During the 3 o’clock hour on Wednesday, I attended a session on Structured Data and Search Analytics. As you can see from my earlier post on the subject, Structured Data is a bit of a passion of mine and I was eager to see what new developments were available in the realm of Structured Data, Rich Snippets, and the Semantic Web.
As Google continues its goal of organizing the world’s information and making it useful, it has discovered that the expectations of users are changing. In the past, providing a list of articles that match a search result was good for the users, but more and more when a user enters in a query in Google, they are expecting not a list of links, but an answer to their direct question.
This is a big part of why Google is investing in things such as Google Assistant, which had a tremendous amount of coverage at I/O this year with a ton of announcements related to Google Home and Google Assistant. Even on normal Google Search though, people are expecting direct answers to their questions. Google uses what in this session is referred to as the “Knowledge Engine,” but which Google has elsewhere referred to as the “Knowledge Graph,” to power Google’s ability to provide more rich and direct answers to the user’s questions.
The data from the Knowledge Graph comes from individual sites on the internet, and to ensure that you are giving Google the direct data they need in order to enhance your search listings as part of the Knowledge Graph, you must mark up your content using Structured Data.
Google has released what is called “Rich Snippets” and “Rich Cards” as a means of enhancing normal search results with the metadata webmasters provide on their sites. They’ve implemented this so far on a number of verticals including Recipes, Local, Movies/TV, eCommerce, Events, and Lifestyle, with more verticals coming all the time. One very soon new rich snippet vertical is for job postings, which ties in with the Google for Jobs announcements made during the keynote.
The team spent some time showing some examples of different rich snippets before diving into explaining the tools you can use to help implement Structured Data and measure the results of your migration. In particular, they highlighted their Search Feature Gallery, which shows off various Rich Snippets available with example markup on how to implement them, the Structured Data Testing Tool, which can be used to verify that your markup is correct, and Search Console, which can be used to track the results of how your migration has affected your users.
They ended with a number of case studies, showing off how several large sites have dramatically improved statistics such as click-through rate (the ratio of times your result has been seen to the number of times those results have been clicked), and user engagement. The popular movie rating site Rotten Tomatoes saw a 25% higher click-through rate on rich snippets compared to normal “blue link” results. Food network saw a 35% increase in the same statistic. Rakuten found that users that get to their site through rich snippets tend to stay on the site 1.5 times longer than those who don’t and have more than three times the interaction rate.
If you would like to learn more about Rich Snippets and Structured Data markup, check out the full video of this session from Google I/O 2017 below, or you can read my post about Structured Data and the Semantic Web to read more.
Live Blog Transcript
- 15:05: implementing at different levels
- Page-level recipes carousel
- single recipe result
- 15:07: Domain Level host carousel
- 15:07: Result-level rich snippet
- 15:11: new feature for events, single box that combines all events for a resultset
- 15:12: Tools:
- 15:19: From the search team, both JSON-LD and Microdata are excellent options for marking up structured data. Some people recently have been saying that Microdata is an “old” way, but this is not true, use which ever matches your data better.
- Personal Opinion: Microdata is better because it relates the structured data directly to the content it is marking up, as opposed to JSON-LD which is separate from the content
- 15:25: Rotten tomatoes saw 25% higher CTR on pages with structured data than those without
- 15:26: Food Network saw 80% of their pages displayed as rich snippets and 35% increase in Click Through Ratio (CTR)
- 15:26: lafourchette: 90% of pages displayed as rich results. 20% more clicks for pages with rich snippets
- 15:27: Rakuten saw 1.5x more time spent on pages reached via a rich snippet result
- 15:27: Rakuten also saw a 3.6x higher interaction rate on pages that were reached via a rich snippet result
- 15:28: Nestle Brazil saw 82% higher CTR on pages displayed as rich results
- 15:30: Summary:
- Opportunity: Stand Out
- Tools: Use tools to implement structured data and measure results
- Results: As shown, the results for webmasters that implement structured data is very promising