How to Use Structured Data to Enhance SEO
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
It's not enough to implement structured data if you want to succeed in the world of search engine optimization, also known as "SEO." Brands need to make sure there's a proven process in place to help them find the most lucrative opportunities, part of which entails properly integrating Schema and monitoring changes in search results to help them stay ahead of the competition.
Experience Greater Success with Effective Schema
If you want structured data to succeed and minimize the potential errors that could occur during manual implementation, it's essential to adhere to a process designed to ensure success. This process will include four major steps as detailed by SEO consultant Aleyda Solis during her recent speech at SMX East:
Find Good Opportunities for Rich Results
One of the best ways to get started is by checking the search engine results page (SERP) features that appear for searches within your sector. SEO professionals can benefit from identifying these opportunities to determine how best to optimize for them.
Many tools out there, such as Ahrefs, which we previously covered, as well as SEMRush, can help businesses get a good idea of the different rich results that show up for particular keywords and identify other types of structured data opportunities.
According to Solis, you can determine if an opportunity is worth pursuing if you can answer "yes" to these questions:
Are they relevant to the meaning of your content?
Will they improve how your results appear in SERPs?
Will they impact the results of relevant queries with non-trivial search volume?
Is it possible for you to implement them in adherence to guidelines?
Validation of Schema
Publishers should also have some understanding of the guidelines for the particular types of structured data they want to add. Failure to adhere to these guidelines could prevent you from getting the results you wish to or entail a manual action. Tools such as Google's structured data testing tool and crawlers like Screaming Frog can validate structured data.
SEOs can look closer at the Google Search Console enhancement reports to find out which pages are producing valid structured data, and which are creating errors, which will help identify which pages are crucial for addressing first. Finding those high-value search results from both a business and traffic aspect will also help companies make better decisions.
While performance monitoring is necessary, businesses should also monitor for other opportunities by analyzing competitors' rich results along with search features on targeted keyword searches.
How to Implement Structured Data Creatively
Following proper implementation, companies must creatively apply structured data if they want to improve visibility in search engines. The following are some tactics that can give you the results you want in your campaigns.
1. Product Schema
Product Schema isn't always required, but it's an excellent opportunity to mark up your products with product-specific structured data. Subsequently, you can increase visibility, and while specific sites such as review sites may not want to rank with product structured data, they may still need product Schema if they want their content to be visible in search results.
2. Article Structured Data
According to the architectural SEO manager of Go Fish Digital, Chris Long, one trend that's taking shape is the move toward informational content in place of product-related content, particularly in e-commerce. Content in Google Discover utilizes structured article data, along with Google's Interesting Finds.
Long found that Wikipedia uses a mainEntity property in its backend on individual pages to include a link to a Wikidata page, which lists all of the topics comprising that entity. It's mostly Wikipedia's way of telling Google that both Wikipedia and Wikidata are similar, making it easier for Google to understand what the pages' collective topic is. Ultimately, this will help tell search engines more directly, "Hey, this is what this page is about."
3. NewsArticle Structured Data
This type of structured data can help your content appear on Google's top stories carousel. Media sites should connect their content to voice devices with Schema that's speakable, appearing in headlines and subheadings.
In turn, headings will serve as a summary of an article's contents that people can easily find using voice search on Alexa and other devices.
4. LocalBusiness Structured Data
LocalBusiness Schema is the most general type of structured data used for physical business locations, but specific subtypes also exist, such as Dentist, InsuranceAgency, ChildCare, and many others. All of these subtypes can indicate to search engines precisely what type of business you own.
For SEO professionals, this also might be helpful to map pages to other aspects of a local SEO campaign, and it may make it slightly easier for Google to locate Name, Address, Phone (NAP) data on the page.
5. FAQ Schema
While FAQ structured data may help you appear in rich snippet results, the one drawback is that it could decrease traffic to your website if people find the answers they want within an FAQ snippet.
If you want to ensure that people are more likely to click through the result to your page, you're better off marking up internal site links within your Schema. Doing so will show links in the search result that will encourage more people to click and visit your site, particularly if they want more in-depth answers to their questions.
Using Structured Data to Boost On-SERP SEO
When looking for ways to improve search engine rankings and increase clicks to your site, structured data is ultimately one of the best tools to use across your website. Combined with other SEO strategies, you can more effectively tell Google what your content is about and reach those audiences that might otherwise never find you in search results.