The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Useful Google Tools for Your Store

Episode Summary

Gain SEO traffic through Google's Rich Results

Episode Notes

Google offers many free and excellent tools for business owners, but knowing which ones to invest in, and what to do with can be intimdating. Our guest today talks us through a low-stress, high impact approach to optimizing for Google's business tools that applies to nearly any store. (If you haven't setup Google Search Console yet, listen to this episode.)

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. Ilana rescues websites to attract more visitors, provide better SEO, and increase conversion rates at a fraction of the cost of a full redesign.

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Episode Transcription

The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Kurt Elster: Today, on The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, we are talking about all the crazy tools Google offers you and what the heck they do. We’ve got Google Data Studio, Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, Google Optimize, Google Merchant Center, Google Search Console, and there’s more, and all of these tools are free to use. And so, should you use them? Why should you use them? And then the worst one, Google Search Console, I think you have to sign up for it and then when you do, it’s just constantly sending you goofball warnings that don’t necessarily make any sense. People forward them to me all the time. I’m like, “What is going on with this thing?”

And so, I’ve brought on an expert who knows SEO, knows these Google tools, knows the structured data and micro data and the things in your theme behind it that can create many of these issues, and she’s gonna talk us through it and help us separate fact from fiction, signal from noise, and tell us… All right, give us the overview, and then really give us some actionable advice so that we’re not left tearing our hair out or chasing our tails on a snipe hunt with these Google Search Console warnings. So, I’m your host, Kurt Elster.

Ezra Firestone Sound Board Clip: Tech Nasty!

Kurt Elster: And I’m joined by Ilana Davis, a Shopify superhero who works with eCommerce shops to remove friction from the buying process. She’s also the owner of JSON-LD for SEO, a Shopify app that gets you more organic traffic through rich results, and she offers a service, website rescues. Ilana rescues websites to attract more visitors, provide better SEO, and increase conversion rates at a fraction of the cost of a full redesign.

Sound Board:

Kurt Elster: Ilana Davis, thank you for joining us.

Ilana Davis: Hello. Thanks for having me.

Kurt Elster: My pleasure. Okay. All right, did my intro make sense? Did I get-

Ilana Davis: Oh yeah. I think it was spot on. That’s usually the emails that I get, too. What the hell does any of this stuff mean?

Kurt Elster: And I live, eat, breathe, sleep this, and I still, half the time… I can figure it out, but often I see these warnings and I’m just like, “Ugh.” My eyes glaze over. But so, I want to start higher level with the myriad of tools that Google makes available to us that you could use, conceivably, in your Shopify store, and I want you to give me the rundown of what do these things do and which ones are the must haves, and kind of what’s the use case. But brief. You can’t bore me with this, all right? If it’s possible. I don’t know.

Ilana Davis: No pressure.

Kurt Elster: No pressure. All right, so let’s start with what are our Google tools, here?

Ilana Davis: Okay, so we have Google Analytics. We have Search Console. We have Optimize. We have Merchant Center. We have… See, even I’m losing track now. Did I say Optimize? Shoot. Rich Results testing tool. What else is there? Holy crap. Now I’m forgetting everything.

Kurt Elster: Google Data Studio?

Ilana Davis: Data Studio. That’s a good one.

Kurt Elster: All right, I was writing it down as you go. Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Optimize, Merchant Center, Google Tag Manager, the Rich Results testing tool, and Google Data Studio.

Ilana Davis: And there’s probably other ones that are like more ad focused, that’s not Merchant Center, that maybe aren’t as popular anymore.

Kurt Elster: I know. We didn’t even touch on AdWords.

Ilana Davis: Yeah. We didn’t even go that far.

Kurt Elster: Wow. Yeah, so there’s a ton of things here and none of them cost any money to use. I mean, obviously ads, I gotta pay to play with my ads.

Ilana Davis: But the tool itself is free.

Kurt Elster: But if I just wanted the account-

Ilana Davis: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: So, which of these are the must haves?

Ilana Davis: Look. I think it’s so hard when different stores do different things, so as a bare minimum, everyone should have Google Analytics and Google Search Console set up. Everyone should do that, regardless of what you do for your business.

Kurt Elster: Okay, so no matter what, those are the two I want. Google Analytics, I think we should be familiar with at this point. It plugs in easily to my Shopify store. Make sure you check that enable enhanced eCommerce button. That’ll help you out. Get more data. And if you want to use… And many of these other tools are reliant on Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a requirement for them to work.

Ilana Davis: Exactly.

Kurt Elster: So, that’s my must have, and even if you don’t use it it’s still… Maybe you want that data later, so just start using it to have that historical data. I swear this thing is easy to set up and use where it’s just… It’s collecting data from Shopify. Sorry, I set up-

Ilana Davis: We didn’t really talk about this much in our pre-show, but just to put this out there, Google Analytics 4 is gonna be the new way going forward. I’m not gonna touch on that a ton today, but just make sure that you’re aware of what Google Analytics 4 is and how it might work for your store. Shopify currently doesn’t support that natively but something that you need to be aware of so that when Shopify does tell you that it’s natively supported, you know how to plug it in. But at least get Analytics set up currently. That’s a bare minimum.

Kurt Elster: Yeah, and with… I asked my partner manager, my rep at Shopify, and they said, “Yes, certainly we’re aware of the GA4 transition. We will provide a path forward in the future.” I did not have a date or how we’re gonna handle it, but it was like, “Hey, the product team is working on it. Just hold your horses.”

Ilana Davis: Yeah. That’s what I’m hearing too, but just more of those who are listening, have it on your radar. It’s not urgent yet.

Kurt Elster: All right, so I’ve got GA, and depending on when you’re listening to this it may be GA4, which is just like here’s the latest and greatest. And then, so the second one I have to have is Google Search Console.

Ilana Davis: Yes.

Kurt Elster: I spend really a very minimal amount of time in Google Search Console. Not that I don’t use it, it’s just it’s there. It does a handful of things. What is Google Search Console and why do I care?

Ilana Davis: Yeah, so Google Search Console really… Analytics is more about the data that’s happening in your store. It helps you to analyze it and be able to see where people are going, how they might be using your site, what their paths are, what’s converting, blah, blah, blah. Search Console is more about the experience that’s happening on your site, so if you’ve heard of Core Web Vitals, this is where you can see that information in a snapshot. If you’ve heard about rich results or search enhancements, this is where you can see that. So, this is about the experience that people have on your site, not necessarily the data that you learn from and do something with.

Kurt Elster: And what is the data that’s in there? Like really, the only thing I’ve used Google Search Console for is to try and figure out indexing issues, like how many pages do we have indexed? Is our sitemap submitting correctly? That’s really what I’ve used it for.

Ilana Davis: Yeah. I mean, I think that is what Search Console was originally designed for, as a way to see that your site is being indexed and that Shopify is connecting your sitemap on a regular basis so that you don’t have to submit your sitemap over and over again. Once you connect Search Console, then it just sort of connects. Shopify continues to send that sitemap, so you don’t have to keep sending it.

The other side of it is going to be around, like I said, your page experience, where are people landing on your site and there are a bunch of 404 errors that are happening? Or if you’re landing on the site and on your mobile phone, for example, the text is over the edges so you can’t actually read it, so like it’s too wide for your screen for example, you’ll see those sort of experiences show up in Search Console as like a, “Hey, this is a problem you need to be aware of.”

For the most part, I think that a lot of people don’t really use Search Console for anything other than there’s a problem with my site. They don’t really know how to use the information that’s happening in there because there’s nothing really to do, necessarily.

Kurt Elster: Okay, so I’m not off base when I think you could set up Google Search Console, because a handful of other tools require it. I make sure I’ve got my sitemap submitted. And that’s about… And then I could set it and forget it?

Ilana Davis: Yeah. I rarely look at it. I might look at it because for what my app does, I want to see how my search enhancements are doing, which we’ll talk about in a second, but I want to see how I’m appearing in search results with regards to that. I also might look at it I guess for keywords. You could see what people are using when they search on your site and how you come up in search results with certain keywords. This is not like a keyword exploration. This is just what keywords people are using to actually get to your site.

But I think for the most part, it’s not something that I visit on a regular basis. It’s really more of like I just want to check in, make sure there’s no problems, and then I kind of go about my day.

Kurt Elster: Okay. And so, I think this is another one where definitely set it up, but then you’re not… and that’s the end of it.

Ilana Davis: Right. Because what’s happening, I sort of touched on this a second ago, but the sitemaps, when you… sitemaps are basically what Google sees when they know what to index on your site. So, you’re telling them, “Here’s a list of all my pages that I have. Please index.

Shopify automatically sends that stuff to Google through Search Console, so when you’ve connected that it helps to make sure that any new pages that you have are automatically included in your sitemap. So, that’s why it is important to connect it. It’s not like, “Oh, I’m just supposed to do this just because.” No, you actually want to do it because this is how your pages get continually submitted over to Google.

Kurt Elster: That’s the old advice, submit your sitemap, which remains true and valuable to this day.

Ilana Davis: Yes, but what’s happening is that a lot of apps that will be not named tend to say, “You have to have my app because you have to keep sending your sitemap.” You don’t. Shopify does that for you and there’s a lot of misinformation about having to constantly submit it. You only have to submit it once and then Shopify keeps that going. You don’t have to do it over and over again.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. The way Shopify handles sitemaps in my experience, really good. They make this nested sitemap that’s canonical. It’s human readable. And as a competitive research tool, you could dig through that sitemap and parse it out, and it’s like, “Well, here’s a well organized list of every collection, product, and page on this website.”

Ilana Davis: I mean, you could. That seems like a lot of effort. But yeah, you could do that.

Kurt Elster: You know, if you’re a spreadsheet jockey, if you’re good with text mechanic tools like me, it’s really not. I’ve done it as part of audits.

Ilana Davis: I mean, I get it. Yeah. That’s part of your analysis. Sure.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. You’re right. I’ve definitely gone deep into the weeds of like, “This is a thing that consultants will get.” And everyone else is like, “This dude is weird.”

Sound Board Robot Voice: Oh. My. God.

Kurt Elster: So, all right, the other tools then really feel like things that… They’re not necessities. You would use them as the use case arises.

Ilana Davis: Right. There’s a purpose to them. It’s not just a general tool that you’re using. There’s a specific purpose that you have. So, for example, when we talk about Google Optimize, it’s a conversion rate optimization tool, so you’re looking at different ways to test and optimize your site as opposed to just letting it run in the background all the time.

Kurt Elster: It can do personalization, as well.

Ilana Davis: Yep.

Kurt Elster: I’m a Google Optimize jockey. I love it.

Ilana Davis: Yeah. You probably know more about it than I do, actually. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. GO, I’m really into, and what’s cool is you can do personalization, so it’s like you can show different content to new versus returning visitors just ongoing, not as part of a split test. You probably split tested your way to figure out that that was worthwhile.

Ilana Davis: Exactly.

Kurt Elster: All right, so then the… GTM, Google Data Studio, those are extensions, variations on Google Analytics, like you would know if you needed those. The other one in here is Merchant Center. Merchant Center is… As far as I know, I’m only using this to get my catalog available to my Google Ads campaigns.

Ilana Davis: Correct. I think more people are using it now, though, because what was it two years ago, the beginning of the pandemic, I can’t remember exactly when, that Google allowed for the free shopping ads to start happening, and so more people had gotten exposed to Merchant Center and they just didn’t know what they were doing or how it worked. But yes, it is focused on Google Shopping ads.

Kurt Elster: Okay. And so, that one again, it’s like you would know the use case if you had it. But to use… Often, to use Merchant Center, and similarly to get your catalog into Facebook, you need to have rich snippet data, micro data, and Google has a testing tool for this, the Rich Results Tool.

Ilana Davis: Yes. The bane of my existence.

Kurt Elster: Well, tell me about it. What is it? What is this thing when we talk about micro data or rich data? What are we talking about?

Ilana Davis: Yeah. Let me back up a second. I kind of mentioned this a little bit when we discussed Search Console and the ability to have search enhancements for your search results. A search enhancement is basically a feature that improves the look of a search result and there’s a lot of different types. The most common ones that Shopify stores are gonna care about from Google are actually called product rich results. They used to be called rich snippets. That’s another way of looking at it. To generate these rich results, you need data that is sitting in the code of your store. It can be called structured data. It can be called JSON-LD. It can be called micro data. There’s a lot of different words that are used to describe what this is.

But it’s-

Kurt Elster: Yeah. It makes it super fun to Google when it’s called three or four different things.

Ilana Davis: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And I think that part of that is because Google’s changed it over time of like what they want to call it. But then they have different methods of getting that data into your store. Micro data is essentially embedded into your code, where it’s like if you look at your HTML, there’s a whole bunch of it spread throughout your theme. Whereas JSON-LD is typically one script that is gonna come at the very bottom or at the top. It’s not usually mixed in throughout your theme. So, it’s just a different method of getting that information into your store, but it’s really just a fancy, albeit technical, way of saying that this information is formatted in a certain way so that Google can understand what’s on the page. That’s all structured data or micro data is, is just a specific language that Google can understand.

Kurt Elster: So, the website itself is meant to be human readable. Even if we’ve got… We’re doing our search engine optimization. This is still for humans. And try and have a conversation with the smart speaker in your home and you quickly realize they’re not the best at natural language processing no matter what they may say. And so, structured data is a way to systematically describe what is on that page in a consistent, machine-readable way.

Ilana Davis: Exactly, so like this information will tell Google that this is your product title, this is your price, this is your currency, so they don’t have to try to download all the information and automatically figure it out. So, you’re basically just saying, “Here.” It’s like a matching game, like when you play your old matching games when you were a kid. It’s like this matches up with this. That’s all this is.

Kurt Elster: And with it, I see that… All right, obviously there’s some advantage in the algorithm being able to consistently understand that like this is a product page, this is what that product is and what it costs, et cetera. Why do I want to go through the effort? Why do I want to do this?

Ilana Davis: Why do you want to have structured data on your page, you mean?

Kurt Elster: Yeah.

Ilana Davis: Yeah, so what happens is you have this information that is now shared with Google, and you can qualify at that point, because you can’t qualify without it, for what’s called rich results, and that’s basically allowing you to show your product reviews, your price range, the delivery cost, whether or not it’s in stock, your brand. All of this stuff shows up within the Google search result. So, next time you look at if you just search for a product and you see the review stars directly in the search result, that’s a rich result. That is from the structured data.

Kurt Elster: And I can use… My site may or may not have this in it, or it may… I think realistically, it probably has it, but because the standard has changed over time it may or may not have it correctly. Oftentimes, the issue we run into, and I actually had this happen to me this morning, was like the site had it, and this was a theme we’d built, too. And so, I knew we did it right, darn it, but it was several years ago, and so there were two pieces of info that were missing. And get this, it was for Facebook, not Google. Facebook also wants to pull in your catalog using this same structured data, and so Google and Facebook I guess could both read this data?

Ilana Davis: Yeah. Actually, a lot of different search engines can, and Facebook is now considered a search engine, so Bing, Pinterest, Google, Facebook, there’s talk now about Twitter offering this type of result within their feeds, as well, but they haven’t actually rolled anything out yet, so all of these search engines will use the structured data to help describe what’s on the page and then do something with it. They each require different fields. Google is the most in depth one that has the most requirements, but Facebook has their own. We’ve seen some folks that have been able to use JSON-LD for SEO to be able to share that data with Facebook, but it’s inconsistent and I think a lot of that is Facebook changing how they get the information. Honestly, it’s confusing why it works for some and not for others. But yeah, Facebook absolutely uses it also for their catalogs.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I think anyone who has tried to get their Shopify catalog into Facebook understands how infuriating that can be at times.

Ilana Davis: Yes.

Kurt Elster: It really… It shouldn’t be as hard as it is. I swear. Doable, but tough.

Ilana Davis: And I think it’s hard too because Facebook originally had the pixel, where it would autodetect that information on the page, and then they’ve since moved towards looking at the structured data, as well, so if you have a feed that’s going to Facebook and you still have the pixel, people end up getting duplicates and then it causes problems. So, it’s definitely one of those wonky things that Facebook has been slowly but surely enough rolling out. They’re just doing what Facebook does.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it’s a big ship. It’s hard to change direction.

Ilana Davis: It is. Absolutely. Yes. I do not wish to manage that one.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. So, going backwards, you were talking about… Well, talking about the structured data. You were also mentioning search enhancements. Run me through that again.

Ilana Davis: Search enhancements as a whole? So, there are different types of search enhancements that you can qualify for. There’s like a featured snippet that you would see at the top of Google. That’s different. That is a search enhancement, but you can’t actually control that with the information that’s on your site. That is just basically part of Google’s algorithm of what they show in that featured snippet spot. When we talk about search enhancements that you can control, that’s looking at the product information that I mentioned before with regards to reviews, and price, and availability.

You also have the knowledge panel where if you search for a company, on the righthand side of a search result you can see more information about the organization. That’s tied to Google My Business. We didn’t even talk about Google My Business. Oh my gosh. There’s also FAQs. There’s how-tos. There’s recipes, videos. There’s so many things that you can do to enhance the way that you look, the way that your search results appear in Google, that is often triggered and influenced by structured data. And you actually touched on this, Kurt, and I meant to talk about it. You said that themes often include this information already for you, but they don’t always include the information from Facebook, but they also don’t always include the information for Google, either.

So, Shopify does require product… What do they call it? Product Google rich snippets. But they don’t say what that means. And so, themes are only required to submit what is required by Google. That is a name and an offer. That’s it. So, oftentimes themes are missing a lot of information and you may qualify for some rich results but not all of them because they don’t include everything that they should, because they don’t know what they’re doing. And that’s not their fault. It’s a really technical SEO need that not everyone’s informed about.

Kurt Elster: You know, it’s interesting, so I searched men’s black t-shirt and I could see one of the… It pulled up articles and there’s a search enhancement that pops up under two of them that says, “Approximately $8 to $78.” It figured out and gave me the price range of the products listed in the page.

Ilana Davis: That’s like the best part that I think about rich results on a product, because when you have these rich results that are showing up, even if it’s just the price, people are already prequalified, so they know what it’s gonna cost if I was to come to your site. They know how many reviews there are. They know if it’s available. So, you’ve already given then some information that they need in order to make those buying decisions so that if they’re looking at your site, your search result compared to someone else’s who doesn’t have it, then they’re more likely to click on yours because they’re already getting information that they need. They don’t have to click in to learn more about it. They already have that information as part of the search result. It’s so cool.

Kurt Elster: It is. It is very cool. And it shows… It’s got the image. Many of these results show the image in there. I’ve seen it, this particular search it didn’t work, but I’ve seen it where it’ll have the review stars pop up in there, and the stock status, and so ultimately suddenly the Google search result looks like a collection page almost, or like a search results page on an eCommerce store if I happen to trigger the right keyword phrase here. And so, you’re right. To your point, not only should this improve my clickthrough rate significantly, because I’ve got this really big search listing now with all this great info that looks like product info. It should also be more qualified traffic because if the price is available to me, I can see the stock status, it’s really primed them that you are about to go to a product page, and this is what it costs.

Ilana Davis: Yeah. You know, so many people fight for rankings, and rankings are really hard because it’s a zero-sum game. Someone has to lose in order for someone else to win. But with rich results, you don’t have to be number one. You could be number five or number 10 and that’s fine because people scroll down when they’re looking for the products, but because you have this information that stands out in search result, you have a better chance of a clickthrough rate, so then that drives traffic to your site, and then they’re prequalified so they have a higher chance of getting to purchase and actually converting on your site, and then as more things happen, that in turn can affect rankings. But structured data itself does not impact your ranking and that’s fine because you don’t have to be number one in order to win in this game.

Kurt Elster: Rich results, I want to make sure I have this in my site because it is an easy SEO win. It’s also a necessity for proper product listing ads across, in both Google and Facebook, and so I assume this is gonna become a requirement in other ad networks, as well, as they grow and gain sophistication if they haven’t already.

Ilana Davis: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. More and more folks, more and more search engines specifically are starting to use this data. So, there’s really no harm in adding it. I shouldn’t say it that way. There can be harm in adding it if it’s not done properly, so if we can kind of go back, I don’t know if it’s all right, but if we can go back to the original question of like these emails that you get from Search Console, what happened?

Kurt Elster: Google Search Console crying wolf at me.

Ilana Davis: Yeah, and so sometimes Google is crying wolf. Sometimes it’s not very helpful and they tell you that you have these warnings or errors, but sometimes they’re legit, and something to be aware.

Kurt Elster: But how do I know the difference?

Ilana Davis: What’s that?

Kurt Elster: How do I know the difference?

Ilana Davis: Yeah, so Google’s emails that you get are typically gonna say you have a warning or an error. Errors are the ones that you should really pay attention to. If it literally says error, “error,” that means that pay attention. That’s the stuff you want to really focus on. An error means that Google will not read that set of information in the structured data at all and that action is required from you. So, when there’s an error on a particular field, Google will ignore that whole set. For example, if you have an error on your product’s price, then Google will ignore that product data entirely. You won’t qualify for search enhancements from that set.

If you see an error, you always want to look at it and make sure that you at least have one set of good data. So, when you see those, you want to click through those emails. Don’t just get the email and be like, “Oh my God, what do I do?” Click through it and actually see what’s going on because you don’t really want to have errors if possible. So, if you do, talk with your theme provider or your developer, or get an app to help you fix it.

The other one that you might see is warnings. Warnings are like a yellow light. It’s a heads up. So, if you have the information, can you add it? If not, okay, cool. Thanks. Move on with your day. Don’t stress about it. This is the one I think people get caught up on so many times because Google will always send you warnings. There’s always a problem with the site. And sometimes warnings are just that. They’re just a heads up, so don’t stress. So, an example of a warning that you can ignore, if you have reviews on a product, in the structured data you should only see aggregate rating that is being used. Not the review field. There are two different types of reviews which makes that even more frustrating when you talk about what the heck am I supposed to do with this information. So, there’s a review field and aggregate rating. Aggregate rating, good. Review field, bad.

So, review field doesn’t apply to Shopify products and that is one of those things where I feel like a broken record, because most people don’t believe me, but there used to be a type of rich result for a critic review. Google has since done away with that, and they’ve just rolled it into everything reviews. But that review field really is for a critic review. That’s when somebody writes an article about your product, for example. Think of it like Wirecutter, or an influencer that writes up an unbiased review, so they’ll review various products and then create a blog post on their website that explains their opinion of the product. That’s a critic review.

But that review field will trigger Search Console for a warning. Ignore it. Totally fine. It’s good. Because the search result will actually show up with like if Kurt was the one to do this, it would say Kurt’s name in there instead of an aggregate rating, and you want the aggregate rating. You want all of your reviews to show up in search results. Not the one review.

Kurt Elster: This one has also driven me nuts, like trying to get a straight answer on this, so I’m thrilled to hear it, that like, all right, aggregate rating is my source of truth here.

Ilana Davis: Yes. And a lot of people, like I said, they don’t believe me, but we’ve tested this. I have proof that shows people who have included this review field, you run the risk of Google showing it as a critic review and then there’s no way to choose. You don’t get to tell Google what type of rich result you want. It’s all up to their algorithm. So, the best thing is just not to include it and deal with the warning, because it’s fine. Warnings are totally fine.

Kurt Elster: I am… Man, this information is a relief, both that warnings are just warnings, and the aggregate rating versus reviews issue. All right, I think there’s one thing you touched on, but I want to make it explicitly clear here. If I have all the stuff, I’ve done everything right. I set up Google Analytics. I set up Google Search Console. And then I ran through, and I made sure, either I tested or implemented, and so I know with 100% certainty that my micro data, my rich snippet data, whatever we want to call it, is present and correct. There is still no guarantee that Google is going to use this stuff.

Ilana Davis: 100%. Yes. All we can do is provide the information to Google. What they do with that information is entirely up to the algorithm. So, you can influence it more by… which is the typical SEO advice, creating content. Add content to your pages. Make sure that you have your title and meta descriptions set up. Providing the on-site SEO that most people don’t know to do or think they’ve got it, that is the stuff that helps to influence the structured data, as well, because it’s not just I’ve got structured data and magically I’m gonna get rich results. It’s all up to the algorithm.

So, trying to look at it from a holistic view for SEO. It’s not just I’ve got this one piece. You always have to do the whole kind of picture of SEO.

Kurt Elster: Okay. So, I want every advantage I can get to give to the algorithm in the hope that the algorithm lays blessings upon me.

Ilana Davis: Exactly. Exactly.

Kurt Elster: But there’s no way to just force this thing.

Ilana Davis: No. I mean-

Kurt Elster: Okay.

Ilana Davis: If we could, then everyone would manipulate Google and then they would change up their algorithms anyways, so it probably wouldn’t matter. Because you have to remember people always try to game the system, and so Google has it set where you don’t actually know how the algorithm works. No one knows this. Anyone who tells you they can guarantee rankings, or they can guarantee anything with SEO, it’s snake oil. Call them on it. They’re lying to you. You can never guarantee anything.

Kurt Elster: But what about all these voicemails I get promising me number one in Google?

Ilana Davis: It’s horseshit, Kurt.

Kurt Elster: Oh, I see. Oh my gosh. Yeah. No, I like that rule of thumb. It’s like if it’s a guarantee, immediately run the other way.

Ilana Davis: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

Kurt Elster: And I understand the appeal of it, of like a guarantee, Oh, it’s very attractive. But either they don’t know what they’re talking about or they’re taking advantage of you. It’s one of the two.

Ilana Davis: Exactly. Yep.

Kurt Elster: So, coming to the end of our time together, there’s one thing I wanted to ask you about. I started to see delivery details on product search results. How do I get those?

Ilana Davis: Oh, I love this. This is a cool new thing. I mean, I don’t think it’s that new, but Google has been more prominent with it. So, if you’re using Merchant Center, there’s now a connection between Merchant Center and your structured data. Showing the delivery price directly in organic search results is this new enhancement that is available when you connect Merchant Center to your Shopify store, and what happens is that Merchant Center wants to validate the information that you’ve provided in your feed, so they check your product page and match what’s visually displayed on the page with your product page and the data feed, and then one part of that matching is checking the structured data for your price, availability, URL, and then product identifiers. So, if you have a SKU, MPN, and GTIN. For those who don’t know, MPN is the manufacturer’s part number, and GTIN is the global trade number. In Shopify, that’s the equivalent to a bar code, because they don’t actually use GTIN in there.

But part of that connection when they’re validating everything and making sure that your ads are good, now Merchant Center has information on shipping, so they will actually start to include the price that you charge for shipping directly in the search results. So, you might see now delivery free, or delivery $8.99 to $19.99, so they’re giving you even more information because you’ve connected Merchant Center to your Shopify store. So, it’s really cool.

And if you’ve ever received a disapproved ad for Merchant Center due to a price mismatch, it could be from your structured data and so you want… That’s one of the benefits of having structured data and connecting your store to Merchant Center is that they all talk, and that’s how you get your ads approved if they’re missing any information that they can’t validate off your page.

Kurt Elster: I love this. I just… I love these easy, all right, moderately easy technical advantages.

Ilana Davis: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: All right, so this one you may not know. Now we’re gonna move into conspiracy theory here. Many Shopify stores will notice that they have lots of abandoned carts from the same person who uses a Google phone number and email address, and it’s bizarre and frustrating, and the theory is that that’s the Google bot checking shipping rates or availability. Do you know anything about this?

Ilana Davis: I’ve heard it. I have heard this theory. I don’t… I mean, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I would tend to agree that that’s probably what it is. I mean, anytime you see a huge uptick in traffic to your site, like a big spike, it’s some bot of some sort, and so it’s the sort of the thing where I would just ignore it and just keep going about your day. Even if Google is using that to validate that information, what are you gonna do with that knowledge? Just keep moving on.

I think there’s a lot of folks that hone in on like, “Oh my gosh, something happened, and I have to figure out why.” Oh my gosh. I have so many things to do about my day, I can’t focus on this one spike. I just wouldn’t stress about it. But I have heard that theory, as well.

Kurt Elster: I think there’s a lot of advantage in asking yourself, “Why do I care? Should I care?” And then just going on with your day.

Ilana Davis: I think the problem is is like we’re all business owners. We all have so many things to do and it’s like I just can’t… You can go into a whole rabbit hole trying to figure out why you have a huge increase in traffic, or why there’s this one bot, or someone’s checking in and out of your store all the time. As long as people can still purchase from your site, they can still get to your site from Google, I just wouldn’t stress about it. Don’t spend too much time on something that you can’t control.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I mean, just think about it like it’s… If you had a physical retail store, every so often just bizarre humans, weirdos as we like to be called, will wander their way into your store. And when I’m wandering around in public, in my head I’m just going, “Don’t be weird. Don’t be weird. Don’t be weird. Don’t be weird.” And then I inevitably be weird. That’s probably how I view a lot of the individual shenanigans that you notice in stores between customers and bots. As long as it isn’t explicitly malicious, which almost always it’s not, and is not affecting anyone, who cares? Let Shopify worry about it.

Ilana Davis: Exactly. I just don’t think it’s worth your time. And to your point of like an actual brick-and-mortar store, if someone came to your store and was acting like Kurt and they were being crazy, then you just kind of give them a side eye and you wait till they leave and then you go about your day. You don’t sit here and think about that person over and over and over again. You go about your day. And I think it’s the same thing with online.

Kurt Elster: Absolutely. So, you have a generous offer for us.

Ilana Davis: I do. Yeah. I was like, “Do I?” Yes, I do. We talked a lot about structured data today and I get that it is technical, and half the time people are like, “What the hell are you talking about?” So, I wanted to offer that if you’re not sure if your structured data is good or if you want someone to take a look at it, I offer a free structured data audit. You can email me at support at and I’m happy to take a look and see if maybe the app could help, or maybe you’re good and you don’t have to worry about it. You could ignore whatever your issues are.

Kurt Elster: I love it. Very generous of you and I will include that info in the show notes. Ilana Davis, where can people go to learn more about you?

Ilana Davis: So, I’m on Twitter sort of. You could find me @ilanadavis, but I also host the Portland Shopify Meetup, so you can always check me out there. That’s probably the two most common places you’ll find me.

Kurt Elster: A PDX Shopify Meetup.

Ilana Davis: Yes.

Kurt Elster: And that’s on… Oh, I found the landing page for it. Okay. I will stick that in the show notes, as well.

Ilana Davis: And it says Portland but it’s all virtual right now, so everyone’s welcome.

Kurt Elster: All right. I love it. Ilana, thank you so much. I appreciate it. This has been great.

Ilana Davis: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

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