Evaluating if your Shopify store's structured data is good enough
Structured data is a standardized way of formatting information about a page. It puts the information into a format that Google and other search engines can read.
Google uses the data to award search enhancements that make your search results stand out above the rest.
Adding structured data to your Shopify store sounds easy enough if you know how to write the code, but it can also be an iceberg problem:
You might dodge the top 10% only to be shipwrecked by the 90% you didn’t know about.
One potential JSON-LD for SEO customer asked a perfectly phrased question:
Why should I choose this app over others where I could potentially revise and update the structured data myself?
After thinking about it, there are four more questions that any store can use to gauge the structured data from any app or even your theme.
- Is there enough structured data or are there missing fields?
- Is the structured data high-quality or are there issues with the data?
- Is the data kept up to date with Google and the other standards or has it fallen behind?
- Is the data provided in a way that hurts your store performance, and thus your SEO as a whole?
The first question to use when evaluating your structured data is if there is enough structured data or are there missing fields?
Structured data isn’t a binary “you have it” or “you don’t have it”.
You have to have specific data fields with the right data in the right places. Some SEO apps claim they have JSON-LD data but they are missing critical fields. So much so that Google effectively ignores them because their data is incomplete.
This is common with Shopify themes too. For awhile, Shopify required all themes in the Theme Store to include some structured data but they didn’t dictate which fields or how much. The result is that most Shopify themes were released with the bare minimum structured data. Of the data that was included, it hasn’t been updated and is now so problematic that Google frequently ignores it.
Having a theme or app that checks the structured data box might not be enough.
You have to dig in to understand what’s included.
JSON-LD for SEO has all of the fields Google Search, Google Merchant Center, Bing, Pinterest, and others require as well as many optional fields.
When I last checked, there were a few hundred different fields included in JSON-LD for SEO.
It also has integrations with 20+ product reviews apps. With these integrations, we’re able to pull in extra review data to highlight your products in search results. This leads to a more visually impactful Rich Result.
You can also include subscription prices in Rich Results with JSON-LD for SEO. Any Shopify store that uses a subscription app that works natively with Shopify’s Checkout will be qualified to show a price range (the subscription price if there’s a discount and your one-time price) directly in search results.
Structured data also needs to be used correctly. Which is why the second question is if the structured data is high-quality or if there are issues with the data.
Over the years I’ve seen dozens of different issues in structured data.
- Prices misformatted.
- Wrong data types used.
- Data put in the wrong place.
- Sizes misrepresented (100kg of candy anyone?).
- And even very basic coding errors where a single ‘ or ” in the description crashes the data completely.
Some apps have had persistent data issues like this since 2017 and still haven’t been fixed.
Themes are in the same boat with data issues that have been there for years with no fixes or updates in sight.
The risk of using data with these issues is that you could lose Rich Results at any moment. It’s likely that you would not recover your Rich Results until those issues are fixed and Google has reanalyzed everything. We’re talking months or maybe even years if Google has taken manual action taken against your domain.
Compare that to JSON-LD for SEO which hasn’t had a data issue for at least four years, if not longer.
Code and data kept up with Google and the standards
Is the data kept up to date with Google and the other standards or has it fallen behind?
SEO never stands still and neither does structured data. Keeping your structured data up-to-date is a big concern and the only way to prevent data issues.
Google releases 3-4 major updates per year with another half a dozen tweaks to the data and systems. Any of those could require new data, change the format of old data, and shift the rules and guidelines around what data can be used.
With JSON-LD for SEO, we’re watching and updating the code to take advantage of these changes. Keeping tabs along with following Google’s guidelines protects your Shopify store’s search enhancements and prevents data issues down the line.
For example, in early December 2018 Google made a major update to its structured data guidelines.
JSON-LD for SEO was updated the same day and every customer got the new data within minutes after the update.
The following March, Google made another tiny update, making almost all Shopify theme data even more outdated. The update was asking for data that had been in JSON-LD for SEO for two years.
Even now, years later, some apps still haven’t been updated from the 2018 changes, and stores using those apps have been losing out and falling behind.
Help or hurt your store performance
Is the data provided in a way that hurts your store performance, and thus your SEO as a whole?
Beyond structured data, you also need to look at how any Shopify app impacts your store performance.
Some apps, even when they work correctly, have a negative impact on your page speed.
Even worse, with Google’s Core Web Vitals becoming a tiebreaker for rankings, this means that a slow store could lead to even lower SEO rankings.
Isn’t it ironic that installing an SEO app would actually hurt your performance enough to damage your SEO?
Alanis would not be pleased.
JSON-LD for SEO bypasses the performance issues entirely based on its core design.
It runs directly on Shopify servers just like the rest of your store and takes advantage of all the performance and technology Shopify uses.
Best of all, once you install JSON-LD for SEO then your store and customers never connect to its servers during day-to-day operations. We could turn off all our servers during Black Friday and no one would even notice it was gone, not even Google.
Its servers are only needed for the initial installation, configuration, and update processes.
All of this means it has no impact on your store performance or such a tiny impact that you can’t measure it. With Shopify's caching off, we've found it takes 1-2% of the total page performance. All live stores run with caching on, so the actual performance impact is even lower (could even be zero).