On this bonus episode, we talk with Ilana Davis from JSON-LD for SEO, a Shopify app that gets you more organic traffic through Rich Results. We talk about why you need apps like JSON-LD despite Shopify having structured data, rich results vs featured snippets, and so much more!
Ilana Davis is a Shopify Superhero who works with e-commerce shops to remove friction from the buying process. She’s the owner of JSON-LD for SEO, a Shopify app that gets you more organic traffic through Rich Results.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
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Structured data does not impact rankings directly, so it's not an it's not an SEO ranking factor by any means. But yeah, it's like a cheat sheet.
Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game.
On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results.
I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.
Let's get on with the show.
Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. We're now back in 2023. This is the first episode I'm recording and I'm bringing to you a Shopify Superhero. I've got Ilana Davis here.
She is the owner of JSON-LD for SEO. It helps you get more organic traffic through rich results. And we'll dive more into that later.
But you gotta let me know. How do you become a Shopify superhero? What's going on there?
Well, first off, there's a badge and you have to have the lights shine to the city? No, I'm just kidding.
I've been within the ecosystem, technically, since 2018 which is when I first started my business. But I've actually been in and around it since about 2015 - 2016.
And a lot of the conversion rate optimization techniques that a lot of people try to implement the source specifically, they don't always know how to implement.
So I had started implementing and working with stores doing CRO and they're like, "Oh my gosh, you're like my hero." So that's how I dubbed my Shopify Superhero nickname, I don't know.
But since then, I've moved into apps and been enjoying that for the last year and a half now.
I think that "The grass is always greener." I know, there's listeners out there that are on the consulting side. And they're like, "You know what, having an app would be so much easier." And then vice versa.
People on the app side are like, "Why can I just solve problems for people and do things that don't scale?" So it's as someone that has seen both sides of it, what are the pros and cons of each?
Oh my gosh. They're... Because the grass is always greener, it really is.
Because there's always pros and cons to both sides of it. I would say, the hardest part about being a consultant and someone who actually does the dev work is that there's often a merchant who wants this specific thing done.
And I'm like, "Well, that's not my specialty, I can't offer that to you." And so there's a lot of misalignment as to what I can do versus what I think can actually happen.
But as an app, it's nice because I get to work with so many more merchants with a lot of different types of problems, a lot of different issues that pop up.
And so I get a little bit more exposure to some of the things that they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis and not just conversion rate focused.
It really is traffic and marketing and getting people from one end to the other.
Awesome. That's a fantastic answer. So let's dive into what we're going to be chatting about today. Let's talk about...
...using structured data to drive more traffic to your Shopify store. Now, let's pretend I don't know what that means. And I would love for you to explain it to me.
What do you mean you don't know what structured data is (laughs)? It's actually a little lotta terminology that search engines use. It is very technical and it's hard to understand.
But once you think about it, it makes sense. Essentially, structured data is a way to connect each piece of information that's in your Shopify store. So think of it like a matching game so that Google knows...
"Well, your product name is this, the price is this, the currency is this..." And so on.
And search engines will use that data to show search enhancements in the search result, which is often referred to as rich results.
So if I could throw a whole bunch of super confusing terminology at you rich results is essentially what structured data generates for you.
And that's so that you can see your reviews, your price. and your product availability, for example, in an actual search result. All of that stuff comes from the structured data.
And now why doesn't Shopify just do this for me?
Oh, they do. And I wish that they would make it better, but they don't. So it's actually not even Shopify that does it. It's the Theme. So all themes are required to have structured data built in. But it just...
The only requirement is that they have the data. Not that it's good, not that it's complete, and not that it's thorough. And so a lot of stores will reach out to me and ask like, "Why do I need your app if it's provided within the theme?"
Well it's like, "You may not." And that's why I always tell people to reach out to me and I'll tell you honestly if you could use the app or not.
But oftentimes, the themes just don't include everything that's needed to win all the different types of rich results that you can get.
But then also, they don't keep up with the data all the time. And so Google might roll out a change and it might take them a year to get it into their release for the next theme update.
So it's a little bit harder when you're working with themes to make sure that those things get updated on a regular basis.
So if I purchase the app, I'll get the updates when the Google algorithm updates as well?
So for us, we update on a regular basis. We typically have a monthly release that we push out any changes that might happen.
If there is a Google release that is more urgent, then we will absolutely push that out sooner. But the themes, yeah, they will [definitely take] longer.
But for us, it's at least a month, if not sooner, depending on that type of update that rolls out. And in some cases, there isn't an update because we've already been doing that for years.
It's just that Google is now saying, "Hey, we like this idea. Let's roll that out." But we've had it there for a long time.
Let's talk about why rich data is helpful to a store. We alluded to it.
But let's blatantly say what happens when you have better data crawled by Google.
Yeah. So here's the crux of the process of what it looks like.
So you have structured data on your site, Google begins its assessment, they take a look to see what new data is present, and they start to crawl your site. I can't even talk now.
They'll start to crawl your site, and it takes them about a week to start to crawl. But that doesn't mean that they're doing anything with that information just yet. Some people might see it right away, some people take longer.
So the analysis of your site can take an unknown amount of time. It just begins with assessment but it can take between eight to 11 weeks before Google's analysis is complete.
And then the structured data is actually incorporated into the search results. I've seen some folks that see results within a few days and some within a few months. So it really does depend.
But on average --because we do track it for our customers on average-- we see results start to show up within 34 days. So it all depends.
And then when we're talking about "start to show up", that's where we're saying, we start to see new reviews that are popping up in the search results for you. We start to see the price or the price range, or your product availability.
All those things are showing up as Google is starting to analyze your pages and then start to put it into search results. So it can take an indeterminate amount of time.
Okay. And then now... The way that I view this in my head --and tell me if I'm wrong-- that, basically this structured data that you're providing Google is just a cheat sheet to help place you better in its organic results.
Yeah, I mean, you're... So structured data does not impact rankings directly.
So it's not an SEO ranking factor by any means. But yeah, it's like a cheat sheet where you're like, "Here, Google. Here's all my information. Let me help you get more data about what my site is and the details that I think you should highlight in there."
And then Google will say, "Mm, we like this information. Let's highlight that stuff for you."
The way that it can impact rankings --which is where a lot of people don't quite get it-- is that rankings can be impacted by clicks, their clickthrough rate, how many people actually visit your pages.
And so the more times those things are visited, and the more times that people refer back to your pages, then those sorts of things can impact ranking. So it's an indirect relation.
But yeah, it's really just helping Google understand what's better on the page.
Absolutely. And then we're talking specifically about Shopify stores and specifically about products. And this is a shopping focused industry.
So does this structured data impact things like the Merchant Center within Google?
It really does. So it's really funny actually, because most people don't understand that there's 2 different processes between organic and paid side.
And so the crossover with Merchant Center on the paid side is that they're making sure that your data is legit, that your landing pages are legit. They do this by matching the landing page with the data feed.
And then one part of that matching is checking the structured data for the price, availability, URL, identifiers like SKU or GTIN or MPN. So, if you're experiencing like...
Your ads are getting disapproved because of a price mismatch, make sure you're checking your structured data because this could be a factor in your ads being approved or not.
Another common thing is that your product feed uses the product URL instead of the variant URL or you don't have your variant at URL and your structured data, and so Google can't match up each of your variant prices appropriately.
So these are all things that I often troubleshoot with JSON-LD for SEO, because it's all structured data that impacts both the organic and the paid side of your advertising.
Absolutely. Now, is there... Besides the products, are there any other types of data that is useful for Shopify stores?
Oh definitely. And I also get a lot of people that say, "I don't have reviews. Do I need your app?" Or "Does this gonna benefit me in any way"? Absolutely.
So even if you don't have reviews, you can still benefit from it. Even if you don't want to show your pricing on the search results, you can still benefit from it.
You just wouldn't show those pieces of structured data. So products and reviews are the most common search enhancements that drive the structure data.
But stores can also reap the benefits of structured data by winning search enhancements for their blog posts, videos, FAQs, recipes, and just to name a few off the top of my head. But it does also connect with your Google business profile.
So it can help build out your knowledge panel, which is the thing that you'll see on the right hand side of the screen for brand related searches.
Absolutely. And you said kind of the rich results a few times here. And I just want to point it out again, exactly what this structure data does. Now I'm...
Correct me if I'm wrong here but once you supply data with this structured data, and they have ingested it, and they deem a quality to start using it in the rich results, the rich results are like the call out stuff that's at the top of the page that's like almost, if you're asking a question an answer to the question, or it's just very detailed information that...
Those are different, that's called a Featured Snippet.
So that's different. So think of it like this: You're doing a search for, I don't know, a gray scarf.
And I do a search for a gray scarf and then you start to see a whole bunch of product pages that show up and they're gonna have the name, the breadcrumbs, that'll show up for like, "Here's the link to get to it."
The link, and then your meta description, which is like your summary of the page. Underneath that, you might see these rich results.
That's where you're going to see the reviews, the price, you might see delivery if you're connected with the Merchant Center, and then the product availability.
So the rich result, a search enhancement that you can get is at the bottom of each of your search results.
A featured snippet is different. That is something that is entirely up to Google's algorithm.
You can't control that in any way.
Gotcha. That's a great thing to highlight. A lot of this sounds technical. Do Shopify stores need to be technical?
Do I need to have a computer science degree to really understand these search enhancements and to utilize this platform?
It is technical, and the language can feel technical, and the terminology can feel like "The heck is all these things saying?" So it can definitely be confusing.
If you're going to code it yourself, yes. You need to know how to do that. And you need to be technical.
But most of my customers are not technical at all. They don't understand any of these things and I don't expect you to either. It's just, there's no need for you to do that. So we handle all the technical bits for you. Most apps will do that for you as well.
And we keep it updated with Google's changes. So you don't have to monitor what Google's updates are. But it's really about understanding the benefit that you get out of it and how that can impact your SEO.
That's what merchants need to worry about the technical side, as long as you're not coding it. It's not something that you should really...
You could. You could absolutely code it yourself. But it's not something I would want to spend my time on if I didn't know how to code (laughs).
Absolutely. And then once you do something like that custom, you have to then keep it updated.
Whereas obviously your app is going to be following along with Google and making sure that everything's what it wants.
Yeah. And there are definitely other apps that are in the app store that can certainly provide the same information. The issue is that you have to know if their code is being updated regularly.
So you want to know that you have a trusted app or developer that can help build this out for you so that you're getting those search enhancements so that if you have an SEO strategy, you're not just wasting money down the drain.
You want to actually make sure that you're putting money into something that is going to build up your SEO and work towards hopefully more traffic, eventually more conversions, because people know exactly what your price is, how many reviews there are, and if it's in stock.
It makes it super easy for them to know if they want to even click on your link so that they can just say, "Oh, it's already this price that's in stock. I'm gonna buy it right now." (Rich results) makes it easy for them.
Absolutely. Now, this has been a very efficient crash course in structured data and rich results. Is there anything I didn't ask you about, that you think's worth sharing today?
There are so many like the structure data itself and the way rich results worth work are very simple within Shopify in that the data all lives within your store so you shouldn't have to create something new. It all lives there.
The challenge is just understanding where that data is. And that's where the apps come into play.
I would say, if you have questions about your structured data or if you're getting the search enhancements, or if the app could help you, or whatever you have questions on, feel free to shoot me an email.
I'm gonna plug it in here, if that's okay. email@example.com.
I often will look at people's stores to see if JSON-LD for SEO can even help them. And I said, if it doesn't, I'll certainly let you know. But sometimes people don't know.
Going back to your question Chase, what is it that you should have asked? Some people don't know that there's a structured data issue or they don't know that it's related.
And so that's why I say shoot me an email, I'm happy to tell you if it's related or not. And if it's not, I might be able to point you in the right direction.
Absolutely. And obviously you shared that email and we'll make sure to add it into the show notes.
But is there anywhere else that listeners could go if they are curious about learning more about structured data and obviously JSON-LD for SEO?
Yeah. So I do have a blog that I publish. A blog, articles. I don't know if it's a blog or article anymore. What's the right term? (laughs)
I do publish once a week on a lot of different topics around structured data and SEO and conversion rate optimization. So you can always check out my website.
If you want to learn more directly about the app, you can go to jsonld.app, it's J-S-O-N-L-D.app. And you can learn more about it from that direction. And yeah, I hope that's helpful for them.
Absolutely. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Yeah, it's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
We can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes.
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