When the SEO spam scare tactic backfires against a Shopify SEO app

As part of JSON-LD for SEO I’m privy to a lot of questionable SEO “advice”. Part of having happy customers is that they trust what I say and will forward me questionable advice other Shopify SEO apps and consultants give them.

Some of the advice is so bad that I get upset for the customer and all the other stores who’ve followed that bad advice and were harmed by it.

Other times the logic is so bad I can’t help but laugh and poke holes in it. Like this “claim”:

Having multiple copies of structured data will cause Google to read it as spam.

At first that sounds like some expert advice. Something that sounds similar to other advice from Google about content duplication and spam.

But here’s the catch…

Every single Shopify theme comes with structured data by default.

It’s limited.

It probably won’t get any results.

But it’s there.

It was actually required by Shopify a couple of years back and themes would be rejected from the Theme Store if they didn’t have any structured data.

So when this Shopify SEO app is installed and adds their own structured data… by their own claim, they are causing every Shopify store to be considered as spam.

Whoops. face-palm.gif

If a Vulcan read that, they’d conclude either:

  1. their SEO app is causing spam and is harmful to install or
  2. their claim about duplicate copies of structured data is false

Now if that SEO app did their research like I did years ago, they’d see that Google doesn’t care about multiple sets of structured data at all. All they want is one good set to use and they ignore the rest.

I’ve personally looked at thousands of Shopify stores as part of the by-hand monitoring in JSON-LD for SEO Plus+. I’ve seen nearly every one of stores accumulate Rich Results that have a several sets of duplicate structured data on every page (bad theme coding). Didn’t hurt them one bit because JSON-LD for SEO’s data was so good that Google was ignoring the bad sets.

Doing the research that other app would also learn that getting flagged for spam in the structured data is really hard and only happens with very egregious errors (e.g. fake review, invisible content, keyword stuffing).

I’ve seen structured data get marked as spam four times over the years:

  • two were combining product reviews with fake reviews,
  • one had invisible keyword stuffed content,
  • and one inflated the review numbers in the structured data (due to a bug in that app who made this claim, amusingly).

But I guess it’s easier to use the scare tactic of calling something spam than doing the hard work of researching and educating your customers.

At least until the scare tactic bites backs and the app gets caught in the lie.

For me, I’d rather take the harder path of educating customers on what’s actually happening so they can be focused on the results. It takes longer and more work on my part but that’s why JSON-LD for SEO has such a high success rate over other structured data apps. It’s not just some code someone slapped together and started selling.

Eric Davis

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