Reflecting on the rapid recent changes in structured data for Shopify stores

What a crazy time for structured data.

With all the structured data algorithm changes Google’s made over the last year, my stance around data quality is starting to firm up.

If you don’t have a high-quality structured data app like JSON-LD for SEO and you haven’t hand-coded your structured data in the last month or so, you’re falling behind.

Every day now I’m hearing about Shopify stores who were relying on their theme or another app for structured data get hit an algorithm update. Either out-dated data, missing data, or plain old software bugs have caused their structured data to lose Rich Results.

Search Console is making it much more visible now too. They still have a ton of bugs with their parser (code that reads the data), but now Google is marking more and more data as outdated and emailing the website owner about it. If only they’d fix a couple of major bugs and user-interface issues, they could have another powerful structured data tool.

But back in Shopify-land, themes just flat-out aren’t keeping up with Google’s changes. Some are still using structured data formats that where phased out back in 2011 that Google doesn’t even read anymore.

Even with newer themes, unless they are putting out monthly updates to your store their structured data is starting to fall behind.

It makes sense too. Structured data is a deep and specialized piece of SEO technology and it’s difficult enough to find SEO experts who understand it. Expecting every theme developer to understand it and be able to code it might be asking too much.

(Though in my opinion, developers would be better off not coding any structured data into their themes at all. Broken and out-dated data can cause more headaches than missing the data these days)

A couple of years ago when I evaluated a store, often there were stores who had a theme with good enough structured data. It wasn’t great data but would be functional enough for them to win Rich Results.

Nowadays, just about everyone’s theme is lacking.

And don’t even get me started on the other structured data apps. Some have bad enough data that I’ve been tempted to start my own bug database just to keep track of all the ways they’ve broken stores. From crashing high traffic stores to misrepresenting products, all the way to Google penalties, it’s crazy out there.

It’s easy to yell and blame Google for all of this, but really many of these updates are just enforcing the guidelines they’ve had for years. That’s why JSON-LD for SEO’s data hasn’t fundamentally changed in over a year. I’ve added new formats and integrations, but the core data has been rock solid.

Google still has bugs and Search Console still acts like a toddler on a sugar-high with its warnings but they are both (slowly) getting better.

Enough of that rant… at least for now.

I can tell you why you should buy JSON-LD for SEO for your Shopify store, but if you’ve read above it’s pretty clear. If you care about SEO traffic, you’re going to want to use it.

Eric Davis

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