Google shares six SEO tips that combine structured data and Merchant Center to get the most out of your website’s presence in search results.
Alan Kent, Developer Advocate at Google, describes each tip in detail in a new video posted on Google Search Central’s YouTube channel.
Throughout the video, Kent emphasizes the use of Google Merchant Center, as it allows retailers to upload product data through structured feeds.
Merchant Center feeds are designed to be read by computers, which means the data is extracted more reliably than Googlebot crawls your website.
However, that doesn’t mean you should forego using structured data on product pages and rely solely on Merchant Center. Structured product data remains essential even if you provide product data directly to Google with a Merchant Center feed.
Google may cross-reference data from the Merchant Center feed with your website’s structured data.
Google’s SEO recommendations for e-commerce sites aim to get the most out of both tools.
1. Make sure products are indexed
Googlebot may miss pages while crawling a site if they are not linked to other pages. On e-commerce sites, for example, some product pages are only accessible from on-site search results.
You can ensure that Google crawls all of your product pages by using tools like an XML sitemap and Google Merchant Center.
Creating a Merchant Center product feed will help Google discover all the products on your website. Product page URLs are shared with the Googlebot crawler to be used as starting points for crawling additional pages as needed.
2. Check Product Prices for Accuracy Search Results
If Google mistakenly pulls pricing data from your product pages, it may show your original price in search results, not the discounted price.
To accurately provide product information such as list price, discounts, and net price, it is recommended that you add structured data to your product pages and provide Google Merchant Center with structured feeds of your product data .
This will help Google pull the correct price from product pages.
3. Minimize price and availability delays
Google crawls your site’s web pages on its own schedule. This means that Googlebot may not notice changes to your site until the next crawl.
These delays can cause search results to lag behind changes to the site, such as a product being out of stock.
It would be best if you looked to minimize inconsistencies in pricing and availability data between your website and Google’s understanding of your site due to time mismatches.
Google recommends using Merchant Center product feeds to keep pages updated on a more consistent schedule.
4. Make sure products are eligible for rich product results
Eligibility for rich product results requires the use of structured product data.
To achieve the special rich product presentation format, Google recommends providing structured data on your product pages and a product feed in Merchant Center.
This will ensure that Google understands how to extract product data to display rich results.
However, even with the correct structured data in place, rich results are displayed at Google’s discretion.
5. Share local product inventory data
Make sure your in-store products are found by people entering searches with the phrase “near me”.
First, register your physical store location in your Google Business Profile, then provide an in-store inventory feed to Merchant Center.
The store inventory feed includes product IDs and store codes, so Google knows where your inventory is physically located.
As an extra step, Google recommends using a tool called Pointy. Pointy is a device from Google that connects to your in-store POS system and automatically notifies Google of your physical store’s inventory data.
The data is used to keep search results up to date.
6. Sign up for the Google Shopping tab
Your products may be available in search results, but not appear in the Shopping tab.
If you’re not sure if your products are showing up in the Shopping tab, the easiest way to find out is to search for them.
Structured data and product feeds alone are not enough to be included in the Shopping tab.
To be eligible for the “Shopping” tab, provide product data feeds through Merchant Center and enable “surfaces on Google”.
To learn more about any of the tips above, watch the full video from Google below:
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchSC, August 2022.