Why Structured Data for E-Commerce Can Make or Break Your Sales

Why Structured Data for E-Commerce Can Make or Break Your Sales

2020 is a turning point for e-commerce SEO

Nothing like search marketing can impact your e-commerce traffic and sales. If you are an e-commerce owner — or an e-commerce manager — you know that SEO is a key factor to drive sales, especially if paid traffic is too expensive. This year we are at a turning point: in fact, in 2020 using structured data has really become crucial to get the best exposure on Google. For free.

Here is what happened: back in April this year, Bill Ready, President of Commerce at Google, made an announcement that was going to change the game rules for e-commerce owners. Its title was loud and clear: It’s now free to sell on Google. The core message in there was:

Search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.

After a few months, Bill published another important announcement: free retail listings landed on Google Search.

Now, we’re bringing free listings to the main Google Search results page in the U.S., helping shoppers choose the products and sellers that will serve them best, from the widest variety of options.

Boom! That’s really a game-changer. It allows e-commerce sites to get more exposure for their products and increase the CTR.

How can you get into Google’s Free Product Listings?

Here is where structured data comes handy. Adding a layer of metadata to all your products allows Google to display them to potential customers. So, here is the real question: how do you add structured data to your products?

In this article, I will show you how to use structured data to get organically into Google’s free product listings and also how to benefit from the same technology to gently push your users to shift from informational pages to product pages.

Why Google is selling your goods for free

Let’s take a few steps back and set the context.

Behind this openness, of course Big G is chasing its own interests.

When looking for a product, often users go straight to Amazon’s search box and skip Google search. In 2018, a research published by Jumpshot found that Amazon, with 54% of the marketshare, took over Google in terms of product search. For Google, that’s an issue.

Amazon Vs Google in the product search battle

Advertising money and sales need to stay on the same track.

To put it simply, in order to collect more money from advertisers that want to sell their products, Google needs more traffic made by users that specifically search for products. On the other side, users tend to choose Amazon because it has a larger and well organized offer of products.

In the product search battle, Google is competing with Jeff Bezos’ war machine. Some argue that even if more product searches take place directly within Amazon, Google is still an important source of traffic for all online retailers, including Amazon. Keep this in mind, because we are going to dive deeper into this specific aspect in the next paragraphs.

To overcome its most feared competitor Google needs to showcase more products — and to escalate its capacity, what Big G needs, in the end, is to have more data.

That’s why Mountain View’s giant is opening its doors to free product listing. In the long-run the data about products provided by e-commerce websites will help Google win the product search battle.

What’s in it for you?

On the bright side, between two parties, the third gain. And in this fight between two giants, e-commerce sites of all sizes are going to earn free visibility and better exposure if they play their cards well.

Implementing (or improving) structured data on your e-commerce is the way to win more visibility for your products on Google’s SERP, get a higher CTR from organic search, and ultimately close more sales.

What is structured data for e-commerce?

In the context of SEO for e-commerce, structured data is a specific piece of code that follows the standards of schema.org and allows search engines understand and classify the content of your web pages, identify your products and their specific features, and easily interact with the content architecture of your website.

Using structured data impacts SEO results because schema.org markup makes your content eligible for specific rich results and SERP features such as Google’s Free Product Listings — which help your pages gain a higher CTR.

The advantages of structured data go far beyond SEO, and also include opportunities of content reuse, internal findabilty, and semantic analytics. But, let’s start from the SERP.

How does structured data for e-commerce look like in the SERP?

Adding structured data to your products allows you to be eligible for Google Merchant and, therefore, to get into Google’s Product Listings. How your products look like on the SERP depends on how deep and accurate your data is.

With lack of structured data, your product looks poor. But when you add structured data, it’s another story. Product features and categories, rating, availability, and other relevant information create an informative rich snippet that helps your product stand out in the crowded Google Shopping page.

Think at structured data as a special trick to grab the user’s attention and improve your CTR.

As you can see in the screenshot above, accurate and complete structured data results in exhaustive Product Snippets. Inaccurate or poor structured data results in simpler snippets like the one in the screenshot below — or it may not get a spot on the SERP at all.

How to add state-of-the-art structured linked data to your e-commerce

WordLift adds to your products state-of-the-art structured data and extended product markup that allows you to get more visibility on Google’s retail listing. 

Furthermore, WordLift allows you to create a Product Graph out of the relevant connections between products, brands, product categories and features. 

This e-commerce specific form of knowledge graph is a powerful tool to enhance the findability of your products. On one side, it helps you get better results in terms of organic search traffic and, on the other, it helps you improve the internal linking structure and refine your product recommendations

If you want to learn more about this and discuss your e-commerce SEO with one of our experts, just book a call.

Grow your organic traffic and give a boost to your conversions

If you want to learn more about this topic, don’t miss Doreid Haddad’s webinar: how structured data impacts e-commerce sales. In 43 minutes, he shares with you best practices, practical tips, and tools to improve your e-commerce SEO through structured data.

If you don’t know where to start with SEO, have a look at our SEO Management Service and discover how we can build business results together.

Transactional, informational, and mixed search intents

Sure, when a user searches for a specific product, this search is most likely going to result in a conversion. That’s why the so-called transactional queries worth so much to Google and to its advertisers — and most of the time they are also very competitive in terms of CPC.

But transactional queries are not the only way to get a sale done.

Informational searches can also play a role into the customer journey — and here is where content marketing makes the most sense: in fact, when you help potential customers to better understand a matter connected with your products and you can trigger them to buy your products.

Mixed search intents are often overlooked, but they can play a key role for your sales.

What are mixed search intents and how to target them

Search intent is not always binary. Many SERPs try to give an answer to mixed search intents.

In these cases, Google populates the SERP with both informational and transactional result, allowing customers to disambiguate their need by making a choice.

Let’s say that you have an eyewear e-commerce. Of course, in terms of SEO you are targeting eyeglasses brands and specific products that you are selling. But, there is more potential in users’ searches.

For example, a potential customer who wants to buy new sunglasses may not look for a specific brand or model, and instead try to figure out what are the latest trends before making a purchase. The query would look something like this: sunglasses 2020. Here is what Google gives to these kind of users, whose real intent is ambiguous.

As you can see the search engine result page (SERP) contains a Sponsored Product Carousel on the top, while most of the blue links are informative pieces of content related with sunglasses trends for this year.

What does it mean? As an e-commerce owner, you can target these mixed search intents to attract potential customers on your website both by entering into Google’s Product listings (paid, in this specific case), and by creating a page which puts together informative content and a showcase of your products related with the search.

How to gently push your readers to shift from informational to product pages

For sure, Content marketing is a powerful way to attract potential customers that are just looking for information, exploring a topic, and maybe planning to buy. How do you trigger your readers to buy a product? 

To shift from informational to transactional intents, you need to gently push your readers to become customers. WordLift puts in the hands of any e-commerce owner the tools to help potential customers take the leap and buy something.

1. Product Navigator

WordLift’s Product Navigator gives a concrete shape to your readers’ desires by suggesting a series of products that they might be interested in. 

The Product Navigator of WordLift for WooCommerce on Oakley.com USA

2. Product Faceted Search

In a way, the Product Faceted Search is similar to the product Navigator, with the difference that, interacting with the refinement chips, users can narrow the selection of products on the basis of their own interest. 

With the Product Faceted Search, users can refine the selection following their own interests

3. Product Context Card

When you mention a specific product on a page, Context Cards allow your readers to have a sneak peek on that product by looking at a very nice preview.  

How Product Context Cards look like in the context of an editorial piece of content

Wrap-up: the pillars of e-commerce SEO strategy in 2020

Structured Data is the key

Nowadays, adding structured data to your e-commerce product is not only the easiest way to enter into Google Free Product Listings, but it’s also the best one, as it allows you to dive deep into the product features. In this way, the users will get an outstanding first glance of your product on the SERP and be enticed to click.

If you use WordLift, you can add state-of-the-art structured linked data to your e-commerce without writing a single line of code. The AI will take care of that.

Mixed search intents are the low hanging fruit in search marketing for e-commerce websites

Searches are not black or white. The fact that Google can’t disambiguate the intent behind generic searches is an opportunity in terms of content marketing. Creating content that targets mixed intent queries could untapp many sales.

Always Be Closing

Pushing your content readers and potential customers to click on one of your products and buy it requires an intelligent mix of content and UX. Showcasing your products on informational pages or giving to your customers several alternatives and product pairings create a number of chances for the users to see, desire, buy what you’re selling.

If you have an e-commerce and you want to discuss your SEO strategy with us, book a call with one of our experts.

Schedule a free audit of the structured data on your e-commerce

How the SEO game has changed — And why you need a paradigm shift

How the SEO game has changed — And why you need a paradigm shift

The SEO game has changed. That’s a fact. Just look at any Google‘s SERP to see how much.

One of the main things you will notice if you compare the same SERP in the last five years is that the first position is continuously shifting down on the SERP, often falling below the folding line.

SERP: 2015-2020 - How the SERP changed in the last 5 Years
The screenshot above shows how a specific SERP evolved in the last 5 years. Andy Crestodina explored this evolution on Orbit Media.

This is not even just Google or Bing. Have a look at what happens on Baidu’s SERP in the Chinese search market.

Here is how a SERP on Baidu looks like today

What does really happen when a SERP is such rich and visual?

The presence of rich snippets, such as a sponsored product carousel, video carousel, featured snippet, a knowledge panel, a PAA, and many others, changes the way a user looks at the SERP. According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, 74% of the users look at the rich results.

In other words, the visual impact of SERP features influences the path of the user’s gaze and, since the number of features can vary from query to query, the gaze pattern is nonlinear. It bounces around between visual elements, resembling the path of a pinball.

The Pinball Pattern for the Nielsen Norman Group

A User Centered Search (and Discover) Experience

Another few things that you might notice, is that the SERP is moving in two directions that are complementary.

Once Google was reactive: the user typed a search, it answered to the search with a bunch of results. And those results were common, meaning that every user would have got the same list of links while typing the same phrase.

Nowadays, Google is proactive and the results are personalized and vary by user, location, time in the day, device… and many other factors. In this way you might not have the same SERP twice.

Google Discover is an example on how Google is moving from reactivity to proactivity, offering the users a selection of content based on their previous searches and behaviour.

Which are the winning strategies in SEO today?

Here are some practical tips that could help you get some rich results and therefore the attention of the users.

  • Create an entity in the Knowledge Graph — the best way to start doing this is publishing 5-stars linked open data. And that’s WordLift’s job. 😎
  • Write quality content which will help you build your brand authoritativeness and uplift your rankings.
  • Frequently update your content to stay relevant and useful to your users.
  • Think mobile-first, paying attention to critical technical factors such as speed and performance.
  • Work on a multi-format strategy, producing different kinds of format such as texts, images, videos — possibly around the same content.

Have a look at the video below, to see a practical demonstration of how WordLift can help you get rich results through structured data.

How Google works — and how you can get users’ attention

Learn more

If you want to learn more tips and tricks about SEO, just click on the button below and book a demo with one of our experts.

The Role of Content Structuring in Voice Search and Beyond

The Role of Content Structuring in Voice Search and Beyond

In 1996 Bill Gates wrote “Content is King”, predicting a world where content would have been the main wealth on the Internet. Although this prediction has been a catchphrase in the contest of digital marketing in the 2000s, nowadays it could sound a little naive. It isn’t, if you rethink content separating it from its containers and try to understand and follow its law

Don’t think in terms of pages, think in terms of entities

Pages are just one of a thousand ways in which content can be rendered and displayed to your users. An entity is the real single brick of your content strategy. It can be displayed through a page, but it’s something more. It is a thing (or a person, a place, an event, etc.) that has its own properties and relationships with other things. 

Adding schema.org markup to your content you can define and describe your entities and help search engines better understand your content. Let’s say for example you have a recipe: as an entity, this recipe will have many properties such as recipeCuisine, recipeIngredient, recipeInstructions, recipeYield… and a lot more. All these properties can connect the entity to other entities or just exist as single data points. 

On the left side, you see a recipe on IINH, as users would see it on the web page, while on the right side, you have the same recipe as Google sees it through structured data.

Let’s say I’m looking for an apple pie with one single egg — because I have just one in the fridge, semantic search engines could give me the right recipe thanks to the additional information related to the entity. So, in the end, entities allow you to give a better answer to your potential readers

The same recipe presented on Google’s SERP in the recipe carousel

Why are entities relevant in this context?

Structured content can help you build Actions for the Google Assistant upon some entity types such as recipes, how-tos, news articles and podcasts. And here is how schema.org markup comes handy for voice search

Moving from building pages to creating structured data helps us create relationships between entities that matter. Entities are not isolated items, they are all connected into a cluster which is semantically meaningful.

This means that through entities you can feature different angles of a complex thing. 

For example connecting all information related to a course or a webinar across multiple pages can be strategic to stand out on Google search and is the best way to answer to different user intents. 

Structure your content building your own content model — and stick with that

As I said before, entities are just the first brick of your content strategy. Content modeling is the law that underlies your content. Structuring the content of your website allows you to reuse it in different formats and match different search intents. 

For example, the content model of the WordLift Academy allows us to repurpose our content in different formats. Each main content is a webinar which is connected to different data points such as creation date and duration, other entities such as the topics covered during the webinar and the main speaker, and media such as the cover image, the profile picture of the speaker, and the video recording. 

The Entity-based content model of the WordLift Academy

All this information can answer to different search intents and function as different entry points to the main content. 

Experiment new formats starting from your content wealth  💎

Now, let me tell you a story. 

Recently, we’ve joined Google’s Mini Apps Early Access Pilot. The idea was to offer to the user an app experience built into the SERP to navigate into the Academy content. 

I won’t enter into the details of the technological stack used to create this Mini App prototype through Google’s console. What matters here is that, having a structured content we have refined the search for WordLift courses allowing the users to navigate through them by selecting one or more topics of interest and/or a speaker. 

A preview of the WordLift Mini App and some query examples

As the pilot has been shut down due to COVID-19, you won’t see it on the SERP anytime soon. 😭 But… we are planning the same structure — well, with a few changes in terms of technology – to build an Assistant App for Google. 🚀

So users will be able, for example, to look for all the webinars about SEO by Jason Barnard on our Academy just invoking the App.  

What’s the take-away of this story? 

Formats may change and evolve, experiments come and go… but a strong content model allows you to reuse your content in different environments.

Is Voice Search Here to Stay? It is now 2020

If you want to learn more about how voice search is evolving in 2020, have a look at the webinar below, with me and Georgie Kemp getting deeper into this topic.

Is Voice Here to Stay? It is now 2020 — Streamed live on May 22, 2020 by Authoritas
WordLift selected among the best startups worldwide to join Microsoft for Startups program

WordLift selected among the best startups worldwide to join Microsoft for Startups program

We are proud to announce that we joined the Microsoft for Startups program, an exclusive project that will help us scale and develop our business by joining forces with Microsoft teams and the Azure CLOUD. 

We are extremely excited to have been selected among thousands of other startups, for the traction we have demonstrated and for the technology that we’re developing. Being in close collaboration with Microsoft is a great opportunity for us to advance our technology in the area of natural language processing, machine learning and in the context of WordLift NG — the new generation of our product.

WordLift automates and streamlines the technical processes required to make a website discoverable through search engines and personal digital assistants; our startup has been first to market a Knowledge Graph optimized for SEO, combining semantic annotations with information publicly available as linked open data

By selecting WordLift, Microsoft confirms its desire to offer companies high-performance AI tools at the service of businesses and people. The human-machine relationship, in fact, is not just about how AI influences SEO, content production and marketing, it has to be taken into consideration also when helping users create their own knowledge graph, because that’s when we’re really focusing on how those content and data influence AI.

Microsoft has a profound impact globally across millions of organizations and we’re excited to bring our contribution in the world of AI-powered SEO to build a culture around data and to redesigning the human-machine collaboration.

“Microsoft’s leading expertise in the adoption of artificial intelligence represents for us a wonderful opportunity for both technological and commercial development. The entry of WordLift in the Microsoft for Startups program shows that AI-powered SEO and Knowledge Content Management has its place within the ecosystems of Digital Marketing and Branding” — specifies Andrea Volpini, CEO of WordLift.

AMP & Structured Data: Optimize AMP Pages with Schema.org

AMP & Structured Data: Optimize AMP Pages with Schema.org

Page Speed is the unquestionable strength of Accelerated Mobile Pages. This factor gives these pages an incredible boost in mobile SEO and in CTR. What can you do to further optimize your AMP pages? Here is where structured data in the form of schema.org markup comes into play.

Before we go deep into why structured data can be a not-so-obvious way to boost your AMP pages, let’s answer a simple question: what are Accelerated Mobile Pages and why are they so important?

AMP: the open-source library that speeds up your mobile pages

Launched by Google in 2015, AMP is an open-source library that allows developers to create web pages that load almost instantaneously on mobile browsers. In other words, speed is a crucial factor that AMP aims to optimize.

To understand why the speed factor is so important nowadays – especially after Google rolled out its mobile-first index – you have to think about how users are browsing the web and, therefore, how Google is trying to offer them a better search experience.

In 2018, mobile search has taken the lead over desktop search: 67% of worldwide visits are performed using mobile devices according to Stone Temple.

What do mobile users want? Speed!

Yep, it is as simple as that. 53% of mobile users leave a page after 3 seconds of loading. Does that sound exaggerated? Think about yourself, looking for a piece of information or news for a quick read and waiting in front of your tiny smartphone display for seconds that feel like minutes.

#AMP & #PageSpeed What do mobile users want? Speed! 53% of mobile users leave a page after 3 seconds of loading! Click To Tweet

I think you already know that frustrating feeling. In fact, 75% of mobile websites take 10 or more seconds to load.

By giving AMP pages a place of honor on its SERPs, Google is trying to guarantee its users a better search experience.

By implementing AMP on your website, you can:

  • Overcome your mobile speed issues
  • Give a better user experience to your readers
  • Incentivize Google to show your pages first instead of the slow-loading pages of the majority of your competitors
  • Your website will be eligible for visual stories, and rich result features, such as image, logo or headline, for instance 
  • Website might be able to be shown in mobile Search results as rich results
  • See your news featured in the top news carousel, if you are a news publisher

Google Top News Carousel with AMp

This is example of how Top Stories Carousel looks like with AMP

To prove why implementing AMP on your website is important, here are some basic figures taken from research conducted by TechJury in 2019 on mobile vs Desktop use. The numbers clearly indicate that mobile market share worldwide is 52.1% in comparison to desktop market share of 44.2%. What is not surprising is that Millennials spend about 3 hours and 45 minutes browsing on their mobile devices per day in 2019. It is highly unlikely that the number will decrease in 2020.

Here is another similar research by AMP Project, and it indicates that E-commerce websites which are using AMP, experienced a 20% increase in sales conversions compared to non-AMP pages. Still doubting whether you need to implement AMP?

Canonical page or native AMP?

To avoid duplicate content issues, Google requires each AMP page to be linked to its canonical non-AMP version, and the canonical page has to link back to the AMP page.

Here is the code that does the trick

In the AMP page you should place:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/url/to/full/document.html">

In the canonical page you should place:

<link rel="amphtml" href="https://www.example.com/url/to/amp/document.html">

In case the page is native-AMP, meaning that there isn’t another page for desktop devices, the canonical should be the AMP page itself. This could become a smart option in the future for websites whose traffic and business model is mostly mobile based.

#AMP A native-AMP website could become a smart option in the next future for those websites whose traffic and business model is mostly mobile-focused. Click To Tweet

Why adding structured data to AMP pages can make the difference

Adding schema.org markup to AMP is recommended by Google itself. In their guide of how to enhance AMP for Google Search, they begin with:

You can enhance your AMP content for Google Search by creating a basic AMP page, adding structured data, monitoring your pages, and practicing with codelabs.

And later in the same article:

Use structured data to enhance the appearance of your page in Google mobile search results. AMP pages with structured data can appear in rich results in mobile search, like the Top stories carousel or host carousel.

What exactly does “enhance the appearance of your page in Google mobile search” mean? As you can see in the example below, the page of SalzburgerLand Partners Meeting on WordLift Blog is an entity of the Event type. Below the link, you can see that Google features some basic metadata such as place and date. This gives users extra information and adds one more reason for them to click on the content.

The same thing can be done with different types of entities: for example, imagine products coming with their price and availability information.

Example of the Structured Data of an Event AMP as displayed by Google

How to add structured data to your AMP pages

Google Search recommends to use the same structured data markup for both the canonical and the AMP pages:

Use the same structured data markup across both the canonical and AMP pages.

This means that if you want to benefit from semantic SEO techniques on your AMP pages, you have to align the structured data of your AMP version to the canonical page. If you have invested some time with the schema.org markup of your content, it would be a shame not doing so!

AMP Project suggests to include in the structured data of your AMP at least these four schema.org properties to make your AMP pages more easy to find:

  1. the specific type of content (i.e. ‘news article’)
  2. the headline
  3. the published date
  4. associated preview images.

Of course, the richer your structured data is, the more that Google Search will understand the content on your page and be able to help you reach the right target audience. If you are not sure if the structured data parses correctly, you can use these tools to test structured data.

The more your #StructuredData is rich, the more Google Search will understand the content on your page and help you reach the right target audience. #SchemaOrg Click To Tweet

If you are using WordPress, you may already know that thanks to the plugin AMP for WordPress you can turn any of your pages or articles into an AMP page.

There are many other plugins that do the same thing, but we recommend you to chose this exact one because it comes from the first strict cooperation between Google and WordPress. In fact, the Google AMP team is the same team that is working to empower the WordPress ecosystem. One of the first results of this cooperation is the AMP for WordPress plugin created by Automatic, our friends at XWP (a leading WP developing agency) and Google itself. Here some some cool new updates that your website can benefit from:

  • Gutenberg Support
  • Divi Support 
  • AMP Stories
  • Improved CSS Optimization
  • Google Fonts Support For All Designs
  • AMP Infinite Scroll Support
  • Photo Gallery by 10Web Support
  • MEWE social network Support

What's new in the AMP Plugin? 

In the latest AMP Plugin Release, you will find even more support for AMP theme support, including support for core themes, a big update to the compatibility tool and extended Gutenberg support! ?

Learn more on XWP Blog! ?

Leo Postovoit

WordPress Consultant, XWP

From now on with WordLift, your AMP pages can finally inherit the schema.org markup of the canonical page and share the same JSON-LD. Simply put, after you add the structured data to your article, WordLift will automatically implement all the metadata in the corresponding AMP pages.

Using our plugin, structured data for AMP is quite simple. Have a look at this schema.org markup of an AMP post on the blog of our sister company InsideOut Today.

Structured Data AMP - How to add schema.org markup to your AMP pages

Above you can see the linked data from the JSON-LD of a blog post about the Opportunities & challenges for the Arab media industry. See also the canonical page.

Wrapping up: the benefits of structured data on AMP pages

Using the same markup for AMP pages and canonical pages, you will benefit from the advantages of a mobile-optimized page – since Google index is more and more focused on mobile performances – and also from the extra help of semantic SEO. Boom! You can kill two birds with one stone.

As we have seen before, AMP speeds up a website’s load time and therefore it increases mobile ranking, which affects the CTR. Users are more likely to click on the results that are more prominent on the SERP.

Wait, there’s more! A fast loading page will also have a lower bounce rate. Here the advantage is twofold: your users will benefit from a better UX and search engines will register the high dwell time as a positive signal – helping you to strengthen your website rankings.

#AMP speeds up a website load time. This means: better rankings, higher CTR and lower bounce rate. Boom! Click To Tweet

On the other side, enriching your AMP pages with structured data will help search engines better understand your content and also give them enough metadata to display your pages as rich snippets on the SERP. Guess what? This will guarantee you even a higher CTR.

Wanna try yourself? Get started with structured data for your AMP pages.
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