Getting Started with Schema Using Google’s Markup Tools

What exactly is schema and how do you effectively incorporate it into your own SEO strategy?

There are so many mission-critical components to SEO that schema can oftentimes get lost in the shuffle. But schema is a small thing that can make a big impact, and we think it deserves a little more love! Here are some actionable ways to start using it in your own SEO strategy using Google’s schema markup tools.

 

First, What is Schema?

Schema markup (schema.org) is a library of code that can be added to websites to help improve the way search engines display results in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

In layman’s terms, schema markup offers a way to help your website stand out in the search results. Attract more eyes (and more clicks!) when you make your organic listings POP!

Not All Results are Equal

Exciting stuff, right? Now, before you are swept away on the schema train, there are certain scenarios where schema is more beneficial.

Most commonly, you will see schema manifested as:

  • Local Business Information
  • Articles
  • Restaurants
  • Reviews
  • Movie Showtimes
  • Events
  • Software Applications
  • Products

 

However, schema markup is most certainly not limited to these. Check out the full list at schema.org.

 

Does Schema Apply to your Website?

Generally, there are at least one or two categories that apply to any website. Businesses, reviews, articles, and products make up most of the content that is commonly supplemented with schema markup.

 

Let’s Get Started!

The simplest way to begin implementing schema is through the Google Data Highlighter or Google Data Markup Helper. Both schema tools are intuitive and designed to easily tag pages on your website. A great starting point if you’re just getting your feet wet with schema. But how do you choose which tool is best for you?

 

Google Data Highlighter or Google Structured Data Markup Helper?

Both tools are wonderful, but depending on your comfortability with code and access to your website’s backend, one may be a better fit for your needs. Below we outline both tools, well as pros on cons to help you decide which will work best for you.

 

Getting Started with Google Data Highlighter

Ready to start tagging?

 

1. First, watch this quick tutorial on the Data Highlighter so you can see the tool in action.

 

2. Enter the URL of the page you want to begin tagging and choose the most applicable category.

 

You also have the ability to select all similar pages (great for articles and products) or you can select that individual page for unique tagging (great for business information and event lists).

 

3. Start highlighting! Highlight the data you want to tag, and a drop-down will appear allowing you to identify the highlighted items. To the right of the screen, you’ll see the information required for the category you’ve selected, and the tags will populate as you highlight.

Google’s Data Highlighter interface is not without its quirks, but it is intuitive and offers a great starting point for getting your feet wet with schema.

Once you’ve highlighted your pages, you can review and manage all your tags in the ‘Data Highlighter’ section of Search Console.

 

Data Highlighter at a Glance

Pros

  • Quick and simple if limited on time and budget.
  • Useful if you do not have access to the website code or have limited coding knowledge.
  • Accessible right within Search Console (just make sure to toggle back to the original interface!).

 

Cons

  • Exclusive to Google; not read by other search engines.
  • Limited category and tag offerings available for highlighting.

 

Getting Started with Google Structured Data Markup Helper

 

1. Enter the URL of the page you want to begin tagging and choose the most applicable category.

If you only have html, you can paste that as well.

 

2. Start tagging! After your webpage loads, highlight the data you want to tag, and a drop-down will appear allowing you to identify the highlighted items. To the right of the screen, you’ll see the information required for the category you’ve selected, and the tags will populate as you highlight.

3. Once your Data items are complete, select ‘Create HTML’.

 

4. Implement the markup: add each code item as highlighted in the tool, or download the generated html file and paste into your source code.

Structured Data Markup Tool at a Glance

Pros

  • Accepted by most major search engines, not just Google.
  • Offers a larger range of categories and markups to use.
  • Uses different schema data formats (JSON-LD, RDFa).
  • Can generate rich snippets for videos, reviews, addresses, and more.

 

Cons

  • Requires access to source code.
  • Can be confusing to implement code correctly.

 

In either scenario, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to preview your page with the markup, so you can troubleshoot any potential bugs.

When it comes to schema, less is not more! Feel free to markup any content you feel is relevant, as long as it is visible to people who will be visiting the webpage.

Chasing Industry Giants: 3 Steps to Outsmart Large Competitors with Google Shopping

What is the bane of small B2C companies who advertise on Google Shopping?

 

It’s probably Amazon. Or another distributor. Maybe more than one!

 

Do they carry a product similar to yours? Likely yes.

Is the shipping or price cheaper than yours? Quite possibly yes.

 

But—and this is the big one—can you still compete with them?

 

Definitely.

 

You can’t treat Google Shopping like Google Search. After all, you don’t have keywords or ad copy. But even with the rise of automation, there are still ways to optimize and win—especially against big companies who have a lot more things to pay attention to than you do. 

 

Step 1. Segment your products.

You can gain data insights for collection and comparison from separating your products into different ad groups—not just product groups. But this isn’t a surefire win for every account. You need to have a small enough catalog to pay attention to individual performance.

 

While it may not work for every case, there is a balance.

 

If the ad group is too small, then automated bidding won’t have enough data. If you go too granular, you may not have enough time to optimize each group. But, if you go too big-picture then you lose analytical capability. 

 

In general, if you have a smaller group of products or high sales volume relative to the number of products, then try separating your products into ad groups.

 

If you have a larger amount of products, this is just one of multiple strategies.

 

What’s the difference?

Product groups: 

  • Can set individual bids and group in any way you want. 
  • Created directly from products in the feed, within an ad group.
  • Good for when you have too many products to handle personally, or when individual products have low sales volume.

 

Ad groups: 

  • Can use the Overview tab to view and sift through data. 
  • Contain whichever feed products you decide to place in it. 
  • Let you set the “priority” of all contained groups, meaning you can play with more advanced strategy.
  • Good for both small optimizations and knowing for sure what is and isn’t performing. Especially important for a small budget.

 

How should you differentiate the campaigns and ad groups?

There are a few different ways to segment your campaigns and ad groups. Choose the most relevant differentiators that set your products apart or that reflect your overall goals.

 

Consider:

  • Profit margin: when you have fewer, higher-profitability products.
  • Sales volume: when you need to sell a lot of products.
  • Individual product: when you have only a few products which individually matter.
  • Type of product: when you have many products in distinct groups.
  • Different target market: when you cater to more than one audience.
  • Product price: when your products vary significantly in price.

 

For example, if your entire store focuses on one target market and everything has a similar price, then you may want to focus on simply selling the most products.

 

  • Consider campaigns broken up by sales volume to ensure your highest-volume products have a separate budget from your lower-volume products.
  • Break up ad groups by product price or profit margin to get more detailed data on a metric that is relevant to your long-term goals.

 

On the other hand, if your company sells a large variety of men’s and women’s products of all kinds, and has high sales volume, then make sure you set yourself up to gather data on all of your products.

 

  • Break up campaigns not only by men’s and women’s products, but also by sales volume or profit margin. This means you will have many campaigns to keep track of, but you can effectively prioritize your most important products.
  • Break up ad groups by type of product, so you can differentiate between different categories’ performance.
  • Or, break up campaigns by type of product and sales volume or profit margin, then break up ad groups by men’s or women’s.

 

Step 2. Fix any “money sinks”.

Some products spend large amounts of money but rarely convert. If your account has one (or several!) it will be immediately obvious upon viewing the data.

 

For example, try identifying the money sink in this campaign.

 

Why would this happen?

Sometimes products with very interesting or eye-catching pictures can draw more than their share of clicks. Usually, having an interesting picture is good. However, if the product is particularly niche and there is a mismatch between expectation and reality, these clicks can waste a lot of money.

 

What do you do?

If you see that one ad group or product group is spending more than their share of money but not improving ROI, you only have two immediate options in Google Ads.

 

Option 1:

  • Pause the ad group or exclude the item(s) from your product feed.
  • This will mean the product doesn’t run. In situations where you have no extra budget to allocate, then you may have to do this. However, by preventing the product from running, you lose the ability to test improvements to performance. 

 

Option 2:

  • Put the product(s) into their own campaigns.
  • This will allow you to directly control how much money is spent promoting this product. If it does convert and you can afford to give it enough budget, this is a good solution for letting it run but keeping it on a leash.

 

Neither of these are great long-term options. 

 

For further troubleshooting, consider:

  • Comparing landing page terms with the Search Terms report to look for keywords that bring in unqualified traffic.
  • Adding & analyzing audiences to see if specific groups have a high number of clicks but are unlikely to convert, so that they can be excluded.
  • Inspecting the product data feed for inaccurate attributes that could lead the product to display to the wrong demographics.

 

Step 3. Examine and compare your data to competitors’ to only compete where it matters.

Once your campaigns are set up to gather effective data, you can begin using the hard numbers to your advantage on top of automation. To most effectively compare your performance to competitors, you need enough activity to view the detailed Auction Insights Report.

 

Here’s where you start to pull together numbers and charts. Stick with one campaign or even ad group at a time—otherwise, it can get complicated.

 

For example, say you have an ad group containing a single menswear product from your small company. 

 

If you go to the Overview tag and look at the Auction Insights > Overlap Rate to Outranking Share, you can see which competitors’ ads show up when yours do.

 

It looks like we’re often showing up at the same time as Amazon, Nordstrom and other large companies. Worse, their ads usually show up above ours.

 

The secret is, that doesn’t matter

 

You don’t beat a giant by fighting head-on; you beat them by finding your own niche.

 

Pay attention to something else: where you should, and shouldn’t, be competing for space.

 

Because in the auctions that you and Amazon are competing, take a look. Your overlap is 8-16% higher on tablets and computers. In fact, your products are most likely to outrank Amazon’s when they show on computers.

 

But how valuable are those placements to you? Check the Overview tab’s Devices card.

 

 

As it turns out, not so valuable. 

 

So why are we wasting time competing with Amazon for placements that waste your money? Let’s bid down on those placements for this ad group. 

 

And when we look at the previous image, we see something else: it looks like mobile phones are a disproportionately valuable placement for this item. In fact, we’re spending far less on it than we could, and it’s the placement that Amazon has the least impression share in—so we’re less likely to be competing with that industry giant at the same time that we bid on our most valuable placement.

 

Let’s bid up on mobile phones to compete in the auction that’s actually relevant to our success.

 

Maybe your Devices card will end up looking like this:

 

Give it at least two weeks to gather data, then compare performance and find another opportunity for improvement.

 

Competing with industry giants in Google Shopping is never easy, but small eCommerce companies can succeed by finding niches that their larger competitors aren’t paying attention to. Your advantage is being able to pay attention to the small details, so make use of it! Contact us if you need help with Google Shopping Management!

How to Outrank Your Competitors in 2019

Competition is what drives the market. It’s also what drives your prospective customers (and their budgets) to other companies.

We’re all up for a little healthy competition, right? That’s not so much the case in the online marketplace. When it comes to gaining customers, if your direct competitors are getting sales, it’s at your expense.

So how do you funnel more leads and sales into your own pipeline? Easy – the simple answer is more visibility over your competitors. The complexities lie in how to obtain more visibility. We’re going to deconstruct some of the top ways you can outrank your competitors in the SERPs and more effectively gain organic visibility so that your website can come out on top.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is market research.

Keyword research is incredibly important because it impacts every SEO task that follows. Effective keyword research outlines your strategy for on-page SEO, content creation, and most importantly, helps you better understand your audience and their intent.

 

Target the entire buying cycle in your keyword strategy

When a person is in the process of making a purchase, the searches begin very broad in the research phase and become more specific as that person gets closer to making a purchase. With SEO, you can (and should) target users at all points in the buying cycle.

 

Don’t overlook long-tail terms

Many companies get hung up on the top funnel terms. Big, broad, high volume terms that are sure to bring in tons of sales leads and sales, right? The truth is, broad terms are extremely competitive, and can also bring with them a lot of unqualified traffic. Long-tail keywords (~3+ word searches) generally have lower search volume and are less competitive but represent users who are near the end of the buying cycle. This is also a space where you can more easily outrank competition and earn more qualified traffic at the same time.

Competitor Analysis

Keep the same mindset when trying to outrank your competitors by identifying areas where you can gain quick wins.

If you’re competing in an established industry, competition can be fierce. Oftentimes, the SERPs are saturated with existing companies and the top positions are monopolized by industry giants.

If you copy everything an industry giant is doing on their website, down to keyword strategy and metadata, you won’t just assume their authority and rankings. Instead, you may be missing out on opportunities to home in on more specific keyword themes that could result in more qualified traffic.

 

Define your competitors

Create and maintain a list of competitors to monitor. This will help you narrow your focus when developing a responsive strategy.

 

You might be surprised to find that you have a different set of competitors online. When identifying your direct online competitors, look for the websites that rank on page one of the SERPs for the keywords you are specifically targeting.

 

See what works for them

Let’s start with competitors within your niche. You’ve identified a website that is ranking for keywords that are relevant and attainable for your website.

What should you do?

  • Start by looking at their metadata and headline strategies.
  • Learn from what they are doing well.

Perhaps they are benefiting from a playful tone in their meta descriptions with interesting CTAs. Or maybe they use a lot of technical jargon that resonates with their target audience.

If they are within your niche, and outranking you in the SERPs, you may want to consider a similar strategy. Bookmark their website so you can come back to it and continually analyze their optimizations and content.

Let’s say your competitor is outranking you for a keyword you are targeting on one of your main pages. Create more content and web pages that directly relate to that keyword and relevant derivatives.

Here is an easy way to see how many pages reference a specific keyword you are targeting.

Using this command shows us how many pages under this domain reference cloud computing. According to this data, Amazon will be hard to beat for this keyword. But test your competitor’s website with your keywords to see where you need to focus your content strategy.

 

Breaking it down with Breaking Bad

Here’s an example: if your competitor outranks you for “Breaking Bad,” you should create more content around that theme. “Breaking Bad”, “Breaking Bad AMC”, and “Breaking Bad Finale” are all obvious keywords to build on within your theme.

Google has an unlimited amount of user search data and can recognize trends in search behavior. So, Google understands that “Breaking Bad” searchers want to see content involving “Jesse Pinkman,” “Los Pollos Hermanos,” and “Bryan Cranston.”

If you want to rank for “Breaking Bad,” you should have quality content related to each of those keywords with a clean internal linking structure. Google will index these pages and determine that “this website has more ‘Breaking Bad’ authority than the competitor with just one ‘Breaking Bad’ page.”

Okay, so how does this apply to your business?

Say your competitor outranks you for “Cloud Computing.”

Find some relevant derivatives with search volume and build out content around those keywords. There are countless websites and extensions that provide keyword ideas. For example, this Chrome extension allows you to instantly see derivatives in the SERPs when you search.

Continue to utilize this strategy as your competitors build out their content.

Write blogs titled “Advantages of Cloud Computing” and “Different Types of Cloud Computing Software.”

Create a tutorial post titled, “How to Use Amazon Web Services,” or an info-graphic that compares “Microsoft Azure Capabilities vs. Amazon Web Services.”

Link these pieces back to your main Cloud Computing page and see how they perform.

 

Leverage searcher intent to outdo your competitors

If your tutorial video is a hit, create more tutorials. If your info-graphic gets 50 re-shares on social, create more info-graphics.

Let’s say your competitor wrote an article on “Cloud Computing in Healthcare” which performs well in the SERPs. If info-graphics are your bread and butter, create a “Cloud Computing in Healthcare” info-graphic.

Maybe you see an opportunity to expand on a subtopic on which they only scratched the surface. Write an article that dives deep into the “Specific Use Cases of Cloud Computing in Hospitals”. Outrank your competitors by having a better understanding of your audience and catering to their intent.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO can make or break the effectiveness of your website. From the SERP to the site, your website needs to provide a seamless experience that makes it easy for search engines and users to comprehend your content.

Are your images properly optimized within your CMS? Check out our guide to SEO Image Optimization. 

Is your content easily outlined through proper use of headings and header tags? Read up on SEO Header Tag Best Practices.

Does your site load quickly? Is it easy for users to find the pages they are looking for? Here, we outline important Website Tips for SEO Success.

Are you regularly publishing quality content that is written with SEO in mind? Read up on writing On-Page Content for SEO.

 

Ready to start climbing the ranks? Key takeaways to keep in mind are 1) tap into the wants and needs of your target audience through keyword research 2) honestly evaluate your site against your direct online competition, and 3) find the opportunities that will provide quick wins while you work to establish your overall authority.

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