Google Structured Data: How It Can Help Your B2B Site
Search engine optimization (SEO) for your site is one of the top ways to generate new leads. By focusing on SEO, you're giving your site a better chance at ranking in the search engines and thus, increasing your online visibility. Google and other major search engines rank sites with the end user in mind. Is the site providing value? Is it easy to navigate? Is the content on pages easy to understand?
That's why Google rewards sites with these characteristics. One SEO factor that's probably the most ignored is structured data. It helps search engines, and in turn, their users, understand the content of a particular page. Structured data helps the search engine data feeds match the content on the page and return optimal results in the SERPs (search engine results pages). If your site's listing in the SERPs is clear, then it will likely stand out from others. Some sites see a 20% to 30% increase in rankings when using structured data because more people click on those results.
What is Google Structured Data?
Structured data wouldn't be possible without Schema markup. Schema.org houses all the structured data markup supported by the search engines. It's a collection of code formats that the large search engines understand.
To understand what structured data is and how it works, it's important to look at things from a search engine's perspective. Let's look at Google, for example. When a site owner publishes a post or creates a page, Google must understand what the post/page is about in order to index it. Things like meta tags, meta descriptions, and meta titles help with this process. To deliver certain information, structured data provides additional information or explicit clues about a page, like if it's a recipe or a how-to post. Google uses structured data snippets and data labels that show up in your page's HTML code. This is what makes your site's pages display in the SERPs in dynamic ways.
By implementing structured data correctly, your site can benefit from a variety of search result enhancements and content-specific features such as:
- Rich search results: Highlight key information and help search engines understand a page's purpose as accurately as possible. Styling, images, and other visual enhancements help make them quicker and more useful than traditional search results. Rich search results also present a more enticing prospect for users to click through to your site.
- Rich cards: Similar to rich search results in that they display content in an engaging and visual format, but with a focus on providing a better user experience.
- Knowledge graph: Often displayed on the right-hand side of the SERPs (and the top of the search on mobile devices), a knowledge graph is a database that displays information about people, animals, events, history and other topics in the SERPs using keywords people search for.
- Carousels: A collection of rich results in a list-like display. Carousels most often appear on mobile devices and only for certain content types. Also, carousels are included in local searches. For example, if someone searches for a "printing agency near me", Google will display these results in a carousel that provides basic information such as addresses, star ratings, and phone numbers.
Structured data may not be an official Google ranking factor, but it can boost your site's rankings and click through rate indirectly. That's because it helps clarify the details of your page and pique the interest of potential customers with these additional details. Content that's more accessible and legible to Google helps it become more accessible and legible to users. By transcribing your page and translating it into structured data, you can help Google understand what your page is about. This helps remove any doubt about your page and its purpose.
Structured Data for B2B Companies
Now that you have a better understanding of Google structured data, you may be wondering how to get your pages to show up in the SERPs using these formats. First, let's explore some of the most common Rich Snippet formats that are relevant to global B2B companies:
- Blogs: Blog posting schema will help Google interpret what your post is about and improve its ranking so that searchers can find relevant content on your site faster.
- Knowledge graph: You can place schema around data such as current logos, contact numbers, reviews, and social profile links. This key information will be included in Google's knowledge graph.
- Videos: These markups allow Google to better understand different media formats found on a webpage, providing users with a varied multimedia experience.
- Businesses and organizations: With local business schema markup, you can display your organization's address and contact information. This can act as a CTA directly on the SERPs and help the user move towards a conversion without having to visit your site. If your B2B company is on a global scale, location-based structured data may not be relevant because your geographic reach is much broader, but it can still be helpful in some cases.
- Products and offers: This schema displays your product information and pricing in the search results.
- Events: You can use event schema markup for your webinars, user conferences, roadshows, or any event with specific time and location information. This will allow your events to show up directly in the search results.
How does Structured Data Support SEO?
Google, Bing, and other search engines encourage webmasters to use structured data, and incentivize that usage by providing benefits to websites with structured data correctly implemented. Some of these benefits include search result enhancements and content-specific features, such as:
- Rich search results: Includes styling, images, and other visual enhancements
- Rich cards: A variation on rich search results, similar to rich snippets and designed for mobile users
- Enriched search results: Includes interactive or immersive features
- Knowledge Graph: Information about an entity such as a brand
- Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs in your search result
- Carousels: A collection of multiple rich results in a carousel style
- Rich results for AMP: To have your AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) appear in carousels and with rich results, you’ll need to include structured data
Implementing structured data on your site is also a way to prepare for the future of search, as Google in particular continues to move in the direction of hyper-personalization and solving problems and answering questions directly.
How to Use Google Structured Data
First, figure out what pages on your site would benefit the most from structured data. For example, if you have a how-to article that shows readers how to use your software, for example, you may choose to use the how-to schema markup for that page. But if you have a blog post about the latest happenings at your company, you might not choose to add any structured data to it. As you choose the pages where you'll use structured data, you should decide the best method for you and your team.
To begin coding your chosen pages, use Google's Structured Data Markup Helper tool. Google will load your data in either JSON-LOD - Google's preference and default option - or microdata formats. Once you've added your structured data, it's important to test it. If you don't format or copy your structured data correctly, Google will struggle to understand that additional information. And confusing Google can decrease your rankings, which can harm your organic traffic and generate incorrect snippet information in search results. Here are some resources to help you get started:
Google’s Overview of Structured Data for SEO: Information from Google about how they recommend approaching structured data for SEO and AMP
Google's Structured Data Markup Helper: This tool can guide you through creating the code for various common use cases.
Structured Data Testing Tool – Google: This tool from Google allows you to test whether your markup is working correctly.
Bing Guide to Marking Up Your Site: More information about how Bing supports structured data.
Schema.org: The official Schema.org website. Here you’ll find information about the latest updates, FAQs, and a guide to adding Schema.org markup to your site.
Applying Google structured data can be a complex task. To make your life easier, you need SEO experts to get the job done. Visit our B2B SEO optimization page for more information.
John is a search engine specialist focused on gaining greater visibility in search results for Beacon Digital clients. His expertise includes SEO campaigns, PPC, Google Analytics, keyword research, technical website auditing, paid social media optimization, web analytics implementation and conversion tracking.