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Pat Marcello

Rich Snippets for e-Commerce

Pat Marcello

There has been lots of buzz about Google and “Authorship” lately, but what you may not realize is that you clue Google in about who you are and what you’ve written via “rich snippets.” But this structured data isn’t just for adding your image to what you’ve written. Rich snippets are great for recipes, for music, and they’re pretty amazing for e-Commerce as well. In fact, these easy to use code snippets were practically made for it.

The cool thing is that not many business owners understand rich snippets, don’ t hire competent SEOs, or just don’t think they’re worth the effort. Yet, they most definitely will make your search results listings in Google much more powerful than the other guy’s, if you do only a few simple things. Case in point: I had to do several different searches before finally finding some rich snippets, as an example. These come from Last.fm for 80’s music, dear to my heart:

RS1These are a particular brand of rich snippet, called “data highlighting” because they apply to events. The different forms of rich snippet also include microdata, microformats, and RDFa.

The preferred method is microdata, since it’s easy to implement in most cases, while in others, microdata won’t do the complete job so you need these alternate conventions to make your listing appear the way you want it to. Events, for example, change and that’s why data highlighting was used for the example above.

But rich snippets can be used for:

As we’re talking particularly about e-Commerce, let’s concentrate on product markup. (That said, each of the links above are to Google Webmaster help pages for the particular type of rich snippet you’re interested in using.)

Microdata Markup for Products

Rich snippets for products help you to present individual products more fully to search engine spiders, (not to visitors, who will never see the code) and they allow you to fully control how each of your products appear in search. I say “each,” because you can’t use rich snippets on category pages. They are simply for individual product pages, which are dedicated to only ONE product.

These rich snippets are definitely worth using. They allow you to provide searchers with pricing information, product availability, the feedback the product has received in form of reviews, comments, and star ratings and much more. Plus, if you use the Schema.org conventions for coding, the information can be used by all of the three big engines – Google, Bing, and Yahoo, who got together to make coding for search uniform throughout the Web.

Rich Snippets Too complicated? I Think NOT

As with authorship, most business owners fear that rich snippets are too complicated or that they will take a long time to implement. That’s not necessarily the case. You just need to write a bit of code in the <head> section of your HTML. In fact, you can copy & paste the below and fill in your own information and they should work just fine for you. Here’s what you do:

1. Create your page <title> using the product’s description.

<title>Black Alligator Wallet</title>

2. Tell spiders you’re using Schema data markup and which type:

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://Schema.org/Product”>

3. Give the product a name:

<span itemprop="name">2-Pocket Black Alligator Wallet</span>

4. Code in more specific information:

<div itemprop-“offers” itemscope itemtype=”http://Schema.org/Offers”>

<span itemprop=”price”>$159</span>

<meta itemprop=”priceCurrency” content=”USD”>

Now, you’ve told search engines the price of your product and the currency you prefer.

This is definitely cool stuff, and in the future this microdata markup language may become much more important. Plus, you can really jazz up your SERPs listings for your products by rich snippet coding for colors, reviews, brands, condition of an item (for used items) and much more. It just depends how specific you want your search listings to be.

How Do I Learn More?

Google does a really good job of explaining rich snippets and how to use them on this page. They also provide a very cool tool for making sure your rich snippets markup is correct using their “Structured Data Testing Tool.” And yes, it’s the same tool you use to see if you’ve set up your authorship properly. (I tested the above code, and it’s spot on, BTW, so yes… You can copy, paste, and fill in your own pertinent information.)

When it’s all said and done, you might be surprised at how well rich snippets work, especially now when it doesn’t appear that many business owners are using them.

If you’re on a WordPress site, like so many businesses are today, no worries. There are plugins you can use to add this information to your product pages automatically, which makes taking advantage of using rich snippets really simple – no coding, just adding requested information.

The Bottom Line

If you want better results from your search engine results listings and higher conversions from your visitors, using rich snippets is most definitely the way to go. And since not many businesses are using it – yet – be the first e-Commerce site in your niche to crack the rich snippets code. It’s always smart to be one step ahead of the competition, eh?

Pat Marcello is President and SEO Manager at MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company that serves small- to medium-sized businesses. Follow her on FacebookTwitter or Google+. Pat’s last article for SEMrush was "Google's Fetch and Render: Why It's Important."

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