Optimizing Your Structured Data for Better Search Results

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In the latest episode of Hack My Growth, we’re going to be taking a look at how we can optimize our structured data and get more out of our Schema.org implementation.

Video Transcript: 

In this video, we’re going to be walking through how we can optimize our structured data to extend the benefits even further.

What is Structured Data?

So, what is structured data? By now, hopefully you have some idea if you’ve watched any of our videos what structured data is. Essentially, it’s just a label applied to markups that allow Google or other search engines, or other databases, to really understand the data. It’s metadata, so it’s data about data, and it’s added, in this case, the case we’re talking about, for search engines, rather than people.

Now the primary purpose is to help with better indexing and understanding, but in order to rank in search, we still have to have the content, we still need to deliver value, still needs to be unique, all those other factors apply. So this is not like a magic bullet, but it is something that’s extremely important if you want to earn rich features.

Schema.org

Now when we talk about structured data in the realm of SEO, we typically are talking about the Schema.org markup language. Now this was founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex, and the mission really was to create a unified schema that could be used for structured data on search engines. So, it’s a common language that they all use and they all understand. There’s a number of types and there’s a number of properties within those types, and each one of those helps the crawlers better understand the context of our webpages.

Google Guidelines

Within the Google Search gallery, we have guidelines on how to use structured data types if we want to rank for certain rich results. In these guidelines, we have both required properties, as well as recommended properties. But when we look at Schema.org, there’s actually additional properties that we can add that add a lot of context as well. The search engines actually use these different properties, they do recognize them.

Now they may not have a direct impact on rich results, but if we can supply the search engines with more context and better understanding of our pages, it’s definitely going to help with indexing, and it’s definitely going to help with discoverability of those pages. So it’s good to use these guidelines from Google as a base, but then we can extend them further and actually optimize our structured data to get more optimal results.

Optimizing Your Structured Data

So in this video, we’re going to be looking at three common types of structured data, organization, product and video, and we’re going to look at what are both required to earn those rich results, as well as what are some recommended properties from Google. Then we’re going to look at how we can optimize them further to even get more out of our implementation.

1. Organization

So, the first one we’re going to look at is organization. Now if you go into the Google gallery, you’re not going to see a markup kind known as organization, you’re actually going to see something called logo. Now, this is being used to pull your logo in for maybe a knowledge graph panel or something along those lines.

Now, the required properties is you actually have to have a URL image. It needs to actually be at least 112×112, it needs to be crawlable and indexable, it also needs to meet the file formats that are supported by Google, so you need to use something like a PNG or a JPEG. An SVG here isn’t going to work, so you actually can’t use that type of file, you need to follow the guidelines from Google. You also need to make sure that the image looks like it’s supposed to look. You want to have maybe a pure white background so it pops out. If you’re using the image object type, you need to make sure that it’s using the valid content URL property, and it follows the same guidelines as the URL type.

Aside from actually having an image itself, the logo, you need to have a URL. This is the URL of the organization that is associated with that logo, this creates that connection saying this company has this specific logo. So these are what are required for logo type, which is what it’s called in the Google Search gallery, but really we can extend this optimization even further by building out a whole listing on our organization itself.

So, what else can you add? Well, you can add your:

  • company name
  • social profiles
  • contact information
  • service area
  • brand
  • who founded the company, etc.

I mean, the list goes on and on. This is a quick screenshot from Schema.org, but let’s hop over there right now and take a look at what this organization schema type looks like.

So we’re on Schema.org, you can just do a search for organization and you’ll see this type. Now as you can see, there’s a lot of different properties to choose from. There’s an expected type, so what do they expect to see in the property, and then a little bit of a description. You by no means have to have all of these, but by adding certain ones in there, they can make sense for your brand.

So, you need to look at this optimization in the context of your own company and say, “What information is really important?” If you’re a local company or maybe you only serve a certain area, area served would probably be something important. If you sell certain brands or you’re connected to a brand, again, this would be important.

Contact point information is something that I think’s extremely important. This is what’s going to allow the search engines to understand the different contact points. You can do one for sales, you can do one for customer service, and that information can get pulled into the search results and make it really easy for the searchers to contact you. You can have email, you can have the number of employees, all of this really, really cool information.

So, you would scroll down here and pull the ones that make the most sense for you. For instance, if you’re a smaller company and you have a parent organization, you can add that information here as well. You can add reviews on your company, you can add additional things like other Images or Same As, which this comes in really helpful when you’re trying to connect your social media accounts.

Now, what I really like with Schema.org is you can actually always scroll to the bottom and they’re going to give you some examples here. So right here is an example of google.org, but if we go ahead and look at the JSON-LD, we can see an organization, we can see their postal address right here, right? We can see the email for this individual, their fax number and where they’re a member of.

As you can see, they’re a member of at type organization. So what this tells the search engines, if you want to see what they’re a member of, look back to the organization, and we get that information here. You can also see alumni, you can see a lot of other information and all this can be fed into the search engines.

Now this is really cool, because they’re adding more context. You’re not just giving them a specific logo in a lot of cases, which you can do, but you can also add these contact points. All of these examples are really great places to start. Here’s one with T-Mobile, and they’ve got multiple contact points. So all of this rich information can be added to this organization type markup, which you’re already putting in your logo, so this is how you can extend it even further, give the search engines that really powerful information about your site.

So if you’re already using organization or you’re already marking up your logos, take that extra step and begin to add this contextual information. This is great information contact point to put on your Contact Us page. You can go deeper about your company itself on your About Us page, right? Talk about the team or the organization, and who’s a part of that organization and all those other pieces of information that you want the search engines to really understand about your company.

2. Product

So, in the market types that’s really used quite a bit through eCommerce sites or sites that sell products is the product markup. Now if you don’t sell products, you can use something called service. You’re not going to find that in the Google Search gallery, because there’s no rich features for service, but you can still mark up your service pages using that. So, just make sure you search that in Schema.org and it’ll help you there. Google uses a lot of different information from products. Now when it comes to required properties, there’s two. You need to have the name of the product and you need to either have a review or aggregate review or offers.

Now as you can see, we’re already extending this required property quite a bit further. Now if we look over to the right-hand side, we’ll see recommended properties like aggregate reviews. This shows you your overall review, like four out of five, right? They also like when you put in brand or description, so you describe your product. Having an image or multiple images, adding an offer. Now, this is an extremely important thing to do if you want to put in pricing information, and you want that pricing information to show up maybe in Google image search.

Having reviews, you can actually have the review stars within your products, which definitely helps with click-through rates. You can use global identifiers which help to identify specific products and maybe link them back to those products themselves, and then skews, which obviously are specific to the merchant, but again, this is also helpful information.

Now, what else can you do? Well, like Google said, they want to see things like offer, review, but you could put shipping information, brand. Now you can get all of this information straight from the Google gallery, so we’re going to hop over there and I’m going to show you a little bit of what that looks like.

So when it comes to products, there’s a lot of cool rich features with products. For instance, within Google image search, you can see that you can add these product tabs here and that all comes from structured data. This product information can be pulled like review rating, also pricing. Again, this can really help with the click-through rate of your search listings.

Now I highly recommend if you’re going to do products, that you read all of this information, there’s a lot of cool notes and stuff. They even give you some example like JSON-LD here which you can look at. So we can see here it’s product, we can see the product type, here’s the images. We’ve got a description of the product and a skew, the brand. Then we’ve got a nested review by a person, then we’ve got their aggregate reviews and their offers. So, they’re stacking all this information for one product.

Now, the reason offers is so important is you can actually put your pricing information in here, and this can really help you out when it comes to those listings like we saw up here on top. When people can see the price, they’re definitely more likely to click through if it’s something they’re looking for.

So as you scroll down here, Google’s going to give you all of the different types. Now, make sure you follow the guidelines. This is extremely important because if you don’t follow them, you can’t expect to see any of the benefits, but you can also put in shipping details, as you can see here. All this great information that they really believe’s going to help the end user. Here’s the required properties, the name, and then one of these three things.

Now you can do an aggregate review, you can add your brand or organization, description, images, and you can nest a number of images in here. Make sure that your images are high-quality images. Right here it says for best results, follow these, actually try to get at these 50K pixels and follow the correct aspect ratio, it really does play a big role. This is how you would nest those. You can add the offers in here, the review and all this other information.

Now, they’re going to go over here and talk about offers specifically. Take some time to read through this and add these extra properties into your markup. Make sure that you’re using offer type and the price. This is required if you want to have rich image viewer. If you want to show up for that, you have to have an offer. You can put in a product that may be available without a payment, maybe it’s free. You can still add that to show up, just put it in as $0.

Some other recommended properties, things like availability. This is the way to show people is it in stock or is it in-store only. Maybe you’ve done a Google Search on a product and you want to see things that are in-store only, this is how Google gets that data. They can crawl a website to find it and parse it from unstructured data, but when you structure your data and you make their job easier, they’re going to like that site, because it’s going to make their life easier and make their job easier. So, take some time to really optimize and leverage these.

Again, if you want to be eligible for certain rich features, you have to have these things in, even though they’re just considered as recommended. So, take some time to walk through this. As you can see, offer shipping details. There’s so much things and so many different properties you can add, and optimizing your markup further than just having a product and an aggregate offer, which is a good thing too, low price and price currency, but taking this further and making sure that you have the high price and the offer count.

All of those really cool things that you can do, it’s going to extend your schema even further, it’s going to allow you to rank better, it’s going to make the job of the search crawler easier on your website. There’s just so many benefits, especially if you’re selling physical products through your website. I can’t stress it enough. Taking the time to really optimize and going beyond the basics of product markup and really spending some time specifically, I would suggest, in the offers section.

3. Video

So the last type is video, and video is still very powerful, and it’s something that a lot of people have been talking about for years. Every year is the year of video, right? That’s what I always like to say, because it seems like that’s what people put out every single year, but you can mark up your video to get further exposure for your webpages.

So the required properties from Google, you need to have a description of the video, a name of the video, a thumbnail, and when it was uploaded, but the recommended properties can be extended further, so you’re going to want to have a content URL. This is going to be Google’s most effective way to fetch your video content files. So if you want Google to fetch your video and crawl your video, you need to have this. It’s going to be the most efficient way. You can also add in duration, so how long is the video.

Embedded URL, this is another way to just provide some information on where that content is. Content URL is definitely going to take priority, but this is obviously something that you want to look at as well. If the video’s going to expire, you can put that in. You can even mark out certain parts, right? If you want to say these are specific clips of the video that are really important, you can add that in.

Interaction statistics, this is helpful to show them the engagement in the video. You can show publication. Even if you’re doing maybe a live event, you can actually mark up your live event, and then regions allowed. Some video is not allowed everywhere, and so you can add that in here, which helps Google to really place that video where it needs to go.

What else can you do though? Well, you can add:

  • Actor
  • Director
  • Captions
  • About us
  • Audience

All these other different properties to your video, which really will extend that structured information and can really help when you’re building your knowledge graph to start tying in people and content at a deeper level on your website.

So, let’s take a look at Schema.org and explore this video object a little bit further. So, here we are on Schema.org. As you can see, we’ve got actor and caption, director, you can even show who the music’s by. You can really start to add in all these layers of information that help the crawlers understand the context. You can add transcript if there’s a transcript of the video, so they can read the text, which is extremely powerful as well. You can associate it to a news article, you can have how big that content is. As you can see here, there’s tons of different properties, ranging from the creative work aspects of it to who’s involved in the specific media itself.

Now once again with Schema.org, we can always scroll to the bottom and get some examples, right? So, here we’ve got this video from the Foo Fighters and we can look at the music group here. We can see the event that was taking place and the information here, we can see the audio recording, and then here you go, the video type. Which this is all the information about this recording above, but nested down here in the video itself which talks about what the video is, how long is it, the name of it and all the other cool pieces of information like the interactions here.

We’ve got this one here with YouTube and Twitter votes, again marking it up in the engagement of these videos. This helps the search engine just understand more about this piece of content. This is not text content, so they actually can’t read text, so what they’re doing is they’re parsing the video and trying to understand what they know about it. So when you add all of this extra information, it’s going to help them understand the context of the video so much deeper.

So if you’re using video, you should be marking up your video and you should be extending the markup of your video to give them as much information as you can where it makes sense.

Don’t go overboard and think that you have to plot all of these different things, but go through here and go, “Okay, what is the most important thing?”

For instance, let’s say you made a video on your website about baking, and the page itself is baking tips. The main entity, you could tack that here, say, “This video is about baking,” and that helps Google to understand what’s the concept? What’s the main thing that this page is about, and that this video is helping to add a signal to?

So in today’s world, there’s a lot of plugins and a lot of generators out there that help you build markup. Now the reality is, is a lot of them aren’t going to support these extra properties, they’re going to support a lot of the basic properties. Now we do have a generator that supports a lot of the basic properties, but also we’ve added some of the extensions into our markup generator, just in case you wanted to do something a little bit deeper, a little bit more specific.

Building Your Markup

So if you head over to our site, simplifiedsearch.net, you’ll find our Structured Data Generator, we can start to work through some of these different types. You can also always use Schema.org to find new ways to optimize your markup, just make sure you always validate it using the Schema.org validator to make sure that your markup is working properly.

This is just a real quick look at our Structured Data Generator. We don’t have all the different types in here, we do have a few of the most common used like Article and Breadcrumb, and Event, so you can go through here and start to build these out. So for instance, organization. You can add what type of organization, so you can get even more specific here. Then you add your name and your alternate name and URL and your logo.

So this is going to require your basic things that you need for Google logo, but then you can also add your social profiles and you can add the URLs here. You can also add in your contact information, and this is going to help you build the different contact types and the different contact points. So you just type it all out here and you can validate it right here, it’s going to pop it over to Schema.org for you.

If you’re doing video, we have the video and the description, the date it was uploaded, the minutes, the seconds, but then things like content URL and the embedded and who is the publisher and the logo publisher. So, this is extra information that you can just add another layer of data into your structured data when it comes to video or products, or any of the other types that we have here.

Product will help you build out all this information, as well as your offer. So if you want to put your offer out in here, you just type it in, fill these boxes, it’s going to generate the code over for you right here. You could validate that, and then it’s JSON-LD, so you copy and paste it and put it back on your website.

I hope you learned something new with this video today, I hope you found it really helpful. If you want to extend it even further and you want to learn how to do this at a whole nother level with your website, I want to invite you to take our course, Mastering Structured Data & Schema.org For Rich Results. By watching our videos and being part of our YouTube community, we give you 25% off of this course, and it’s going to teach you everything you need to know to start implementing this on your site today and extend the structured data and the depth of your site.

If you have any questions, please comment below, I’d love to continue to have that conversation with you. Don’t forget to hit the like button, subscribe to our channel. Until next time, happy marketing.

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