On October 17, 2023, Google released the Vehicle Listing Structured Data. Users that implement Vehicle Listing structured data on their site will be eligible for the Vehicle Listing rich result. The Vehicle Listing rich result will be shown when buyers are searching for vehicles for sale nearby on both desktop and mobile.
Available only to verified car dealerships in the US or US territories, the new Vehicle Listing rich result allows car dealerships to display the vehicle inventory they have for sale on various Google surfaces such as Google Search and the dealership’s Google Business Profiles. People can also search, filter and easily access information about the vehicle’s availability, pricing, mileage and other key information.
The Vehicle Listing rich result is a great way for car dealerships to stand out in search and shorten the buyer journey. Pages with rich results typically see a higher click-through rate on the site.
In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of implementing the new Vehicle Listing rich result through structured data compared to using a file feed and share how this announcement is an exciting followup to the overall Search update on structured data earlier this month.
How to achieve the Vehicle Listing rich result
Unlike most rich results that solely rely on structured data, the Vehicle Listing rich result can be achieved through two methods.
1. Adding Car structured data to your Vehicle Listing page.
As with any rich result on Google, you must markup your vehicle listing page with the required structured data properties and are encouraged to also markup the recommended structured data properties listed on the structured data feature guide.
It is, however, important to note that you can only markup content that is visible on your vehicle listing page.
For example, if you do not have any pricing information on your vehicle listing page, you cannot add the offers.price property to your markup. Doing so will make your listing page ineligible for the rich result.
2. Uploading a vehicle listings file feed to Google’s vehicle listings partner portal.
You can upload your vehicle listing feed file to Google’s vehicle listings partner portal in CSV format to achieve a rich result.
Your feed file should contain the list of vehicles you want to show on Google as well as the required attributes about each vehicle listed in the Feed specification.
Some of the attributes in the Feed specification are optional. However, providing Google with more information will help improve their understanding of your listings to better match the searcher’s query.
Pros and Cons of Both Methods
If implemented properly, both methods should make your vehicle listing pages eligible for the Vehicle Listing rich result. However, there are pros and cons to each method.
Pros and Cons of adding Car structured data to the vehicle listing page
Pro: Easy to implement and maintain structured data markup on your website.
Similar to the file feed, structured data is a data feed about the content on your website.
If you use a tool like the Schema App Highlighter, you can implement structured data to your vehicle listings page at scale. Your structured data will also automatically update whenever the content on your page changes. This is important because you’ll want to avoid schema drift and make sure the rich result is always showing the latest information like availability and pricing.
Con: It could take longer for Google to detect changes on your website.
Unlike the uploaded feed file method, you’ll have to wait for Google to re-index your page before it can register any updates to your structured data. At Schema App, we advise our customers to re-index their pages right after making any structured data updates to their pages so that Google can detect the changes quickly.
Con: No 1:1 support from Google.
Similar to other rich results, Google will have an enhancement report on Search Console for the Vehicle Listing rich result. The enhancement report will show any errors or invalid items for your vehicle listing rich results. But you’ll need to figure out what is causing these errors and rectify them yourself.
If you are using Schema App’s end-to-end Schema Markup solution, you’ll receive support from our customer success team whenever any structured data errors appear. Even if you don’t get the 1:1 support from Google, you can still get support from our team.
Pros and Cons of Uploading a vehicle listings file feed to Google’s vehicle listings partner portal
Pro: All inventory data in feed files is recognized by Google.
However, you need to ensure your vehicle data conforms to the feed specification and Google’s policies and restrictions.
Pro: 1:1 support is available to address any issues with feed uploads at the vehicle listings partner portal.
This means that Google will provide your team with support through the vehicle listings partner portal. After you’ve submitted your vehicle listing file feed, you can also look at the Diagnostics page to see the full list of issues.
Pro: Feeds support more detailed properties for vehicle inventory.
The file feed method will allow dealerships to include more information than the structured data method and some of the additional information can also be shown in the rich results on Google.
For example, information about the vehicle’s installed options and packages, fuel efficiency, legal disclaimer and vehicle history report link are additional information you can add through your file feed to further enhance your Vehicle Listing rich result.
Information about the vehicle’s EV range, CO2 emissions, fulfillment options, and link to the Monroney sticker are additional information you can add through your file feed to provide more context to Google about your product. This information will not be shown on Google.
Con: Maintaining the feed files can be challenging and time-consuming.
Google recommends dealerships upload the latest versions of their feed files every four hours to preserve the data freshness and to detect outages faster. If done manually, this process can be incredibly tedious and time-consuming. It is also yet another data platform that you’ll need to maintain, on top of having to maintain the information on your website.
That said, you can use both methods at the same time to provide Google with as much information about your vehicle listing pages. However, you’ll need to ensure the data is consistent across both the structured data on your site and the vehicle listings file feed. Otherwise, the information on the file feed would override the information on the structured data, even if the information on your structured data is accurate.
Adding structured data to your vehicle listing page is probably the easiest way for your car dealership to be eligible for these rich results, especially if you’re already adding structured data to your pages.
Structured data is not obsolete
This year, Google stopped using structured data for How-To rich results and changed the eligibility for the FAQ rich results to only be shown for well-known authoritative government and health sites. Many SEOs started to ask if there was value beyond rich results.
The answer is YES! Structured data provides you with the ability to help generative AI search engines understand and contextualize the content on your page and develop your knowledge graph.
The Vehicle Listing rich result is the first new rich result they’ve introduced awhile, albeit it is restricted only to US dealerships for now. This tells us that structured data isn’t obsolete and Google is still giving content publishers control over the information provided to their search engines.
As Mueller reiterated in his update, structured data (also known as Schema Markup) is a machine-readable code that you can add to your web pages which search engines can use to better understand the content.
Therefore, you should implement structured data primarily to help search engines clearly understand the content on your site and consider rich results an added value. That way, search engines can provide users accurate answers to queries like ‘How much does an Audi A6 cost’ and ‘white Toyota Camry for sale’ to drive more qualified traffic to your site.
Finally, Mueller concluded the section on structured data by recommending SEOs to use a solution that allows you to easily implement and manage the structured data on your site to save you time. This is exceptionally important for dealerships who want to maintain the accuracy of their structured data at all times. The last thing you’d want is for a potential customer to enquire about their dream car on your vehicle listing only to find out that the car is no longer available.
If you are a US-based car dealership looking to implement structured data on your site, we can help!
At Schema App, we help organizations leverage Schema Markup to inform search engines, achieve rich results and develop a reusable marketing knowledge graph. We implement and manage your Schema Markup programmatically through our semantic technology platform and high-touch support.
Get in touch with us today to learn more!
Martha van Berkel is the co-founder and CEO of Schema App, an end-to-end Schema Markup solution provider based in Guelph, Ontario. She focuses on helping SEO teams globally understand the value of Schema Markup and how they can leverage Schema Markup to boost their SEO strategy and drive results.
Prior to Schema App, Martha was a Senior Manager at Cisco Systems for 14 years responsible for the global online support strategy. She has a degree in Applied Mathematics and Engineering, attended MIT for Innovation and Strategy, is a Mom of two, as well as an avid rower.