Tag Archives: schema markup

What is GS1 SmartSearch Schema markup and why should e-commerce sites use it?

Contributor Tony Edward explains the new, more advanced schema markup for products called GS1 SmartSearch and how it helps listings gain visibility in the search results.

The post What is GS1 SmartSearch Schema markup and why should e-commerce sites use it? appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Good SEO habits: Turning over a new leaf in 2018

Join a gym, start that diet, call your parents more and turn over a new leaf for your SEO strategy.

Whether you’re a stickler for New Year’s resolutions, or the very thought makes you roll your eyes, reviewing your SEO habits for 2018 should be a priority for every business and digital marketer.

You don’t need me to tell you how fast-paced the digital world can be, with the pressures of keeping on top of the latest Google updates and SEO tactics.

Yet it’s all too easy to become stuck in the same routine, mindlessly implementing the same strategy over and over.

Well, it’s time for a change. That new diet can wait another month, but refreshing your SEO strategy can’t. Not if you want to be dominating the SERPs in 2018.

It’s time to sit back and take a long hard look at your SEO habits. In this post, we consider the latest trends and predictions for the year, explain how to review your current strategy, and the SEO habits you should be practising.

Revisit keyword research

You’ve got to start somewhere and what better place than at the beginning. Before you go tweaking your onsite or mixing up your content strategy, you need to make sure the keywords are updated.

Revisit your keyword research and update the data on which you initially based your decisions. People change, habits change, technology changes. The chance that what people are searching for has changed too is also pretty high.

Depending on how long ago you last reviewed your keywords, you may find that there are more tools at your disposal this time around. Bolster your keyword sheet with data from different sources (please do not just rely on Keyword Planner). A personal favorite is SEMRush, particularly the Keyword Magic Tool and Keyword Difficulty Score.

More importantly, when deciding which keywords to allocate to which pages, remember the game has changed. There’s no longer a need to create separate pages for each keyword variation. There’s a little thing called Latent Semantic Indexing and it does most of the hard work for you!

Focus instead on topics and the context of a page, rather than specific keywords. The search engines are smarter than ever; as long as you’re providing value, you can trust Google to figure out the rest without having to shove five variations of the same keyword onto a page.

Onsite audit

You could have the best content and link-building strategies in the world, but if the foundations of your website are not up to scratch, then it will never reach its full potential. On-site optimization is the foundation of any SEO campaign.

Even if you carried out a fully comprehensive, kick-ass audit to start with, things inevitably break and new issues occur. So do it again.

There are too many factors to cover here but just to mention a few of the fundamentals. A good place to start is with the website speed, especially in an age where heavily image-led sites are popular. Ensure you have done everything in your power to send that Google Page Insights score as high as possible.

As an extension of page speed, pay close to attention to the general user experience of the site. This is becoming ever more important and it’s worth getting an expert in UX/UI to review your website. Perhaps it’s time for a website refresh?

If you are launching a new website, don’t forget to implement a checklist of SEO checks before going live (such as removing robots no index!).

Be sure to fix broken links, address duplicate content issues, optimize your images and update your metadata. Since the maximum length for meta descriptions increased even further at the end of last year, it’s probably about time you rewrote them.

Have you implemented schema markup on your site? Now’s the time – don’t put it off.

Mobile

If you haven’t already switched your focus to mobile, don’t wait a moment longer. There are numerous factors to consider when optimizing for mobile and it is therefore a good idea to carry out a separate mobile SEO audit of your site.

Factor in the rise of voice search and how this will impact on keyword formats. Pay close attention to mobile-specific crawl errors via Google Search Console. Ensure your site passes Google’s mobile-friendly test and that mobile load speeds are up to scratch.

Finally, revisit the design and overall user experience of your site on mobile; given that mobile constitutes over 50% of website traffic, it’s time to start prioritizing mobile over desktop.

Content

Take a step back from your content strategy, review what is and isn’t working, and gain a fresh perspective. It can be all too easy to get into the habit of churning out content for the sake of it, without any really solid strategy. Rope in some unsuspecting colleagues and hold a brainstorm. Even people who are not directly involved with the content creation can provide some helpful insight into the mind of an average internet user.

Ultimately, you should be focused on writing content that provides so much value that people want to share it. Think about what makes someone share a piece of content and implement that thinking into your posts.

Be sure to also review and update any old content. Outdated information can be harmful to organic rankings, so take the time to do a refresh. Is there any content that’s been lingering close to the top of the SERPs for some time but hasn’t quite made the final jump to the top spot? Look at the content which is beating you and figure how to make yours even better than theirs.

Don’t forget that it’s not all about the written word. Integrate more visual content into your strategy too, such as infographics and videos. Video in particular is great for keeping people on a page for longer. Given that time spent on page is considered a ranking factor, it’s an opportunity not to be missed!

Link-building strategy refresh

We’ve all been there. Sometimes it feels like you’re putting a lot of time into your link-building efforts but not really getting anywhere. Time to have a strategy refresh! It can be easy to become too focused on only one type of link-building, such as guest posting. Yet there are a whole variety of link-building techniques waiting to be deployed.

Start by ditching any unhealthy linking habits. Use a tool like SEMRush to identify any potentially harmful links and disavow them. Begin the new year with a clean slate and focus on building high-value links.

Perhaps it’s time to start thinking beyond link-building and concentrate on relationship building. Work on building a solid partnership with some of the top publications in your industry. If you’re providing exceptional content for them, then it’s a win-win situation for both of you.

Local search

As more and more web traffic comes from mobile, local search will only become more prominent. Carry out a review of your local search marketing – think Google My Business profile, local directory listings, NAP consistency, schema markup and healthy location pages.

Appearing in the top spot for local searches is absolutely key to skyrocketing your conversions. If searchers see you’re business first, they’re more like to tap that ‘call’ button, visit your business, or browse your website. Fail to nail your local search strategy and you’ll be missing out on some serious opportunities.

Reporting

It’s time to get out the habit of relying solely on keyword rankings as an indicator of success. Clients often get hung up about the rankings but it’s important to stress that these are vanity metrics. The real juicy stuff is conversions and this must be factored into your tracking and reporting methods.

Sure, it’s very satisfying to see those rankings improve. But these are only a tiny snippet of the bigger picture. With 2018, take a step back and review your reporting output. How can it be improved? What other data should you be considering? Can you set up event tracking or more comprehensive goals in your Google Analytics?

You’ve put all the hard work into the campaign, so it’s time you demonstrate the value that work has brought.

Switch from HTTP to HTTPS

We know, switching from HTTP to HTTPS can seem like a lot of effort and potentially risky in the short term. However, as long as you’re careful and follow an HTTPS migration checklist, then you’ll be just fine and can start to reap the benefits in the long-term.

The need for extra security is never going away; it will just become more and more important. We know that Google considers site security a ranking factor, so why would you not do it? Stop procrastinating and get to it!

Final words

As a final point, be sure to keep updated with the latest news and trends in the SEO world. This is more important than ever, with the rise of machine learning and the RankBrain algorithm. We should expect to see further changes related to these as the technology is developed further. So stay tuned and stay agile.

In short, the best SEO habit is ultimately providing value and relevance. Forget about manipulating the search engine (you won’t win). Do everything with the user at the forefront of your mind, follow best practices, and your 2018 search strategy will be golden.

6188204.gif

Enhance Your Search Results: How to Get Started With Schema Markup by @sllewuy

How to use schema markup on your website today using the Schema.org library and Google’s structured data testing tool.

The post Enhance Your Search Results: How to Get Started With Schema Markup by @sllewuy appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

How to add schema markup to your site using Google Tag Manager

Want to add structured data markup to your site, but don’t have the access or the coding skills? No need to worry! Columnist Bryan Stenslokken shows you how to do this with Google Tag Manager in nine easy steps.

The post How to add schema markup to your site using Google Tag Manager appeared first…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

apple-siri-370x229.jpeg

The State of Schema.org: What are the biggest challenges surrounding Schema markup?

Using Schema.org markup, a form of structured data which helps search engines to interpret your webpages, is widely agreed to be beneficial from an SEO standpoint.

While it may not correlate directly to an increase in ranking, using Schema.org markup allows search engines to pull through rich snippets and rich data like images, reviews and opening hours, making your site appear more attractive on the SERP and thereby increasing click-through.

Schema.org markup is also becoming increasingly important in the age of voice search, acting as a signpost that points digital assistants towards the information that will correctly answer a user’s voice query. Voice queries depend heavily on implied context, and Schema markup can help give that context to an otherwise ambiguous page of text.

But while the advantages of using Schema.org seem obvious enough on paper, actually implementing it can be much more challenging. As a result, a startlingly small minority of website owners make use of Schema.org.

The figures vary as to exactly how many; Schema.org’s website claims that “over 10 million websites” use Schema.org markup, which translates into less than one percent of all websites; an investigation by ACM Queue put the figure at 31.3%, while a study by Bing and Catalyst found that just 17% of marketers use Schema.org markup.

Either way, even the highest estimate of Schema.org adoption still comes in at less than a third of websites.

With Schema.org being a well-known advanced search technique with well-established benefits, what is holding SEOs and website owners back from implementing it?

The state of Schema markup

Schema App – a provider of tools to help digital marketers use Schema markup – recently ran a survey which sheds some light on this question. The study, ‘The State of Schema Markup’, surveyed users of Schema.org markup on the size and type of their business, how frequently they maintained their markup, the challenges they experienced in using Schema.org, and any tools they used to tackle these problems.

It’s worth noting that the survey results were drawn from a fairly small sample of only 75 respondents, which limits our ability to generalize them too widely, but they nevertheless give some interesting insights into the use of Schema markup among marketers.

Perhaps surprisingly, respondents from the smallest companies – those with five or fewer employees – made up the largest percentage of Schema.org users, with two-fifths of respondents reporting that they carry out Schema markup for companies of just five employees or fewer.

The State of Schema.org: What are the biggest challenges surrounding Schema markup?

It’s hard to say exactly why this is – maybe smaller, more agile companies are better at keeping up to date with advanced search tactics; or maybe they will do whatever it takes to stand out on the SERP in order to increase their competitivity with larger organizations.

The second-largest group, conversely, was made up of companies with more than 1,000 employees, although this group still only amounted to 13% of respondents.

A third of respondents to the survey came from digital marketing agencies, while 28% said they came from small or medium businesses. Sixteen percent of respondents were from enterprise organizations, while a fraction under ten percent were from start-up companies.

The job titles of respondents to the State of Schema Markup survey revealed that it’s not just SEOs who are doing Schema markup. While more than half of respondents to the survey were search specialists (either SEO specialists – 45% – or Heads of Search – 8%), digital marketers, business owners, CTOs and even CEOs were among the remaining 47%.

The State of Schema.org: What are the biggest challenges surrounding Schema markup?

Another interesting finding was the frequency at which respondents update their Schema markup. Judging by the frequency of posts to the official Schema.org blog, updates to Schema.org are fairly sporadic, sometimes coming two or three months apart, other times going six or seven months without an update.

Google updates like the recent introduction of rich results for podcasts to the SERP can also give marketers an incentive to add new coding, as can regular site maintenance. However, I was surprised that close to a fifth of respondents (19%) said that they update their Schema markup every day.

A further 31% of respondents update their markup weekly, while the largest proportion (39%) update their markup once a month. An unstated percentage (which visually looks to be about 8%) say they work on their markup once only.

The biggest challenges surrounding Schema markup

Anyone who has tried to tackle Schema.org markup (or write a blog post about it), particularly without much of an understanding of code, knows that implementing it can be easier said than done. Even tools like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper have their limitations, making it necessary to understand markup if you want to fill in the gaps.

This reality was reflected in the comments from marketers who took the Schema App survey. One respondent wrote,

“When I first learned about the existence of schema, I was so confused on how to implement it. I am not a developer. After trying many online generator tools and finding them unsatisfactory, I turned to my programmer hoping he could take over this task for me. He explained it was a different code altogether than what he writes. I felt overwhelmed when he confided he had no idea at all how to do it, even after spending a little time looking at it.”

Another respondent observed that “The examples given on schema.org were not clear and sometimes it seemed they did not follow even their own rules.” A third described Schema.org markup as feeling “a bit like witchcraft”.

Although a number of search blogs like Moz, WordStream, Yoast and indeed yours truly have set out to write guides on how to use Schema.org markup, there are still a limited number of resources available to help with this process; and comments on the State of Schema Markup survey reveal that many of those which do exist are flawed.

“Worse is that some of the schema is supported … but not in the Structured Data Testing Tool,” one respondent wrote.

Another wrote that, “It’s still very much a trial and error process for me as I find that some of the guides out there, when put through Google’s tool, don’t actually parse correctly. Very frustrating…”

Overall, the most widely agreed-upon problem experienced by survey respondents was “Showing the value of doing schema markup – reporting the impact and results” (reported by 45%). Close behind this was “Maintaining ‘health’ of Schema markup when Google makes changes” (reported by 42%).

Two-fifths of respondents cited difficulties in developing a strategy around what to mark up with Schema, while 37% struggled with how to implement Schema markup at scale – few solutions exist for the bulk markup of webpages, which can create huge challenges for companies with large websites, on top of the difficulties that we’ve covered already.

The State of Schema.org: What are the biggest challenges surrounding Schema markup?

 Although it ranked near the bottom of the list of concerns cited by survey respondents, close to a quarter (24%) of respondents still cited “Understanding Schema markup vocabulary” as one of their biggest obstacles to carrying out Schema markup.

And as we’ve seen, this is coming from a group of marketers of whom the majority use Schema markup habitually – no wonder the wider marketing community is having trouble getting on board with Schema.org.

Tools for tackling Schema markup

Finally, respondents were asked what tools they use to solve the problems they experience with Schema markup, from a range of options including WordPress plugins, Wordlift, Web JSON-LD generators, Schema App’s own tool, or no tools at all.

The last of these options was the most common by far, with 40% of respondents asserting that they do all of their Schema markup manually. I can’t help but notice that this corresponds exactly to the percentage of respondents from small companies with 5 or fewer employees – I wonder if there could be some correlation there.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they make use of Schema App’s own tool, while 13% use WordPress plugins. Another 8% use Web JSON-LD generators, while 24% use tools other than those listed in the survey.

The State of Schema.org: What are the biggest challenges surrounding Schema markup?

One business owner wrote that they tend to solicit help on Schema markup from online communities: “I ask for help in online communities and usually get answers. The definitions and examples have become better over time in both schema.org and Google.”

A Head of Search at an enterprise company wrote that they use “Internally developed tools and markup checkers that were developed for our specific needs.”

For those two-fifths of respondents who opt to do their Schema markup without the aid of automated tools, this could be due to a lack of technical resources, a lack of confidence in automated solutions, or perhaps because they simply don’t know that these tools exist.

But we can clearly see that there is a demand in the marketing and search community for more accurate and helpful resources surrounding Schema.org, whether these be in the form of web generators, apps, or how-to guides and tutorials.

Perhaps Schema.org needs to take the initiative to make its markup language more accessible by creating these, or perhaps they will be created by an interested third party. Either way, without them, we are unlikely to see the dial shift much on the uptake of Schema markup among marketers and SEOs, no matter how useful it is.