What Is Structured Data for E-Commerce? [The Complete Guide]
What is Structured Data?
Structured data — also called “schema markup,” is code written and added to a website’s HTML in order to help search engines understand the content and context of the page more easily.
Once inserted into a page, structured data can provide additional information such as
- Contact details,
- Content type / Product descriptions
- and so much more.
For example, if we look up “Christmas cookie recipe” on Google, we’ll find richly parked snippets filled with complete recipes, ratings, reviews, and the duration of each recipe.
Searcher’s seeing this layout with all the necessary information can easily make informed decisions on their preferred choice — without needing to click every result that pops up.
Now compared to the results below without structured data, the searcher might find it difficult to make this decision.
This is the same for the search query on “how to brew coffee at home.” The structured data shows the step-by-step process involved in brewing the coffee without needing to click every single result on the page.
Google models the structured data as — “a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content.”
Ideally, marking up a webpage's content with structured data helps provide search engines with more context and details about your content.
This, in turn, enables search engines to display more informative and visually appealing search results, including rich snippets, carousels, and other advanced search features.
However, the fundamentals of structured data are outlined via a set of predefined properties and schema types — all governed by schema.org.
What is shema.org?
Schema.org is a collaborative initiative between search engine giants Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Yandex to create a standardized vocabulary for structured data.
Think of it as a way of describing things — but in a more simpler way.
The goal is to provide a universal language for website owners (webmasters) to markup their content in a way that is easily understood by search engines, enabling them to display richer search results and enhance the overall user experience.
How does structured data work on Google?
Structured data works on Google by organizing all the necessary information about a page in such a way that Google crawl bots can better understand and display the content in a more useful way in the search results.
This information is presented in a specific format that Google can easily parse and interpret, allowing them to display rich snippets, knowledge graphs, and other enhanced search results.
For example, if you have a recipe on your website, you can use the structured data below to mark up the recipe title, ingredients, cooking time, and other details.
This is how the data looks:
This is how it appears on search results:
Source → Google
The above code is called the JSON-LD and it’s one of the different types of schema encoding formats used for structured data — also the one recommended by Google as it’s the easiest to maintain at scale and implement. Other formats include Microdata, and RDFa.
Why is structured data for e-commerce important?
Most e-commerce websites have a large number of web pages — all with different types of content. This means Google will be using a considerable amount of its crawl budget to understand the content and context of each web page fully.
With this amount of information on a single e-commerce website, there’s a high possibility that some information can be lost, or misinterpreted by GoogleBot.
Take for example, you run an e-commerce store selling different types of jackets. Without structured data, Google wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between:
- Field Jacket.
- Bomber Jacket.
- Chore Coat.
- Quilted Jacket
- Varsity Jacket
- Denim Jacket.
- Trucker Jacket.
- Moto Jacket.
- Shirt Jacket.
- Harrington Jacket.
But by using structured data markup to provide additional information about the shoes you sell, such as — the brand, style, size, and color, — Google can better understand the content on your website and present it more accurately to users searching for those specific types of shoes.
This can lead to increased visibility in search results for relevant keywords and phrases, which in turn can drive more traffic to your website and increase sales.
For example, when you search for “Trucker Jacket” — you get a rich result detailing the price, ratings, reviews and color.
Another reason why structured data is important in e-commerce is Search engines use structured data to generate rich snippets.
For example, if you’re more specific with your search like earlier and input “Trucker jacket black,” you’ll see a rich snippet that includes the product's name, price, origin, and even fabric type.
All of this can make your search listings more appealing to potential customers and provide them with more detailed information about your products before they even click through to your site.
What are the 6 must-have e-commerce structured data?
There are several types of structured data or schema markups for e-commerce websites but only a few are relevant and serve both the shopper and the retailer.
1. Product schema markups
This schema markup is used to provide detailed information about the product— some of which would include:
- Product name
- Product description
- Availability (In stock or out of stock)
In addition to the product schema markup, Google uses the merchant listing experience to display pages from which shoppers can purchase a product. Often, these merchants are verified brand owners — and not pages with links to other websites selling the product.
Here are a few examples:
Here’s how a product schema markup looks like:
2. Breadcrumb schema markup
This schema markup provides Google with additional information on the site’s structure and hierarchy. This hierarchical trail of links shows the users how they arrived at the current page on the website.
For e-commerce websites, breadcrumb schema markup is particularly important as it helps users to easily navigate through the various categories and products available on the site.
In addition, using breadcrumb schema markup can also increase click-through rates to your website. This is because the breadcrumb trail that appears in the SERPs gives users a quick overview of the structure of the website and the content that is available.
Here’s an example.
A search for “ikea ergonomic chairs” would return the search results below with the breadcrumbs highlighted:
With these breadcrumbs, shoppers can easily navigate the website right on the search results page and choose the type of chairs they want.
Here’s an example of a breadcrumb schema markup
3. Navigation and search schema markup
This schema markup is used to display structured information about the website's navigation or architecture.
One of the benefits of the navigation and search schema markup is it helps Google understand the website’s relationships with other entities — all of which leads to more accurate search results and enhanced visibility on SERPs.
Here’s an example:
A search for “Nike” shows the relationship with all Nike’s products across different categories.
Here’s an example of an organization schema markup
4. How-to schema markup
This schema markup is used to provide detailed information on how to perform a specific task or complete a process.
Alternatively, this can be useful for your e-commerce website as Google can display “how to” guides on how to use the products you sell.
Here’s an example for the search on “how to change a flat tire.”
Looking at the example above, with the structured data showing up in SERPs, potential customers can easily click to read more — and even end up purchasing a new tire or opt for repair at “Miller Auto Plaza.”
Here’s an example of a how-to schema markup
5. Review schema markup
This schema markup is used to display relevant and concise information on the content of a page such as the ratings, author, number of reviews, and the reviewer’s information.
When you add the review schema markup on your product pages, Google would be able to crawl and display the product ratings, review count, and other relevant information directly in the search results. This can make your products stand out and attract more clicks.
Here’s an example:
Here’s an example of a review schema markup
6. Local business schema markup
This schema markup provides additional information to Google about a local business, such as its name, address, phone number, website, business hours, and other relevant details.
When you include a local business schema markup to your website, Google can use this information to create rich snippets displaying specific information to searchers in close proximity eg., directions to your store.
Here’s a quick example:
Here’s an example of a local business schema markup:
How to add structured data to your e-commerce website?
In order to implement structured data on your website, Google recommends using the Structured Data MarkUp Helper tool. This tool provides a simple interface for adding structured data to a webpage.
Here’s how it works:
- Visit Structured Data MarkUp Helper.
- Select the website tab.
- Select the type of page you want to markup from the available lists. For example, if you have a conference coming up, it’s only ideal to choose “events” from the list. Or if you’re an e-commerce website and want to mark up a product page, choose “products.”
- Enter the URL of the targeted page and click on “Start Tagging.”
- Once the page loads, highlight specific parts of the page carrying important information. For example, if it’s an event, you can highlight the start time, location, and date.
- When you’re done tagging, click on Create HTML to generate the code and select JSON-LD as your preferred output format.
- Next, copy the generated code into the body of your targeted page.
If all these is done successfully, when next Google crawls your website, here’s how it’ll display on the search results:
- You can test the validity of the generated code by pasting the code or the targeted address into the Rich Result Test tool.
For instance, if we take the sample code of our Review schema markup above (no. 5), and input it into the tool, here’s the result we’ll get:
💡Side note → If you use a CMS like WordPress, Wix, or Shopify, you might not be able to edit your HTML directly. Instead, you’ll have to install a plugins such as:
Alternatively, you can navigate to your search engine settings page and find out how to add structured data into any of your pages.
What are the best practices for using structured data on e-commerce websites?
In order for Google to consider your content eligible to appear as a rich snippet on the search results, you need to strictly adhere and follow all of its general guidelines.
1. Use the appropriate format
While there are several schema markup formats supported by schema.org — Google recommends using three:
- JSON-LD (preferred)
2. Include all relevant product details
It’s important to provide search engines like Google with all the necessary information about your product via your structured data.
Some important details include:
- Product name: a clear and direct name of the product (no nicknames or trickery)
- Price: The price of the product (or a range if the price is not fixed)
- Description: A detailed analysis of the product (use the key details)
- Availability: Whether it’s in stock or not.
- SKU (Store Keeping unit): This is a unique identifier for each product in order to keep track of your inventory.
For example, when someone searches for a specific product, Google can display your product information directly in the search results, which can lead to more clicks and sales.
3. Use reviews and ratings markups
Including reviews and ratings markups in your structured data helps you do two things —
- Increase your visibility to potential customers
- Improves your chances of showing up on search results.
All of which can give searchers a quick and easy way (or sneak-peek) in your offerings.
4. Practice nesting
Nesting is simply combining multiple structured data. This is often helpful when there are multiple items grouped under one main item.
Lizzi Sassman, Senior Technical Writer at Google, also confirms this —
“... _ Nesting your structure data can help us understand what the main focus of the page is.
For example, if you put recipe and review at the same level, it’s not as clear as telling us that the page is a recipe with a nested review.
This means that the primary purpose of the page would be a recipe and that the review is a smaller component of that.
As a tip, always check the specific feature documentation to see if there’s any more notes about combining various structure data types.
Right now, the only supported carousel features are course, movie, recipe, and restaurant.”
A typical example would be when you have a recipe page that also contains a video showing how to make that recipe, and a breadcrumb information about the recipe.
Suggested → Read more on Google’s general structured data guidelines
Start optimizing your e-commerce website for structured data
A bit of code here and there with a perfect schema markup can go a long way in improving your website’s visibility to search engines and provide a better user experience to customers. All of these would enhance your product listings, increase click-through rates, and ultimately boost your online sales.
However, if you’re unfamiliar with a few lines of code and its implementation, this task can be daunting and affect your website’s performance if not done correctly.
And here’s where Edgemesh offers you a comprehensive solution that helps you implement schema markup so search engines can easily understand the content on your website. Edgemesh also offers product reviews and product recommendation features that are designed to display in search engines when customers search for your products. This will improve user experience and increase the likelihood of users making additional purchases.
Thinking of implementing structured data on your e-commerce website? Get started with Edgemesh today. 👈