by Randy Soderman (Forbes Councils Member)
You have a great-looking website, but for some reason, Google isn't giving it the proper love. Your on-page SEO optimization is dialed in, and day after day you check the search results, only to find nothing, zero, nada.
You're scratching your head and only see competitors in the search results. Your industry is crazy competitive, and you need every edge you can get. That's where schema comes in.
If you're like many businesses we work with, you probably have no idea about schema markup and the rich snippets of user-friendly data they produce. Below, I'll provide a quick overview of both and how they can help your business gain a competitive edge.
What Is Schema Markup?
It might sound complicated, but the concept of schema markup, also known as rich snippets, is straightforward. It goes beyond your primary data. Rich snippets are the additional information that falls in between the URL and description of a Google search result. You may have seen them in the search results and didn't even realize they were the results from proper schema markup.
Rich snippets can include reviews, pricing or product images, business hours, a list of services provided, or service specials you currently offer. There is a whole slew of items you can markup.
Schema markup is what helps you generate this critical data. Technically, schema markup is structured data — code added to your webpages to help explain what your data is, not just what it says, to search engines.
Why Is Schema Markup So Important?
With more and more consumers finding businesses through local search, adopting an online marketing strategy that incorporates schema markup can give you an edge over many of your competitors.
It can help to improve your:
• SERP Click-Through Rate (CTR): Rich snippets often make SERP listings more appealing to users. The more information you provide, the likelier they are to choose your listing over one with less data, boosting your CTR and showing Google that users like your results better than others.
• Relevant Traffic: A more robust listing that incorporates rich snippets can not just improve your traffic, but provide you more relevant traffic — users that are genuinely interested in seeking out (and paying for) your products/services.
• SEO/Decreasing Bounce Rates: Proper rich snippets bring in more relevant traffic. The more relevant traffic you have to your site, the lower your bounce rate becomes. It's been debated for years whether bounce rate affects your position in the SERP, but one thing we can say after studying thousands of websites is that the reduction in bounce rate has increased positions in the results.
• Conversion Rates: Of course, with a more appealing SERP listing that is capturing more relevant traffic and helping to produce a greater awareness of your business, it can collectively translate into improved conversions, turning consumers into customers.
Now, it is worth noting that aside from the indirect assist of improving click-throughs and reducing bounce rates, schema markup is not a direct ranking factor for the Google search engine.
It can, however, boost your targeting and ranking based on the search terms used. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of schema markup. No, it doesn't help you rank in the traditional sense, but it does take advantage of the evolving way that consumers conduct their searches — not to mention Google loves when you better communicate what your website is about.
How Does Schema Markup Impact Your Future Business?
As I pointed out, plenty of organizations overlook schema. Whether it's due to a lack of understanding or overreliance on traditional marketing sources, schema markup can be a game-changer for those willing to look forward and properly apply it.
Voice search, specifically through mobile devices or smart speakers and digital assistants, is increasing. Developing your structured data through schema markup refines your web presence and optimizes it for voice and mobile. It helps digital assistants by returning the best answers to users' questions — a critical component in local searches.
Getting Started With Schema Markup
Regardless of your comfort level with the technical side of developing your company's web presence, an excellent place to start with schema markup is Google's Structured Data Markup Helper. With the tool, you select the type of data you want to markup, enter the URL or HTML source page to markup, and then click "start tagging." From there, the tool will lead through which items to tag or markups to add.
Leveraging a free schema markup generator tool is another great place to start. Simply pick the type of page you're looking to mark up, fill in the data and then test your schema. It's a great way to gain a feel for the ins and outs of schema before putting it in direct practice.
I'd also recommend visiting Schema.org. As an online repository of sorts, the website is the ultimate resource in all things schema. Built from a collaboration between Google, Bing and Yahoo to promote a better user experience across all search engine platforms, the site goes into great detail on how to make the most of this underutilized tool.
As clearly defined and well-supported as schema is by the big search engines, it remains an often-overlooked SEO tool by many companies, regardless of their trade.
If you’re willing to embrace the growing popularity of how modern consumers find and engage with local businesses, schema markup is a path you can take to rise above the cutthroat competition.
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