"In the land if the blind, the one-eyed man is king"
- Desiderius Erasmus
On the web, e-commerce sites that implement structured data markup (rich snippets) the smartest way often beat those that don't.
For example, if you search for "Coldwater Creek cardigan" on Google (I just happen to like this brand), although the brand's official site ranks top for the query, the result that really catches the eye in the top 10 is this page from ShopStyle:
As you can see, the listing tells you the number of items, their names and prices right in search results. That's why structural markup is so important for e-commerce sites – in present-day SERPs, it's often the deciding factor that separates a click-through from a hit-next.
How e-commerce sites use structured data
What kind of rich snippet formats could an e-commerce site benefit from?
Let's consider some popular options.
1. Limited-time offers
As I'm writing this post, it's almost St. Valentine's Day. So, let's search for some holiday deals and see what type of interesting offers we find.
OK, this page from Offers.com has a few rich snippets:
However, apart from RDFa markup the site's webmaster used to highlight website-related information, it seems that Google has figured out the number of items, as well as the details of the first 2 deals on the page on its own.
Another example would be a holiday offer page from Overstock.com:
If we peep into the code (Ctrl+U), we can see that the site utilizes the Offer Schema to highlight the offer specifics:
As Google these days recommends using Schema over other available structured data formats (which doesn’t mean it discontinued support for older ones), using Schema.org/Offer to mark up a holiday offer or another special on your page would be your best bet.
2. Product name & price
Would you like the name and the price of your product to be visible in search as they do for the eBay site?
Then you should look into the Product Schema at Schema.org/Product.
By the way, do note how eBay uses multiple templates to provide information about more than one product:
3. Product availability
Another product characteristic that is good to mark up on a site is availability. The ItemAvailability Schema allows one to specify a variety of properties that may apply to merchandise:
For example, here is eBay using this Schema to let searchers know that the Prada men's shoes they carry are in stock:
4. Review and ratings
If your website has reviews and ratings, you can make information about them appear in search results – and you can do it in a number of ways.
However, if we run the page through Google's Structured Data Testing Tool, we’ll see that Google is not entirely happy with how the card is implemented on the site:
And, if we follow the "More information" link, we’ll see the formats Google recommends using to make ratings/reviews appear as rich snippets, and how to avoid some common errors.
5. Images and Videos
As far as I've observed, product images and videos do not appear in Google's search results that often (feel free to prove me wrong on this).
This is probably because, unless one is searching for something very specific, most results pages have multiple products, and Google can't choose just one image or one video to represent the entire group of items.
However, if we are talking about a page that features an individual product, an image/video rich snippet is more likely to appear.
And, here is an image rich snippet showing up for a product on the ACME Fitness website:
However, if we look into the code, we'll see that, most likely, responsible for the snippet is the Recipe Schema used there.
Now, because the page is about anything but a food recipe, the site’s webmaster should probably replace the format with the more appropriate ImageObject Schema or specify the image within the IndividualProduct format.
6. Paid product search
Google Shopping has been around for a while, but it wasn’t until the entire section went pay-to-play (for advertisers) that Google really invested in policing Shopping results quality and user experience.
Although many were unhappy that product search went paid, the vertical has definitely become more efficient as the result.
And this is how it works for e-commerce players: Google Merchant Center requires merchants to submit data feeds that contain information about their products. This information is then fed into listings and is used to display rich snippets:
If you run an e-commerce site and would like more exposure in search engine results, using structured markup could really make a difference.
Apart from older structured data formats that are also good to use, consider the following Schema.org templates (this is the modern-day format Google recommends):
And, if it's hard for you to implement Schema on your site for technical reasons, consider using Structured Data Markup Helper, a tool by Google that allows one to easily tag the necessary data with correctly formatted tags.