We are big fans of Google Search Console — and you should be too! It’s an essential tool to keep your site working properly and find opportunities to get better results from the SERPs. But, one thing Google Search Console also does, is send you emails when they encounter an issue. And those error messages can get somewhat cryptic.
Search Console emails about structured data issues
Structured data has been a big deal for a while now. With structured data, you can describe your content so that search engines understand it instantly. Of course, there’s a big if — your code has to be correct and valid for search engines to grasp it fully.
There are three things at play here. For one, you need to provide the required structured data to get a chance for Google understanding the content. Doing this gives you a good shot at getting a rich result for that piece of content.
Second, you might need to provide as many of the recommended properties to get the full rich result. For instance, if you have reviews on your site, it’s a good idea to mark these up with everything that makes sense for your page. Required is stuff like the author’s name and the item reviewed, while the publishing date is recommended. Leaving that last one out might not make your review rich results as full-formed as others.
Third, this goes without saying, but you have to fix any error that pops up or else you want receive those shiny rich results!
Search Console is an essential tool to monitor the technical implementation of your structured data. If you’ve signed up, Google can send you emails when something is wrong.
A lot of emails
Add your site to Search Console, and you’ll automatically let Google keep an eye on it. Google will send you an email to let you know of the problem it encountered. This might be anything, from URLs that became unavailable to advise on migrating to HTTPS or from mobile usability issues to recommendations to improve your structured data.
Generally, it’s awesome that Google notifies site owners and managers of issues that might have a big effect on a site’s performance. Unfortunately, the messaging is not always that clear. The solutions they ask for are sometimes cryptic and unintelligible for the ‘regular’ user. Case in point, even we were startled by an email about something called
! Nobody has ever heard of something called
Of course, this is an extreme example, but most of the time, the emails hardly give you a clue on the importance and where to fix what. Most of the time, it’s a ‘We found an issue, please fix it’ type of deal. That’s not helpful, and it might even scare people with a bit less knowledge about (technical) SEO. In addition, it might take away the people’s focus! Often, it’s better to simply improve your site than obsess over messages from Search Console — these are usually peanuts compared to the other work you can do.
This post will go over an example of a recent structured data email that Search Console sent. In this case, we’ve provided solutions to the problems Google found in the structured data of this particular site. For this, we are using the WooCommerce SEO plugin.
An interesting example of missing product structured data
Online stores should do everything they can to get their
structured data in order. If not, this might hurt your performance — not only in the regular search results but also in Google Shopping.
So, whenever you see an email like the one below appear in your mailbox, you know it’s time to get to work. The email below shows which product properties Google missed on your page(s). In this case,
. The posting also misses a global identifier for the product, like an article number.
How to fix missing field ‘availability’
Rich results for products come with many properties, and one of the most interesting ones is availability. This tells Google if your product is in stock, out of stock, or even on backorder from the factory. Adding this makes your product listing more attractive in the SERPs and helps customers see immediately if you have your product in store.
Does your online store run on WooCommerce? Then you’re in luck because these errors are a quick fix with the WooCommerce SEO add-on for Yoast SEO. WooCommerce SEO, by default, adds loads of product structured data. To fix your availability, open a product and go to the inventory section. From there, make sure that you’ve selected the proper availability of the article.
How to fix missing field ‘priceValidUntil’
message has something to do with sales or temporary price drops. With this field, you can add a date to your sale that signals Google when the sale ends and the regular price will show up again.
This is an easy fix with our WooCommerce SEO add-on. You only have to configure the sale price and the duration of your products’ sale in the General tab of the WooCommerce meta box. Then, the WooCommerce SEO plugin will automatically add the correct structured data to your product and fix the missing field
How to fix missing fields ‘sku’
Every product should have a stock-keeping unit attached to it. A what? An SKU is a number that identifies a product, making it easier to discover amongst all those other products. If you get a message from Google Search Console asking you to fix the missing field ‘sku’, then you are happy to hear that this is an easy fix with WooCommerce SEO. Open a product, click on Inventory and enter an SKU in the field at the top. All done!
We have an article explaining how to fix the missing fields
How to fix missing field ‘brand’
Again, WooCommerce SEO helps you set this up. In the regular Yoast SEO settings, go to WooCommerce SEO and find the Schema.org and OpenGraph settings. Here, you can set up the types for the manufacturer, brand, and colors. Don’t forget to save the changes once you are done!
How to fix Either ‘offers’, ‘review’ or ‘aggregateRating’ should be specified
This one is not in the email mentioned early, but another one that pops up often is the message Either
should be specified. A message like this is all about the basics of product structured data on your site. Without these properties, Google has trouble finding your products and using the data to produce rich results for your product.
While WooCommerce should output these by default, our WooCommerce SEO offers much better integration of all the different product structured data properties. Also, it makes sure that your product structured data ties in neatly with the structured data Yoast SEO generates for your site. By doing this, Google has a much bigger chance of understanding your content, site, and products.
Here’s how to fix these two issues:
Fixed the errors? Don’t forget to Validate Fix in Google Search Console
After you’ve fixed the errors or enhanced your structured data implementation with recommended properties, you can validate these as fixed in Google Search Console. This way, Google will know that you did the work and check if that is really the case. If so, the error will stay away and you might get an email like the one below:
Google Search Console sends out many emails, and it might be a bit scary to see one with an error message appear in your mailbox. Whatever you do, don’t panic. You are often alerted to a possible improvement to make — instead of an error on your site. Read the email carefully and try to find out if the message makes sense — and what you can do about it.