Understanding the Magic Behind Google’s “Price Drop” Rich Result for eCommerce SEO

By Brodie Clark

April 29, 2021
google price drop ecommerce page example feature

2021 has brought with it some fascinating Google SERP features. Last month, I found that Google was testing a new mobile display for eCommerce category pages. This test had a lot of layers to it, and it took me some time to figure how it operated.

Another feature that I’ve been tracking closely also relates to eCommerce sites. But instead of the focus being on category pages, the feature relates to product pages when Structured Data is in use. This is another SERP feature that feels like it has an element of “magic” to it.

I first discovered the feature from seeing Google update their documentation in January, earlier this year. The new addition to the doc also being covered by Search Engine Journal, with the introduction of a rich result related to a “price drop” feature for product pages.

The new details added to Google’s Product markup doc included:

Price drop: Help people understand the lowest price for your product. Based on the running historical average of your product's pricing, Google automatically calculates the price drop. The price drop appearance is available in English in the US, on both desktop and mobile.

To be eligible for the price drop appearance, add an Offer to your Product structured data. The price must be a specific price, not a range (for example, it can't be $50.99 to $99.99).

So in summary, exposure for the feature is currently limited, and sites can only be eligible through using Offer. In Google’s documentation, they gave a nice hint at what the feature looks like, showing a standard product page review snippet with the snippet using the words “typically”, along with an additional figure.

I set out to investigate this feature in more detail, and had some interesting findings along the way for how the rich result operates for product pages that I’d like to share.

“Price Drop” Snippet Variations for Product Pages

As a starting point, I found there to be two different variations of the price drop snippet extension. The first being the standard “typically” text associated with the snippet, and the other being for “avg.”

Each of the variations have the price drop feature in the same spot, located right beside the price of the product extracted from Structured Data. Here’s what each of the variations look like beside each other:

Google’s variations for the “price drop” product page rich result on mobile.

For the “typically” variation, this is showing the price that the product is normally. For the “avg.” variation, this could be interpreted as the average price of the product over a period of time (more in-line with the definition from the documentation), but through my testing, I suspect that both variations are actually using the same measurement technique.

For each of the examples shown above (Bed Bath & Beyond and Target), both of the product pages are using ‘Offer’ within the Structured Data for Google to automatically add the snippet variations. But an element of great influence in its own right is the search query itself.

Query-Dependent vs. Standalone Rich Results

The influence of a query on a search result, along with other factors (such as the page you’re ranking on), can often be determining factors for how your search result appears.

Google’s FAQ rich results went from primarily being a standalone rich result, to one that was more weighted in the direction of being query-dependent more recently. For the price drop rich result, the feature can be heavily query-dependent.

A good way of testing which type of rich result you’re dealing with is by using the “site” search operator, which removes the query from the equation. As an example, here’s a comparison of another page in the US that has the price drop rich result.

Showing how a query be an influential factor for the price drop rich result.

So if you were going to try to troubleshoot why your page doesn’t have the price drop rich result enabled, be sure try out different queries. It could be that Google is just instead displaying it for a specific query, or through no query being used with the “site” search operator.

Side note: from a resource standpoint, it makes sense that Google doesn’t try to deliver all rich result elements at all times. There needs to be limits in place, otherwise the search engine could be working overtime unnecessarily, in cases where not many users get the full on-SERP experience.

This then brings me to the more technical specifications for the feature. To be clear, this feature isn’t guaranteed to show for pages and it’s up to Google’s discretion as to whether it shows at all. But if you do want to opt-in, here’s what you need to have in place:

Opting In For “Price Drop” Rich Result Eligibility

As Google’s documentation states, an Offer needs to be added to the Structured Data for the page to be eligible for the price drop rich result. Each of the page examples within this post are utilising Offer within the Structured Data.

Looking at the example used in the feature image for this post, we can see that an Offer has been added for the price of $399.99 USD (which looks to have been rounded up to $400 by Google, how nice of them).

Structured Data for a page with the “price drop” rich result, using the ‘Offer’ field.

This is where the function of the price drop rich result can become confusing. It isn’t the site owner that is specifying this in the Structured Data. It is actually Google stepping in and adding what their historical records about the page have been for the price, based on what the price typically is and the average.

So for the product page used by Best Buy, the price is typically $576, which is ~$176 higher than the new price on the page. What a bargain! Interestingly, I’m unable to find the $576 price that Google is referencing for the page. In Wayback Machine, the price looks to have been $599.99 for some time now.

For pages that want to opt-in to this feature, as stated by Google in their documentation, you can’t be using price ranges within your Structured Data. While Walmart was an example of a site which was yielding the price drop rich result for some product pages in my research, they also have other product pages which wouldn’t be eligible, considering they’re using ranges.

Product page using a range within the Structured Data, specified through using a lowPrice and highPrice.

Overall, it’s really in Google’s hands as to whether your page starts receiving the price drop rich result. If you’re based in the US, you can make sure that your product pages are utilising Offer with their Structured Data correctly, but that’s essentially it based on my research.

And I wouldn’t recommend going ahead and blindly updating your product page pricing strategy just for this feature. There is often good reasoning behind product ranges being used, such as there being the ability to filter among different product options on a single product page URL.

Findings Summary

Through analysing many queries and product pages in the US, there were some interesting findings for Google’s price drop rich result. Here’s a summary of the key takeaways that I found during my research.

  • There are different variations that can show for product pages, outside of the standard “typically” addition to a product page rich result. I was able to locate the “avg.” variation, but I’m sure there’s others that Google may test in the not-too-distant future.
  • The price drop rich result can be highly query-dependent. This means that the rich result can display for some queries, but not for others. I also have a suspicion that the feature will only be enabled on the first page of Google (like FAQ and How-to rich results), but I’d need to do more testing to be sure.
  • To opt-in to be eligible for the price drop rich result, as Google’s documentation states, the page needs to be using Offer within the Structured Data. You must also avoid using a price range, as this will prevent the rich results from appearing – this can however be unavoidable for some products.
  • The feature is reasonably rare to come across within US search results (doesn’t just suddenly appear if the price is lowered and Offer is in use). It is really up to Google’s algorithmic discretion as to whether the rich result is enabled, and I suspect there are quite a few inputs that come into play for this decision-making.

Overall, I think this is a fascinating feature of Google Search that I haven’t seen before in this capacity. Google is making some significant advances for product results in the eCommerce space lately, which I will be keeping a close eye on.

If you see any other examples of the price drop rich result in the wild, and you either have a question or think something was missing from this post, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter.

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