May 19, 2017
If you're really savvy with SEO, you know that there are different techniques to get your website found in search engines. Many marketers are most comfortable with on-page SEO: creating content for keywords, then optimizing that content (like adding header tags, alt text, etc.) to be crawled in search engines.
But technical SEO — the kind that usually falls on a developer's plate — can be scary to a marketer, since it deals with code and structured data behind the scenes.
So we'll cover the benefits of microdata in your SEO strategy, and give you the language needed to have a conversation with your dev team.
Metadata is perhaps a more familiar strategy for SEO marketers. But while it is also a form of structured data, it has some differences.
Metadata – We can think of metadata as telling searchers what the page content is about. For example, the meta description might say, "This blog post will tell you five tools to improve your data server's efficiency." Some common metadata tags include the title, the URL slug, and the page description. These are mostly for the searcher's benefit, hinting what they are about to read.
Microdata – We can think of microdata as telling search engines what the page elements are. In other words, microdata gives labels to individual content chunks. And then a search engine will highlight these chunks in searches. For example, we may use microdata to say "Hey, Google, this following text is the author's name," or "This next chunk of information is a star rating." This is like speaking directly to Google or Bing, but it benefits the searcher in the end.
The significance of metadata is decreasing for ranking power. In other words, just because you include a page description sprinkled with keywords, doesn't mean your page will rank higher.
But on the other hand, microdata is preferred by search engines, because it makes their crawling easier for your website. It tells them, "Here's what to highlight and what is important about my piece!" Think of it like organizing your cluttered store inventory into different labeled buckets. These, in turn, help Google create a richer and easier experience for searchers.
For example, in some searches, the author will be the most important factor. But in searches with different intent, the review or star rating will have priority.
Both metadata and microdata improve search — but there's evidence that microdata can actually improve your ranking, not just your click-through rates.
There are so many applications of microdata that it is difficult to address them all. But for your blog and website — especially if you are B2B — you can give search engines a labeled page for crawling, which helps them index you better in searches. And that means more traffic and, ultimately, better business for you.
Specifically, you can ask your development team to identify these chunks using the Schema language:
For a bigger list, visit Schema.org and learn more about the capabilities of their language. The great thing is that all major search engines will abide by this language.
There's also evidence that adding microdata — like many kinds of structured data — will help tie your search results to Google+ and also present your content in those up-and-coming "rich snippets," which Google gives preference to in searches for all kinds of keywords.
Implementing the language isn't too complex. Like adding meta tags to the header of your page, you're wrapping a span of content with a snippet of code in the Schema language.
If this is familiar to you, jump on over to Schema.org and start searching for tags you can use. You can then test your code with Google's Structured Data Testing Tool — basically seeing your website through Google's eyes.
Generally, if you have some baseline understanding of HTML/CSS, you can teach yourself the language easily. If this is scary or foreign, partner with your developer instead. You can also partner with an SEO agency to help with on-site, off-site, and technical SEO strategies.
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