To improve the search engine visibility of your ProductCart powered store, and to help deliver more accurate search results to your prospective customers, ProductCart 5 includes a new feature that automatically generates structured data markup for your site’s pages.
Search engines use structured data — additional markup incorporated into a site’s source code — to better understand the content and meaning of web pages. As with most things in the world of web development, a number of different markup languages, or protocols, have been created to communicate structured data to the search engines. ProductCart 5 uses two of the most widely accepted and most popular structured data protocols: Microdata, a protocol maintained by Schema.org, and the Open Graph protocol, created and maintained by Facebook.
The use of structured data markup is invisible to your website visitors but it’s impact is already familiar to anyone who uses a search engine like Google or Bing, and to anyone who has posted a link on Facebook in the last couple of years. When you post a link on Facebook, for example, you often get the opportunity to select an image from the web page you’re linking to as a thumbnail image that accompanies your post. Have you ever wondered how Facebook “finds” the images on the linked page? Most of the time, it’s because the page includes Open Graph markup that tells Facebook where to find images on the page.
You can read a short primer on structured data here.
ProductCart 5 automates the process of placing both Microdata and Open Graph markup into your web pages’ source code. It’s a completely hands-off process for the site’s administrator. Product and category data from your ProductCart database is used to automatically populate the required markup elements.
The data delivered for each product through the Microdata markup includes product name, main image URL, stock number, product description, product availability and product price. Note that not every data element delivered through the Microdata markup appears in all search engine results. This is because different search engines support different sets of data elements. As an example, your product images may appear in Bing search results, but not in Google. These “rich snippets” are not guaranteed just because you include microdata markup; however you can’t get rich snippets and enhanced SERP display without microdata.
A smaller data set is included in the Open Graph markup, primarily because Open Graph supports fewer data types. Data delivered through Open Graph markup includes product title, content type, source URL, image URL and the website’s title.
In addition to search engines and Facebook, some social media channels have also begun to use microdata and/or Open Graph to enhance posts and deliver real-time information about pricing and availability. Notably, Pinterest and Google+ utilize additional markup.