by Zoe Huden on March 25, 2014
SEO is perhaps one of the most recognized and problematic words in digital marketing. What really is SEO? How do we measure it? What’s included in SEO when it’s offered as a service? What all does it encompass? Search engine optimization is what a majority of digital marketing is, right? No matter what channel we’re operating in, we’re usually working to optimize our site, our content, our brand, for the Internet. Until search engines go the way of the dinosaur, SEO will remain the ways in which we get our online properties in front of the right audiences at the right times.
“Structured Data for SEO” is the 2nd session I attended while at Search Fest 2014 and it was all about semantic SEO. I’ve heard the term “semantic SEO” for a while now, but I really didn’t know much about it going into this session. For those of you who don’t know what semantic SEO is, simply put it’s sending detailed information about your content to search engines so that those search engines can easily process that data and understand what that content is. In order to understand this current cantation of SEO, Simmonds explained that the evolution of SEO has evolved with the evolution of indexation.
The Evolution of Indexation
Why structured data now? Simmonds put it simply, “Search engines are dumb.” They rely on cues to tell them what content is on a page. Simmonds then explained that SEO today is three parts execution and one part future-proofing. This means that while Google might not use certain data right now in terms of assigning SEO value, they may begin to in the future, and so letting Google have access to all that data upfront helps you stay ahead of the curve as SEO continues to evolve.
Simmonds had conducted a series of tests for determining the value of certain structured data mark-ups, here’s a quick overview of those tests:
1. Authorship – Filling out Google+ profile, connecting to CMS for authorship/picture attribution in SERPs.
Factors that affect SEO – at the content level:
Factors that affect SEO – at the author level:
Not a huge impact, and should not be a top priority, but is still important.
2. Online Reviews (product specific)
In this test, Google picked this up really fast, there was a quick spike in traffic at the very beginning of implementation, then it returned to normal levels, but looking at YOY there was a 100%+ increase in traffic.
When searching with highly specific search queries (using general search, not advanced), the snippet/structured data disappears. If something gets screwed up somewhere else in your site, it can strip your structured data/rich snippets. Rich snippets, if paired with a high authority site, don’t necessarily matter. However, they’re still important.
*Use schema – quickly indexed.
At this point the second presenter Aaron Bradly took over with his “Approaches to Structured Data for SEO.” His presentation was really interesting, but I’ll sum up the best of the best with these 10 takeaways:
Q: How does HTML5 Markup fit in here?
A: Nothing but positive results for companies they’ve seen do it. HTML5 is the backbone of microdata.
Q: KML impact on local SEO
A: The quickest way to get updates across listings, update the KML file, quick updates.
Q: What about people trying to game markups?
A: Google tries to match the query with semantic markup, penalty = removal of your rich snippets.
A: Don’t fill rich snippets with irrelevant keywords, they can remove all of your sites rich snippets as a penalty.
Q: What about video site map vs. XML site map
A: Do both. Video sitemaps are extremely effective – but the data needs to included in the backend, don’t just create a video.
Q: Migrating data vocabulary sites to schema.org?
A: Don’t do it unless you need to. You can add schema markups on top of other markups/languages.