SEO is a delicate art — one that is constantly being refined and upgraded in light of the latest innovations on the part of Google and other leading search engines.
Anyone who runs any kind of business website is likely to know a couple of useful tidbits about SEO. For example, it’s pretty universally acknowledged that high quality backlinks pointing to your website are a major factor in how well your website ranks on Google’s search results.
Then, it’s also common knowledge that the keywords you use on your website will influence what types of searches will bring your website up.
While one key benefit of good SEO, in general, is that people from around the world can find your site and learn more about your company – it’s often much more important to get the attention of people in your local area.
You’ve probably noticed that Google has “snippets” displaying certain websites and businesses at the top of the results page, set apart from the normal search results. These snippets reflect local results that are likely to be particularly relevant to the searcher.
The key way of optimizing your site for these local results is to take advantage of “Structured Data,” also known as Schema Markup.
Here are a few things to know about Structured Data.
What Is Structured Data?
Structured Data, also known as Schema Markup, is essentially code used on the back end of your webpages, that isn’t visible to the casual visitor, but which allows search engines – in particular Google – to effectively understand and catalogue the information found on that page.
There are various different types of Structured Data, which correspond to different facets of Google, and which will influence the kinds of local results which your site will show up for.
Structured Data is something that is often overlooked by people running their own amateur SEO campaigns, and even a significant number of people who actually do know about it opt not to use it. This is typically either due to lack of familiarity with the system, or simply due to a belief that the odds of ranking are too small to be worth it.
Properly using Structured Data, however, can absolutely transform your website’s visibility with regards to local searches, and may bring an incredible boost to your company’s fortunes.
So, even if Structured Data is something that you choose to leave to third party SEO experts to handle, it’s certainly worth looking into.
Types of Structured Data to Focus on
There are various types of Structured Data that each correspond to different features of Google’s search platform.
Depending on what impact you’re trying to make with a particular page of your website, you’ll want to employ a different form of Structured Data, so that the page will have the best chance of being read, catalogued, and displayed appropriately.
Here are a few different types of Structured Data to focus on.
Searching for a local business on Google is extremely easy – all you need to do is search for terms like “SEO company near me,” and you will be treated to a display of local companies that might suit your need.
The way Google displays these results is via what is known as the “Local 3-Pack,” which is – as the term suggests – a cluster of the three most relevant results for that particular search, at that particular time.
“Local business” schema.org designation entails its own kind of Structured Data, and it also requires you to have a Google My Business (GMB) listing that does a good job of drawing people in.
Suffice to say, if you’re able to rank in the “Local 3-Pack,” your conversion rate for those searches will be far, far higher than it would be for a more generic search term. It’s also worth keeping in mind that although you might not rank for a particular term today, that doesn’t mean you won’t begin to rank for a similarly relevant term tomorrow, next month, or a year from now, if you keep working at it.
According to Google, FAQ Schema can be used on any page that contains a list of questions and answers on any particular topic. That means FAQ Schema doesn’t have to be reserved only for company FAQ pages; you can create a “frequently asked questions” resource on any topic and use the Schema to indicate that the content is structured as an FAQ.
FAQ Schema is a particularly exciting new Schema type due to how much real estate it can capture in the organic listings. Marking up your FAQ content can create rich results that absolutely dominate the SERP, with the potential to take up a huge amount of vertical space compared to other listings. See the below example on mobile:
Like all Schema, the FAQ content must be a 100 percent match to the content displayed on the page, and displaying different content in your Schema than what is displayed on the page can result in a manual action. Google also requires that the content marked up with FAQ Schema is not used for advertising purposes.
It’s been said that 91% of online users read reviews, and that 84% trust those reviews as much as they do their friends.
Whatever your company offers, you can be sure that people will tend to look for reviews of what you offer before deciding to part with their money.
Review Schema Markup will help your company’s reviews show up quickly and easily in Google’s SERPs.
Another compelling local feature that Google offers is the ability to easily find events that are happening in your area.
These days, people are more spoiled for choice than ever before – and you can be sure that anyone who wants to spend a weekend entertaining themselves in town will have more than a couple of options at their disposal, if they are willing to put in little bit of work and to do a little bit of research.
If you run any kind of events at all in your local area, these can serve as an excellent direct marketing platform, while also providing more direct benefits to your community and your prospective customer base.
Searching for “events near me” on Google brings up a list of the events happening in your area, with those happening soonest displaying first.
Events Schema Markup increases your chances of ending up on that important list.
Just about every company these days does at least a bit of blogging, or puts out the occasional article, or churns out a number of press releases.
For articles, there are a variety of different schema available, with BlogPosting and NewsArticle being the most common.
It’s worth researching some of the different article schemas on offer, and choosing one that’s most relevant for the type of written content you put out on your own site.
Depending on the size of your business, there’s a good chance that you will be interested in hiring new employees and contractors from time to time.
As with everything else, Google can have a lot to do with how visible your job ads are, and with the number of applicants you are likely to get.
By using JobPosting Schema, and adding that markup to the career listings on your site, you are effectively signaling to Google that you are offering a job. If all goes well, your job listing will then end up somewhere where it will attract a lot of eyeballs.