Google provides guidance to SEOs and ecommerce site owners on best practices for providing the search engine with accurate information about products.
When Google has timely and accurate product data it can apply special formatting in search results to assist shoppers with their buying decisions.
Additional data that Google can display for product pages includes ratings, pricing, and stock levels.
When product pages can display this information in search results it has the potential to increase traffic from Google to ecommerce sites.
Google is also capable of displaying product information, when it’s available, in Google Images, Google Maps, and Google Shopping.
Alan Kent, Developer Advocate at Google, breaks down the various ways this information can be provided to Google by SEOs and site owners.
First let’s look at why additional steps are required to provide product data to Google.
Why Product Data is Different From Other Data Types
One of the big questions that might come up when going through the process of supplying product information to Google is: why can’t Google get this information on its own?
Google can autonomously crawl and index other types of content – what makes product data different?
There are several pieces of information Google is not able to pull from a product page on its own. This information needs to be supplied by the site through structured data markup, a product feed, or Google Merchant Center.
Google will only display product information in search results when it’s confident it has obtained the most accurate information.
Ecommerce site owners have to assist Google with verifying the accuracy of certain data its search crawlers can’t identify on their own.
Examples of such data includes:
- Original price vs. discounted price
- Related products vs. actual product being sold
- Price of product vs. taxes & shipping costs
Here’s how to supply this information to Google.
Providing Product Information With Structured Data
Using structured data is one way to make sure Google correctly understands all product details.
There are various ways to use structured data, but the most common way is to embed it in a page as JSON-LD encoded content.
More information about using structured data can be found here:
Providing Producing Information Through Google Merchant Center
Another way to supply Google with accurate and timely product data is through Merchant Center.
There are different ways for sites in Google Merchant Center to get this information to Google:
- Structured data can be provided, which Google will discover through website crawling.
- A feed of all product data can be manually submitted.
- Developers can use an API to update products individually.
More information about providing product data through Google Merchant Center can be found here.
To wrap things up, here’s what to know about the various ways product information can be provided to Google:
- Structured Data: Google will process the data with regular web crawling, but it may take days for updated information to appear in search results.
- Product Feeds: Gives site owners more control over when updates to product data will appear in Google Search.
- Content API: Update specific products on demand, updates can go live within minutes.
Last but not least, Google emphasizes the importance of SEO when it comes to appearing in organic ecommerce search results:
“Remember that SEO still matters for organic search. Make your product details, such as images and descriptions, appealing to your customers.”
See the full video below: