Search engine optimization (SEO) is the internet marketing discipline that aims to increase your website or other online presence (such as a blog or social media page) and visibility within search engine results pages, such as Google and Bing. For example, if you're a florist in Houston, your customers and potential customers are probably googling "Houston florist" or "flower delivery Houston" which means your site needs to display preferably in the first three Google search results. Studies show that people almost never go beyond the first page of search results
and rarely look beyond the first few. So, it's important to do whatever you can to get ranked not only on the first page, but within the top three results when possible.
SEO is your ticket for targeted search traffic that's made up of buyers who are looking for products, events or services you're offering. Every business, regardless of where you stand, is interested in growing and upping customer leads; your website is the perfect conductor for this. Schema data can optimize your SEO, which in turn can cause an increase in targeted search traffic, which results in more customer leads. But what is Schema data anyway?
Know your tech speak
Simply put, Schema is a type of data markup structure that all the big search engines have been trying to weave into their algorithms ever sine 2011. If you include Schema markup within your site's coding, you're automatically improving your SEO. This happens by generating "rich snippets" which help search engines index your content and get found in search results pages. It also improves your visibility in niche search results (such as Video, Image, etc.) and improves your click through rate (CTR)
within search results by adding visual elements to the result.
The end result is an increase in your organic traffic/leads. While the benefits of Schema markup are many, the best thing is that it essentially helps to grow your business online. It's a system that defines common microdata used by all major search engines, reducing redundant work and maximizing exposure. Microdata consists of tag sets, compliments of HTML 5, which lets you mark up your page with the vocabulary major search engines understand and translate; mostly Microformats and RDFA is used.
"Dummying up" your website
You might think your website is gorgeous
and intuitive, but don't forget that algorithms (and not just people) are trying to figure out what's on your website, and how it looks and feels. This is, however, a major factor in modern ranking algorithms. Gather feedback from your users, and collaborate with your colleagues
to get a solid answer to the questions; is my site really user-friendly? Does my site provide a positive user experience?
You might have put a lot of effort into your "Snippets" maximizing the use of the title, description and URL, and a "rich snippet" can make things even better by including images within the search engine results pages next to your listing. However, including Schema means search engines don't have to "guess" what the information is on your site or where it belongs. Search engines like things structured and simple; Schema helps you do this by giving you the tools to label content pieces and categorize them.
When that's done, search engines "know" what to do with every piece of content. You can assign properties including "sameAs," "additionalType," image, URL, and name. These are instructions telling search engines how to categorize them. Search engines play well with hard facts, bypassing their intelligence, and this is what's displayed to users like your customers. Schema gives you more accuracy, more precision, and puts more control in your hands. However, this wasn't developed to make business easier for you, but simply to ensure the most relevant information reaches users.
Schema and SEO
Put yourself in your customer's shoes. If you're looking for the best video conferencing technology and consider the first two choices that pop up, there are reasons why you'll choose one over the other. You're almost guaranteed to be attracted to the link with a face, more information and an attractive layout, right? Schema makes sure you have any relevant listings, ratings, breadcrumbs or images because this is all relevant data users want.
Using Schema will get you more clicks even if your website isn't necessarily at the top of search results. For example, a competitor might have Google's top spot but if you're number three, that Schema-enhanced layout is going to attract the eye even better and potentially lead to a higher CTR. Studies have been conducted using an eye tracking heat map, and links with photos and a more dynamic presentation simply get more clicks than non-rich snippets. The sooner you incorporate Schema into your SEO campaign, using mobile technology as an aid, the sooner you can enjoy better traffic.
April 8, 2014
Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.