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Mapping Schema Opportunities: Planning Your Structured Data Markup

Mar 7, 2022
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In the latest episode of Hack My Growth, we're looking at how we can better map the process of where we want to be adding structured data into our website pages to help increase the context and index-abilities for the search engines.

 

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Video Transcript: 

So, as I said in the opener, we're going to be talking about how we can map out our schema.org opportunities and really plan the type of structured data we want to add to our website.

If you've seen some of our videos before, you've probably heard us talk about structured data because we do it quite a bit. But for those of you who might not know what structured data is, let's talk about it really briefly.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data is a label applied to a number of market format types that basically allow search engines, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, things like that better understand the data within its indexes. Structured data is metadata. It's data about data and it helps the search engines rather than people themselves. The primary purpose is to improve indexing, but also to improve understanding of your content.

Structured data is metadata. It's data about data and it helps the search engines rather than people themselves. The primary purpose is to improve indexing, but also to improve understanding of your content.

SERP Features (Rich Features)

Now, structured data has been used by Google to enable what are called rich features or SERP features. So what are SERP features? These are those really cool boxes that you see. Maybe it's a Featured Snippet, maybe it's a Knowledge Panel, a People Also Ask box right within the search engines that give you information.

Most of this information is being pulled from structured data. It helps the search engines know exactly what goes in there. And Google actually gives us guidelines if we want to rank for certain rich features. So here we have a list of rich features and the structured data types you need to have in order to be considered for one of these rich features.

So we've got things like article and breadcrumb and carousel and all the different ones that allow us to have some boxes right within the search engines. And in order to rank for those, you can see, on the other side, the type of structured data that's needed in order to earn that position.

We have to make sure that we follow the guidelines when it comes to marking up our site for rich features. If we want to understand a little bit more about how we can earn these rich feature placements, we can go to developers.google.com/search and explore the search gallery.

You can even filter by a category that better describes your website, but as you can see, we've got a number of different features here that we could rank for, like article or book or breadcrumbs or carousel.

And within each of these, if we could get started, Google's going to give us an idea of the types of rich features that are available and then some recipes for structured data and then some of the guidelines that we need to follow if we want them to consider our page with this additional structured data.

It's Not All About SERP Features

Now, this doesn't mean there aren't other valid types of structured data that we can also add to our website. The reality is we're not always targeting SERP features. Sometimes we're just trying to improve the context of our website.

By adding this type of markup to your site, you can help the crawlers better understand your brand, better understand the services that you provide to your end users, and it can help influence the quality of traffic coming to your website.

Other Schema Types to Consider

So not only do we have this list of rich features that we can target, we've got hundreds of other types of schemas to consider, and these are some of the main ones that every website owner should be looking at one way or another, things like About Page, Contact Us page. You can actually set those apart to help them understand the purposes of those pages.

If you're a larger organization, you can put Corporation. If you create Guide content, you can put that markup on your website. If you've got Maps for your locations, you can mark their maps up. You can mark up your people, the people who work at your business. You can mark up the Services that you provide, and you can add in entities and annotate your content with Thing-type markup.

Mapping Schema Opportunities

So how do we actually go about doing this? Oftentimes, when we look at adding structured data to our site, it can be very overwhelming because there's so many different options and so many different things that we can do. So in order to make sure that we set our sites up for the most success possible, we need to follow a plan of action:

  1. Review main navigation
  2. Review footer navigation
  3. Create a list of pages to target
  4. Define Structured Data types
  5. Map properties
  6. Add Markup

And so I'm going to walk you through, quickly, our process of mapping the different types of schema opportunities and how we can lay that strong founding for our website. Now, we can start by looking at our navigation. We can start by looking at both the main navigation, as well as the footer. We can create a list of those high-priority pages that we want to target. Then, we can define the structured data types we want for those pages. We can map the properties, build out our markup, and add it into the site.

So we're going to take a look at a few different sites and how we can approach this.

Example: Simplified Search

This is our simplified search training site. And as you can see here, if we look here at the main navigation, we know we've got a logo here and we know that this is an organization.

So the first thing we know we can add is organization markup, but we've also got an About Us page. So we can add about markup. There's courses. We can add course markup. Any of these resources, we've got video here with our YouTube videos. We can add video markup. We can add article markup to the blog, and we can add contact markup to their contact page. So just by looking at this top navigation, I can already start to get an idea of the base structured data I want to add to my website.

Example: Best Buy

What about a larger site like Best Buy? Well, we know that for one, they're going to have product markup. So each one of these categories has products underneath them. So we definitely know that we can do that, but I'm sure there's more information. As we look at the top, this is all product based. And we know that the reason why they're doing it is because they want to drive sales right away on their website.

But if we scroll all the way to the footer, we can see a few other things. We can see their Support pages, and they've got to Contact this page, so we'd want to mark up the Contact Us page. We can see that they've got About Us sections, so there's corporate information.

We could do an About Us page markup. In careers, we could probably mark up some Job Opportunities. So just by looking at these navigation sections, whether it be in the header or in the footer, we can start to see some of those opportunities.

Example: Local Company

Looking at a local company, we know that we can add Local Schema markup to this page. We can do About Us page, we can do a Contact page, we can do Articles in their blog, and we can even mark up Services. It's a little bit different than product, but it's still extremely powerful for businesses who want to tell Google about those services that they provide.

Mapping Schema Opportunities - Walkthrough

In order to make this easy, I like to use Google Sheets. And I like to use Google Sheets to extract the URLs that I want to target, assign those URLs a specific markup type, and then start to map out those required elements within our markup.

This is just a basic template that I would create within our Google Sheets instance. And this allows us to start building out a plan of action because we could do a whole lot of things, but it's really smart for us to build out that plan of action ahead of time. That way, we focus our efforts.

So for this business, let's talk about this one, this local business specifically, and these are a few of the top-level pages that we know we can add structured data to. We can add local business here. We can add an about us page markup. We can add services markup. We can add contact page markup, and then we can even do an article with their blogs.

Now, the cool thing is, in most WordPress instances, and this site is on WordPress, we can do article markup pretty quickly. Most of the SEO plugins have that added now by default, so just make sure that it's working and it's sharing the information within the article markup that you want to have. If you've ever got a question of what you're supposed to have within that markup, there's a few places that you can check.

If you're going for a rich feature, you can go ahead and start right here in the advanced guides here from Google. And let's say we want to look at a blog post, we can go to Article. And if you want to know what is absolutely a must, use this guideline section here and make sure that you follow these guidelines, everything down to like how big your logo should be.

When comes to articles, you've got both amp and non-amp. Amp, these are the recommended properties right here, so make sure you follow this and do your best. If you're using amp, you've got some specific required properties that you have to have as well.

So you can start to map those out and have author and the Author name and when you published it, and what's the headline of the article and your image. All of that information is really important to have.

Now, if you aren't having this done by a plugin, you could also use our structured data generator right here to build that markup as well. So you would just come over here and add the article type, your URL, your headline. All that information you want to add here, it's going to generate that JSON-LD code. You can copy and paste it into your website.

Going back over to this page, we've got the About Us page, which is very simple to do too. Honestly, it's just very similar to webpage markup, but you're just annotating this page as an About Us page. You can add in your same as, all of that other great stuff.

And then we've got something called Services. Services is very similar to product markup, but it's unique in the fact that it's not selling a product. You're actually displaying a service. So, in this tab, I've actually shared a few things that you want to keep in mind when building your services markup. The first thing you have to have is a URL. The second thing, you just want to tell where your services are located. Now, notice that this isn't a specific Brevard County name. It's actually a URL, and this is a URL to link open data on Wikidata.

Now, what this does is, by providing this URL, it gives a lot of rich information for the search engines about the actual locations that you service. So you want to put your counties or your cities or all the different locations you can, add in here with these linked open data sources so that you're pulling in all this enriched information that's already at the core of the search engines.

For your audience, you actually want to do something special here, too. You want to use and leverage the in-market audiences from Google. So you can use this link and we'll provide this link in the description, where you can look at these pre-set in-market audiences.

Now, these are used within Google Analytics, but by tying them to something that Google already uses helps give them more information as well. So choose the one that makes the most sense for your business. As you go through this entire mapping, you might find something called Category. So this would be used in the case that you've got multiple service types, in multiple categories of services.

For this business, they don't really have that, because they're just doing pressure washing here. You can connect related or similar services, and here, you would just place a URL. For the provider, it would be your organization. Then, you want to add your service, so what you actually do, and then what is the output? What do you provide? What's the outcome of the service? And you can add this markup into your site. You can build it with JSON-LD.

If you're curious about this syntax of any of this stuff, use schema.org. Schema org is a great resource, and you just type in service and, as you can see, it's got tons of different values that you can add, whether it be aggregate rating, the brand, category that we talked about, logo, you can add offers. So is this in stock or out of stock, things like that? And if you're ever looking for a specific example, just go down to the examples and see exactly how they've built these out.

You can see the account information, the person, the payment due, what the actual order is that's referenced. You can mark all of this stuff up. You can get really, really detailed. And each one of sections here, these are great places to start.

Now, let's say you don't want to build all of this stuff by hand. Is there a way to automate this? Thankfully, there is. One of the tools that we've talked about a few times on this channel is called WordLift.

WordLift allows us to do this at scale, and it also allows us to bring other people within our business into building our markup, and they don't have to have any of this knowledge about structured data. They don't have to go and learn all of this stuff.

What I can actually do inside of a WordPress install. I'm going to zoom in a little bit here, is let's say I want to add some markup to this page. Let's say this is a service page. I go ahead and hit edit and then, on the side here, I am going to select my entity type. So let's say, in this case, my entity type is going to be service. Now, this isn't an actual service page, but let's just use it as an example.

When I use WordLift, I can go ahead and click that button, and you're going to notice something really cool happening down here.

I have this box here using advanced custom fields popping up, and I can now add a URL for my area served. I can put my audience in here. I can add a category. I can start connecting to related concepts that they've found it here in my business. I can connect the organization markup right here, simplified search, which now annotates that organization markup within my services markup. I can do my service type, my output. I can even add the offers here. It allows us to easily do this right within our webpages without any of that extra coding or any of the copy and pasting, any of the other stuff that we might have to do.

I really love this tool because it works well, and it's not just for schema markup, even though this is one of the best features of it. I think it also allows us to annotate our content with things and entities, allows us to build our knowledge graph, which adds a ton of value when it comes to search.

Interested in WordLift?

If you're looking to take advantage of WordLift and you're taking your SEO to a new level, go ahead and check it out at: https://wordLift.io/ryanshelley and you're going to get 15% off your annual starter if you use our URL link.

Again, this is a tool that we use every day, we use on literally every single site that we work on. It allows us to scale our knowledge graph, but it also allows us to scale our structured data with ease. Highly recommend it, can't say enough good things about it.

Structure Data is a Game Changer

Now, if you do want to know all the ins and outs and you do want to learn how to build JSON-LD and really understand in-depth how you can master structure data to earn those rich feature placements, then you want to check out our course Mastering Structured Data for Rich Results. And I'm giving you 25% off because you're awesome, and you're watching this video on YouTube. Just use the code 'YOUTUBE'  at learn.simplifiedsearch.net.

I hope you learned something really, really beneficial today. If you've got any questions, please comment below. We'd love to continue that conversation with you. And until next time, happy marketing.

Mastering Structured Data

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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