If you own an eCommerce site, a product can run out of stock. When a product becomes permanently unavailable, what should you do with the product page in your online store? Delete that specific page? Set up a redirect? Show alternatives? Or just leave the page as it is? This Ask Yoast will help you make the best decision when a product goes out of stock.

Brad Griffin out of Texas USA emailed us:

“When a WooCommerce product is out of stock, I’ve got a couple of options: a redirect; a fallback URL; a waiting list; or delete it and do nothing. Let’s assume that the product is a one-time sale, it’s not coming back. What should I do with that URL?

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Best practice product out of stock

In the video, we explain which options you have when a product goes out of stock and what would be the best decision:

” Well, Brad, simply delete it and do nothing is not an option, because people might have linked to that URL, so you want to send them somewhere decent. And a waiting list would be weird, because the product is not coming back.

So, I think you’ve got two options:

1. Redirect them to the category that the original product was in and make sure that they land on something that feels somewhat close to what they were looking for if they wanted to get to that URL.

2. Show them a page saying: Hey, we had this product. We’ve sold it, but we’ve got these other options:…, …, …,  (show alternatives).

Those are really your only two real options.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘eCommerce usability: the ultimate guide’ »

SEO can be really complicated! How do you start with improving the structure of a site? How do you write amazing and SEO-friendly articles? To help all of you with your SEO strategy, I’m writing a series of Ask Yoast case studies. In these case studies, I’ll take a look at a specific site (the owner knows about it of course :-)), and I’ll give some SEO advice. In this second case study: SEO of an online shop!

Ask Yoast Case studies

Want Marieke to look at the content of your site? Send an email to ask@yoast.com!

Improve the SEO of an online shop!

In this case study, the SEO of an online shop is the central topic. We were given the chance to take a look at the SEO of Knock Knock, independent makers of clever gifts, books, and whatever else they can think up.

The Knock Knock team didn’t have a specific question for us, so we just took a look at their website and give advice on how to improve the SEO

First impression of KnockKnock

I want to buy those notebooks! I want to have those pens! Great fill-out books! I love the products Knock Knock offers. It’s original, it’s fun and I really get some sort of brand-feeling if I browse through their website. Fantastic!

Technically, Knock Knock seems to be a solid site, which is great. Some general SEO quick wins would be: creating alt tags for images and adding meta descriptions to tag pages and on some category pages.

KnockKnock has a lot of potential to become really successful. Maybe they already are! I believe that with certain SEO improvements they could be generating even more traffic than they’re getting right now! 

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Content content content

My initial thoughts for improvements when I saw this site were: 

“This site screams for a blog! Knock Knock’s products are very original and one-of-a-kind. Writing blog posts about, for instance, how to use these products and why you would need them, won’t be hard at all! Blogging is a great way to promote your stuff and to show to your audience how to use your products. In case of this specific online shop, I’d post lots of photos too.

For SEO reasons, starting a blog is very important too. Knock Knock doesn’t show a lot of content on their site. It’s an online shop with quite some products and, therefore, product pages, but the copy on these pages is quite short. That’ll make it hard to rank high in Google. Blogging, or in other words, publishing fresh content on a regular basis, will definitely improve the SEO of this online shop.

I would advise Knock Knock to start with some solid keyword research. Maybe they’ve already done some research. Which words do they want to be found for? After that, they should start creating some real quality content. I’d love to read blog posts about the origin, benefits or appliance of their products. They do have nice product reviews written by their audience, perhaps these reviews could serve as a starting point for a blog post.

KnockKnock sells products that are quite witty. I’m sure their blog could be entertaining too. Apart from a great SEO strategy, an entertaining blog would also be a kickass marketing strategy!”

After showing the draft of this post to KnockKnock they got back to me telling that they already have a blog! So I had rework my advice a bit… I started with checking out their blog first, where they write about the origin and creators of the products, the use of the products and more fun stuff. Their blog post are very original and entertaining! They also post quite regularly, a couple of times a month.

So now, my main advice is: make your blog more visible on your site! I noticed that we can easily get from your blog to your shop, but the other way around is a lot harder (or perhaps impossible?). I’d suggest to just add the blog in the top navigation of your site. That way, visitors can easily read more about your products, creators and all the nice things you do, apart from creating awesome products!

Read more: ‘5 tips to find inspiration for your blog’ »

Site structure

In case you would be starting a blog from scratch that would be quite hard. On the other hand, if you’re starting a blog, you do have the chance to create an ideal structure for it. Think about the topics you’d like to blog about. These could be the same as the product categories of your online shop, but it also could be different categories. Write a few long, really awesome, articles on each of these categories. These articles will be your cornerstone pages. Make sure to write lots of blog posts about similar topics (but all slightly different and more niche/long tail). And link from all of these articles to your most important cornerstone article. If you start your blog from scratch, make sure to structure it in an excellent way! Read more about this in our ultimate guide to site structure.

Conclusion

If you have an online shop that’s focused on an awesome niche like Knock Knock, your SEO will benefit most from a solid content strategy. Writing lots of texts, articles, posts will have an effect on your rankings. Besides that, it’ll be a great way of marketing your stuff. Combine your blog with an awesome social media strategy and you’ll increase both your rankings and sales!

Keep reading: ‘10 tips for an awesome and SEO friendly blog post’ »

Every business owner with a website is looking for ways to get noticed in the search results. Today, there are loads of tactics to rank well as a local business, but there is no silver bullet: as with most SEO issues, this is a combined effort. One of these pieces of the local SEO puzzle is Google My Business, a dashboard for managing listings. But what is it exactly and why is it so important for local SEO?

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

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What is Google My Business?

My Business is Google’s one-stop shop to manage how your business will look and perform in the search engine. It is an essential tool to find out and adjust how your site shows in Maps, the Knowledge Graph, Google+ and organic search results. According to the 2017 edition of Moz’ Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, Google My Business continues to be the biggest driver of local SEO success, with quality links coming in at a close second.

You can manage your business listing by adding NAP details, opening hours, photos et cetera. In addition to that, it is possible to manage the reviews your customers leave behind. As you know, reviews should be a key factor in your local SEO efforts.

How does it work?

Getting started with My Business is easy; you have to make an account and claim your business. After filling in your details, you will get a real-life postcard from Google on the address you’ve specified. This card is the only proof you’re the owner of the business listed at the address.

Once verified, you can fill in all the necessary details and check how your listing is doing. You can even get regular insights to see how many impressions, clicks and subscribers your listing got over a period. It’s a great way of getting a feel for how your business is perceived by Google and customers alike.

Keep in mind that My Business is not the catch-all tool for your local SEO. It has to work in tandem with your on- and off-site SEO efforts. You won’t climb the charts if your profile is inaccurate, but you also won’t reach the top without a well-optimized site and localized content. These things go hand in hand.

Ranking factors

Google My Business uses many factors to determine rankings for businesses. We’ll highlight the three most important ones:

  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

Relevance

Relevance determines how well your business fits the search intent of the customer. Is your focus identical to what the customer needs or are you a bit opaque about what your business does? Vagueness doesn’t rank. Be as clear as you can be. Keep your focus.

Distance

Distance is a well-known factor for ranking local businesses. You can’t rank in a local search for (dentist New Jersey) when you have located your company in Manhattan. The exact way Google determines which businesses to show in a local search is unknown, and it can be pretty hard to rank in a given area. The other factors play a significant role as well. It helps not just to say you are located in a particular area, but also to show it by creating local-oriented content around your business on your site. Google uses what’s known about the location of the searcher to present the most relevant local businesses.

Prominence

Prominence is all about the activity around your listing; this could be the number of reviews, events, local content et cetera. It also helps if you can get loads of quality links to your site. It is somewhat hard to determine what prominence means exactly, but one thing is sure: no one likes dead profiles. You have to keep it updated with new photos and manage your reviews. As said before, this works in tandem with your site, so make sure both listings align and that you publish local content.

Optimize your Google My Business listing

To start, you need to claim your listing. After that, you can use the following tips to make your My Business account a success. Keep in mind that everything you add must be in line with the information you provide on your site. Inaccurate information kills your listings and could kill your rankings:

  • Claim your listing with your actual business name
  • Choose a category as accurate as possible
  • Provide as much data as you can – your profile has to be 100%
  • Check your phone number
  • Check your opening times – think about holidays!
  • Review your photos – are they accurate and good or can you improve them?
  • Create citations on other sites as well – pick well-regarded business listing or review sites and directories, stay away from spammers
  • Keep your My Business listing in line with your site – and use Schema.org data
  • Above all, keep your data up to date

It’s critical to remember that this is not a set it and forget it type of thing. Things chance, your business changes. Keep everything active, monitor reviews and stay on top of things. It’s frustrating if your listing doesn’t perform as well as you’d like, but keep putting in the hours, and it will work. US businesses can check their listings with this tool by Synup: Google My Business Guidelines Checker.

my business guidelines check

Structured data and Yoast Local SEO

Google increasingly depends on structured data to find out what your site is about and which elements represent what. This is most certainly true for your business information, including the information that My Business uses. Make sure you add the correct structured data to your site. Enhance your NAP details, opening hours, reviews, product information et cetera, with Schema.org data. This will make it much easier for Google to determine the validity of your listing. Several tools can help you with this, including our Yoast Local SEO plugin.

Your local SEO is critical, even with Google My Business

So, you should activate and maintain your My Business account, and make it awesome. But the most of your listings and to get good rankings, you must have your site in order as well. Optimize every part of it. Create local content for your chosen keyword and business location. Acquire quality local backlinks to build up a solid link profile. Ask customers to review your business onsite or on My Business. Make sure your listing is active and attractive. Dead profiles are no good.

Read more: ‘Local ranking factors that help your local business’ SEO’ »

If you’re a well-known local business owner, one of your online goals should be getting more local reviews from your (satisfied) customers. These reviews or ratings help Google in determining the value of your company for their users. If you have a nice amount of four-star and five-star ratings, Google considers you a more valuable result on their search result pages, which contributes to better rankings for your site.

Today, we’ll dig a bit deeper into these local reviews and convince you to ask your customers for reviews.

Google and local reviews

First, let’s see what Google has to say about local reviews. On their review datatype page, they clearly state that Google may display information from aggregate ratings markup in the Google Knowledge Cards with your business’ details.

They state that they’re using the following review snippet guidelines:

  • Ratings and reviews must come directly from the users.
  • There is a difference between these user ratings and critic reviews (human editors that curate or compile ratings information for local businesses). That’s a different ball game.
  • Don’t copy reviews from Yelp or whatever other review site, but collect them from your users directly and display these on your site.

There is a clear focus on genuine reviews. Add name, position, photo and any other relevant, public information on the reviewer. That always helps in showing that your reviews are indeed genuine

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show you opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

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Ask your customers for a review in person

It’s really that simple: ask your customers for a review. Yelp may advise against this, Google promotes it (Source: SEL). I agree with Google on this. A friend of mine is in the coaching business and he asks his customers after finishing the coaching process to leave a review on his Google My Business page. This, plus obviously an optimized site, has helped him achieving a local #1 ranking.

It might feel a bit odd, to ask your customers for a positive review. However, I bet most of your customers will be more than happy to do this for you. It’s a small token of appreciation for your great service, product or your friendly staff. If you believe in your business, and you’re taking extra steps to help your customer, your customer will for sure leave that review for you. Especially in local businesses, where you know your customer and perhaps have been serving him or her for decades, just ask.

Ask your customers for local reviews online

Feel free to ask your customer for a review on your website, for example, right after a purchase. If a customer wanted your product so bad he or she made the purchase, they may be willing to leave a review about their shopping experience as well. Even a simple “How would you rate your experience with our company” could give you that local rating you want.

Twitter

And why not leverage Twitter here? I find Twitter to work pretty decently for local purposes. There’s a separate ‘community’ of tweeps talking to each other on Twitter in our hometown. I’m sure most of them visit local stores. Not just that, but they’ll probably also have an opinion on these stores. And they might just be willing to share that opinion.

Facebook

One of our local shops won a national award and a lot of locals congratulated the owners with this ‘very much deserved’ win on Facebook. How’s that for an opportunity to ask for Facebook reviews? Let me elaborate a bit on the Facebook reviews. These are local reviews as well! The Apple store on Fifth Avenue in NY has over 16,000 reviews already. Most good, some bad:

Local reviews on Facebook

Facebook is an awesome opportunity for any local business to get reviews. Don’t underestimate how many people search for your business on Facebook.

As mentioned in the section about Google and local reviews: “Don’t copy reviews from Yelp or whatever other review sites”. The same goes for these Facebook reviews. It’s very nice to get them, but leave them on Facebook (or use them in your offline print campaign) and get separate local reviews for your website.

Even negative reviews matter. Don’t feel bad when you get one, feel motivated!

Asking for reviews, for instance, right from your (support) email inbox, like in the signature of your email, might feel a bit strange at first. However, it will trigger your brand ambassadors to leave a review, after seeing that signature email after email. And yes, you will get some negative reviews as well from people that are not completely satisfied with your product or service. And you want these.

Negative reviews give you a chance to go beyond yourself in showing how customer-driven you are. They allow you to fix the issue this customer has. After fixing it, ask them to share the solution / their experience with your company, so others can see what you have done to turn that disappointed customer into a satisfied customer.

It’s your job to make your customer happy, and good reviews will follow. Speed up that process by asking your customers for their feedback!

Read more: ‘Local ranking factors that help your local business’ SEO’ »

If you own an eCommerce site, you might wonder how to optimize your category pages and your product pages. Could you have the same content on your category page and your product pages? If you have the same content on multiple pages of your website, would Google know what to rank first? Or would it cause duplicate content issues? This Ask Yoast is about the optimization of category and product pages of your online shop. Hear what I have to say about this!

Jeroen Custers from Maastricht, the Netherlands, has emailed us, asking:

“My product pages and category pages have 99% the same description, except for the color. Although the category page gets all the links, one product page ranks. Does Google see my pages as duplicate content?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Duplicate content on your shop?

Check out the video or read the answer below!

The answer is simple: Yes. So what should you do is optimize your category page for the product. And only optimize the sub pages, the product pages for the individual product colors, and then make sure that the category page gets all the links for that product. So you should improve your internal linking structure so that when you mention the product, you link to the category page and not to the specific color page underneath that.

If you improve that category structure in the right way, then that should fix it. If it doesn’t, then noindex the product pages and “canonical” all of them back to the category, so that Google really knows that the category is the main thing. That’s what you want people to land on. Most people want to see that you have more than one option.

If they search for the specific product and you do not noindex it, so if you choose for the first option, then Google should send them to the right page. So try that first. If that doesn’t work, noindex as product page and then “canonicalize” them back to the category.

Good luck!

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need help with SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Crafting the perfect shop category page’ »

Writing is hard. Writing for the search engines is even harder. What about writing for the search engines and writing for sales simultaneously? Is that even doable? Because, in the end, we want to write copy that’ll rank in the search engines AND convince people to either buy your stuff, contact you, subscribe to your newsletter or to return to your website. In this post, I’ll share some of my recent discoveries in the field of sales copywriting. Also, I’ll show you that copywriting for sales and SEO is perfectly compatible (and not even that hard).

Sales copywriting

A few months ago, I followed a workshop by Amy Harrison. She is a sales copywriting specialist. At first, I was a little skeptic. I am a writer, I know about writing, what were the chances I would hear something new? I was totally blown away with Amy’s story, though.

Having a sales perspective on a text is very useful. I write a lot of blog posts, I like doing research, but I do not particularly enjoy writing marketing texts or sales copy. But of course, this is important too. That’s what actually pays the bills. But more importantly (at least for SEO addicts like me), a sales perspective is a very useful SEO strategy.

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What does your audience need?

Sales copy should be addressing the needs of the audience. What problem (that your audience encounters) does your product solve? In Yoast’s case: our audience will want more traffic to their site, higher rankings in Google, perhaps more sales. The problem our audience has is that they do not have as many visitors as they would like to have on their website. They’re not outranking their competition yet. These problems should be addressed directly in your sales copy. On Yoast.com, however, our sales copy was (and for a large part still is; we have so many high priority projects to focus on) largely product driven. In most of our copy we just used to list the features of our products.

We actually rewrote parts of the sales copy on Yoast.com, trying to really keep the audience and their problems in mind (and focus less on our products and what features are in it). Writing in a such a way – with room for the problems your audience encounters – actually is a very good SEO strategy. In your text, you’ll be focusing on the problems your audience has. Most likely, these problems will be what they’re searching for when they start their search for a solution. Thinking about the problems your product or service will solve, will result in good sales copy as well as in SEO-friendly copy.

Use words that appeal to your audience

In our ‘old’ product-focused sales copy, we tend to use the word ‘optimize’ very often. We like it. Optimizing could be so many things, though. Optimizing for the search engines, optimizing for readability, optimizing the UX of your website, optimizing the images on your site. Is the word optimizing really appealing to our audience? Is that the word they would use? Could we be more specific? What do we actually mean by optimizing? By optimizing for search engines, we actually mean ‘ranking in Google’, by ‘optimizing for readability’, we mean ‘writing a text that people would want to read.’ Perhaps we should use these phrases instead of optimizing?

Sometimes the words you’re using, aren’t the words that your audience is using to define their problems. If that’s the case, your words won’t be appealing to your audience, they’ll not recognize their problems in your sales copy. The text will be less convincing to your users, than if you write a text with words people can relate too. In addition to that, a text with words that are not used by your audience, won’t get much traffic. But, a text with words your audience actually uses, will definitely result in more traffic.

Get to know your audience

In order to write either sales copy or SEO-friendly copy, you should get to know your audience. You have to find out which words they’re using, how they describe their problems, how they begin their quest in Google. Talking to them in person or online could be a great way to start. If you’re using reviews or testimonials, these could be a really helpful source too. What words do your most satisfied customers use to describe their experience with your product, service or website? What things, elements or features of your product did they like the most? These words, these things, should definitely be included in your copy.

Conclusion

If you want to know more about writing awesome sales copy, you should definitely check out Amy’s website. I’m a huge fan of hers, even though she made a really weird choice for an SEO plugin. You should definitely check out her blog to learn more about sales copywriting!

Read more: ‘SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »

If you have a big eCommerce site with lots of products, layered navigation can help your users to narrow down their search results. Layered or faceted navigation is an advanced way of filtering by providing groups of filters for (many) product attributes. In this filtering process, you might create a lot of URLs though, because the user will be able to filter and thereby group items in many ways, and those groups will all be available on separate URLs. So what should you do with all these URLs? Do you want Google to crawl them all?

In this Ask Yoast, we’ll answer a question from Daniel Jacobsen:

“Should I nofollow layered navigation links? And if so, why? Are there any disadvantages of this?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Layered navigation links

Read this transcript to learn how to deal with layered or faceted navigation links:

“The question is: “Why would you want to do that?” If you have too many URLs, so if you have a layered or a faceted navigation that has far too many options -creating billions of different types of URLs for Google to crawl – then probably yes. At the same time you need to ask yourself: “Why does my navigation work that way?” And, “Can we make it any different?” But in a lot of eCommerce systems that’s very hard. So in those cases adding a nofollow to those links, does actually help to prevent Google from indexing each and every one of the versions of your site.

I’ve worked on a couple of sites with faceted navigation that had over a billion variations in URLs, even though they only had like 10,000 products. If that’s the sort of problem you have, then yes, you need to nofollow them and maybe you even need to use your robots.txt file to exclude some of those variants. So specific stuff that you don’t want indexed, for instance, if you don’t want color indexed, you could do a robots.txt line that says: “Disallow for everything that has color in the URL”. At that point you strip down what Google crawls and what it thinks is important. The problem with that is, that if Google has links pointing at that version from somewhere else, those links don’t count for your site’s ranking either.

So it’s a bit of a quid pro quo, where you have to think about what is the best thing to do. It’s a tough decision. I really would suggest getting an experienced technical SEO to look at your site if it really is a problem, because it’s not a simple cut-and-paste solution that works the same for every site.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers! Need help with SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Internal search for online shops: an essential asset’ »

Once in a while, every company needs to take a closer look at the state of its marketing. Are you still sending the right message to your customer? Do you still target the same customers? And, in what way did these customers change? In this article, we’ll address a number of things every website owner needs to ask him or herself every now and then!

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Do as Amy says

Recently, we visited Conversion Hotel, an excellent event about (yes) conversion. One of the speakers whose story we liked best, was Amy Harrison. Amy talked about conversion copywriting and stated that when you lose customer focus, you’ll end up writing product focused copy or just using best practices from your industry. That won’t make you stand out from your competitors, and even worse: it won’t let you connect to your customers.

Amy talked about distinguishing yourself from your competitors. Don’t use terms like ‘high quality’ or ‘easy to use’. Amy calls these ‘umbrella terms’, as everyone in the industry is using these and it really doesn’t say anything about the product. You should focus on the gap between what you know, what you say and what the customer thinks that it means. Close that gap. Write about that to sell your product.

Closing the gap to your customer

If you want to know what your customer is looking for in your product, there are a number of ways to find out. They all come down to one thing: ask them.

Customer Survey

Especially when you have a larger user base, you can easily send out a survey every now and then. Literally ask the customer what could be improved, what they liked and, for instance, why a product did not meet their expectations.

One of the things we found, when asking our site review customers about expectations and ways to improve our product, is that many customers would really like regular guidance. Instead of just a one time report. After some thinking and shaping, that resulted in our new service: Yoast SEO Care. In Yoast SEO Care, we touch base with customers on a monthly or quarterly basis on what needs to be improved on their website to rank better or get more traffic.

For us, this is an ongoing process. Our products come with support, and our customers like to share their expectations and feature requests. Obviously, you could guide them in this by sending them a survey. That could be done every six months, or, for instance, six weeks after purchasing a product. It all depends on your need for input and the variety of customers you serve.

Questions on your site

Another way to get an idea of what your customers are looking for is, for instance, an exit-intent question. I deliberately say “question” (singular), as I wouldn’t bug the leaving visitor with a lengthy questionnaire. Just ask “did you find what you were looking for, and if not: what were you looking for?” or something similar. If you’re serious about UX, you know/use Hotjar. They actually have something similar baked in their product. The description says it all:

Ask your active users and customers WHAT made them choose you and WHAT made them nearly abandon your site. Discover WHO they really are and HOW to improve your site and Organization.

Note that Hotjar allows you to add a large survey, but why not limit that to one question, right? It’ll give you some nice, personal insights about what people are looking for on your website, just by asking!

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Yoast: Github feature requests

Now if you are a software development agency like we are, working in an open source environment, you probably have your code on (some platform like) Github. On that platform, you collect possible bugs and patches. In addition, it provides an excellent platform to collect feature requests.

We encourage users to use Github and not just send us random tweets with feature requests :) Feature requests on Github equal surveys on your website in the way that these are all things your user wants or expects your product to do. Sometimes feature requests can be handled quickly, when a feature is already there but just not found by your customer. Sometimes they end up on a pile of user/installation specific feature requests – you can’t win ’em all. But if a feature is requested by enough users, you probably are inclined to add it as a future feature to your roadmap.

These feature requests not only show what customers want, they also teach you a lot about how they use your products. And that, in return, will tell you more about their personal motivation to use your product. Which you can use in your product descriptions and marketing. Circle closed.

Read more: ‘Creating loyal customers’ »

Rich search results are everywhere. Years ago, search engines presented search results without much adornment. Today, the search results look very different. We see extra information beneath the links, plus a couple of big blocks of rich content, depending on what you look for. The additional lines beneath results are called rich snippets, and they are meant to directly inform users. In this article, we’ll briefly go over the different rich snippets and what they mean for SEO.

What are rich snippets?

First, let’s look at what regular snippets are. Snippets are the black lines of text beneath the title of the search result. Here you’ll read a piece of text introducing the individual search result. Rich snippets are the additional lines of information underneath search results; these often consist of breadcrumb links, product information, prices or reviews. Rich snippets are part of rich results; the catch-all term search engines use to describe parts of the search results that have a highlighted presentation.

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There are a couple of other enhancements to the search results pages. Rich cards on mobile, for instance, are a sort of follow-up or extension of rich snippets. These provide a lot more actionable information, directly from the search results page. Rich cards were until recently only available for movies and recipes, but have been expanded with local restaurants and online courses. We’ll dive deeper into rich cards at a later date.

In addition to that, there are also featured snippets. These are the boxes Google shows at the top of the page to answer a query directly. Last but not least, there’s the knowledge graph; this is the big block of information on the right-hand side.

Different rich snippets

Various rich snippets

Featured snippets

Featured snippet

Building blocks

To get rich results, you need to add structured data to your site. The structured data is in a vocabulary called Schema.org and can be added to your page in different ways. First, you can use the classic formats: Microdata and RDFa. However, Google favors the new kid in town these days: JSON-LD. This is a JavaScript format to easily markup structured data in a way that’s readable for both humans and machines. On Schema.org you’ll find a neat getting started guide.

Our Yoast SEO plugin uses JSON-LD to add information about your site search, your site name, your logo and your social profiles to your web pages.

What do rich snippets do?

In addition to telling the search engine what all the pieces of your site mean, the main goal of rich snippets is to inform the searcher. A well structured rich snippet will entice the searcher to click on the link. Users can now judge directly from the search results if a certain result is the one they are looking for.

Let’s say you have a business delivering flowers. You have done a lot of work to rank well in the search engines for the term ‘flower delivery’, appended with your location. You rank pretty well, but your competitor has rich snippets, and you don’t. He shows his reviews directly in the search results and his flower shop rates 4,5 out of 5 stars. His stars just naturally catch your eye. With his high rating, he might attract more clicks from searchers, just because he has a more ‘trustworthy’ profile. You know what you have to do.

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Do rich snippets have benefits for SEO?

Adding structured data does not directly result in better rankings. It does, however, make you more visible in the search results. Search engines understand your pages better and can, therefore, give you a better presentation. This, in turn, might lead to more focused traffic, extra sales, links and in the end; better results from your site.

If your listings get rich results, searchers will notice you better because you stand out from the crowd. This might lead to a higher click-through rate (CTR). In addition to that, if you’re snippets are really good, your bounce rate may potentially go down. The reason for this is that searchers can make a better judgment directly from the results. If your listing is not up to scratch, searchers might skip you. If it is, they know your listing should promise what it says. All you have to do is deliver the result it promises.

Keep in mind that it’s up to the search engines to determine if your listings get rich results. There are no guarantees you’ll get them.

What types are there?

There are different types of rich snippets. If we look at the broader palette of rich results, there’s even more to see. Here are the most prominent examples. You can see some of these in action in Google’s Search Gallery.

Products

Mark up products with Schema.org/Product and you can get rich snippets in search results. Your product can be enhanced with ratings, pricing, and availability, for example. In this post, we explain how you can enhance your product listings in search engines.

Reviews and ratings

Do customers give your business or product ratings? Then you could collect them on a review page and mark these up as ratings or reviews with Schema.org/Review. This way search engines recognize the reviews and might show them in the search results. We’ve written a post on reviews and ratings as well. Remember, you cannot use external reviews from sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor anymore, you have to collect them yourself.

Businesses and organizations

Your local business should present the correct structured data to search engines (Schema.org/LocalBusiness). If you use this data, search engines will pick it up and might highlight your business in the results. If you want to mark up your local business, you should read the article on local business listings. Don’t have the time or knowledge to add all this information yourself? Our Local SEO plugin can do it for you.

Recipes

You can now see recipes directly in the search results. If you are searching for a recipe for cheesecake, you can now find it without leaving the search engine. To activate this on your cooking site, you need to add Schema.org/Recipe data.

Events

Event listings have been around for quite a while. If correctly implemented clubs, venues or other social and cultural entities can show multiple upcoming events directly in search results. Check out Schema.org/Event.

Courses

One of the latest additions is courses. By adding Schema.org/Course data you can highlight your course in the search results. Among other things, you can show a description, tutor, price and the institute that facilitates the course. You can find a couple of example sites, including markup at W3.org.

How can I add them myself?

It used to be fairly hard to add the data needed for rich snippets, but times have changed. There are now multiple WordPress plugins, online generators and other tools to add data without having to deep-dive into code. In addition to that, the new data format JSON-LD has made it much easier to write readable code that’s simple to understand and maintain. Still, if you don’t want to mess with code, you can always ask your web developer to do it for you.

The last couple of weeks, we’ve been adding posts on working with structured data and JSON-LD. We have guides on ratings and reviews, product listings, local business listings and a small intro on how to work with JSON-LD. Shortly, there will be even more on this subject.

Having said that, you should always be careful when adding structured data for rich snippets. If you markup hidden content, or don’t follow the rules one way or the other, you could receive a penalty.

Conclusion

While adding structured data for rich snippets doesn’t directly lead to better rankings, it will lead to a better understanding of your site by search engines and visitors alike. As with a lot of SEO related things, you are still in the hands of search engines. They will determine if a site gets rich results or not.

Don’t let this stop you, though. Adding structured data to your site is always a good thing because you are making your site clearer to search engines and thus creating a bigger chance of them presenting your site in the best possible way.

Read more: ‘Local business listings with JSON-LD and Schema.org’ »

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Shop SEO: bundling all important information

Shop SEO consists of several sections. In each section, we’ll discuss a different aspect of SEO that is of importance for an eCommerce site. We’ll give special attention to Schema.org and JSON LD, but also give in-depth information about the site structure of a shop. We also tell you all about product pages and dive into the marketing of your shop. The book handles all SEO necessities and will enable you to improve your rankings and attract more traffic to your site.

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Most of the information in the Shop SEO eBook already appeared in one of our many blog posts. The book, however, bundles all the information and presents it in a logical and well-structured manner. Our book will make sure you receive all the bits and pieces of information you need in order to start a succesful SEO strategy.

Get the most out of your shop: Buy our bundle

If you want to improve both traffic to and conversion on your shop, you should look into our shop bundle. For $29 (after December 22 it will be $35) you’ll receive our Shop SEO eBook and our UX and Conversion eBook. These two books together are the ultimate package to get the best results from your eCommerce site!