Spice Up Holiday SEO with Product Microdata
Google can be stingy with new information about its search algorithm, which makes the company's sharing of some recent changes all the more important for Web professionals.
Likely the biggest difference in the algorithm is that Google “is now more likely to pick text from the actual page content” for snippets on SERPs, as opposed to from a header or menu text. This places much more emphasis and importance on microdata built into a site’s HTML code, which was already a key part of Bing’s SERP rankings.
For ecommerce companies trying to make a splash on search engines, especially in anticipation of the upcoming holiday shopping season, this is the perfect catalyst to get them to start thinking about including product microdata into their websites.
If you’re unfamiliar with product microdata, it is similar to regular microdata embedded in a site’s HTML, only it is specifically used to define details about – you guessed it – products.
The information encoded in product microdata includes 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.
Micro Data, Major
Implementing microdata onto your website is the best way to contextualize your content and make sense of it for the search engines. This is important for ecommerce sites that want to push their products on SERPs, because it helps the search engines better understand the content of the product(s) listed and display them in the most useful, relevant way for the searchers. This will ultimately improve the overall standing of your site on SERPs.
What makes microdata work so well is that it helps differentiate all of the content on your site. Without using microdata, your content appears to Google (or Bing, Yahoo! and others) as one big collection of words, phrases, facts, figures, etc., and all of it is indistinguishable to the machines reading it. Microdata separates this information into the most important content, organizing and classifying it to be more easily parsed by the search engines to then report back to the searchers.
As an ecommerce company, this means that each of your products can have a wholly unique description that sets them apart from both the other content on your page, and similar products that may also appear in SERPs. It’s a virtual double-whammy!
Make it Happen
Here’s the great thing about product microdata (really, microdata in general): it’s really easy to add to your site. The act of inserting microdata into your site’s HTML code is a matter of adding the necessary tags and filling in the desired information. It shouldn’t take much time at all 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 is going to be relative to the number of products you offer.
Perhaps the best news of all is that the Holy Trinity of Search, Google, Yahoo! and Bing, actually combined forces to create Schema.org, a site that collects schemas (believe it or not) “that webmasters can use to mark up their pages in ways recognized by major search providers.” By providing a shared markup language, these search engines make it easier for webmasters to know exactly what kind of vocabulary to add to a site’s HTML and what the search engines should look for to determine SERP placements.
Schema.org is a great resource for people looking to add structured data to their sites, as it provides all the necessary information about how to format your microdata HTML. The information about product-related microdata markup language can be found here.
A term like “microdata” can sound a little complex, which may turn off some less than Web-savvy site owners, but in reality it is a very simple idea that is easy for webmasters to integrate into a site. Especially for ecommerce companies, product microdata is crucial for making sure that searchers are getting the most accurate information about the products most relevant to them and their searches, as well as differentiating your company from your competition.
The easier it is for a search engine to crawl your site and provide the most important information about available products, the easier it will be for you to entice customers to buy those products.