structured data is the markup of site page elements with special tags and attributes, which helps search robots more clearly understand the content of the pages of an Internet resource. As a result, the content is correctly displayed in search results.
For example, micro-markup of a product card will allow search robots to understand where the price of the product is indicated, where is the description, and where is the image. Then he will be able to correctly analyze the information, determine how relevant the information on the page is to the user’s request, and display the data when generating snippets.
When a user enters a query into the search box, the search engine shows a snippet with the content of the page data. If the page uses micro-markup, then the snippet will be structured. From it, the user will understand what awaits him when going to the site. This increases the attractiveness of the resource in search results.
Here’s what the product card snippet looks like with micro-markup:
What else is marked with micromarking in the online store:
- bread crumbs;
- search string.
This is how the main page of the online store looks in the search results with the correct microdata:
Why is there no successful online store without microdata?
In 2017, the Pubcon conference was held, where Google speaker Gary Ilsh confirmed that the presence of microdata on the site has an impact on ranking. In addition to a positive impact on search results, micro-markup makes the site more client-oriented. A structured snippet shows part of the content of the page so that the user can get important information about products and services without even going to the online store. This always catches the eye of the user and highlights the resource among competitors.
From a commercial point of view, an attractive snippet contributes to increased click-through in the SERP, and this is one of the behavioral factors that search engines also take into account.
Accordingly, if there is no micro-markup on the pages of your online store, firstly, it will be ranked by search engines worse than other stores. And secondly, the user will simply skip your uninformative snippet in the flow of information and click on the competitor’s snippet. You will miss potential customers, and in the end – profit.
What types of microdata are suitable for an online store?
Micromarkup is added using tags to the HTML code of the page. There are several syntactic markup schemes that can be used to define the micro-markup of a site. Each schema has dictionaries that contain a set of attributes for the data.
Different dictionaries are used for different purposes. Dictionaries include RDFa, microformats, Open Graph, Schema.org.
RDFa and microformats are losing their popularity, although they are still supported by search engines. The Schema.org and Open Graph standards are the most popular and promising, as they are created and developed by the largest giants: Google and Facebook, respectively. In 2010, the JSON-LD format was developed, which marks up content using linked data dictionary objects and integrates well with Schema.org.
And now about all the subtleties in more detail.
In fact, Schema.org is a site that publishes various micro-markup schemes recognized by the largest search engines in the world, including Yandex and Google. Schemas are HTML code tags that describe various entities and their properties. Schema.org is the most widely used microdata schema today. Snippets based on Schema.org are called “rich snippets”.
There are more than 100 types of schema markup for the main entities of an online store in the dictionary. The list of schemes is constantly updated. It can be viewed at Schema.org.
There are also ways to implement schema markup for different entities.
By default, CS-Cart implements Shema.org micro-markup only for product cards. The markup of other entities can be done either by installing additional modules, or manually according to the recommendations of the Schema.org site.
JSON-LD is a way to describe the content of a page using the Linked Data Language. The information described in this way is visible to robots, but hidden from humans. By the way, back in mid-2013, schema.org included JSON-LD in the list of formats recommended for page markup. The recommendation states that JSON-LD has a positive effect on the distribution of structured data on the Internet.
Data marked up with JSON-LD is recognized by search engines. This makes it easier to index and increases the visibility of the site in search thanks to rich snippets. At the same time, JSON-LD is compatible with schema.org, which allows the site owner to use the semantics of this system.
If schema.org and JSON-LD are compatible, why learn a new format? Everything is clear here: JSON-LD is much easier to use, and you can implement it faster.
A feature of JSON-LD is its implementation not in the page code, but in a separate tag, that is, there is no need to enter the schema into the page content. So even a person who is far from programming can cope with this task.
In practice, the use of the JSON-LD format improves the site’s visibility in search results. Using JSON-LD, you can mark up data for a knowledge graph, display site searches in SERPs, and mark up events.
Google recommends using JSON-LD to display phone numbers of organizations in search results and to mark up pages announcing or describing any events and events: conferences, presentations, etc. With the help of markup, information about the author of publications and publisher gets into the knowledge block (organizations).
What does this format additionally give the online store? Posts from your blog may appear in the Top Stories carousel, along with a title and an accompanying thumbnail image. When you mention your company name in a search query, your contacts are more likely to appear in the knowledge block of Google Search.
Using Schema.org micro-markup with the JSON-LD syntax allows you to correctly and quickly mark up the necessary data that is perceived by Google. Yandex does not yet support JSON-LD (the exception is Yandex.Mail). But pages with JSON-LD are validated both in Yandex and Google.
3. Do I need to implement JSON-LD or is Schema.org sufficient?
- JSON-LD is advantageous to use if you don’t have microdata at all, while the main audience goes to the site from Google.
- If the audience is evenly distributed between Yandex and Google, then Schema.org is sufficient, since Yandex does not yet support JSON-LD.
- You can implement JSON-LD and Schema.org at the same time.
4. Open Graph
Open Graph is a special standard created by Facebook. Then it was picked up by Vkontakte, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and everyone else. Used to display a preview of a post in the user’s news feed. Most often, this dictionary is used to optimize information portals and blogs. Using Open Graph meta tags, you determine which elements of your page to show when someone shares your page. This forms a beautiful link for social networks. You can set the desired preview, your own titles and page descriptions that are attached to the link.
You can read more about Open.Graph in the Yandex.Webmaster help.
By implementing Open.Graph microdata, you get:
- simplified repost process. The link snippet will look like a finished post that can be posted on a social network, and not like a link to which you need to add a description and an image.
- additional traffic from social networks. Links designed this way look better and generate more clicks.
If your online store is tightly integrated with the online community, you can not do without Open Graph.
How to implement structured data
As we have already mentioned, CS-Cart has implemented Shema.org micro-markup by default only for product cards. There are two ways to mark up the rest of the online store entities: manually and automatically.
If you want to learn how to do schema markup by hand, then start by studying the material presented in the article “ Introduction to schema.org “. The article reveals the basic principles of the syntax of this language and explains how to start using it. For more information, see Yandex Webmaster Help. Markup schemas are available at Schema.org.
If you want to save time and effort when implementing microdata, then tools for automating the implementation of microdata are suitable for you:
- Schema App is a set of paid tools that allow you to use the Schema.org language without learning them.
- Microdata Generator Using Schema.org + JSON-LD – tools that allow you to structure information according to the principles of Schema.org.
- Various plugins and extensions for the platform on which the online store operates. You can find them in stores with modules for your CMS or order custom development.
For CS-Cart, there are two modules that will solve all your questions about microdata:
- JSON-LD structered data. This module will mark up all the necessary entities of the online store in order for the snippets to be informative and attractive. This will improve the SEO performance of the site and bring in new customers.
- Structured Data Open Graph. With the module, it will be possible to customize the information that is displayed on social networks and get high click-through rates for posts. This way you will attract additional traffic from social networks.
After enabling the modules, be sure to test your code with the Google Structured Data Testing Tool to make sure everything works correctly. It may take some time for search engines to index the resulting structured data. Usually, the results become visible within the first month after the introduction of microdata.
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