In June 2011, Google, Yahoo! and Bing came
together to create Schema.org, a website
showcasing a unified effort that aims to ensure
the consistency of structured data use across
the Web. Merchants can especially benefit
from the use of structured data by taking
advantage of product microdata, the special
content included in a Web page’s HTML that
helps define specific details about products
available on a merchant’s website.
What is Schema.org, Exactly?
The unified agreement by the three major search engines (especially
Google’s involvement) ensures the importance of
Schema.org as a tool for webmasters, and means that merchants
have no reason not to use product microdata. In fact, those who
don’t will most likely be hindered.
Structured data is easy to implement; it’s simply a matter of
adding the necessary tags to the HTML and filling in the desired
information. It shouldn’t take much time to attach microdata to a
single product on your website. Of course, the time it takes to fill
out the necessary information for each product and complete the
entire task will be relative to the number of products you offer.
Schema.org lists all of the language necessary to include in a
Web page’s HTML code that any type of structured data that will
be picked up by the search engines, including product microdata.
Simply visiting www.schema.org/product immediately
takes users to the Web page that details the different markups
for product microdata and shows examples of how to implement
them into HTML.
What’s the Big Deal?
Structured data changes the way that search engines crawl Web
pages, affecting both the information they use and how they present
it on search engine results pages. Before, all of the content included
in a site’s HTML was more or less classified together, with
the exception of meta descriptions, meta keywords and other special
content, but now search engines can identify individual pieces
of information and display it on SERPs, allowing them to provide
user queries with the most accurate results available.
Product Microdata, You Say?
Product microdata, a specific form of structured data, means
merchants can distinguish individual products from those on
their own Web pages and from competitors based on their unique qualities and characteristics. This helps consumers get
the most appropriate product results available for their search
queries, and it especially helps merchants because you’re now
able to market your products to the most promising consumers
to generate more sales and increase conversion rates.
The information encoded in product microdata includes the
type of product, the brand, the product category (i.e. “Books-Fiction”),
the product description, the name, an image of the product,
a review and/or aggregated review data, a product identifier
(i.e. an ISBN or UPC number) and offer details for the product.
What Do I Need to Know?
The most important thing about microdata is that it primarily
uses three new attributes to distinguish the content in the HTML:
itemscope, itemprop and itemtype.
Itemscope creates a new item when the tag is attributed to an element; the descendents of this element will
contain information about it.
The itemprop is used to define the value attributes of the
item, and each tag contains specific information such as names
or colors being referenced inside the tag. This is the most important
tag to understand, because each piece of information
about a product (name, price, description, availability, etc.) is included
in an itemprop tag.
Finally, the itemtype tag gives items a type, meaning that it
provides a valid URL where the vocabulary for an item is defined
and its context explained. This helps standardize data markups
so that what is being communicated is clearly understood. Items
can only have one itemtype tag.
Also important is the itemid tag, which provides the item
with a unique identifier.
Keep in Mind …
A term like “microdata” can sound complex, which may turn off
some merchants, but in reality it is an easy concept for webmasters
to integrate into a site. For ecommerce companies, product microdata
ensures that users get the most accurate information about the
products most relevant to their searches, and differentiates your
company from the competition.