You probably already know that SEO is the key to digital success. But are you doing enough?
Right now, more and more businesses are shifting online. And that means the competition to get to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) is becoming increasingly fierce. If you want your website to be visible – and remain visible – you may need to take your SEO efforts to the next level.
That means exploring some advanced, but perfectly legitimate SEO techniques that can help you stand out from the crowd. And Schema markup is one of the most effective methods to try out.
Google has one ultimate goal: to provide the best possible results for its users. And so it’s only natural that it will want to prioritise those websites that are most relevant to the user, giving them a higher ranking in the SERPS. Previously, keywords have been responsible for the bulk of the work, with algorithms simply matching content keywords to the terms used in search queries.
But keywords have a problem: not every word that’s spelt the same means the same thing.
Imagine a user is searching for ‘Avatar’. Are they interested in profile pictures, or the movie? From keywords alone, Google doesn’t know. So now, search engines want to go further; they want to understand the meaning and context of online content, not just the words used within that content.
But how does an algorithm understand?
While technology is smarter than ever before, at the end of the day it’s still tech. It can’t understand content in the same way humans can. But that doesn’t mean it can’t understand at all. It can – it just understands things in a different way
And schema markup is how it does it.
Schema markup is a way of changing the code on your website to provide Google and other schema-using search engines with information about your content in a different way. Instead of delivering content to search engines as is – and having algorithms trying to analyse the content and figure out what it all means – schema markup uses structured data. This means it delivers information in a way that search engines can instantly understand and use for ranking purposes.
Imagine you’re a business selling coffee beans. In your product description, you may mention things like country of origin, weight of the bag, name of the product, flavour, and so on. While this may be easy for humans to read, the information is too scattered on the page for Google to make much sense out of it. By organising this information, however, Google can easily see what’s going on.
Ultimately, what schema markup does is help to make your web pages more visible in the SERPs, which may result in more traffic. Schema markup can boost SERPs visibility in three distinct ways:
When search engines understand more of what your web pages are about, they’re able to deliver more opportunities for ranking, and more opportunities to feature in results for relevant searches. For example, you may have content talking about an upcoming event that you’re holding. If Google knows more about that event – for example, that it’s a webinar – it will create more opportunities for your page to rank for user searches relating to webinars, or to other forms of online events.
Have you ever carried out a search on Google and noticed a box pop up on the right-hand side of the results? That’s the Google knowledge graph, and it displays deeper information than metadata. For example, if you search for ‘Freestyle Internet’ on Google, you can see a short summary of what we do, and learn that we’re a ‘website designer in Bedford, England’, without having to visit our site. This means that people who do click through are already confident we can help solve their problems.
Rich snippets are a Google feature that, like the Google knowledge graph, provides more information than metadata typically delivers. Google draws this information from structured data. Unlike the knowledge graph, rich snippets are housed within the results themselves – sometimes even above paid ads. But even when they’re lower down the list, they’re still more visually appealing and prominent than organic results, helping them stand out and encouraging users to click through.
So… does schema markup really deliver an SEO boost?
According to Google, yes!
Google reports that Rotten Tomatoes saw a 25% higher clickthrough rate after adding structured data to 100,000 web pages. Visitors to Rakuten’s website spend 1.5x longer on pages with structured data. And Nestle’s rich snippets are clicked 82% more than its standard links in search results.
I know, I know. I’m supposed to be talking about taking your SEO to the next level. But personally, I think schema markup can do much more than that. I think that, when used in the best possible way, it can also help to provide visitors with better, more satisfactory on-site experiences.
Using structured data means that businesses are forced to think about the information they’re adding to their sites. And this can help to improve data consistency for better user experiences.
Can you honestly say that you’re providing consistent information for all your products/services?
Imagine you’re after a new coat, and you visit a clothing website. You’ve found a few you like, and want to compare them. But while some of them list material, others don’t. While some list the country of manufacture, others don’t. It makes it difficult to compare, and so you’re reluctant to purchase.
Maybe you’ve got a collection of recipes. Some show calorie count and others don’t. Some show overall preparation and cooking times, while others just show cooking times alone. It creates a disjointed experience for visitors, who may decide to visit a more consistent, trustworthy site.
To use schema markup, you’ll need to add schema.org code to your HTML.
In a way, this is good. It means you won’t need to learn any new coding skills as you’ll still be using HTML. The only real difference is that you’ll need to add some schema.org vocabulary to your code.
On the other hand, it’s tricky. Especially if you don’t really understand HTML or schema.org vocabulary. And honestly, schema.org vocabulary is something not even the experts can fully get to grips with. A recent report by Schema App shows that 24% of people who literally do schema markup for a living often have trouble understanding the vocabulary. That’s why you may not want to try this alone!
Luckily, I’m here to help. Get in touch with Freestyle Internet to take your SEO to the next level.