The ProblemGoogle is moving to a transactional model in which quick answers within the search results are prioritized.
The SolutionYou should change how you build content, and learn how to use rich snippets and structured data to improve ranking.
Interesting Stories / Points:
  • There has been an 80% increase in “best..X” searches year over year.
  • A Rich Snippet:
    • Makes it easier for Google to understand the information on the page so it can present more within the results page. You can see an example below:
  • There are 797 types of Structured Data on that you can use to create a Rich Snippet.
  • 41% of questions have featured snippets.
  • Mark-up your reviews and you can receive a 30% increase in click-throughs.
  • 70% of search traffic is considered long tail.


1. Overview

I am Colleen Harris from CDK and the breakdown of this session today is being able to understand exactly what a rich snippet is in the search results and what you need to be doing for your website today in order to take advantage of those snippets with the search results with Google. And really this comes down to the fact that Google is moving toward the transactional world where everything occurs within the actual search results and there are steps anybody can do to take advantage of that and really put your site out there in the way that Google wants your information. So after all of this, you’ll be able to come away with some practical applications of how to use rich snippets and structured data within your current digital marketing plan.

In 2017 here at CDK, we’d completed an entire project that was the cleanup and enhancement of structured data across 7000 websites. And so that’s product information, business information.

I lead and manage the project for making it really bad to really good. And we’ve been able to quantify the results about that. So we’re sharing that results to kind of help people understand better the idea of structured data and then put some real actual data points behind it of the impact it can have within the search results.

The idea of a rich snippet breaks down into three aspects. First and foremost we’re going to understand what exactly a rich snippet is.
There’s a lot of terms about that and it’s helpful to understand what it is and what it isn’t. And then we’re really going to dive into the data around the structure data impact on the search results and the positive impact you see in your organic results after doing structured data. And finally, we’re going to break down how to think about your content differently so that you’re getting those enhanced search results or the answer boxes AKA the holy grail for anybody within SEO.


2. What is a Rich Snippet?

What is a Rich Snippet? A Rich Snippet really and truly as we look at the kind of official Google description is that it’s the structured data markup that can be added to sites that allows search engines to better understand the information on the page. And that’s a lot of words. And what that really means is that this example of the recipe is a Rich Snippet. We’re able to put in all the information about the calories, all the information about photos, how to cook, star rating for the recipe. All of that information within the search results happens because of structured data within a website.

As we look at what powers the Rich Snippet and we talk about structured data this gets a little more technical. And this is the idea that structured data is that technical language for providing all of your business information.

This is the language that Google and other search sports want site information to be in so they can pull information within a second and provide it to the searcher. With the millions upon millions of searches that are happening every day and every second, you need to be able to provide that information almost instantly and schema is the vehicle that which you can do all of that work. Really and truly, structured data is your digital business card for the search engines. It’s that piece of information that takes who you are and what historically would have lived on a business card, translates it into that schema language and from that schema language, we’re able to see the enhanced search results. In the screenshot here, we’ve got a photo marked up as well as bread crumbs marked up with structured data and that gives the searcher more information about a particular model that is sold.


3. What Type of Structured Data Exists For A Website?

When you look at the idea of structured data there’s almost 800 pieces that could be marked up on the official website which is kind of the Bible or dictionary about how you should be doing structured data. Still looking for that website that can do almost all 800. But really if you think about what you want to be marking up go back to your high school English class and think about the five W’s. The who, what, when, where, and why because that’s the kind of classifications you need to be thinking about if you’re going to be marking up your events, your organization or your business, person’s reviews, things that can be done on the site. All of that really fits back into that kind of category.


4. What Structured Data Language Should You Use?

Now there are a few things that Google will actually tell you what to do and this type of structured data language you should be using is one of those things. When you dive into the developer section on Google they say we recommend using Json L.D. as a data format for structured data. And if Google is going to recommend that you do anything you really should be following that. There is still structured data around micro data or the RF but those are the three types of formats that supports and those are the types of formats you should be using.

Google when you look at the merchant center will also say that for information that comes in from a field such as inventory or product reviews anything like that, you should be using the micro data for that. So that’s always a great thing to be aware of.


5. Where Should You Start?

So if we look at that who, what, when, where, and why, first and foremost, you need to be thinking about how you’re talking about your business. When my clients start learning about structure data they want to be able to markup everything under the sun because they feel that will give them some sort of leg up in conquesting or going after the competition. And when I have to write them back and say no, I always include this proper mean to be able to say you should only be marking a lot who you are. Google is smarter than all of us in this and they know when someone is trying to game the system. So that you need to be smart and responsible about the structure data that you are using for your business. One of the best tangible results we’ve seen in Rich Snippet so far is that when we completed this entire markup, we started to markup phone numbers by sales and service. Now Will Segals will have some Rich Snippets for the phone number that’s marked up as the sales one right within the search results.

Historically Google would only display the phone number that was off of the business listing. So by using structured data properly, it’s a chance to really show an additional phone number and give your customers additional ways to get things going on.


6. Product Schema- Be Descriptive & Truthful

The second part of structured data that’s most important is the idea of product schema. And this is a chance to brag about exactly what you do, what you sell, what you offer and the important things about that. As we’ve seen in the example here by being able provide an enhanced structured data around product information. Google’s now displaying that all in the search results. And so that if Google going to give you the opportunity you should be taking advantage of it. Like we were talking about with the business structure data you need to be truthful and descriptive about what you are and what you sell. This is Google’s world and we are all just living in it and you need to make sure that you play on the right side of that before Google notices and you get a penalty about it.


7. Mark Up Your Review & Offers

One of the things that I see not enough people using as a markup… You’re on Slide 13 is the idea of marking up your all offers. These two examples here in the search results that I’m showing our answer boxes for a least type of search and these are both local car dealer website. This is not a national website. This is not anything else going on. This is Google reading proper offer markup and putting it right into the search results.

So if you have a sale or a deal or something else going on you want to display that information and mark that information properly so that when the search occurs Google will read that and put that right into the search results.

One of the most important things that we see in marking up is the marking up of your reviews. Structured data is the thing that puts those little gold, green or blue stars right within a search result on a page. And as you see here there’s about almost a 30% increase in click-through rate when you have structured data marked up properly and it’s showing within the search results. Key thing to realize for this is that you need to be marking up your own reviews. Historically Google let people do third-party reviews aas mark goes up on the site. But in 2016 Google said you should only be marking up your own reviews and not importing a third party review. So Google has gone through. We’ve seen people lose a star rating because they’re not marking up their own reviews and not gathering their own reviews.


8. How To Scale Out Structured Data

One of the biggest questions we get and we’ve talk about structured data and how we approach scaling out structured data and schema was a two-part section. First and foremost we looked at how to build a template for the markup. And these are two examples of the current markup we used for both offer and for base auto dealer information. You’ll notice that none of the pieces here actually include specific information but are placeholders for actual business information.
So when we are writing these templates we are not hard-coding anything but we are coding for what we want the standard to be and using an autofill or a placeholder for those pieces of information. That way if we have to update we don’t have to re-code everything in 7000 websites. I can re-code one section and add something across the board for 7000 websites.

The second part of the idea of scaling schema is connecting those templates to a database source of information. This is an example of how a general business information comes up than our system so that where it said dealer name before an then live website it will actually populate with the business name the business phone number and the business address. This allows Google to be able to crawl the Jaison and the schema with the business information without having to code individually page by page across 7000 websites all these pieces of information. In all things too much is a bad thing and we should have moderation. And this is also going to apply to schema. Google has started to roll out what they’re calling the Schema Manual Action and that’s the spammy Structured Markup. Like I said, Google is smarter than all of us when it comes to this and they will notice when something will occur and you’ll get a penalty within your first console account to show you what pages you have penalties on and then you’re going to have to go through and clean them, request a review and wait for Google to notice what exactly is going on. And take it from anyone who has had to wait from a manual action for link penalty or something else. That can take months upon months.


9. Does Structured Data Impact Search Results?

So this is one of the more controversial pieces that I’ll throw out here today in the session and I think in the end that structured data does it have an impact on search results on ranking on visibility? And while I don’t believe that there’s a direct correlation by being able to say because I had schema I ranked for this. What I am preventing is the idea that the cleanup of the structure data within our website provided greater organic visibility and greater organic collectors and traffic from that. There’s about 200 pieces that impact where site’s going to rank and structured data is just one of those.


10. Structured Data Case Study

So as we started our structured data cleanup and schema cleanup last year, we really did not have a very good status for that. We do not have cars marked up with cars we were getting all of these vehicle information pieces from a feed but we weren’t putting any of them into that. So as we started to clean this up we also came to see that the price information and the offer information for all of this was missing. We had all this great information. It wasn’t shown and we didn’t have consistency between the two different sections. So as we cleaned up this you’ll see here now that we’re now marking up cars as actual cars using the name of the vehicle with all of the vehicles specifics. And then we’re actually marking up all of those things that schema says we should be marking up for a car. Wheel drive, fuel, number of doors. If you name it we are put that into a feed and be able to mark that up.
Additionally, we started to really leverage that offer type of markup for the manufacture price on a car as well as any deal the dealership has. What we’ve seen from this and this is the most tangible example of it is the idea that there’s more structured data we’re using means more customer invasion of the search result page. We’re now being able to say we have breadcrumbs marked up, we have the vehicles marked up, the logos marked up, the reviews marked up. All of this enhanced search result and all of those things that are going to increase click-through rate come because of structured data. And it’s more than just an enhanced search result that we’re seeing all of this from. We’ve been able to see an increase when we did this in traffic to the site as well as an increase in high funnel traffic to the site. As you’ll see here we saw a 5% increase in the organic traffic to our vehicle search results page which is really that listing page of all the different vehicles. We also saw that same type of increase to the actual vehicle detail page. So we were able to see that 5% lift of people into looking at a particular vehicle which was up from the previous year. Additionally, we were able to see that 7% increase in clicks based out of making model. And what that means is that those shoppers looking for the Red Silverado 1500 those are the type of shoppers we saw an increase in clicks.

So that is a low funnel high intent shopper was clicking more into our site and the one common thing amongst all of these sites was the idea of the structured data clean up. And it impacted not only the model related pages but overall visibility of the site on the organic channel. Increases in overall organic visit in a time in an industry that’s not been trending up and as well as overall page views on the site. So people who were coming were doing things. And as the make model increase, we saw also went to increasing the visibility across the whole site for all of those different make and model terms. 20 different people are going to search 20 different ways. And this was a chance to really be able to increase overall visibility because of structured data.


11. How To Change Your Content

How do we rethink content to be getting those enhanced search results or the answer boxes that everybody is striving for. A couple of things to realize when we’re talking about featured snippets, answer boxes or that enhanced search results. Almost half of those search results that will show you a featured snippet are question-related and that question related has increased dramatically in the last year or so. More and more people are asking those search questions and Google’s giving those answers. So someone hopefully doesn’t even have to leave a page in order to do that. People always talk about the idea of writing for how people really talk and think and this is an example of that. The average paragraph size in those answer boxes is 46 words which is smaller than what we’re used to for content and SEO and content marketing. But it does shift about how you should be thinking about your content. And finally, we’ve seen that good increase were almost a quarter of those searches include some sort of comparison.

One of the stats I read the other day is that there’s an 80% increase in best searches year over year. People want to know when they’re getting that deal or that best whatever. And Google is using featured snippets to work with that.


12. Focusing On The Long Tail

The other way to really start shifting your thinking for this is when you talk about the idea of how people are searching. Almost three-quarters of all search it’s three or more keywords and it’s considered a long tail. Historically in our industry people would focus on being able to rank for one key word, two key words. Now it’s no longer about that but it’s about what are the phrases and comments people use when searching and how are you showing up for that. How have you made yourself the local authority for that? The first and foremost way that think about your keyword and questions and content on your site is that you need to be really thinking about what are the questions people are asking. And if you’re not using it should be your book to more resource for converting keywords in the question. This is a tool that allows you to put in something like oil change and Grapevine and it will give you every type of question possible for an oil change. So when you’re wanting to be more relevant you know dealers who want more oil changes. We wouldn’t talk about how to where to write oil change on their website.

We’ll talk about what are the questions people are answering and how can we make you be authority and have you showing for those questions. SEMrush also has an amazing tool for that because it allows you to both filter keywords by which sets have a Rich Snippet and it also allows you to look at the competitors. So when you’re in year in the SEMrush keyboard magic tool you’re able to put in a keyword and then it will tell you exactly what are the questions about that and what is the search volume for that. It’s a really great feature to be able to filter those keywords and then look at where your competitors are showing up or what those questions that you can be answering. This is the best thing that you’re going to take away from my presentation and that’s the steps to be able to scrape those people also search questions that appear at the bottom of the search results. Using the chrome scraper extension what you want to do is complete in a search in Google like normal and then in the scraper extension click scrapes similar. This XPath extension when you put that into the scraper will then give you all the types of questions that people are asking that Google is associated with that search. This is a goldmine of ways that you’re going to be able to find what Google associates with a search and how you can then become the authority for all of those searches.


13. Case Study #2

And all things I like to be able to have a little bit of data and a little bit of like this actually works. When we’re talking about structured data and Rich Snippets and this is a case study from a client I had last year who said I want to be selling more tires. So they worked with paid search, we had to do tire campaigns targeting existing customers all of that.

On the organic side, we really focused not more on driving their name and tires but looking at what are the type of questions people are going to ask when they’re looking for the best tires for their car. Like I said people want to know the best of everything and they want to know they’re having the best of everything. So we built the page that really focused on that. From there we were able to then find and use the schema question and answer markup and started to get those rich snippets and that enhanced search results all because of the work we did and the content we wrote around questions. What we saw from this would be besides that great fancy enhanced search result and the rich snippet is that we drove highly qualified traffic into the site. This was the page that was only linked once an anchor text on the home page. And from that, we were able to see and grow traffic year over year. And it’s a highly qualified traffic. These are shoppers that are spending over four minutes on a site. And if you can get a tire customer who knows how to go about that then that’s the type of customer you want to engage with.

Additionally, since that page was talking about the best tires for your Silverado we started to see an increase in overall visibility around best tire searches as well as just increase in visibility and clicks around the word best. So we saw a lot of other impacts by being able to do the structured data properly and use it how it should be used.


14. Final Takeaways

So if there’s nothing else you take away from this I would implore you to do these three things. First, you need to be auditing the structured data on your site to make sure it’s clean and proper and marking up what you want your customers to now. Really think about the idea that all of the information is going to live within Google search results one day. And if structured data is the thing that’s going to give you the leg up you should really be taking advantage of that. Second, it’s a push to think about content differently and start to answer your customer’s questions rather than just spitting out content and assuming that’s what people want. And finally, if nothing else head home and scrape those people also search for ideas for the next content that you want to write for your site.


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