Day two of SMX East is getting technical—and I’m happy I’ve had over a year at Blue Corona with some of the team’s SEO and webmaster experts to learn from! My second session of the day took no prisoners and dove right into structured data—what they are, how they help users, and how they help search engines. With a panel of three industry experts who use structured data more than I use the Find My iPhone app, we began with: 25 Smart Examples of Structured Data You Can Use Now.
What Is Structured Data?
Before we dive into examples and uses of structured data, let’s review what it even is. Structured data as defined by Schema.org is ”HTML tags that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways recognized by major search providers. Search engines including Bing, Google, Yahoo!, and Yandex rely on this markup to improve the display of search results, making it easier for people to find the right web pages.”
In English? Structured data makes it much easier for search engines to find important information on websites so they can more easily understand what pages on the website are about and how they benefit their search users. Notice that it’s “search engines,” not just Google. That’s what’s great about schema.org. Contrary to what you may have heard, searchers do still use other search engines, so optimizing for Bing and Yahoo! are still important.
Structured Data for Recipes
What Google has to say about recipe structure data: “When review information is marked up, we can use it to understand and present the information on your pages. Review information such as ratings and descriptions can help users better identify pages with good content.”
When marking up a recipe page, you’ll able to indicate:
When marking up an event, you’ll able to indicate:
Location/city of the venue
Summary of the event
Structured Data for Products
When marking up a product page (individual product postings only, not multiple products on one page), you’ll able to indicate:
Item price and availability
Model and manufacturer
Aggregate ratings and total reviews
And almost anything else you’d want to mention about the product
Structured Data for Reviews
When marking up a reviews page, you’ll able to indicate:
Item being reviewed
Reviewer (a real name)
Description of the item being reviewed
Structured Data for Jobs Postings
When marking up a job posting or listing page, you’ll able to indicate:
Total number of listings
Structured Data for Restaurants
When marking up a page for a restaurant, you’ll able to indicate:
Total and aggregate reviews
Structured Data for Apps
When marking up a page about a mobile app, you’ll able to indicate:
Icon for the app
Rating and total reviews
Screenshots from the app
Extra: Structured Data for Emails & Apps
For a more advanced audience, you’re also able to markup your emails and mobile apps. This allows search engines to produce more relevant search results for users that have mobile apps or emails with structured data. For example, a user could see examples of rich snippets as a result of marked up structured data in SERPs for:
Hotel reservations (example search: “restaurants near my hotel” and the search engine will know your hotel reservation from email and find restaurants near that location)
Shipping and tracking information (example search: “UPS” and the results can include tracking information for a package you’ve gotten a tracking code for in your email)
Upcoming event information (example search: “Time Warner Cable Arena” and the results can include the tour date, door time, and event for Luke Bryan performing at that venue)
Travel information (example search: “Charlotte airport” and Google will know when my flight from CLT to LGA for SMX East was and how long until departure and whether it is scheduled to depart on time)
Application searches (example search: “Luke Bryan” and the search engine can pull up apps that I have on my phone that have Luke Bryan playlists or songs which I can click and open the app directly)
The possibilities are endless! And schema.org continues to expand what structured data can be used and recognized universally by all search engines (for example, they recently added an automotive category).
Structured Data & SEO: Rankings & Click Through Rates
It really isn’t a surprise that structured data is playing an increasingly important role in constantly developing SEO strategies and “best practices.” Why? Because marking up your code in a language that helps search engines better understand your content will help you improve your visibility to search engines and ultimately establish relevancy with them—especially if your competitors do not use structured data. Already, we see a lot of sites using structured data appearing at the top of organic results. So while using structured data doesn’t guarantee improved rankings, helping search engines understand what is on your Web pages certainly can! Additionally, as search engines become more advanced in their efforts to improve search results for their users, we may see the use of structured data play a more critical role in rankings.
In addition to potentially improving rankings, using structured data can also help improve click-through rate. Structured data is used in the creation of rich snippets, and rich snippets can make your listing more appealing to searchers. For example, using a microdata tag for product or service reviews triggers the search engine to display star rankings.
Tips on Implementing & Tracking Structured Data
Knowing of the opportunities of these markups and structured data does you no good if you don’t implement them across your site! Luckily, this session also covered how you can implement and track your structured data tags on your page and users that come to your site that have seen the rich snippets in SERPs.
Audit & Discovery: use analytics to discover the prime pages or page types that could benefit from structured data
Implementation: Create a protocol for implementing across your site to ensure content specialists and developers alike can add it to any and all pages
Adding Event Tags in Google Analytics: Tracking is key at Blue Corona, so you can use Google Tag Manager to create rules, tags, and macros to ensure that each visit on a page that has structured data is tracked
Monitoring: Set up goals to monitor structured data pages and the possible ROI on visits to pages that have it
Testing: Try new formats, new tags, how it appears in search engines (mobile vs. desktop), etc.
Have questions about implementing structured data on your site? Contact the experts at Blue Corona!
About the Speakers
Mike Arnesen is SEO team manager at SwellPath and helps customers leverage their data.
Justin Briggs is the senior manager of organic marketing at Getty Images with over 10 years of web experience and seven years in SEO and social media.
Samuel Edwards an online media strategist at Tenthwave Digital. His clients have inlucded NASDAQ, eBay, and Duncan Hines.
Follow Blue Corona at SMX East!
Curious as to what Ben and Hannah are up to in the Big Apple? Follow them on Twitter at @BenLanders and @Hannah_Bernice. Be sure to check out more SMX Live Blog posts from our team and the official conference Twitter (@SMX) and hashtag (#SMX).
About The Author: Hannah is the SEO Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
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