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Why Structured Product Data is the Kernel of Good SEO

It’s fall here in Seattle. As the days get shorter, the heart desires hot and yummy soups. Just when I was mentally transporting myself to a house filled with the familiar aroma of butternut squash soup simmering in a Dutch oven, I suddenly remembered that I needed to buy a new one! Time to abort the daydream and head to the computer!

I knew what I wanted to buy. We use a lot of Le Creuset cookware in our household, and a pot with 5.5 quart capacity would be sufficient. As a consumer, our instinct is to “Google” it and see what’s out there. In addition to the ads and sponsored posts, I noticed that there were some organic search results that showed more rich and relevant information than others. Notice how this listing from Williams-Sonoma shows average rating and number of user reviews.

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The listing from Crate and Barrel shows price and availability as well in addition to the review ratings.

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As a consumer in the product search and discovery process, I’m mostly likely to click on this organic listing that pops out with reviews, price, and availability information, rather than a generic one that doesn’t offer product-specific information. I might come back and click on a few other links to make sure that I was getting the best deal possible. But at the very least, this listing first caught my attention on the entire page.

So this is what Google calls Rich Snippets for Products. A feature that was introduced in 2009, it is Google’s way of presenting the most relevant information to users based on their query. Going by the organic results that show up, it seems like this feature is underutilized by merchants right now. This is a great way for retailers to put forth their best offer to the consumer and get users on their product page without actually paying for an ad. Following best practices for good SEO will help Google generate Rich Snippets for your page.

Google has a huge captive audience and in such cases, a shopper has arrived with the intent to buy. Half the work is already done here! They are looking for the right offer. All it takes for merchants is to have structured data on their product pages and add markup that enables Google to read the product information easily and display it in the form of Rich Snippets for the suitable queries.

The is tremendous opportunity here. As a merchant, you get to control how your products are presented on Google. And that’s huge when it comes to SEO! The main things to take care of here are the richness, freshness, and accuracy of data provided. There’s the information about the product itself like name, image, description, brand, category, unique identifier such as SKU, ASIN, UPC etc.

Google lets you present the offers information (price, availability, discounts, etc.) as a single offer or even as an offers-aggregate (where you provide a range of prices). The key to success here is optimizing and enriching your offers and catalog product information, making sure that it is accurate, precise, that the price is the best that you can offer, that your product page URL is active, etc. You want to make your product data as search engine-friendly as possible. Structured and optimized product information can get you places – like on the first page of Google’s organic search results. Something to think about.

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