How to test your JSON-LD code on Shopify
Apr 10, 2017
10 min read
This guide will walk you though testing your structured data. Make sure to read it all the way through including the testing tips at the end.
Impatience won't help your Shopify store's SEO
Mar 23, 2017
1 min read
How long until my store’s rich snippets show up in Google? Most are hoping for a simple answer like "a few days" or "72 hours" but it’s not that simple.
Shopify Product Reviews App: case of the missing reviews
Mar 22, 2017
3 min read
In March 2017 there was a Google update that affected product reviews and specifically Shopify’s Product Reviews App.
I’m still collecting details on the Google update, how Shopify’s Product Reviews App was affected, and how this affects JSON-LD for SEO.
Unfortunately Google doesn’t really talk about their search updates and it’s been difficult to piece together what happened with Shopify’s app.
Here’s what I’ve found.
The Old Structured Data
There are many forms of Structured Data that can be used. Google recommends the JSON-LD format using Schema definitions (don’t worry about what that means yet).
Shopify’s Product Reviews App uses the microdata format with Data Vocabulary definitions. This worked fine for a few years and lets review data appear in search results.
The problem is, since June 2011 Data Vocabulary has been discontinued and Google and other search engines have recommended using Schema instead.
March 2017 review crash
Around or before March 6th, Google performed an update to their algorithm that affected reviews and ratings.
One part of that update either removed support for Data Vocabulary definitions or severely increased the requirements around them.
The consequence was that many sites lost their review Rich Snippets in Google. This included the majority of the stores using Shopify’s Product Reviews app. Interestingly, some high authority sites still kept their review rich snippets so it wasn’t a total wipe-out.
Shopify Product Reviews app update
The timeline gets a bit fuzzy at this point because I haven’t gotten a lot of details from Shopify on this.
Near that time, the Shopify Product Reviews App released a new version of their structured data. This time they use the more modern and supported Schema definitions.
Though the update was deployed, they didn’t update every store and product page with it.
Due to a technical reason (caching), stores will have the old version on their products until they get a new review.
Forcing the upgrade
One workaround I heard from Shopify was to post a review to a product so the app will update the format and then delete the review. I’ve tested this and it worked in my store.
Unfortunately for stores with a lot of products or stores which don’t get frequent reviews, this might mean that the old version is still live. That means Google will not be seeing the reviews.
Even on my test store, I’m still seeing the old Data-Vocabulary style reviews on an old product.
Losing the review snippets in Google
To complicate matters even more, if you’ve lost your reviews for a long time Google might delay adding them back into the search results even after you’ve fixed them.
I’m working with one customer and it seems like their site got moved all the way back to Step #3 in the rich snippet process.
Impact on JSON-LD for SEO and other structured data
Luckily JSON-LD for SEO was not affected by this update at all. Since it doesn’t manage the reviews at all, nothing affected it directly.
I’ve had to help dozens of customers who were affected but in every case it’s been to point them to Shopify or the other review apps support team. Kinda feels like air traffic control at times.
In fact, I think having JSON-LD for SEO installed saved a few customers.
Since JSON-LD for SEO exports more structured data than just reviews, several customers who lost their reviews still kept their product rich snippets. They didn’t have review data shown but product prices, availability, and other fields are still visible. Hopefully this will speed up the process to get their reviews back.
Hopefully this is only short term
To summarize, in early March 2017 Google made an update to the reviews structured data that broke Shopify’s Product Reviews App. This break, the delay in the fix, and the delay due to the caching might have combined into the perfect storm causing many Shopify stores to lose their product reviews.
It sucks and will hurt your store for March but I think it will resolve itself over the next few months. The important thing is to not panic. Don’t switch reviews systems around. Don’t install all of the SEO apps to try to fix it. Don’t make massive edits to your theme.
Any significant change might make your store look like a bad SEO suspect in Google’s eyes. Even in the best case, it could delay getting things back to normal.
This is part of SEO and organic search, things change and you (and me and Shopify) have to adapt to those changes.
The ups and downs of inbound customer acquisition
Mar 17, 2017
1 min read
This week I’ve been drowning in emails. In a good way.
About a year ago I shifted my content marketing to focus more on Shopify.
I’ve always done a lot of writing and emailing. Those strategies have always paid off for me.
But it takes time before they accelerate to a noticeable level.
Now, a year later, I’m getting swamped with emails from store owners needing help or wanting to talk about something happening with their store.
It’s a great feeling and where I want to be.
But it wasn’t like this all the time. There were months where I was producing quality writing and advice but nothing was happening.
It was difficult, emotionally to keep doing something that felt like it wasn’t working.
I had one card in my favor though, I’ve been though this before and knew there was going to be 6-12 months of very little results before everything would start happening.
Yesterday I felt overwhelmed at it all and then I remembered how I felt back when I got started. That’s when I realized that this problem, this full inbox of potential customers, was exactly what I wanted.
I just needed to have my little pity party and then got back to work.
If you’re at a point where it feels like you’re grinding away at your business but nothing much is happening, have patience. If you can make it though this grind, that’s a barrier that can protect you from competitors who can’t hang in there.
Another area with this feeling is SEO, especially organic SEO.
Every day I write to store owners who just bought JSON-LD for SEO and they want to know how fast Google will show rich snippets for their store. The ones who are going to be successful understand that now that the app is installed, they just have to hurry up and wait for Google. The ones who persist will be rewarded.
The essential structured data for your Shopify store SEO
Mar 14, 2017
1 min read
When you dive into the world of structured data, there’s a lot to take in and it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
Part of the reason is because structured data is much bigger than just SEO. It’s just that SEO is such a valuable part that it overshadows the other uses for ecommerce stores.
Today I wanted to give you a quick overview of what structured data your store needs to have. Most stores have a few elements from this list but without all of it, you’re at a disadvantage.
- price (part of offers)
- priceCurrency (part of offers)
- availability (part of offers)
Additionally, every variant of your product should appear as an Offer. The majority of the Shopify themes I see don’t do this and only expose the first product variant.
That’s a huge mistake.
With these fields, along with the few required fields for each type, you should have the minimum viable structured data for your store. It should be just enough to get Google’s rich snippets.
Now if you want something more complete which includes dozens of more fields and data types like Article, Recipe, and Videos, I have to recommend my own JSON-LD for SEO Shopify app.
The entire point of the app is to save you money and time because you don’t have to hire a web developer to learn how to setup your structured data, add it to your theme, test it, and then keep it updated. It’s one of those things an app can do far more effectively than a person.
Why Google hates soup in your Shopify theme
Mar 13, 2017
1 min read
Think back to the last time you had soup.
Not the creamy kind, but the one with different vegetables floating around in a broth.
That’s how Google and other search engines see every page of your Shopify store.
There are a few good things in it but you have to really dig around and look.
In fact, web developers joke that bad HTML is called tag soup.
Picture the Google crawler as a slotted spoon that comes along now and then to scoop out a cup of your soup.
They might find a carrot and some celery. Good stuff but not very filling.
So Google updates the search index and notes down that your store is "carrots and celery".
Next time they come by they scoop out only a small potato. Guess that page should be reclassified as a "potato" page. No carrots here.
This is why SEO can be tricky. Google’s not seeing the whole picture of what your soup (page) is.
Structured data on the other hand helps Google.
Instead of Google scooping out random bits of your soup, you scoop it out for them. Since you know your site you can make sure that there is a carrot, celery, mushroom, potato, and a lovely bit of greens in the cup.
A complete and balanced representation of your soup.
Google then compares what’s in your cup (structured data) and what it’s seeing in the soup as a whole (your page) and comes to the conclusion that your page is a good place to find a carrot, celery, mushroom, potato, and green.
This soup scooping process is why having structured data for your site helps Google to help you.
Google has a better idea about the page. Google has a better index built. Google’s users can find more valuable pages. You get more of those visitors. You get more customers.
Completely white-hat and above the board.
(Unless you’re lying about your soup and spiking it with something extra for Google which is a big no-no. Google does not like added salt or hot sauce in it’s soup, thank you very much).
Creating a complete listing of what’s in your soup, er um… on your page is the goal of my JSON-LD for SEO app. It automatically adds structured data about your business, products, and blog posts to your store so Google can scoop it out.
JSON-LD for SEO now includes TRUST product reviews
Mar 2, 2017
Getting product reviews and showing them in your Google search results can improve your stores SEO performance. You’ll get more visitors and they’ll be more likely to convert to paid customers.
TRUST is one of the top Shopify apps for product reviews.
JSON-LD for SEO now includes TRUST product reviews
With a recent update, JSON-LD for SEO now supports TRUST reviews. This means that all of your product reviews will be included in the JSON-LD export which is used by the search engines.
All Shopify stores with JSON-LD for SEO installed that have TRUST reviews will get this automatically. There’s 0 configuration needed, it will just work.
Getting your product details and reviews into the Google results should be easy. Now with TRUST reviews, it’s even easier for JSON-LD for SEO customers.
How much Rich Snippets will enhance your search results
Feb 7, 2017
2 min read
Getting Google to accept your store into their Rich Snippets system can benefit your business in various ways.
When should your store's Rich Snippets appear in Google?
Feb 2, 2017
3 min read
Once you’ve setup your Shopify store’s JSON-LD, you’re probably wondering when your store will show up differently in the search results.
How long this takes is vague and cloaked in mystery. This is mostly because it depends on how much trust your site has but also because Google doesn’t want people to game the search results.
Some sites have been able to deduce how parts of this works and how long it takes but it’s going to be different for every site. Google’s existing trust in your site is a big factor.
There are a few steps your site’s going to go through.
1. Adding structured markup to your site
The first step is adding structured markup to your site.
You can search for how to set this up (it can be a pain) or you can install JSON-LD for SEO which will do this for you automatically.
2. Google crawls your site and finds the structured markup
As Google crawls your site it will notice your structured markup.
They don’t do anything with your structured markup just yet, besides noting that it’s there.
3. Google begins their analysis
After crawling your site and seeing the structured markup in place, they will begin their analysis of your structured data.
It sounds like they do this on a page-by-page basis over the next week or two.
4. First Rich Snippets appear
Slowly, some pages will start showing up in some search results with Rich Snippets.
Some searches won’t show the Rich Snippet, while others will. It all depends on the page’s trust, quality, and individual search.
5. The disappearing act
After a few days your site may lose some or all of their Rich Snippets.
Don’t panic if this happens
This seems like a normal part of Google re-adjusting the search results for your Rich Snippets.
It’s important to not change your structured data format during this time or you might delay the final result. You can create new pages, update pages, and update the data inside of your structured data. But you shouldn’t change the format of them.
6. The launch
After a few days of no Rich Snippets, they’ll slowly start to come back over the next months.
At this point you should have what is called "semi-permanent" Rich Snippets. Google will attempt to show any page you have with its Rich Snippet to most searches. Some searches and some pages may not show depending on Google’s algorithm.
7. The disappearing act part two
If you've had JSON-LD for SEO for a while and your noticing that your Rich Snippets are not showing up in search results, or they've disappeared suddenly, this could be for a few reasons.
Google's algorithm changes constantly. Even when you've made no changes at all to your store, it's possible that an algorithm update impacted your site.
Theme changes can absolutely impact your results and SEO for better or for worse. This may be unavoidable as theme updates are going to happen. Give Google time to reanalyze your site.
Check to make sure you have the app enabled in your Shopify theme. When you publish a brand new theme, your theme settings don't transfer over so you may need to check this each time you publish a new theme.
When you put it all together, it could take a few months before your site is consistently showing Rich Snippets. Some stores will see solid results after a month, others will see them in the first week, and then others take months.
For my Plus+ customers where I monitor their stores and give recommendations, it takes 34 days on average to see Rich Results appearing. Though it varies there too.
To err on the safe side, wait about 2-3 months.
That sounds like a long-time but if you think about it, it makes sense:
- Google wants to show pages that are the most valuable to their searches.
- Having Structured Data on your site is a way to help Google discover your valuable page content.
- Rich Snippets is a way for Google to promote your best content for you, in a structured way.
The timeline for anything Google does with their search is a closely guarded secret. The above estimates are based on what people have seen but a) it could change at any time and b) your site may be different.
The difficulty of getting Google to add Rich Snippets for your Shopify store
Jan 31, 2017
2 min read
Getting your Shopify products into Google’s Rich Results and Rich Snippets programs can be difficult and complicated.
If you spend a bit of time searching online you’ll find a few places where people share the code that is "supposed" to work.
Just a cut and paste job, right?
That’s why forums have dozens of posts of people trying to figure it out, going back years and years. Nevermind the fact that code that’s even six months old could be out of date by now as Google regularly updates their guidelines, rules, and data they require.
Adding a bit of code to include structured data sounds simple but even a minor error can prevent your products from showing up at all. Something as simple as a extra dollar sign in your price will break your chances at Rich Snippets, same for adding a field in the wrong place or moving your theme’s HTML code around.
I know this because I’ve seen thousands of stores with broken markup from leading Shopify themes and even popular Shopify SEO apps. There are countless stories of Shopify stores waiting years to get Rich Snippets but never seeing them show up. If only they knew bad code was blocking them.
Luckily Google’s Search Console is getting better at detecting this and notifying store owners but even Search Console has bugs and will often make harmful recommendations (like the infamous review field warning).
Then there’s also the risk of completely screwing up your theme.
You can probably guess what types of horror stories happen where someone tries to edit their store’s theme, makes a mistake, which ruins the look of their store, causes sales to plummet, and then they have to quickly find a Shopify Expert to repair the theme — usually at an emergency rate with a steep markup.
That sucks, right?
Even then, the Shopify Expert can usually only get them back to normal. Very few will add in the structured data to get Rich Results. Many end up just recommending my Shopify app because it’ll produce the best quality data, consistent results, and the developer doesn’t need to be hired every few months to update the data for Google.
Messing around with the Structured Data required to to get your products into the search results is hard. With risks ranging from multiple month delays all the way to screwing up your store, you can see why the DIY copy-and-paste-from-the-Internet is probably not a good idea.
A question you should be asking yourself now is: with all these risks, why should I bother with Rich Snippets at all?
Those two things should be enough of a reason to deal with Rich Snippets and Rich Results.
Jan 12, 2017
1 min read
JSON-LD for SEO has some advanced features that can be enabled using metafields which act as a way to extend your Shopify data.
Adding Recipe Schema for Rich Snippets
Jan 12, 2017
3 min read
Recipe Schema can be added once you add some additional data to your blog post. This will need to be done for each blog post you’d like to show up as a recipe.