Boosting organic traffic is always on every marketer’s mind. Tactics like following best SEO practices, ensuring your backend setups are complete and finding the right keywords to implement are essential and expected. But are you aiming higher than just appearing on the first page of Google’s search results?
The more in-depth search result links that appear at the top of your search engine results are called snippets, and landing one of those spots can be a major boon to your organic traffic. The way to build towards reaching snippet status is through using structured data.
Today, we’re covering how to use structured data to increase your chances of being featured in a rich snippet on a search engine’s results page, and how that will help your organic performance.
Understanding Structured Data
Structured data is likely one of those industry buzzwords you’ve heard but haven’t gotten around to researching quite yet. We get it – as far as marketing tactics go, it can be a little more complex. But to get you up to speed (and break it down simply):
Structured data is a series of code added to the backend of your website. This code needs to be organized and entered in a specific way (like how you would normally code a website) following a set of rules defined for structured data. This specific way of entering code is called schema. (The universally accepted vocabulary and organizational tactics can be found at Schema.org.)
This code is read by search engines like Google and gives them more insight into what information is listed on your page. If Google can quickly grab relevant information that users are looking for, you’re more likely to be pushed to the top of their results than if you’re just following basic SEO best practices.
And most importantly, structured data sets up your website to be featured in rich snippets.
Understanding Rich Snippets
Rich snippets (used interchangeably with rich results) are listings that appear above normal Google search results. You can spot them by looking for results that are more interactive or offer more information than listings below them.
ClearVoice offers a great example of two search results. The first one details the ingredients and recipe you’ll need to follow, while the second just tells us how good they’ll be (I should hope so, they’re cinnamon rolls).
The first one gives the reader a quick overview of the page content and instills more confidence in what they’re clicking on. The user could look at that snippet and say, “Hey, I have all those ingredients. Let’s go with that one.” The more information presented, the more likely the user is going to engage.
These snippets aren’t just recipes, of course. They can be image carousels, quick FAQ answers, videos, reviews or whatever you set up to include structured data that Google can pull and run with.
When looking at rich snippets, you might hear about featured snippets. While both are snippets, these two aren’t interchangeable, like rich snippets and rich results. To achieve featured snippet status, you already have to be ranking first in that search engine’s organic results. Featured snippets can be the ultimate goal, but first, let’s focus on achieving rich snippet status with structured data.
How Do Structured Data and Rich Snippets Work Together?
It hasn’t been 100% confirmed that using structured data on its own is a factor in ranking. But a study from Milestone Research looked at over 4.5 million queries and reported that users engage with rich snippets 58% of the time, compared to only 41% of the time for non-rich snippets
So yes, we can correlate that having structured data is more likely to yield rich snippets. And that means you’ll be more likely to see a boost in your organic traffic.
Implementing Structured Data
Admittedly, here’s where things start to get a little tricky, especially if you’re new to coding.
Here’s what a typical structured data code can look like:
Not exactly user-friendly. But you don’t have to start from scratch. Luckily, there are several tools you can use to simplify this process and get started with structured data.
As we’ve pointed out before, there are not many marketing strategies you can successfully “set and forget,” structured data included. There are several websites that are dedicated to testing your structured data, making sure it’s running smoothly and correctly organized for maximum results.
If this is a new concept, take it one step (and one page) at a time. There’s no need to rush into building structured data for every single page, blog, piece of gated content, etc. Like any new strategy, it’s best to test first. Start with a page or two that’s most important for your business to push (like a homepage or a very informative blog article), go through the process and see what results you can glean.
Structured data needs quality over quantity. Focus on building comprehensive data structures on the pages that matter most, and consistently test and check in to see if there are any optimizations you can make along the way.
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