This is the third article following the local business and breadcrumb schema guides and covers how to add reviews schema code into the website and to get stars to display in SERPs. We all know the “stars” can appear in your AdWords campaigns but with schema you can get the same stars in organic search which can help immensely with your click through rate (CTR).
To get these review stars to come up for whatever reason first of all you need to dedicate a space on your site to the review, whether it be for the product or the company. In this example WhatCar have done the following –
Hidden behind this section much like the breadcrumbs and local business is some hidden schema code.
Adding review schema to the site
Before adding the next code, make sure to attach it first to a previous div itemscope itemtype such as PRODUCT or LOCALBUSINESS. This will then allow the crawlers to know who or what these reviews belong to. With that set, let’s continue.
This division states that the following content is about reviews “AggregateRating”. The title indicates the content of the review section (it can be an image or text. This would be something along the lines of “We have been rated 4.5/5 on Review Site”.
This piece of code is the meat of the whole thing. The “Word-rating” highlights the actual wording of the score in the section. The “average” and “ratingValue” indicate the actual score with the “bestRating” highlighting the maximum mark. This bit of code indicates that the company has been rated 4.5/5.
This last section highlights how many reviews the company has recieved “666” “reviewCount” and lastly a link to the place where the reviews are stored. The / divs then close the review section off.
By adding this simple piece of code to a website search engines may show stars in your SERPs for those pages which have the code greatly increasing your CTR.
How to add your business information to your website and using schema
Following on from my previous post on breadcrumb schema this time it is local business/organization information and highlighting them using schema. This uses the same exact principals so if you’ve done the breadcrumb guide then this will be no problem.
Local business/organization schema helps crawlers identify your business information and can help with local seo and beyond. Let’s take a look at the code.
Adding the code
The code nestles in the HTML. Generally, websites should have business information in the header or the footer. Like so:
The schema code nestles in here in various stages. Below I will walk through how it is done precisely.
Above shows the opening division class and that the following information is about an organization. Followed by the code showing what the company name is.
The next section gives the property of a logo, the url of the logo and the alt description for the logo.
Next up is the beginning of the address. It is still included in the master section (itemtype) of “Organization” but now gets a subset (itemprop) of “postalddress” followed by the first line of address.
This continues to show the 2nd and 3rd line of address followed by the postcode.
Lastly comes the telephone, email and web url schema.
Once this is done make sure to close the < div > you have used.
To close, the local business schema can help crawlers find information about your business, its address and contact details. This code can occasionally trigger rich snippets which can help the visitor get in touch faster.
How to add Schema integration to a website’s breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs help visitors see the hierarchy and origination of pages and to guide them through the website. It is a great way for visitors to be able to go back to a specific option. Breadcrumbs typically look like this –
Schema helps make these breadcrumbs easier for search engine crawlers to understand that they are there and in what order. Often, websites with schema will also have a different look in the search engine results page.
Above is a landing page without schema integration.
Above is a landing page with schema integration.
How to add it into the HTML
Schema in general is hard coded into the HTML so that it appears on every page. The code is nestled into the breadcrumb code and is invisible to everyone, below is a guide on how it is done. It is heavily advised to check Schema.org on the principles of the protocol first as schema should not be attempted by novices as it can be a lot of wasted hours figuring it out.
This sets that the following is a division entitled breadcrumbs. The item is a breadcrumb the url is the following and the title for the breadcrumb is the following.
< span class=”divider breadcrumb-arrow” >//< /span > < This is a graphic “//”
This is purely a graphic.
This is exactly the same as the first breadcrumb except the opening div class (which it doesn’t need) and obviously the URL and the title correspond to the second breadcrumb.
< span class=”divider breadcrumb-arrow” >//< /span > <- This is a graphic “//”
Again, this is just a graphic.
This is exactly the same as the second breadcrumb except the opening div class (which it doesn’t need) and obviously the URL and the title correspond to the third breadcrumb. It also ends by closing all the open divisions. Also note the class=”current” this is to tell the crawlers that this is current page (the page the visitor is actually on).
Breadcrumb schema is a seriously simple piece of code to add to your website. Schema may seem confusing at first but once you understand how it works you realise how easy it is.
Content is useless if no one can find it. To get your content found through search engines there are 3 things you should always sort out first. – Sitemap, get it fetched, make it crawlable. This short guide helps explain what they mean and how to do it to get your content on search engines faster.
Getting the content on Google, Bing and other search engines
Most websites have a sitemap (put /sitemap.xml at the end of the URL) that acts as a guide map for the search engine’s crawlers. The sitemap lists all the pages that are on the website that the website wants to be crawled. Pages can still be crawled without a sitemap but it makes it a lot easier for the crawlers.
If you use WordPress I recommend using Yoasts sitemaps, I’ve never had any problems with it.
Waiting on the search engines to crawl and index your site takes and unknown amount of time, they will simply do it in their own time. However, you can get it indexed and ranking much quicker by getting it fetched. With fetching the content is usually available to the search engines within 10-15 minutes.
Make it crawlable
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly is to make sure the content is crawlable. What makes it crawlable? Making sure there’s nothing blocking the content (Some JS, Flash etc) and that the page is set to INDEX as opposed to NOINDEX. When I’ve posted any new content on a new template or a website I always right click and click on ‘view source’ and manually check the HTML for any errors. If I can make sense of it then the search engines can is my rule.
Please note this article is aimed for those with little or no knowledge of search engine optimisation and is a summary of my best practices when writing content
Content is everywhere
Content is one of the main drivers of the Google algorithm and can not be ignored. The internet is home to a vast quantity of various kinds of content and it is the search engines job to sift through it and show the searcher the best quality content that can answer their question. This is where structure, links and quality content come in. In my experience there are several different types of content vehicles out there which can serve different purposes for its creator and for the intended reader.
In this article I’ve listed the different types of content I write and what purpose they serve for me.
What are the different types of content?
A landing page is a page designed to rank on search engines for a specific query, the content will be written and designed in such a way that matches potential queries on SERPs. The landing page is purposefully built for a specific audience or need. An example of this is a landing page for industrial deafness which can be attached to a PPC campaign or created just for organic results. Most landing pages are designed separately from the main website.
Useful for: Ranking for specific keywords
A blog is more of a natural piece of writing in comparison to a landing page and can be more of an opinion with no commercial thought to it. Blogging is quite popular for many people who are not in the digital marketing industry as it is a way they can express themselves and their thoughts on various topics. A good blog can be a good link-earner as blog content is usually much more shareable and engaging than a landing page.
Useful for: Engaging audiences
An internal PR page is written to literally showcase the company’s achievements and significant events. An internal PR page can be used effectively to demonstrate the positive culture within the company and impressive feats. If you are regularly winning awards, giving promotions and hiring new staff it can leave a positive opinion for potential clients.
Useful for: Reputation management
External Opinion Blog/Guest Blogging
A guest blog is simply a piece of writing you have written which will be posted elsewhere for the usual purpose of gaining a link. This sort of method used to be wildly popular and highly effective but it is now a grey area as Google have openly said that guest blogging is not a good idea. Do not do this unless you are absolutely sure the link is worth it.
Useful for: Link building
Industry news page is just as like it says on the tin – an article that talks about something that is going to happen, happening or about to happen in the industry. This is another good opportunity to gain some industry specific links if you post the content while the news is still fresh and people are still actively looking for the content and opinions.
Useful for: Asserting authority
A sales event is a run down of particular deals that are currently available. This post is written specifically to get a message across quickly and to get visitors to click through. Usually the content may be quite a lot thinner than the other content types. Designed to get social shares and to go viral.
Useful for: Drumming up quick business
Useful for: Ticking boxes
Standard ‘every day’ Page
A standard every day page is what the vast majority of website content is. They are informational pages that describe whatever the page needs to describe. Generally, they will be written in a natural way for human consumption and may not be as SEO optimised as a landing page. A standard page needs to be content rich, engaging and accurately describe the content and be able to offer visitors a positive experience.
Useful for: Backbone of any website
To conclude, SEO’s and content writers have many types of content in their toolbox to fit a multitude of purposes. Whenever you are about to start a content campaign think to yourself
Who is my target audience?
What do I want visitors to do?
How can I get them to find the content?
Using one of the aforementioned content types will help you achieve your goals in a much more effective way than just writing content for the sake of it.
Please note this article is aimed for those with little or no knowledge of search engine optimisation and is a summary of my best practices when writing a basic blog or article.
Using a solid structure for SEO
How a blog or article has been structured has an effect on how well it can rank on search engines, how ‘clickable’ the article is as well as how it can appear on SERPs through the use of schema. In this short blog I will explain some of my favourite methods to structure a blog or article using very simple HTML markup.
An article/blog is much like a book and has several different markups to help the reader digest the information – examples are titles, images, references, headings and paragraphs in conjunction with good spelling and grammar.
The title (html markup <title>) should describe what the entirety of the content is about. It needs to include the correct keywords but also engaging and make people want to read it. A bad example of a title is “VANILLA ICE CREAM VANILLA ICECREAM” – although it has the keywords in there this title is non-engaging and repeats the keyword unnecessarily. A good example is “The Best Vanilla Ice Cream in Skelmersdale | John’s Dairy” – this is an excellent example as it has the keywords (Vanilla Ice cream), it’s descriptive (The best), has the location keyword (Skelmersdale) and brand keyword (John’s Dairy).
The title is one of the most important factors of an article in relation to SEO. Make sure it describes what a clicker would find if they clicked on it – and make the clickers want to click on it.
Search engines may truncate a title if it is longer than 55 characters so the optimal length should be in the region of 50-60.
Think of the meta description as the blurb of a book, if the title and cover picture hasn’t grabbed their attention then perhaps the meta description can. The meta description should accurately describe the content in an engaging manner – write it in such a way that it is relevant to the searcher and it will offer them what they are looking for in terms of information and content.
A meta description should be less than 160 characters to avoid being truncated.
A heading (html markup <hx> replace x with a number 1+> works in a similar way to a title, but instead of describing what the whole article is about a heading describes what the next section of content is about. There are differences between headings in terms of prominence and you can describe this to the crawlers using numbers; a H1 is main heading, H2 subheading and so on. In terms of SEO anything more than a H1 has little if any impact.
Make sure to always have just one H1 which is keyword rich and a couple of H2’s, the SEO value decreases rapidly after H2 but they can still be used for visitor experience.
Now this is where it really comes down to my own personal opinion. I am in the ‘content is king’ camp and champion long, in depth and rich content. I find that a sweet spot for a really good piece of article that ranks well and gets links has over 1000 words and often goes over 2000 and beyond. However, this is not to say you should waffle on as quality is much more important than quantity.
I would always recommend to use your own judgement when you have worked in SEO for a while but to ensure that a page or article has at least 750 words in it as a good starting point.
Keyword density used to be an excellent way to rank on SERPs in the olden days but not so much at time of writing. My best tip for density is to write the article fully without tracking first and then use a KW density tool afterwards. Google likes the content to be written for humans and not for the robots but there’s no harm in making sure your point gets across, just not too much.
When I write content I make sure to write for my target demographic. Before writing the content think “Who do I want to read this? Who are my customers?” and then use appropriate language and words that suit them, Writing for academics? Make sure the content suits that. Writing for children? Make it easy.
Images help with SEO but more importantly in my opinion, the user experience. Images can bring the article more alive with the use of infographics, charts, explanations or just to show what you mean through the text. The SEO opportunity with images are in the title, description and alt-text of the image. The words included in the image meta-data can contribute to the page ranking and the image itself ranking.
For your images make sure to use an appropriate title, description and ensure that alt-text is there. Google cares about user experience and for people who are partially sighted or bling the meta data helps them a great deal to deduce what the image displays.
Writing a credible piece of writing should always involve referencing your work. If you are writing a piece that has used external information then make sure to link to that relevant information. This will boost your credibility with the reader but also with the search engines. For example, if your writing piece is related to the medical industry then a link pointing towards a medical related website makes perfect sense to both the reader and the crawlers.
To conclude, having an article have a solid structure can give it the best start in ranking and gaining some links. Titles can help improve the CTR (Click-through rates) as will the description, the headings and images can improve visitor duration and lower the bounce rate. However, the quality of the content is still much more important than all these combined so make sure that that is where most of your time is spent.
There is no doubt in my mind that Google plus (G+) is a powerful tool for marketers, SEO, social media managers or anyone who is involved in their digital image, it has it’s challenges particularly as most people are accustomed to a couple of “main” social media sites and are skeptical as to why they should be using another when it is more or less twitter and facebook rolled into one.
G+ is a very active sharing community, with many people in my circles publically sharing very often – pictures, blog posts and videos are the most common I have found. Interestingly enough, there aren’t many people sharing just a short paragraph of an event or an experience they’ve had such as they would often do on twitter and facebook. This works for me and my work as I can easily share pictures of cars we have specials on, blog posts and general car pictures. As I typed this I noticed the glaring similarities with Pinterest.
+1 and shares
Users of G+ are very quick to +1 and share content they’ve seen on their feed, it’s a fair assessment to say that you don’t have to work as hard for the-all-important-shares with G+; which again works for me. Shares, +1, likes, retweets and all the rest of it are meaningful to SEO so it’s important to have engagement from people. If you compared our Facebook likes and G+ +1’s then in a few months our G+ will have dwarfed it.
G+ and SERPs
This is where the golden egg can be found. If i search for our primary keyword in incognito on google we will be 9th (At time of writing). Now, if I sign in to my personal Google account (Which has +1’d and followed our G+ page) then we are 4th, 5th and 7th! The 4th and 5th positions are taken up by recent google+ posts and the 7th is our normal result. Amazing stuff! This meant that we are 30% of the first page for that keyword under those circumstances.
I believe Google has possibly changed the algorithm slightly or dependant on something I can’t figure out yet as when I logged into my girlfriends account (Who has +1’d and followed) then we were 2nd!
What does this mean for SEOs?
Pretty simple really, you need to be working on your G+ profile for your business. We are a fairly small company and the effects have been encouraging. However, the people you need to be followed by need to be relevant because coming up 4th, 5th and 7th for people who will not be purchasing or who will not be interested in your products is a wasted effort. Get to know the climate for your industry and get your name around in relevant communities, your G+ page needs to be nurtured just the same as other marketing channels you are using.