Have you noticed more and more information being presented in Google’s search results recently?
Pages of search engine results are showing extra snippets of data about searched topics. Some of this data is displayed in a Knowledge Graph box on the top or to the right of results, and some is directly below each listing.
The days of big data are here, and the information is booming. Search engines are attempting to deliver a signal from the noise to make your potential clients’ or customers’ lives easier.
Helping their cause can only boost your bottom line. Even though there’s a proven propensity for searchers to select the highest-ranking results, all of that can be thrown off by shiny objects extra features in search results.
New Features Debuted from Structured Data Markup
Last week, Search Engine Land covered the advent of Structured Snippets going live in search results. They look a little something like this:
Structured data has been the talk of the SEO town recently, allowing savvy websites to trigger extra info to show up in their search results.
Scratching your head? Structured data is simply another way to say “relevant information.” When people refer to structured data, they are probably discussing certain pieces of code that blatantly identify what various pieces of information on your site are for search engines.
Think of them as instructions for which information to display based on search context.
The Lowdown on Serving Up Structured Data
Structured snippets, rich snippets, knowledge graph results – they are generated when Google recognizes that elements on your page are members of a popular genre of information on a product. They point out the classes of information that are the most relevant and important factors for users typing this query, and then enumerate the value associated with these classes.
SEO by the Sea’s Bill Slawski wrote a post covering Google’s patented process for serving up this data. Algorithms are taught to identify instances within classes, and related elements of each.
Want to know more about structured data’s background? Check out this informative presentation from SMX London 2014 by Bastian Grimm:
You Sneaky Little Snippets, You
You may have noticed within the past year that Google Webmaster Tools added a section for structured data. If you do not have the tags implemented that they would like to see, it will generate an error in this section. Google cordially provides a list of pages and the information it would like to have labeled within each.
On the other hand, Google has been aiming to reduce the need for us to manually identify these elements using markup code – as evidenced by the patent I mentioned above.
In fact, SEO Roundtable’s article covering the new SERP listing features calls out a Googler, Pierre Far, who asserts that the latest SERP listing update is NOT schema.org driven. Schema.org is a resource for finding relevant rich snippet codes to use on your site. Say what?
The Next Steps You Should Take
Search engines have gotten pretty darn smart. However, algorithms intelligent enough to parse the exponential variation with which we present information online, and independently deliver the most important parts, is not here quite yet.
In the meantime, there are easy options to go ahead and nudge search engine spiders in the right direction with structured data markup.
This applies to most websites, since so many categories are covered. Especially if you operate in a highly competitive industry where most of your competitors are NOT using schema.org markup. Structured data markup could be the strategy that finally gets your site seen in the SERPS.
Examples of these categories include:
- Blog posts – (author, time, and date)
- Product listings – (specifications, reviews, price)
- Event pages, local businesses – (reviews, time, date, location)
- NOT your homepage – (According to SEO Roundtable)
Does that sound like a pain?
It isn’t more complicated than your usual metadata, and codes can be found on schema.org. If you aren’t really keen on the idea of altering your site’s HTML with schema.org code, Google’s got a tool for that. Highlight. Click. Done.
If your posted pages follow a certain template, such as a series of events, consider adding page sets with Data Highlighter, mentioned in the SlideShare above.
Alternatively, there is a WordPress plugin to implement the code for you, for a limited number of options.
Okay, so that’s not a real example of a machine-readable enumeration. But that’s a sample of schema.org structure.
As always, the success of your site is contingent on its information being clear, cohesive, and well-organized. Structured data just represents an opportunity to take “well-organized” one step further.
Needs for structured data backing up semantic, authoritative text has come to replace meta keywords, lengthy, exact keyword phrases and stuffed filler/fluff content.
Help searchers and spiders understand what they read using latest front-end and back-end optimization best practices. People are searching more by voice, and as The New Digital Age authors (and Google leaders) Schmidt and Cohen assert in that book, what we post online should adapt to these changes.
Get down to the important details and your site will be rewarded with enhanced listings! We at Sixth City prioritize back-end optimization, complemented by user-centric front-end design, in order to fuel leads.
Be sure to contact us for help in getting the ball rolling on structured data and user-friendly content on your site.