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In Google Webmaster Tools you are able to set structured data on your product pages. How does this differ to providing a Google Merchant feed?

It looks like you can provide a lot more information via the feed (including EAN numbers and variants) but is there any way to quantify the difference from an SEO point of view?

I also assume that the structured data requires Google to crawl the site rather than pushing the feed which means it's more up to date (useful for sales etc)

Anything else?

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The the context of the Google Shopping product, Google states

"We currently support microdata for price and availability information."

Therefore it's a much limited sub-set of structured data compared to what you can provide with a feed.

In terms of the difference from an SEO point of view, the more structured data you can provide, the better the results are likely to be understood and shown. However, you'd have to do a direct comparison (with/without) to measure the impact as it relates to your own product type/offering.

Your assumption about the requirement for Google to crawl the site to obtain the data is also true (from same reference):

"Google’s crawler needs to be able to retrieve accurate information from your website in order to match it to the product data that you submit to Google Shopping."

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