If you own a website, you have to think about the structure of your site, whether it’s a blog or a shop. Site structure is essential to help users find their way on your site and it helps your site to rank. So your site’s hierarchy needs to make sense to both users and search engines. When you’re creating one, you might wonder if your structure is too deep or too shallow. Let’s take a look at an example.

Milada Sejnohova, emailed Ask Yoast with the following question:

“How deep can I make the site structure of my blog? Can I make it for instance:

  • Elemis
    • products
      • anti-aging?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Depth of your site structure

In the video, I answer Milada’s question:

Well of course you can!

First of all, if you have a products section, then it’s not a blog, it’s a website.

And two, your structure (products and then anti-aging) is a perfectly reasonable way of setting up your site. As long as it’s useful to users and it makes sense, you’re okay. It has to make sense for someone who has never been on your site.

What you really should be thinking about is: if I come to your site and I’m on any page on your site and I know that something should be there, do I know how to get there easily? Because that’s determined in large by your site structure. So make it as easy to understand as possible! 

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: ‘The ultimate guide to site structure’ »

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’ »

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’ »

Would you like to generate more traffic to your eCommerce site? Are you dreaming of higher rankings and more sales? As of today, you can buy our Shop SEO eBook. In this eBook, we’ll give you lots of practical SEO tips, specifically focused on eCommerce sites. After reading our book, you’ll be able to easily update and improve your own SEO strategy.

Get it now for only $19, after December 22 it will cost $25!

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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.

toc shop seo ebook

Want people to find your online store and make them convert? Get the Shop SEO and UX & Conversion bundle! »

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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!

 

Over the last year, we’ve written quite a bit about branding. Branding is often associated with investing lots of money in marketing and promotion. Branding is about getting people to relate to your company and products. Branding is about trying to make your brand synonym for a certain product or service. This can be a lengthy and hard project. It can potentially cost you all of your revenue. However, for a lot of small business owners, the investment in branding will have to be made with a relatively small budget. In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on how to go about your own low-budget branding.

Psst… want to learn how to make your online shop a ranking machine? Stay tuned, because next week we’ll launch our Shop SEO eBook!

Brand values

Branding with a limited budget starts with defining your company’s and your brand’s values. You need to think about what you, as a brand, want to communicate to the world. This is obviously totally free, provided you are capable of doing this yourself. It’s a pretty hard task when you think of it. It’s about your mission, the things that make your brand your brand. Brand values relate to Cialdini’s seventh principle, Unity.

My favorite example illustrating that unity is outdoor brands like Patagonia and The North Face, which make you feel included in their business ‘family’. We are all alike, share the same values. By being able to relate to these brands and their values, we are more enticed to buy their products. It’s a brand for us, outdoor people.

Take some time to define your brand values. That way you’re able to communicate your main message in a clear and consistent way. It makes your marketing all the easier. You’ll be able to create brand ambassadors, even on a budget.

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Come up with a proper tagline

Now that you have defined your brand values, it’s time to summarize all of this into one single tagline. WordPress’ mission is to “democratize publishing“. In your tagline, you reflect your values and combine these with your added value for the customer, user or visitor. Again, be consistent. If you set a tagline, your actions and products should relate to that tagline, actually even be based upon it. It summarizes your business.

Rethink your logo

Having a great logo is essential. When designing that logo, you’ll have to keep in mind that it’s probably something you’ll have for years. It’s the main thing – besides yourself – that will trigger (brand) recognition. Not that you will never be allowed to change your logo, but don’t ‘just’ add a logo. Think about how it stands out from other logos, for instance on a local sponsor board. We actually did this with our current one.

Design that logo, print it, stick it on your fridge for a week or so, and see if there’s anything about it that starts to annoy you. If so, back to the drawing board. Feel like you don’t relate to it in terms of business values or even personality? Back to the drawing board. When talking about low-budget branding, designing a great logo is probably your most expensive task.

We still haven’t spent that much money, right? But then, we just designed the basis.

Online low-budget branding

You might be a local bakery with 10 employees, or a local industrial company employing up to 500 people. These all can be qualified as ‘small business’. All have the same main goal when they start: the need to establish a name in their field of expertise. There are multiple ways to do this, without a huge budget. Low-budget branding is facilitated by the surplus of social media. Low-budget branding is possible because of all the blogs that relate to your niche.

Costs?

I do a lot of local networking, because I really like the city we live in, and the huge variety of entrepreneurs that work in Wijchen (our hometown). During network meetings, one of the phrases I often hear is: “Social media is just costing me too much time”. To be honest, it might be wise to stop whining about the costs and start seeing the revenue social media can bring you. It really is the easiest and probably one of the cheapest ways to promote your brand. Basically, it costs you time and time alone (depending on how aggressive you want to use the medium).

Share your expertise

Twitter is used to keep in touch with like-minded business owners. Discover the huge number of Facebook groups in your area, and/or in your field of expertise. Bond with people that share the same values. Feel free to answer questions in your field of business, be sure to do this with confidence. Position yourself as the to-go-to company for these questions. Help people that way and create brand ambassadors.

Scary? No. But you really have to put some effort in establishing your position. It won’t happen overnight. Before we became a business, Joost was already sharing content/expertise and our open source software. He engaged actively in forum and social media discussions about WordPress and SEO. Commenting on other people’s blogs. Time before revenue: 8 years. I’m not saying you need to wait eight years before making money with your passion. But I do think that you should be able to write, comment and take a stand in topics that matter to you from the start.

Make yourself visible

Eventually, it all comes back to business values. Everything you communicate should reflect these values. It’ll give you guidelines and will make sure your message is delivered in the same way, always. Low-budget branding might be just about that: making yourself visible, in a consistent way.

Any additions and your own experiences in this are welcome.

Read more: ‘5 tips on branding’ »

Reviews or testimonials are mostly said to work on the basis of social proof. Social proof is a psychological process in which people copy the behavior of others, in an attempt to reflect correct behavior.

A testimonial tells you that someone you can identify with has bought a product and loved it. That must mean the product is just the right thing for you as well. However, ratings and reviews are not just valuable for your customers alone: Google uses them in various ways too, as I’ll explain in this post. Moreover, I’ll show how you can help Google show ratings and reviews in the search results, with the right Schema.org markup.

Ratings

Ratings for your website or online shop can be twofold:

  • For your entire business
  • For a specific product

Business ratings

Ratings for your brand or shop will most probably be given on a website like Resellerratings.com or Google My Business. Google will see these ratings and will even add Google My Business ratings to their Knowledge Graph information. The time that Google added stars to search result pages for any website that added these ratings in schema.org is over. Google was simply flooded with ratings, and it made less sense to add them to all the results anymore. That doesn’t mean they are entirely gone, as the opinion of your visitor or customer is still equally valuable to Google. So where it makes sense, like for hotels, Google will still show that rating. Google also tends to show shop ratings in their Google Shopping results, by the way:rating of shop in SERP

Product ratings

Product ratings are a bit of a different breed, although they work pretty much the same. Have people rate a product on your website, and add an Aggregate rating on a nice spot on your product page. Next to Google picking up on that rating and showing it in, for instance, the Google Shopping result, it increases trust in a product.

product rating in SERP

As you can see, product ratings have a different color in Google Shopping results.

Besides, in their Shopping results, you can also find product reviews from major websites in the search result pages, like this one from CNET:

cnet review

CNET is a trusted source for Google, so they feel comfortable showing that rating and link these reviews on page one in the search result pages.

Obviously, it’s key to monitor these ratings and act if a product is just getting negative reviews. Either contact the reseller and ask them to fix the issues or stop selling that specific product.

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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Reviews

Most of the times the ratings we discussed earlier are just half of a package deal. Ratings are great, and great ratings even greater. But if that rating is accompanied by a detailed review as well, people will be able to relate to the experience another customer had even more. Regardless if that’s for a product or an entire website. These reviews influence the decision-making process of your visitor. If they come to your website and see only negative reviews, written by real people that speak from experience, they will think twice. If these reviews are all raving about the product, people will just need a split second to click the buy button.

Reviews influence local ranking

Especially for local rankings, or local products, reviews are important. They tell Google the public perception of a brand or website. Google can process these reviews and take them into account for rankings if needed. Websites like Yelp and Foursquare help people from all over the world to find the right coffee shop or bakery. Sites like Booking.com tell people where to stay and allow people to share their experiences afterward. If you have sufficient reviews, Google shows these ratings and allows you to pick right from their search result pages already. If you search for a specific hotel in Google, you’ll find even more reviews in the search result pages:

ratings and reviews hotel in serp

It’s up to you which source you trust more. But we think you can’t go wrong with this hotel, right?

The image shows that you shouldn’t rule out Facebook in this as well. Maintain an active page and allow for reviews. Again, monitor these. All this positive ‘word of mouth’ combined will contribute to Google liking and ranking your online shop even better.

Ratings, reviews, and Schema.org

Google uses structured data to include extra information in the search results. The markup for structured data is taken from a vocabulary called Schema.org. A combined effort of Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Yandex, this open data format’s goal is to offer structured data that search engines can consistently use to present rich results. This could be product information, ratings, and reviews, or information about your local business.

To implement structured data, you need to offer search engines the correct markup. There are a couple of ways of doing that: Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD. According to Google, the latter is the easiest way of adding metadata to sites these days. JSON-LD is a lightweight data-format that’s easy to read for both humans and machines. You can test your code in Google’s Structured Data Test Tool.

Reviews and ratings

By adding certain Schema.org elements to your code, it’s possible for Google to add reviews and ratings to your search results. You need to tell which parts are about the review and what that element represents. In Schema.org a rating is the aggregate value a product gets. A review is a rating, with an explanation in text.

In the example below, you see a typical Schema.org review in JSON-LD format. A couple of highlights:

  • type: The schema.org type (a review)
    • itemReviewed: What you are reviewing
    • type: The schema.org thing (a thing)
  • reviewRating: Is it a review or a rating?
    • type: It’s a rating
    • ratingValue: The number of stars (1-5)
  • name: The title of the review
  • author: Who wrote it?
    • type: It’s a person, of course
    • name: Name of the author
  • reviewBody: Where was the review published
    • publisher: The actual publisher
    • type: Most of the time it’s an organization
    • name: Name of the organization
<script type=“application/ld+json”>
{
 “@context”: “http://schema.org/“,
 “@type”: “Review”,
  “itemReviewed”: {
  “@type”: “Thing”,
  “image”: “https://cdn-images.yoast.com/uploads/2010/10/Yoast_SEO_WP_plugin_FB.png”,
  “name”: “Yoast SEO”
 },
 “reviewRating”: {
  “@type”: “Rating”,
  “ratingValue”: “5”
 },
 “name”: “The best SEO plugin ever!”,
  “author”: {
  “@type”: “Person”,
  “name”: “Calvin Jones”
 },
 “reviewBody”: “I love working with it.”,
  “publisher”: {
  “@type”: “Organization”,
  “name”: “WordPress.org”
 }
}
</script>

Products

The same can be done for product listings. If you use the right markup, Google can pick up the data and show it in the results. You can add specifications, price, availability, reviews and ratings, and more to your listings. The code to use is comparable to the one above. In a future post, we’ll be elaborating on that a bit more.

Local businesses

Reviews are a godsend for local businesses. That’s why it’s rather important to add them to your listings. Using Schema.org and, for instance, JSON-LD, you give Google the opportunity to add your ratings to the search results. Potential customers will get a good idea of the quality of your business, right in the search engine.

Keep an eye on our site, because we will be diving deeper into Schema.org for products, ratings and reviews, and what it all means for local businesses.

Read more: ‘Use JSON-LD to add schema.org to your website’ »