Using Schema.org to Enhance Your Search Engine Listings

We’ve talked about structured data before but in this blog I’d like to discuss a website that’s extremely helpful for structured data markup. Most websites are created from structured data stored in databases. Once that data is put into HTML, that structured data can be lost or very hard to recover. This structured data can be of great use to search engines, as it helps them read and display a website more dynamically. Schema.org offers different “schemas” that webmaster can utilize to markup the data on HTML pages to improve the appearance of the website within search results. Schema.org has become recognized as the industry standard by the major search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Search engines like structured data markup as it helps improve users more easily find what they are looking for, thus improving the overall user experience for that search engines. For these same reasons, structured data markup can have a positive effect on SEO for your website. Essentially, Schema.org provides a shared vocabulary that webmasters can use when marking up data for websites. In other words, Schema.org has taken the guesswork out of structured data, offering a uniform and easy way to apply these data markups to any website. For an example, let’s take a look at using structured data markup for an event: Whoa, whoa– hold the phone. What are we looking at here? Well, basically the different properties in the “Property” column on the left can be inserted into the HTML code with the proper “Expected Type” to display that information on search engine result pages. For instance, the HTML for a page without markup looks something like this: Using the Event markup properties above, the coding would look something like this: So basically, nearly every key aspect of an event, such as date, time and place can be marked up using schemas to display that information on search engines. The end result of using structured data markup for an event would display something like this on a Google search page: As you can see, the date, time and place are all displayed within the Google search engine result page. Users can now readily view all relevant information of the event without having to dig around on your website. Schema.org offers a plethora of different types of markups for products,  places, people, organizations and reviews. Pretty much if you can think of it, there’s probably a markup for that. Implementing these schemas does take some HTML knowledge so I recommend speaking with your developer or webmaster if you are keen on utilizing structured data for your site. Brian Carver is an Account Manager at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here.

4 Ways to ‘Direct Connect’ Your Website w/Your Google+ Business Page

Since there are several good (SEO & Social) reasons to associate your website (‘Direct Connect’) with your Google Plus business page (or to give your website ‘publisher’ status), I thought it would be nice to share how to do it with our readers. If you haven’t created your business plus page yet, I advise you to do so here, first. Direct Connect will help your Google+ page get displayed more often in Google’s search results, as well as provide you with many other benefits.

1. Add Meta Tag the Header

This is the best way to for sure, no questions asked Direct Connect your Google Plus Business Page with your website.
  1. Find business profile URL https://plus.google.com/112851224372232322846
  2. Paste the following code (replace example URL with your business URL) just before the closing </head> tag (or anywhere between the <head> & </head> tags) in the source of your website:

<link href=”https://plus.google.com/112851224372232322846″ rel=”publisher” />

This tells Google your website is the publisher of that particular Google + business page.

2. Add Google+ Badge to Your Website

This next method works too. But there’s no guarantee that Google will be 100% sure that your website is associated with the Google+ Biz page. Google will “Direct Connect” the page and website by assumption. If you add a Google Plus badge anywhere on your website, Google will assume that the website the badge is on is associated with the Google+ Page the badge is linking to. You can configure your Google Plus Badge here.

3. Link to Google+ Page from Website

This is pretty much the same as adding a badge to your website. But instead of adding a badge, you create a backlink. But this method requires method #4 (adding website to Google Plus Page), as well. EXAMPLE: Add SEOhaus to Your Circle

4. Add Website to Google+ Page

When creating your Google+ Page for your company, there’s a section where you can add your website. This is the simplest method. But it requires something else, such as method 2 or 3 to confirm the “Direct Connect”. If you do all 4 methods, you would have done all you can do to obtain ‘publisher’ status. You’d also maximize the possibilities of getting added to more circles and getting the website plussed more easily and more often. But on the same note, doing any one method is sufficient if just trying to associate your website with your Google Business profile. We’ll talk more about the benefits to giving your website “publisher” status in my next post. Good luck!

3 Reasons to Speed Up Your Website + 6 Tools that Will Help You

1. The Search Engines Demand Faster Websites

We hear all this buzz around the web-sphere about having to make your website perform faster for SEO. There has been many tests, speculations, recommendations and even demands to making your website faster for improved search engine rankings. In 2010, the Google Webmaster Central Blog stated this:
“You may have heard that here at Google, we’re obsessed with speed in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.”
It doesn’t get more straightforward than that. In short.. If your site is slow, Google could easily penalize your website, just as much as they can reward it for being fast. In fact, both Google and Yahoo! have provided page speed tools to help webmasters learn how fast their websites are performing (Google Page Speed Insights & Yahoo! YSlow). There are many factors to making a website speedier, including size of web pages, external file sources, styling, CMS, hosting, just to name a few. And withGoogle and Bing/Yahoo! both suggesting that you make changes to increase your page speed, it may be something to take serious if you want to perform better on their SERP’s. A study by LightSpeedNow showed that by making a website faster, Google sent 15% more traffic. Bing and Yahoo! also sent more traffic.

2. Faster Sites Are Better for Search Bot Crawling

Imagine 1,000’s of search bots approaching your website with a 4 second limit. (You can apply this 4 second limit to per page or site-wide, both are applicable), how far would these bots get through your website? Would they be able to crawl your whole site or just a quarter of a page? Try using the Web Page Test Tool to learn about your website’s timing. This tool also provides a great ‘Waterfall’ view of the bots’ progression though your website & files. If it takes more than 4 seconds for your page to load, you could be loosing out on site speed ranking factors, search bot indexing crawl rates, and most of all those “need-it-now” users.

3. Speaking of Users…

Let’s not forget who our websites are really for… the users! Yes, we do need a means to get the users to our website. But user activity is the ultimate measure of the productivity and likability of our websites. Sure the engines can measure how long it takes to load a page and discover errors that prevent the site from performing at its optimal rate. But our visitors are the ones that click back buttons, go from page to page, and determines if our website is worth coming back to, or staying on. You also don’t want to frustrate your potential buyers. So, all in all, having a fast website is good for both the search engines and your target users. Consider what Jon Colman, former Chief SEO of REI had to say about improving their site’s performance;
” …their website received a traffic increase of over 25%, from just a 12% speed increase!”

So speed up your website. Here is a list of website/page speed tools to help you.

  1. Google PageSpeed Insights
  2. Yahoo!’s YSlow (actually a browser extension)
  3. Web Page Test
  4. Page Size Extractor (shoot for <10K Bytes & >10% Text)
  5. GTMetrix
  6. W3C Site Validator (Cleaning up code can sometimes help, especially the warnings)
Getting the best results from these tools can pretty much ensure you that your website is in good standing for a MAJOR search ranking factor (site speed)when it comes to both Google & Bing. Good luck!