How to Dominate Search with Rich Results – Structured Data, JSON-LD, Facebook Open Graph & More

What are rich snippets?

Ever searched in Google and saw a ginormous ranking just above the search results?… These large search results are called “rich snippets” and can send a mind-blowing amount of traffic.

Before I jump into techniques, still not sure what I’m talking about? Quickly Google a couple of questions and look for the giant search result at the top of the results, you can’t miss it—it’s four times bigger than a regular search result. Here’s example searches that usually deliver a rich snippet in the results, “what are rich snippets”, “how to get started in real estate”, “how to increase your blog traffic”, and so on…

Why you need to focus on rich results

Considering banging your head against the wall, wondering why you’re reading such a soul-destroying dry topic? Well, don’t throw this book out the window just yet…

These new technologies allow greater control over search listings, making it easier for search engines to crawl your site, potentially featuring your content as a “rich result” appearing at the top of the results, helping you get higher click- through rates and get more eyeballs on content. Think of this technology like meta tags on steroids…

Still not convinced? With voice search predicted to be 50% of searches by the end of 2020 by Comscore, and 40% of voice search results originating from rich results, targeting rich-results is a must—if you want to get amongst the rising voice search trend.

Why use Structured Data and JSON-LD?

To tell Google which parts of your content you want considered for a rich result, you need to use code called “structured data.” With new technologies, as always, there’s a debate about the best to use—JSON-LD, RDFa, microdata, the list goes on…

I won’t waste your time with a technical debate. Google has openly stated JSON- LD is the preferred code—and made it clear not to mix structured data technologies for fear of confusing the search engine spider…

We’re here for high rankings and traffic, not a lengthy diatribe on each individual technology, so let’s go with what Google recommends for the purposes of this book—JSON-LD.

How to get started with JSON-LD

So, what does all this JSON-LD structured data stuff look like? Let’s look at a business listing to see how it should be coded, according to Google’s recommendations.

<script type=”application/ld+json”> {

“@context”: “https://schema.org”, “@type”: “Organization”,

“url”: “https://www.example.com”, “name”: “Unlimited Ball Bearings Corp.”, “contactPoint”: {

“@type”: “ContactPoint”, “telephone”: “+1-401-555-1212”, “contactType”: “Customer service”

} }

</script>

The JSON-LD example code from Google gives the search engine a friendly nudge to recognize the information as a business listing, such as the name and the phone number.

While the above example will be just enough if you have a simple business listing, you or your developer will have to use Google’s documentation and tools, listed later in this chapter, to ensure your code is implemented correctly.

Different Types of Rich Results Supported by Google

Google supports the below rich results. If you have any of these content types on your site, you can benefit from Google’s recommended additional code.

  • Article
  • Book
  • Breadcrumb
  • Carousel
  • Course
  • Critic review
  • Dataset
  • Employer Aggregate Rating
  • Event
  • Fact Check
  • FAQ
  • How-to
  • Job Posting
  • Job Training (beta)
  • Local Business Listing
  • Logo
  • Movie
  • Occupation
  • Product
  • Q&A
  • Recipe
  • Review snippet
  • Sitelinks Searchbox
  • Software App (beta)
  • Speakable (news content)
  • Subscription and paywalled content
  • Video

Holy cow! That’s a lot of different search result types. Fortunately, Google has listed them neatly with example code at the following page.

Search Gallery of Structured Data – Google

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/search-gallery

When you or your developer are testing the code on your site, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool and make sure the code is implemented correctly. Finally, use Google’s Rich Results Test and preview how your page can appear in the search results.

Structured Data Testing Tool – Google

https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool

Rich Results Test – Google

https://search.google.com/test/rich-results

How to target featured snippet rankings in Google’s search results

After you’ve uploaded a bunch of fancy JSON-LD code into your site, you’re probably wondering when you appear at the top of the results… Using JSON-LD is just one step, if you want to achieve the coveted featured snippet ranking, you’ll need to satisfy the following requirements.

  1. Rank on the first page, first. Almost all featured snippets are fetched from rankings on the first page. Follow techniques from the On-Page SEO and Link building chapter and work your way up the results first.
  2. Create “snippet bait” targeting 40-50 words. SEMrush did a giant study on rich results and featured snippets, finding almost all text-based rich snippets range between 40 to 50 words.
  3. Structure your content to target featured snippets. Hint: putting target keywords as H2 or H3 headings, followed with clear and concise paragraphs around 40-50 words, is a solid approach.
  4. Use images. Featured snippets often contain images, I like to call them “snimmages”—for some reason, this terminology never really caught on like I hoped… Using images increases chances for both text and images appearing in the featured snippet. According to Google’s official guidelines, images should be at least 1200 pixels wide. And using multiple high-resolution images with aspect ratios 16×9, 4×3, and 1×1 can help with appearing on different devices.

How to target “People also ask” and question-based rich results

There’s another popular type of rich snippet appearing for almost any question type search—the “People also ask” rich snippet. Fortunately, some clever SEOs have figured out general techniques for targeting these sexy rankings.

  1. Your desired ranking must be a question type keyword. Searches not phrased as a question won’t always trigger a “People always ask” snippet, best focus on question type keywords.
  2. Your answer should be clear and concise. Well-written and clear answers have a much greater chance of being featured then poorly written answers. Remember the 40-50 words technique from earlier in this chapter.
  3. Include a Q&A or how-to section on your site. Increase content in a question and answer format and increase your odds of being featured for question-type searches.
  4. Provide more valuable information than a simple and direct answer. If your answer has numbered lists, rich media such as images and videos, and is generally more helpful than an obvious answer to the question, then you have a greater chance of being featured.
  5. Add Google’s recommended question-type JSON-LD code to relevant pages… While this won’t guarantee results, it’ll encourage Google to look at your pages and consider them for use in the rich results. Recommended JSON- LD code is listed at each of the following pages.

FAQ – Structured Data, Google Search

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/faqpage

How-to – Structured Data, Google Search

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/how-to

Q&A – Structured Data, Google Search

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/qapage

Voice search SEO and Google’s Speakable structured data

With the rise of miniature circular voice speaking robots invading people’s homes—virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant—it comes with little surprise Google is making moves to capture this market, and you can too!

Before we cover Google’s “Speakable” markup, and how any business can optimize for voice search, you might be wondering why voice search is important—after all, you want customers to read content on your site, not have it spoken aloud, right?

Well, not necessarily… If voice searchers find a solid voice answer, they are likely to visit your site. Voice search is in an upward trend and best viewed as an additional source of traffic, not something that will take away from current traffic. Now we’ve established it’s worthwhile putting voice search optimization on the radar, lets jump into the gritty details.

Implementing Speakable for US-based news publishers

Implementing Speakable is straightforward. Firstly, you need to be a US based news publisher. Secondly, you need to submit your site for consideration in Google’s Publisher Center. Finally, you will need to direct your site developer to review Schema.org’s technical guidelines and implement the code on your site. Review the following resources and get started.

Google – Speakable and Submission for Eligibility

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/speakable#eligibility

Schema.org – Speakable Developer Documentation

https://schema.org/speakable

Voice Search Optimization for regular site owners and marketers

We’re not all US-based news publishers and it’s understandable regular site owners and marketers want to jump on the voice search bandwagon. While voice search optimization is new, a handful of techniques have been established by industry insiders. Implement these and you will increase your chances of having your words of wisdom echoed by a voice speaking robot in a stranger’s home.

– Short answers in substantial content… Pages with over 2000 words appear more frequently in search results than articles with 500 or so words. Within long-form content, include short-form content, in a question and answer format, using short and concise answers, following the 40-50 word rule mentioned earlier.

– 65% of voice search results use HTTPS and have SSL certificates installed… If you’ve read this far and haven’t installed an SSL certificate, I’m starting to get a little concerned.

– Focus on building an authoritative site in your niche—relevant links, high value content, active social profiles, and so on.

– Make sure your website loads fast—4.6 seconds or faster to be precise. A large portion of voice searches are performed on mobile devices with slow Internet connections.

Check out Neil Patel’s quick and dirty VSO guide for more practical tips.

Neil Patel – 3 SEO Tips for Voice Search Optimization

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpaOahLBmFQ

Facebook Open Graph

While we know schema.org is the best approach for adding metadata to your site, there is one additional metadata technology you should also use.

Facebook’s Open Graph language allows you to determine how your site listing appears when shared on Facebook.

If you do not include Facebook’s Open Graph code on your site, when a user shares your content on Facebook it will show a plain listing on the news feed, with the responsibility on the user to describe the article and make it worth reading. If you include Facebook Open Graph code, it comes up looking sexy, just like your search listings if you have been using your meta title and meta description tags correctly.

By putting your best foot forward, and making your listing show up correctly on Facebook, you will encourage more customers to click to your site and increase the amount of likes and shares for your page. This will increase the overall social signals of the page.

Here’s an example of properly formatted meta code using Facebook Open Graph. As you can see, there are only minor tweaks required to make your page show up nicely on Facebook’s news feed. So go ahead and use it on your site!

<title>Buy Baseball Jackets Online</title>

<meta property=’og:type’ content=’site’>

<meta property-‘og:description’ name=’description’ content=’Wide range of Baseball Jackets online, for all leagues and players. Free delivery and free returns both-ways in USA.’/>

If you’re worried about confusing search engines by using several “structured data” technologies at the same time, such as Open Graph and schema.org, don’t worry, you won’t have any problems.

Facebook Open Graph is mainly used by Facebook’s web crawler, not by search engines, so you can use Open Graph and schema.org in tandem without any problems.

If you want to read up further on Facebook’s Open Graph, or if you have complex types of listings on your site, checkout Facebook’s Open Graph guide below.

Open Graph Protocol

https://ogp.me/

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