Google uses hundreds of signals to rank websites in their search engine results page (SERP). However, there are clearly certain high priority factors that influences the result. Knowing these factor can facilitate the whole process of promoting your business website. For Google, the most important is that users find responses and information relevant to their search queries. What is more, recently, the concept of Zero Click has been implemented. This means Google wants users to get answers directly from the SERP, without the need of clicking different links. This has become possible due to the introduction of structured data or rich snippets.
How Crawlers Use Structured Data?
Structured data and the markup system have been used since 2011. Their importance continues to grow as search crawlers are using these data for two major purposes:
- To understand what a web page is about
- To generate expanded search results
As part of optimization, Google structured data testing tool was recently replaced with the Rich Results Test.
Markup and Site Ranking
Embedding markup on the site is not essential for website owners. Besides, this is not considered as a ranking factor by search engines. Thus, you will be wondering why so much attention is paid to it. Thanks to the structured data, robots understand the content of pages much better. Then, the search engine will automatically generate rich snippets or expanded search results. Visually, this can be displayed in one of the formats:
- a list
- a carousel
- a snippet
- the calendar of events
- FAQ, etc.
Below is an example of a list showing as featured snippet in Google search. It is clearly evident, users will get get the answer from the list or go to the site to get more details.
Taking this into account, it becomes clear that the presence of the correctly embedded and optimized structured data helps search robots understand what type of platform and content you have got. For example, the page is an e-commerce product, digital eBook , recipe, news or announcement of an event. As a result, the link in the SERP looks more visually appealing, which leads to the increase of a click-through rate, as well as improves conversion.
This all means that the more useful, relevant, and catchy information site owners include in the code, the more chances that the search engine will generate expanded results. This will have a positive impact on the CTR and conversion. Thus, one may not say that the presence of structured data does not influence the ranking. There is, even though it is not direct.
What to Include in Structured Data?
Taking into account the concept of Zero Click, it is now important to provide users with as much information on the SERP page as possible. Thus, different platforms should think about which data will be useful for their potential clients. For example:
- Culinary blogs should add the cooking time, main ingredients, and number of calories for dishes;
- Trading sites, let’s say of appliances, should inform users about the price, availability of a product in stock, as well as add crucial technical features and warranty information;
- Restaurants or cafes should provide contact details, opening hours, ratings, and the type of cuisine;
- For an event announcement, the time and place, as well as speakers/bands/musicians should be stated, as well as contact details.
Generally, the idea is clear. It is necessary to catch the attention of potential clients directly from the SERP. Besides, taking into account that the expanded search results are visually more appealing, it is crucial to remember that structured data should be added to pictures and videos whenever possible. The presence of a photo on the SERP page immediately attracts the attention of users.
In addition, you can provide the content in FAQ, How-to or Q&A format. Google will show your content in questions and answers snippet like below.
Basics of Embedding Markup & Structured Data
Aside from the necessity to add structured data on pages of the site, to make sure that rich snippets or expanded results will be generated by the search engine, it is necessary to make sure that the data is open for indexing and crawling. Also, it is necessary not to violate any of the below rules:
- Information in structured data should correspond to content on the page. Otherwise, search robots will notice discrepancies and will not generate the expanded results.
- Add only useful and interesting information to the metadata.
- Avoid using metadata to describe the content that is anyhow hidden from users.
- The same refers to spam and avoid spamming in the metadata, as well as in the content.
- The information included in the structured data has to be unique, relevant, and true. Attempts to misinform users won’t bring any positive results.
- The propaganda of violence, intolerance, or any other illegal activities are strictly forbidden.
Google continue to improve the search algorithm in order to provide the most relevant results to users. Therefore, site owners should make use of all the possible means and tools that can influence the site ranking positions. Structured data is the most effective ones since forming a visually appealing result in the SERP is a crucial step in attracting the attention of users.