Content and SEO are equally as important… But which do you start with? We asked 60+ experts to share the strategy they prioritize—and why.
Content Marketing | Mar 5
Elise Dopson on September 17, 2019 (last modified on August 10, 2020) • 13 minute read
Sure, companies like HubSpot drive millions of visitors each month from Google. But with 49% of Google searches having zero clicks (the user gets the content on the SERP itself), you’ll need to consider that when creating your content marketing strategy.
Luckily, there’s one thing that can help you overcome the rise of no-click searches, while also boosting your organic traffic: Structured data.
In this guide, we’ll discuss:
Click the links above to jump to a specific section, or continue scrolling to learn more about structured data.
Structured data is a chunk of code that’s written by website owners, and understood by Google’s crawlers. They read the code and use it to determine what a page is about, the format of the content, and how they can display that from the SERPs.
But before we dive in any deeper, let’s discuss some common structured data jargon you might need to know before we continue:
If you’re going to all this effort to add extra code to your website, you’ll want to make sure it’s worth it, right?
You’re in luck.
The majority (97%) of experts we surveyed said that structured data does have SEO benefits:
“Technically, adding structured data doesn’t affect your direct search rankings, but it does give crawlers more information about your page which can help with indexing, which can lead to better positioning in the SERPs,” writes Paul Ronto of RunRepeat.
Some 89% of SEO pros agree:
Geek Powered Studios‘ Matt Benevento adds: “It is crucial for competing in voice search and for cultivating snippets. By properly utilizing structured data, you can improve the quality of your search result listing and improve click-through rates. The more your search result stands out, the more likely a user will read and click-through.”
…Isn’t that what we all want?
There are several different types of structured data, each of which depend on the content you’re posting to each URL.
Let’s take a book review, for example. When I search for reviews on Garrett Moon’s book, Google shows sites like Amazon and Goodreads in the top spots–with star ratings that are visible without me clicking through to the link:
Fancy another structured data example?
Here’s one more–this time, in the form of a recipe. Using structured data code, Google has pulled key information from the recipe page, such as the cooking time, calories, and rating (based on the number of votes):
It’s also worth giving special notice to unusual forms of content, such as job postings.
Jobrapido, a major job posting platform, took advantage of structured data markup and experienced a 270% increase in new user registrations from organic traffic.
Not only that, but their website’s bounce rate dropped by 15%, indicating the people arriving on their listing via a structured data listing were much more interested in the content.
Are you ready to improve your organic click-through rate and take up more space in your ideal customer’s list of search results?
We’ll share the best structured data tools you can use to do that, including:
*Editor’s note: Get a rough feel for how your content marketing and SEO is currently performing using our Google Analytics SEO dashboard. Pick the URLs with the most potential and select them for your structured data testing:
“It’s super quick and immediately gives you a report on errors or warnings. When you know you have issues to fix, you’re better able to fix them well and up your rankings in SEO,” Peavey says.
Lewis Peters of Online Turf explains how the tool works: “This tool allows you to paste in your structured data code or just you’re a URL that contains structured data and the tool will scan it for errors in your structured data.”
Compilance Wave‘s Aaron Ketofsky adds: “This tool will look at your website’s Meta Data to tell you if Google is retrieving important local SEO data such as your address, phone number, and pricing. In this tool, you can highlight or input this data by simply typing it in with no coding necessary.”
Medicare Plan Finder‘s Omar Fonseca also notes: “The tool can help you validate whether the structured data code is in the right format or not. It will check the structured data code and flag errors for all metadata formats. It will show your schema markup in an easy-to-read format along with any errors and warnings in your markup so that you can adjust if needed.”
E2M Inc‘s Jaykishan Panchal shares a handy guide to using it: “To add markup for a web page, you need to determine the kind of data you will use.”
“Categorize the data based on the 12 data types available in this tool. You can choose from options like:
In fact, when we surveyed our experts, they thought review-based content was one of the best types of content to add structured data to:
Panchal continues: “After choosing the data type and the web page, choose elements on the page that should be marked. Common data items like name, author, date published, images, rating, publisher, and others can be included. After adding all elements, you can generate the HTML code.”
“You can then copy the HTML code to your webpage to add the markup. After that, use the Structured Data Testing Tool to check the accuracy,” Panchal notes.
However, Mike Zima of Zima Media shares a nugget of advice: “Look at your competitors and try to run them through the Testing Tool. Some competitors have Structured data, and this is what you need to imitate and add to your website.”
Summarizing, Andrew McLoughlin of Colibri Digital Marketing adds: “Whether you’re looking to add structured data for SEO or for increased visibility in rich snippets, Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper is a fine tool to get you started, no matter your skill level. Google knows what it wants, and can tell you how best to provide it.”
Google has a range of tools that help website owners with their SEO. One of those is Codelabs, a library of coding tutorials for developers.
Shiply‘s Louis Watton prefers this tool “for learning how to insert structured data into a basic HTML page. Why not go straight to the source? It walks you through examples of adding structured data and was how I learned to implement rich snippets!”
“A tool I would recommend to non-technical content marketers who are interested in adding structured data to their content is the All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets plugin if your website is based on WordPress to make it easy to add rich snippets to your posts and therefore improve your SEO and click-through rates on organic results,” says Berify‘s Johnny Santiago.
Matthew Ross of The Slumber Yard agrees because “it’s completely free and will make your life a whole lot easier.”
“Essentially this plugin will do all the work for you. It automatically crawls your existing website and optimizes your content for you. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely better than not having it,” Ross adds.
Insightland‘s Irena Zobniów explains how this tool works: “This generator can be used to create, build and generate structured data markup in the form of JSON-LD which can be further injected into the header or footer of your website. As a result, you can improve your service’s visibility to the search engines.”
Fancy getting your hands on this structured data tool? Jarred Manzone of 9Sail adds: “A quick tip to help apply the knowledge from the site is to locate the bottom of each “type” page and check out the examples of different ways to implement that schema type within your site.”
Michael Smit of Blue Cabin SEO explains how to put that in practice: “One of my clients bundudakke.co.za needs to leverage their experience in order to build trust with the persons searching for their services, so we ad a simple green-box tick emoji to just add to that trust factor.”
“The 5-star rating is from the Schema Org Rich Snippets, it just gives a pop of color and draws the eye to the SERP result.”
“All you need to do is just select type of content you are going to write and some information like headline, URL, Image URL, and some short description. This is an amazing application which can be used by non- technical content writers,” Solanki says.
Telsea Greene of Cogneesol also uses this tool because “it helps you to create events, articles, breadcrumbs, etc., seamlessly.”
“You just have to add required fields, like if you’re creating a schema for the event, then you need to write “Name of your Event,” “Description for your Event,” and “Image URL.” After that copy the code and paste it on the header of your web page,” Greene explains.
Courtney Culligan of Perfect Search Media adds: “Although not every type of schema is included, they do offer those that are typically most used (BlogPosting, HowTo, LocalBusiness, Website, Product). From there, you can live test the snippet in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure everything is rendering properly and is good to go!”
“It’s a simple form that you fill out and it will then generate a perfect bit of code that you simply add to the tag of your website. It’s literally as easy as copy and pasting it.”
When we asked Josh Neilly for their favorite structured data tool, Neill said: “For those looking to add structure, we would turn to the Knowledge Navigator tool, proprietary software that was designed in house for cannabisMD users.”
“This tool lets you see everything down to the nitty-gritty – want to see what a 34 year old male living in Washington, taking care of an elderly parent is searching? You got it!”
Neilly summarizes: “The Knowledge Navigator makes it easier for companies to understand who searches what, and it also helps the customer with finding the right info and data, too.”
According to Sam Olmsted, Search Optimism‘s structure data of choice is a plugin called SNIP, which “provides is a full suite of instructional videos that let you walk through the structured data process for any type of schema you’d like to incorporate.”
“Until recently, we’ve done structured data manually. Going into each website page and adding the specific markup. It was time-consuming and, quite possibly, the reason many rarely even considered it,” writes Indra Chandon of Semantia.
“Since there wasn’t a tool that could reduce the time it takes to do structured data, we built a smart AI-based WordPress plug-in that automatically does it for you – Snippetron.”
Chandon continues: “It works for WordPress pages, posts, and WooCommerce products, and has the intelligence to work out what the page is about and summarise it according to schema.org – a structured data standard founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex.”
“Almost a year ago, Yoast introduced structured data blocks for both FAQ and How-To formats. Marking up your content is as easy as following prompts and filling in the blanks.”
“Yoast will ensure you are formatting your content correctly and takes care of the structured data behind the scenes by marking up your FAQs and How-To content with JSON-LD which is preferred by Google.”
“All that’s left is to monitor your page and see if Google rewards your page with a featured snippet or answer box,” Jensen explains.
Pickfu‘s Will Chin also recommends Yoast because “it also does a number of other programmatic tasks like generating sitemap.xml, building meta-descriptions and title-tags and also flagging when there are SEO issues with your site. It’s even programmed to help redirect broken or mismatched URLs!”
Chin continues: “Now, this is all done programmatically which is the dream for many content marketers because the code from Yoast will parse the individual fields so that you never actually have to mark-up the web-page yourself.”
Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles adds: “Take the hassle out of hand-coding as these plugins will provide the structured data your site needs.”
“Follow the step by step tutorials and complete all the required fields in each plugin. Then ensure you maximize all structured data opportunities on relevant pages by, for example, using the Yoast content blocks to produce FAQ’s for each main page.”
Dodds says: “It’s very much a plug and play option that any non-technical content marketer can get on board with. It’s a big time saving as well!”
…What if you’re using Yoast’s structured data tool alongside one of the other tools we’ve mentioned here?
Geoff Meakin notes how this can work in your favor: “Also, don’t forget to test your structured data using Google’s own structured data testing tool. You can even create your structured data here first before trying to implement it and, because it’s Google, the likelihood of it working on your site is high.”
*Editor’s note: Are you using structured data for your local SEO listings? Grab our Google My Business Insights dashboard to monitor how your new code impacts calls, enquiries, and visitors:
As you can see, structured data markup is something any content marketer should be considering. With it, you can take up more real estate in the SERPs, and give searchers more of a nudge to click your result.
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