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E-commerce Link : Highlighting Your Way to the Top

How to rank in more Google searches using structured data markup

February 2014 By Kristina Zaremba
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Structured Data in Mobile
Structured data may become more important as mobile search continues to grow. According to Mobile Marketer, mobile search will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search by 2016. Google recently updated its algorithm to better process conversational queries, or searches posed as a question, due to the popularity of voice search among mobile users.

In some cases, according to Mobile Commerce Daily, mobile searchers may be closer to converting than desktop searchers. Researchers found mobile searches about restaurants had a 90 percent conversion rate; 64 percent converted within the hour. Applying structured data to pages may help search engines provide better results for mobile searchers' queries, especially those related to locations.

Coming Together in the Name of Search
Bing, Yahoo and other search engines use structured data to inform their search results, as well; which is why these normally competitive search engines decided to work together to create universal structured data tags. The result was Schema.org, a wiki of all of the structured data tags and content types currently recognized by the major search engines.

Search experts have been using the Schema.org markup to add structured data and craft rich snippets for several years. Brands can add Schema.org markup to their product details, brick-and-mortar locations, blogs/news, recipes, mobile or Web apps, events, or user-generated content pages.

But Schema.org markup must be hardcoded into pages manually. While many free online tools can partially automate the process for some content types, adding Schema.org markup to your site may seem like a time-consuming and confusing task.

Enter the Highlighter
Now, implementing structured data is easier than ever thanks to Google's Webmaster Tools Data Highlighter. To enable webmasters to easily and quickly implement structured data on their sites, Google has introduced the Data Highlighter as a free WYSIWYG tool designed to add markup to pages about products, articles, business and restaurant locations, events, movies or TV episodes, book reviews, apps and more.

To begin using Data Highlighter, log in to or set up your site in Google Webmaster Tools. Expand the "Search Appearance" drop-down menu in the left-hand navigation, then click on "Data Highlighter."

On this page, you can watch a video about the Highlighter or skip right to the tool. Enter the URL of the page or set of pages you want to add markup to. (Pro-tip: the page(s) must be in Google's index to be eligible. If they're not, try uploading an XML sitemap and make sure it includes the non-indexed URLs.)

The page will render in Webmaster Tools, so you can easily highlight the important content fields with your cursor, then label them appropriately with tags such as Name (or Title), Date, Description, Price, Image, Address and more. Within minutes, the markup will be ready to preview.

If you've selected to mark up a set of pages, the Data Highlighter will automatically generate a preview of markup for the remaining pages in the set and ask for corrections. This method allows you to mark up an entire set of similar pages in a matter of minutes. While this may be a lot easier and faster than hardcoding HTML, keep in mind that information marked up using the Data Highlighter will only appear in Google searches, not Bing or Yahoo ones (Hardcoding Schema.org markup is the only option that works with all three search engines at the moment).

Once completed, you can review and manage the appearance of your structured data pages for Google in Webmaster Tools. Structured data pages will begin appearing in Google searches with rich snippets almost immediately.

Kristina Zaremba is an SEO specialist at Chicago-based interactive agency Designkitchen. She also is a colleague of regular E-commerce columnist Cristin Siegel. Reach her at Kristina.Zaremba@designkitchen.com.


 

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