Getting more traffic is an ever-present concern for Shopify stores. It makes sense too. The more traffic, the more customers. The more customers, the more profit. The more profit, the more business growth. Unfortunately getting that traffic inexpensively can be difficult.
Instead of the struggle of finding free traffic, imagine if Google would send you more traffic and better quality traffic. People who have been primed to buy the exact products from your store. Now imagine if this was done completely above-the-board and actually recommended by Google themselves. That would be pretty awesome, right?
Google has a program called Rich Snippets. Rich Snippets are a collection of search enhancements for your search results. You've probably already seen them but didn't realize what they were.
For Shopify stores, the Product format is the most important thing. Shown above you can see there's a ton of valuable data added to the search results.
Rich Snippets are an enhancement to your existing listing so you effectively get more space in the search results.
Quickly compare the example above. You can see how basic the first result looks when compared to the rest of them. The fourth result takes up almost twice as much visual space as the first.
A major benefit of Rich Snippets is the improvement to click-through rates, where more searchers are clicking through to your website. This works because you're taking up more space in the search results which makes your store's product more visible. Even though your ranking doesn't change at all.
Visibility is especially improved if you can get the product reviews shown because of the orange stars that are added. More visibility means more clicks. More clicks mean more traffic.
The other benefit is that the traffic you do attract is going to be more qualified and primed to buy.
With Rich Product Snippets, it's very clear that your site is a store because of the product price and details as listed. So you won't get someone who is just window shopping or in the early information-gathering stage of the buying cycle.
They've also been able to compare your price to any competitors right in the search results. So you'll get people who have already done their price comparisons and have decided to buy from you.
Finally, if you have product reviews they'll get a nice dose of social proof right in the search results. If 101 people have reviewed your product at 4.5 stars, they're going into it knowing that it's good.
All of these happen in a split-second while they decide which search result to click. By the time they've reached your site, they are getting their wallet out and are looking for your Add to Cart button.
Getting into Google's Rich Snippets program takes a little bit of work and a lot of waiting. It's a pretty simple process though.
Other than waiting on Google, all you really have to do is add the structured data to your store.
Structured Data is just a term for data that is organized into specific formats so a computer can read it.
A postal address is an easy metaphor. It follows a specific format with each part of the address located in a specific, known area.
Structured Data can take many forms though, which is why it's commonly confusing.
It could be formatted as microdata, RDFa, or JSON-LD. Each of those could use the old data-vocabulary or the Schema.org vocabulary. Then once you have the format and vocabulary decided you get to pick from dozens of data types, each with potential dozens of fields.
It got confusing and complex pretty quickly, right?
The nice thing about Shopify Themes is that they come with a bit of structured data by default. This means your store might be ready to go already.
Unfortunately, the majority of themes I've seen have broken, invalid, or incomplete structured data. This means you'd have to fix your theme which could become expensive and time-consuming.
An alternative is to use a Shopify app like my JSON-LD for SEO.
Since Google allows a site to have multiple sets of structured data, an app could add a complete set of data which overrides any broken data from a theme.
The net result is that your store gets its structured data without having to mess with theme development and Google can start to enroll you in Rich Snippets.
Also since apps are separated from your theme, whenever you switch themes you'll automatically get the app's structured data again. That saves you from having to re-fix your new theme.
If you don't want to fix your theme or buy an app, you can setup your structured data yourself. It will require a bit of research and some development time.
I could see a moderately skilled web developer spending 3-5 hours learning about structured data and adding it to their Shopify Store.
If you do go that route, here's some quick tips that could save you an hour or two.
The sooner you start adding your structured data, the sooner you can get these search enhancements. Even once you've created it, Google could take weeks or months before they fully enroll you in Rich Snippets. So get these setup for your Shopify store now while you can.