Here’s a familiar scenario. It’s mid-week in the office, and your time is increasingly filling up with a veritable platter of tasks, requests and projects. You’ve a meeting at 3. There’s that important presentation for tomorrow. It’s your turn to make the brews and the office has just run out of teabags. With your existing duties to carry out too, these mounting jobs are nebulously floating around in the back of your mind – a collection of half-remembered undertakings that’ll need sorting before the week’s over.
However, if this assemblage of jobs were to be jotted down, collated and sorted, then you have a better chance of staying organised and getting them done. In fact, we’d wager that you’ve probably already done this, and felt all the better for it.
OK, you’ve indulged us long enough. What we’re trying to make clear is the distinction between unstructured and structured data. Rather than a jumble of requests, you’re giving things a “structure” in this scenario by turning the tasks into an organised list, benefitting yourself in the process. In an SEO context, structured data typically refers to a type of markup on a webpage that improves a search engine’s understanding of the content featured on the page – parsing the information into segments, much like organising things on a to-do list.
When content is marked up, search engines can gain a better understanding of its context when displayed on a SERP, resulting in better distribution to your audience and potential inclusion in rich results. Simply, rich results are those that highlight key information, the same results that give search engines a more thorough understanding of a page’s purpose.
What should be made clear is that while structured data and rich snippets don’t factor into rankings, they do help to create brand authority on a subject, potentially increasing things like clickthrough and bounce rates.
Now that you have a basic definition and we’ve exhausted the above analogy, let’s turn to the following question in more detail: how can structured data be used to improve your landing pages?
In implementing structured data, you need to weigh up whether it’s worth carrying out in the first place. Though it benefits most, it also takes a degree of effort and resource. There’s also a number of factors to consider before jumping into things. If search plays a large part in driving value to your business, for example, then that’s a good sign. Likewise, if you have a lot of article-style content related to key head terms (such as ‘10 French landmarks’) and you’d like them displayed in SERPs, then structured data can help with that.
Another factor is having the resources to implement the markups with minimal time and financial investment. If the process can be carried out with few problems, then consider doing so. A solid page ranking, either 15 or higher, for certain terms with significant search volume (5000-50,000 searches per month) is another great indicator.
Ranking high on SERPs is no longer enough to get people visiting your website. A first-page result is all well and good, but you need to set yourself apart from the other results on the page, especially if you’re in a competitive sector. Content that stands out amongst the rest could be the deciding factor in whether or not they’ll click your link. Right now, users are expecting more from a search page. Images, star ratings, reviews and prices are what the discerning Googler wants to see when they search for a term.
But how do you go about identifying opportunities to use structured data? In order to strengthen your pages, a quick audit of your site can help show the gaps that your content can’t fill alone. If structured data has previously been added to your site, or you’re unsure, you can check using the Structured Data report in Google Search Console. Once your opportunities have been identified, they have to be classified by concept, relationship and term using the schema.org vocabulary so that search engines can understand them.
It’s important that you keep things simple, as Schema.org makes it easy to let the process of marking-up get out of hand. Structured data should be representative of the main content of the page; if you’re using structured data in a misleading way, then Google will penalise you accordingly. Generally, you should add markup to a page it describes, so Product markup would be added to a specific product page. Don’t mark up anything that’s time-sensitive or won’t be seen by your audience. Additionally, specificity is key; you’ll need to choose a Schema.org Type that’s relevant for your site, and this is wholly dependent on your business and website.
For the sake of this article, we’ll keep it general, but the vast majority of businesses can still benefit from the following:
- Organisation: Let users know your website is a brand site by using the Organization markup on your homepage.
- WebSite: This should be the first piece of structured markup placed within a site, as it helps generate a sitelinks search box within the brand-featured search engine results page. This is one of the most basic and the most used schema types.
- Breadcrumb: Let your users follow the trail one level at a time all the way up in the site hierarchy. Great for search listings and increasing click-through rates.
- VideoObject: Give your video content a boost by enabling video snippets in your SERPs, complete with info about the uploader, duration, a thumbnail image and more.
In addition to these general markups, there are certain Schema.org Types which are helpful for specific businesses such as e-commerce, recipe sites, publishers, events/ticketing sites, job sites and more.
Looking to re-energise your website’s landing pages? Our talented team can help power up the all-important parts of your business’ site. Head to our homepage and get in touch today, and be sure to check back with the Banc blog soon for more of the latest industry news and features.