Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, has obviously been an important factor for website performance for well over two decades. However, with increasing refinement and understanding of Google’s (and other alternative search engine) algorithms, website managers have gotten wiser and more strategic about the deployment of their SEO strategy. To rank ahead of the competition, modern SEO implementation methodology must be quite nuanced, and frequently updated to keep pace with ever-evolving algorithms and updates. In this article, we’ll talk about how website schema will be a key differentiator for organic search.
Traditional Methods of SEO Alone are Insufficient
Traditional methods of search engine optimization, like metatext optimization, H1 headings, and backlinking are by no means non-essential nowadays. In fact, it is quite literally the opposite – they are the mere table stakes that every single website should have to be considered even operational in 2022. However, what once was the complete focus of organic search strategies has evolved to the foundational building blocks. Though true optimization, or distinguishing your website from the rest, takes far more complex and nuanced forms. In 2023 we will see a noticeable shift and prioritization of schemas.
2023 – Year of the Schema?
Website schema isn’t a brand new concept – Google has offered “Rich Results” or “Structured Data” since the 2000s. What has changed, however, is the importance these displays are to organic performance. As existing SEO methods become commonplace, the remaining distinguishing factors will become increasingly important factors.
If you aren’t familiar with structured data markup, you’ll be surprised to know that you likely interact with them every day. Structured data markup is simply website information formatted in a specific, “structured” schema (as outlined by Google’s engineers) that feeds Google’s Rich Results — these Rich Results displays are the interactive elements (that aren’t sitelinks) that you see on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Some common ones include:
- Job Postings
- Related Images
- Related Videos
Visual Density Search Can Improve Clickthrough
What role does the schema of structured data markup play with regards to SEO? For one, the most critical factor is that of density and representation. A hallowed rule of SEO has been one link per domain (unless you’re lucky enough to get a sitelink sitemap). Rich Results is a clear break of that rule — there’s no limit to how many Rich Results one site can return. More results simply mean more opportunities for viewers to click through to your site organically.
Furthermore, vertical density is an important consideration. Without rich results, if a prospect scrolls past your sitelink in the SERP, it’s very unlikely that an individual is ever going to interact with your link ever again. In contrast, Rich Results can be inserted at any point through the SERP — meaning that a site can have multiple points for visual interaction through the SERP.
How to Implement Website Schema on Your Website
It is incredibly important to understand that structured data website schema cannot and will not happen accidentally — website managers need to spend time and significant effort to ensure any provided data matches what Google is looking for. Even a single error will mean Google will largely ignore the whole provided schema; Google isn’t looking to do any fuzzy logic or favors for website schema.
Thankfully, Google provides an easy-to-reference listing of ALL the possible Rich Results and their expected schema. Traversing the whole list is daunting, but it is vital to realize that structured data schema, unlike traditional SEO strategies like metatext or image optimization, is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solution. Before embarking on updating your website data to meet Google’s schema requirements, identify what your website’s strengths and priorities are, and then match them with a similarly minded structured data requirement.
For example, a site heavily devoted to recruitment would certainly be interested in adding the Estimated Salary and Job Posting schema items — both would be a big driver for interested applicants. A site with a focus on video could leverage various Video layouts to encourage prospects to click through in a visual way not possible through metatext alone. Websites with more complex service offering could leverage Q&A and How-tos to convince and coax wary end users. Don’t bother trying to implement every schema — instead focus on what is most relevant for your website.
Google doesn’t do all this schema creation by themselves. Much of these definitions are defined by a consortium of web stakeholders through an organization called Schema.org. Schema.org offers comprehensive documentation of their data structures online. Above all else, however, it is important to note that both Schema.org’s and Google’s structures are quite fluid. Web needs constantly shift, and both organizations are very much in deep conversations with web users at large to identify what would be relevant changes and schema updates. Bluetext would recommend adding the Schema.org changelog as a bookmark, and referencing once a quarter. It may be deep in the weeds, but it also acts as a bellwether of what schema and data structures are being actively updated and worked-on — a good sign of increasing relevance for that data structure.
Finally, no task is complete without verification. Thankfully, Google has made that easy as well with the Schema Markup and Rich Results testers. You can easily validate website data against what Google’s crawlers see, to ensure your work did not go to waste.
SEO is no longer a paint-by-numbers game. People have gotten too smart and traditional monolithic strategies are simply insufficient by themselves to propel your website to the top of the rankings. Schema and website markup offer a way for dedicated and driven website managers to distinguish their organic results and secure a stake of organic traffic away from lackadaisical competitors.
If you want some help in identifying opportunities for your website to leverage Rich Results and website schema, come talk to us here at Bluetext.