If you have a local business, selling products or services, you have to think about the local ranking of your website. Local optimization will help you surface for related search queries in your area. As Google shows local results first in a lot of cases, you need to make sure Google understands where you are located. In this article, we’ll go over all the things you can do to improve Google’s understanding of your location, which obviously improves your chances to rank locally.

Google itself talks about local ranking factors in terms of:

  • Relevance: are you the relevant result for the user? Does your website match what the user is looking for?
  • Distance: how far away are you located? If you are relevant and near, you’ll get a good ranking.
  • Prominence: this is about how well your business is known. More on that at the end of this article.

Let’s start with your address details

If you have a local business and serve mostly local customers, at least add your address in the right way. The right way to do this is using schema.org, either by adding LocalBusiness schema.org tags around your address details or via JSON-LD. Especially when using JSON-LD, you are serving your address details to a search engine in the most convenient way.

Our Local SEO plugin makes adding that LocalBusiness schema to your pages a breeze.

This is very much about what Google calls distance. If you are the closest result for the user, your business will surface sooner.

Google My Business

For your local ranking in Google, you can’t do without a proper Google My Business listing. You need to enlist, add all your locations, verify these and share some photos. Google My Business allows for customer reviews as well, and you should really aim to get some of those for your listing. Positive reviews (simply ask satisfied customers to leave a review) help the way Google and it’s visitors regard your business. This is pretty much like on your local market. If people talk positively about your groceries, more people will be inclined to come to your grocery stand.

Getting reviews is one. You can keep the conversation going by responding to these reviews and, as Google puts it, be a friend, not a salesperson.

Your site’s NAP need to be exactly the same as your Google My Business listing’s NAP

Even if your business has multiple locations, make sure to match the main NAP (name, address, phone number) on your website with the Google My Business NAP. That is the only way to make sure Google makes the right connection between the two. Add the main address on every page (you are a local business so your address is important enough to mention on every page). For all the other locations, set up a page and list all the addresses of your branches.

Facebook listing and reviews

What goes for Google My Business, goes for Facebook as well. Add your company as a page for a local business to Facebook here. People search a lot on Facebook as well, so you’d better make sure your listing on Facebook is in order.

Facebook also allows for reviews, like here for the Apple Store on Fifth Av. Note that this really is a local review, as the Fifth Avenue store scores a 4.6 average rating and the Amsterdam store just scores a 2.9 at the moment…

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City and state in title

The obvious one: for a local ranking, adding city and (in the US) state to your <title> helps. Read this article (2014), as Arjan sheds some more light on other aspects of local SEO as well. And please keep in mind that the effect of adding your city to your titles might be a lot less for your local ranking than adding your business details to Google My Business, but it won’t hurt for sure.

Local directories help your local ranking

Next to your Google My Business listing, Google uses the local Yelps and other local directories to determine just how important and local you are. Where we usually recommend against putting your link on a page with a gazillion unrelated links, the common ground for a local listings page is, indeed, the location. And these links actually do help your local rankings.

So get your web team to work, find the most important local directory pages and get your details up there. I’m specifically writing details and not just link. Citations work in confirming the address to both Google and visitors. If a local, relevant website lists addresses, get yours up there as well. And while you are at it, get some positive reviews on sites like Yelp as well, obviously!

Links from related, local businesses

Following how directories help your local ranking, it also pays off to exchange a link with related local businesses. If you work together in the same supply chain or sell related products, feel free to exchange links. Don’t just exchange links with any business you know, as these, in most cases, will be low-quality links for your website (because they’re usually unrelated).

Social mentions from local tweeps

Again, there’s a local marketplace online as well. People talk about business, new developments, products on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more. All these social mentions find their way to Google’s sensors as well. The search engine will pick up on positive or negative vibes and use these to help them rank your local business. If a lot of people talk about your business and/or link to your website, you must be relevant. Monitor these mentions and engage.

Some say links, from other websites, directories and social media, are the key factor for local rankings. As always, we believe it’s the sum of all efforts that makes you stand out from the crowd. Not just optimizing one aspect. Take your time and make sure your Google My Business profile is right, schema.org details are on your site and you have the right links to your site, and the right people talking about you on for instance Twitter. And please don’t forget to do proper keyword research and simply make sure the right content is on your website:

Optimize your content for better local rankings

Google won’t rank your site for a keyword if that keyword isn’t on your website. It’s as simple as that. If your business is in city X, you probably have a reason why you are located there. Write about that reason. And note that these may vary:

  • You are born there or just love the locals and local habits
  • There is a river which is needed for transport
  • Your local network makes sure you can deliver just-in-time or provide extra services
  • The city has a regional function and your business thrives by that
  • There are 6 other businesses like yours, you’re obviously the best, and you all serve a certain percentage of people, so your business fits perfectly in that area.

These are just random reasons to help you write about your business in relation to your location. They differ (a lot) per company. Make sure your location/city/area is clearly mentioned on your website and not just in your footer at your address details!

Read more: ‘Tips for your local content strategy’ »

One more thing: Google also uses prominence as a local ranking factor

Prominence means that when Google can serve a result first from a well-known brand or business, they actually will. And despite all your efforts to improve your local ranking, this might get in the way of that number one position. It just means you have to step up your game, keep on doing the great work you do and trust that eventually, Google will notice this as well. And as a result, Google might allow you to rank on that number one position for that local keyword!

Keep reading: ‘Grow your business with ratings and reviews’ »

Schema.org takes care of all the structured data needs on your website. You can use it to markup products, reviews, events and menu items so search engines like Google can pick up this data and present it in an enhanced way. If you want rich snippets, mobile rich cards or a listing in the knowledge graph, you need to mark up your pages with Schema.org. This ultimate guide gives you an overview of this expansive topic.

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What is structured data?

Structured data is the data you add to your website to make it easier to understand for search engines. You need a vocabulary to make it work and the one big search engines use, is called Schema.org. Schema.org provides a series of tags and properties to mark up your products, reviews, local business listings, etc in detail. The major search engines, Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo, collectively developed this vocabulary to reach a shared language in a quest to get a better understanding of websites.

Schema.org & Yoast SEO

Our flagship SEO plugin Yoast SEO supports multiple Schema.orgs out of the box. We’re working hard on extending this list. More info in our Knowledge Base.

If implemented correctly, search engines can use the applied structured data to understand the contents of your page better. As a result, you might get a better presentation in the search results, for instance, in the form of rich snippets or rich cards. However, there are no guarantees you’ll get rich listings; it’s all up to the search engines.

Why do you need Schema.org data?

Marking up your products, reviews, events, and more with structured data in the form of Schema.org makes your site instantly comprehensible by search engines. What this means, is that you can tell exactly what every part of your site is about. Search engines no longer have to guess that a product listing is a product listing, you can now say it is.

Is Schema.org important for your SEO?

To cut a long story short: yes, structured data in the form of Schema.org is important for your SEO. Correctly implementing data might not give you better rankings, but it will indirectly make your site a better search result.

Enhanced listings give searchers an easier way to pick a result from the list of links. If your listing is rich, and your page does what your listing promises, you are a valid result for the customer and that will lead to a lower bounce rate. A lower bounce rate tells Google that your site is a well-regarded result that promises and delivers.

In addition to that, since structured data is just picking up steam, you have a viable chance to get a head start on your competitors. Just think about it, if you have a barber shop and you markup your 300 five-star reviews, you are way ahead of your competitor who doesn’t mark up his reviews. Google picks up this data and shows it directly in the search results. If you are looking for a barber shop in Google, who would you pick? The one with no reviews or the one with 300 good ones?

Structured data leads to rich results

By making your site understandable for search engines, you give them the opportunity to do interesting things with your content. Schema.org and its support is in a constant flow, so changes will happen. Structured data forms the basis for a lot of new developments in the SEO world, so there’s bound to be more in the near future. Below are the kinds of rich search results that are in use at this moment.

Sitelinks Searchbox

A Searchbox is the internal search engine of a site presented within the search results of Google. Google uses Schema.org code for this as well. Yoast SEO has support for this built in. More info in our Knowledge Base.

Rich Snippets

Different rich snippets

Rich snippets are the extra pieces of information shown in a search result. In addition to the regular black lines of meta description text, a search result can be enhanced with product information like prices or reviews, or extra navigational tools like breadcrumbs or site search.

Read more: ‘Rich snippets everywhere’ »

Rich Cards

rich-cards-recipes-movies

A Rich Card appears on mobile and is a new kind of rich search result developed by Google. Search results for certain types of items, like local restaurants, recipes, movies and courses, can get a special treatment in the mobile results. These are presented in a touch-friendly, swipeable way.

Keep reading: ‘How to get mobile Rich Cards in Google’ »

Knowledge Graph

Yoast Knowledge Graph

The Knowledge Graph is the big block of information on the right-hand side in Google. This block details different kinds of information about a particular search result. If you have a validated company or if you are an authority on a certain subject, you might see your name, logo and social media profiles appear.

Featured snippets

This might be a sneaky addition because featured snippets are rich search results, but they do not get their content from structured data. A featured snippet answers a search question directly in the search results, but uses regular content from the viable web page to do so.

Does it work on mobile?

Yes, it works everywhere. Mobile implementation of Schema.org data is in its infancy, though. As of today, there are not many specific mobile-centric applications of Schema.org. However, Google has been pushing mobile rich search results for a while now.

If a page meets the criteria set by Google, you can now book movie tickets or reserve a table at a restaurant directly from the search results. If you implement structured data correctly, you can also be eligible for a new sort of presentation in the form of mobile Rich Cards, as explained above.

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Different kinds of Schema.org

If you look at the Schema.org website, you’ll notice that there are a lot of possibilities to add structured data to your site. Not everything is relevant, though. Before you start implementing Schema.org, you must know what you need to markup. Do you have a product in an online store? Do you own a restaurant? Or do you have a local business providing services to the community? Whatever it is, you need to know what you want to do and explore the possibilities.

Don’t go for the most obscure ones; pick the ones that are relatively easy to implement. Some Schema.orgs appear on less than a thousand sites, but others appear on millions. It’s possible to put the major Schema.orgs into two groups: Creative Works and Commerce. Within these groups, you will find the most common items to markup with Schema.org. These are the most important ones:

Creative works

The first major group is Creative Work and it encompasses the most generic group of creative works. In this group, you’ll find items that have been produced by someone or something. You’ll find the most common ones below, but the list is much longer. In addition to these, you’ll find properties for sculptures, games, conversations, software applications, visual artworks and much more. However, most of these properties don’t have a rich presentation attached to it in search engines, so they are less valuable. But, as mentioned before, if your site has items in the categories below, make sure to mark them up with Schema.org.

Articles

An article could be a new item or part of an investigative report. You can make a distinction between a news article, a tech article or even a blog post.

Books

A book is a book, be it in a paper form or in digital form as an eBook. You can markup every type of property, from the author how wrote it to the awards it has won.

Courses

In the future, anyone offering a type of course can use the new Schema.org. At the moment, Google is holding small-scale tests with selected participants to see how this Schema.org performs.

Music

Music can also receive the structured data treatment. There are a couple of Schema.org of interest for music, like MusicRecording, MusicAlbum, MusicEvent and MusicGroup.

Recipes

By adding Recipe data to the recipes on your cooking website, you can get your recipes featured directly in search results. What’s more, with the advent of Rich Cards, recipes might even be presented in a stunning new way on mobile.

TV & Movies

Movies and TV shows get their own piece of structured data as well. Searching for a movie in search engines will yield a rich result with reviews, poster art, cast information and even the ability to directly order tickets for a showing.

Videos

It’s possible to do all kinds of interesting things with video. Google, in particular, is working on new ways to get videos in the search results, with AMP for instance. Google can use your videos in AMP carousels and Top Stories listings.

Commerce

The second major group is Commerce. In this group, you’ll find several important types to mark up with Schema.org. Many site owners will find the subjects below very interesting and these should be a top priority for many of them.

Events

Marking up your event listings with the correct Event Schema.org, might lead search engines showing your events directly in the search results. This is a must have if you own a nightclub, a venue or any type of business that regularly puts on events.

Businesses and organizations

If you make money with your website chances are you own a business. If you’re a site owner or just work on a company site, you’ll find the business and organization Schema.org’s interesting. Almost every site can benefit from the correct business Schema.org. If you do it well, you could get a nice Knowledge Graph or another type of rich listing in the search engines.

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Read on: ‘Local business listings with Schema.org and JSON-LD’ »

Products

Almost as important as the Schema.org mentioned in the previous paragraph, is the one for products. Using Product Schema.org you can give your products the extra data search engines need to give you rich snippets, for instance. Think about all the search results you see with added information, like pricing, reviews, availability, etc. This should be a substantial part of your structured data strategy, if you have products of course.

Read more: ‘Rich snippets for product listings with Schema.org’ »

Reviews

Reviews and ratings play an important role in today’s search process. Businesses, service providers and online stores all use reviews to attract more customers and show how trustworthy their offerings are. Getting those five stars in search engines might be the missing link to creating a real successful business.

Keep reading: ‘Grow your business with ratings and reviews’ »

The technical details

To get started with making up your pages, you need to know about how Schema.org actually works. If you look closely at the full specs on Schema.org, you’ll see that there is a strict hierarchy in the vocabulary. Everything is connected, just like everything is connected on your pages. Scroll through the list to see all the options at a glance and note down the ones you think you need.

Google Search Console

If you need to check how your structured data is performing in Google, check your Search Console. Locate the Structured Data tab under Search Appearance and you’ll see all the pages that have structured data, plus an overview of pages that give errors, if any. You can also find more insights into Rich Cards. Read this post for more info.

Let’s look at the hierarchy. A Schema.org implementation starts with a Thing, this is the most generic type of item. A Thing could be a more specific type of item, for instance, a Creative Work, an Event, Organisation, Person, Place or Product.

For example, a movie is a “Thing” and a “Creative Work”, which falls under the category “Movie”. You can add a lot of properties to this, like a “Description”, a “Director”, an “Actor”, a poster “Image”, “Duration” or “Genre”. There are loads of properties to add, so you can get as specific as you want. However, don’t go overboard, since not every property is used by search engines – not yet anyway. What you should do, is look at the specifications in Google’s documentation, for instance, to see which properties are required and which are recommended.

A sample Schema.org hierarchy

If we put what we know now in a hierarchy, this is what you will end up with:

  •  Thing
    • Creative Work
      • Movie
        • Description (type: text)
        • Director (type: person)
        • Actor (type: person)
        • Image (type: ImageObject or URL)
        • etc.

If it would be a local business, you could use something like this:

  • Thing
    • Organisation (or Place)
      • LocalBusiness
        • Dentist
          • Name
          • Address
          • Email
          • Logo
          • Review
          • etc.

For local businesses, you could pick a more specific type of business. This makes it easier for search engines to determine what kind of business you own. There are hundreds of types of local business, but your business might not fit one of the descriptions. Using the Product Types Ontology you can get more specific information if your listing is too broad.

Sticking to the local business example, you’ll see that Google lists several required properties, like the NAP details of your business. In addition to that, there are loads of recommended properties, like a URL, geo-coordinates, opening hours, etc. Try to fill out as much of these as you can, only then search engines can give you the full preferred presentation. If you need help with your local business markup, you’ll find our Local SEO plugin very helpful.

What do you need to mark up?

When looking at Schema.org for the first time, it might feel a bit daunting. The list is enormous and the possibilities are endless, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To overcome this sensation, you need to go back to basics. Find out what your site, business or product is about and write down the specifications and properties you deem important. Work your way up from there.

Having said that, there are a couple of sections you should prioritize in your plan to add structured data to your site. If you start off with these three, you’ll have the basics covered and gives you the opportunity build on that. You should absolutely start with structured data for your business details, products, and reviews. These will have the biggest effect in the short run.

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How to implement structured data with Schema.org

Don’t be frightened, but here comes the technical part of the story. However, there’s nothing scary about adding the data to your pages, not any more thanks to JSON-LD. This JavaScript-based data format makes it a lot easier to add structured data since it forms a block of code and is no longer embedded in the HTML of your page. This makes it easier to write and maintain, plus it’s better to understand by both humans and machines.

Schema.org with JSON-LD

JSON-LD is the preferred method of adding Schema.org to your site. However, not all search engines are quick to adopt it; Bing is the odd man out. Let’s hope Microsoft will soon come about and add support for this rather efficient method.

Below you see a sample product listing of our flagship SEO plugin: Yoast SEO. This is just a small product listing with only the basics; you’ll see a type, name, image, description, and brand. At the end of the code, you’ll also find an offer to buy the plugin, which has a price of $69.

If you want to learn more about working with all of this on your site, you should read Michiel’s article on how to use JSON-LD to add Schema.org data to your website.

The old ways: RFDa and Microdata

The classic way of writing structured data for inclusion on your pages, involved direct embedment in your HTML. This made a really inefficient and error-prone process. It is part of the reasons why the uptake of Schema.org hasn’t been particularly fast. Writing and maintaining it via RFDa or Microdata is a pain. Believe us, try to do as much as you can in JSON-LD.

Here’s a Microdata example for marking up a movie. Because the code needs itemprops to function, everything has to been inline coded. You can instantly see how that makes it hard to read, write and edit.

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Structured data and Google AMP

The open source AMP project (Accelerated Mobile Pages) has been causing quite a stir these last few months. The project’s goal is to get pages to load lightning fast on mobile. To do that, the project uses a special kind of HTML. Google is pushing AMP pretty hard and also mentions its reliance on structured data. If you want to use AMP and completely give your pages the once over, you need to add structured data. Google uses several Schema.org items to take care of the more interactive parts of AMP elements. You can use Yoast SEO in conjunction with our AMP Glue plugin to take care of most AMP needs.

Tools for working with Schema.org

Schema.org is not too hard to work with, but if adding code by hand seems scary, you could try some of the tools out there. If you are still not sure how to go about this, ask your web developer for help, he’ll probably fix this for you in a couple of minutes.

Most search engines have their own developer center where you can find more information on the inner workings of the structured data implementations. Read these to see what works and what doesn’t. In addition to that, you should adhere to their rules, because a bad Schema.org implementation could lead to a penalty. Always check your code in the structured data test tool to see if it’s correct. Fix errors and regularly maintain the code on your site to see if it is still up to scratch.

In the end

You can’t run away from structured data anymore. If your site means anything to you, you should look into it and figure out the best way to make use of Schema.org. Implemented correctly, it can do great things for your site, now and in the future. Search engines are constantly developing new ways to present search results and more often than not do they use Schema.org data to do so.

Rich Cards are the newest addition to Google’s enhanced search results. Using structured data in the form of Schema.org, certain types of subjects can get an enhanced presentation in Google. Rich Cards, not to be confused with rich snippets, are search results in card form that the user can swipe through and mostly pop up on mobile. At first, only recipes and movies had rich cards, but now local restaurants and courses joined the club. The results are still only available in the US, though. Let’s see what all the fuss is about.

What are Rich Cards?

Rich Cards example

Rich Cards on Google.com (US).

Rich Cards are a sort of extension of the rich search results we know as rich snippets. On mobile, a card is the basic presentation unit of a search result. Rich results are the search results that have extra information attached to it, this could be aggregate ratings, prices or availability. The end result is a well-structured presentation that is easy to grasp and quick to act upon. Another type of rich result offers a direct interaction with the search result. For instance, some restaurants now offer the possibility to reserve a table directly from the search result. In the future, there will be even more interaction possible, thus making for a much more user-friendly and efficient search experience.

The primary driver of this type of innovation is the enormous rise in mobile searches. Mobile has eclipsed desktop and search engines are working hard to tap into the vast possibilities this brings. One of these innovations by Google is Rich Cards, where a user finds a neatly presented and quick to use search result. Swiping through the cards makes it possible to locate the result that best fits the user’s intentions. As a site owner you can make individual results available, or a list of items within a particular category. After that, a user can swipe through the results to find the best results within that category on your site.

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Which cards are available?

When Google introduced Rich Cards, they only made them available for movies and recipes. In November 2016, it became possible to add local restaurants and online courses. However, these are still only available for US search results. Cards present themselves in a carousel or a vertical three-pack that displays courses. Cards can be marked up individually or as a series of articles within a category of your site.

Check out the screenshots below to see the four current rich cards:

rich cards courses restaurants rich cards recipes movies

How does it work?

To get any rich result, you need structured data on your page. Just like rich snippets, rich cards use structured data to tell search engines what your page is all about, so they can use it for the enhanced presentation. You need structured data to tell search engines about the meaning of the elements on your page and not just what they say.

The big search engines, Google, Yandex, Yahoo and Microsoft, came up with a shared vocabulary called Schema.org. Schema.org is often in a data format like RFDa or Microdata. However, everyone seems to favor JSON-LD these days. Not without reason, because it is easy to write and readable for both humans and machines.

So structured data makes rich results possible, but it is not certain that you’ll get rich results if implemented. It’s all up to the search engines. Just make sure that your data is correct and keep your fingers crossed.

Get started with Schema.org

To get started with Schema.org in JSON-LD, you need to determine what you want to markup and how you want to do it. There is a Schema.org for almost everything, from products to courses and services to local businesses. Be sure to take a gander at the Schema.org website to get a birds-eye view of all the schemas.

If you want users to perform an action after they have found your search result, you should determine what this action should be and how you should handle it. If you do, it is possible to reserve a table in your restaurant or a buy a ticket for a movie in your movie theater. Actions are in a pilot program, but you can express your interest if you’d like to join. See this Google page for more information on that. In Google’s documentation, you’ll also find great example code to get you started, for recipes for instance.

To help you with your quest for rich search results, we’ve written some articles on adding structured data. Check out the following articles for your reading pleasure:

Our Yoast SEO plugin uses JSON-LD to add information about your site search, your site name, your logo and your social profiles to your web pages.

Swiping with AMP

Google is increasingly pushing AMP, even in the rich search results. A search for [chocolate cheesecake recipe] on mobile shows two carousels, the one on top with regular search results to be swiped through. The second one, somewhat further down the page, consists of AMPlified content and makes it possible to swipe through the results, even after tapping on a link. It makes for a beautiful and fast experience, but AMP is not necessary to get this type of rich card. However, you do get a few benefits; Google likes sites that use AMP, plus your site loads lightning fast and the swiping actions are solid.

AMP is very much a work in progress, and Google is figuring out how to incorporate it into the search results. There will be a lot going on in the coming months, and we are trying to keep you informed on all of the changes in the SEO/structured data worlds.

Rich Cards Google AMP

Left: an AMP carousel with only recipes from Allrecipes.com. Right: a tap leads to the relevant AMP page.

Track progress in Search Console Rich Cards report

One interesting recent development is the new Rich Cards report in Google’s Search Console. In this new tab, you will find everything related to the performance of your structured data. You can see how many cards are indexed and if there are critical or non-critical problems.

Cards fall into three categories: ‘Invalid’, ‘Enhanceable’ or ‘Fully Enhanced’. If your cards are invalid, you should check the structured data and fix all problems. Enhanceable cards have only non-critical errors in the additional, optional data fields. These cards will still display, but not in the most optimal way. Fully enhanced cards render correctly and perform as they should. Keep an eye on your report at all times and fix issues when they pop up.

Before you add your code to your pages, you should always check it in the Structured Data Testing Tool. In any case, you should follow the rules, because failing to do so and presenting incorrect data, could harm your site.

Conclusion

Mobile rich cards offer searchers an intuitive way to browse the search results. Cards are very visible and naturally catch the users eye, begging for a tap. Carousels group the relevant results together and make them swipeable.

The implementation of rich cards is still in development and could change at any moment. This is a fairly new paradigm for previewing and navigating search results, and it’s not easy to predict if searchers will adopt this. In the end, carousels don’t have a really good reputation…

At the moment, Rich Cards only apply to a small sampling of subjects in one target market: the US. This means that all your efforts will only affect search results in that one country. If you have the means and capacity to implement the structured data for Rich Cards, go right ahead. If you don’t, or if you are not in the target market, it may be better to watch the developments closely and jump on the bandwagon when Rich Cards get a worldwide release.

Read more: ‘Rich snippets for product listings’ »

Rich search results are everywhere. Years ago, search engines presented search results without much adornment. Today, the search results look very different. We see extra information beneath the links, plus a couple of big blocks of rich content, depending on what you look for. The additional lines beneath results are called rich snippets, and they are meant to directly inform users. In this article, we’ll briefly go over the different rich snippets and what they mean for SEO.

What are rich snippets?

First, let’s look at what regular snippets are. Snippets are the black lines of text beneath the title of the search result. Here you’ll read a piece of text introducing the individual search result. Rich snippets are the additional lines of information underneath search results; these often consist of breadcrumb links, product information, prices or reviews. Rich snippets are part of rich results; the catch-all term search engines use to describe parts of the search results that have a highlighted presentation.

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There are a couple of other enhancements to the search results pages. Rich cards on mobile, for instance, are a sort of follow-up or extension of rich snippets. These provide a lot more actionable information, directly from the search results page. Rich cards were until recently only available for movies and recipes, but have been expanded with local restaurants and online courses. We’ll dive deeper into rich cards at a later date.

In addition to that, there are also featured snippets. These are the boxes Google shows at the top of the page to answer a query directly. Last but not least, there’s the knowledge graph; this is the big block of information on the right-hand side.

Different rich snippets

Various rich snippets

Featured snippets

Featured snippet

Building blocks

To get rich results, you need to add structured data to your site. The structured data is in a vocabulary called Schema.org and can be added to your page in different ways. First, you can use the classic formats: Microdata and RDFa. However, Google favors the new kid in town these days: JSON-LD. This is a JavaScript format to easily markup structured data in a way that’s readable for both humans and machines. On Schema.org you’ll find a neat getting started guide.

Our Yoast SEO plugin uses JSON-LD to add information about your site search, your site name, your logo and your social profiles to your web pages.

What do rich snippets do?

In addition to telling the search engine what all the pieces of your site mean, the main goal of rich snippets is to inform the searcher. A well structured rich snippet will entice the searcher to click on the link. Users can now judge directly from the search results if a certain result is the one they are looking for.

Let’s say you have a business delivering flowers. You have done a lot of work to rank well in the search engines for the term ‘flower delivery’, appended with your location. You rank pretty well, but your competitor has rich snippets, and you don’t. He shows his reviews directly in the search results and his flower shop rates 4,5 out of 5 stars. His stars just naturally catch your eye. With his high rating, he might attract more clicks from searchers, just because he has a more ‘trustworthy’ profile. You know what you have to do.

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Rich snippets reviews

Do rich snippets have benefits for SEO?

Adding structured data does not directly result in better rankings. It does, however, make you more visible in the search results. Search engines understand your pages better and can, therefore, give you a better presentation. This, in turn, might lead to more focused traffic, extra sales, links and in the end; better results from your site.

If your listings get rich results, searchers will notice you better because you stand out from the crowd. This might lead to a higher click-through rate (CTR). In addition to that, if you’re snippets are really good, your bounce rate may potentially go down. The reason for this is that searchers can make a better judgment directly from the results. If your listing is not up to scratch, searchers might skip you. If it is, they know your listing should promise what it says. All you have to do is deliver the result it promises.

Keep in mind that it’s up to the search engines to determine if your listings get rich results. There are no guarantees you’ll get them.

What types are there?

There are different types of rich snippets. If we look at the broader palette of rich results, there’s even more to see. Here are the most prominent examples. You can see some of these in action in Google’s Search Gallery.

Products

Mark up products with Schema.org/Product and you can get rich snippets in search results. Your product can be enhanced with ratings, pricing, and availability, for example. In this post, we explain how you can enhance your product listings in search engines.

Reviews and ratings

Do customers give your business or product ratings? Then you could collect them on a review page and mark these up as ratings or reviews with Schema.org/Review. This way search engines recognize the reviews and might show them in the search results. We’ve written a post on reviews and ratings as well. Remember, you cannot use external reviews from sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor anymore, you have to collect them yourself.

Businesses and organizations

Your local business should present the correct structured data to search engines (Schema.org/LocalBusiness). If you use this data, search engines will pick it up and might highlight your business in the results. If you want to mark up your local business, you should read the article on local business listings. Don’t have the time or knowledge to add all this information yourself? Our Local SEO plugin can do it for you.

Recipes

You can now see recipes directly in the search results. If you are searching for a recipe for cheesecake, you can now find it without leaving the search engine. To activate this on your cooking site, you need to add Schema.org/Recipe data.

Events

Event listings have been around for quite a while. If correctly implemented clubs, venues or other social and cultural entities can show multiple upcoming events directly in search results. Check out Schema.org/Event.

Courses

One of the latest additions is courses. By adding Schema.org/Course data you can highlight your course in the search results. Among other things, you can show a description, tutor, price and the institute that facilitates the course. You can find a couple of example sites, including markup at W3.org.

How can I add them myself?

It used to be fairly hard to add the data needed for rich snippets, but times have changed. There are now multiple WordPress plugins, online generators and other tools to add data without having to deep-dive into code. In addition to that, the new data format JSON-LD has made it much easier to write readable code that’s simple to understand and maintain. Still, if you don’t want to mess with code, you can always ask your web developer to do it for you.

The last couple of weeks, we’ve been adding posts on working with structured data and JSON-LD. We have guides on ratings and reviews, product listings, local business listings and a small intro on how to work with JSON-LD. Shortly, there will be even more on this subject.

Having said that, you should always be careful when adding structured data for rich snippets. If you markup hidden content, or don’t follow the rules one way or the other, you could receive a penalty.

Conclusion

While adding structured data for rich snippets doesn’t directly lead to better rankings, it will lead to a better understanding of your site by search engines and visitors alike. As with a lot of SEO related things, you are still in the hands of search engines. They will determine if a site gets rich results or not.

Don’t let this stop you, though. Adding structured data to your site is always a good thing because you are making your site clearer to search engines and thus creating a bigger chance of them presenting your site in the best possible way.

Read more: ‘Local business listings with JSON-LD and Schema.org’ »

One of the things you can do to present your local business better in search results is Schema.org data for rich snippets. By adding structured data to your site, you can help search engines understand what your business is about and how it performs. For this reason, you have to add your NAP details, a map to your store/location, reviews, and images. Find out how it all starts with Schema.org.

Modern day customers use search engines not just to find your specific business, but also businesses around their current location. Customers using their phones looking for ‘italian restaurants’, will get a rich search result of local businesses. The results will include distance, reviews, opening hours and maybe a possibility to make a reservation.

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Local SEO for WordPress

Before we dive into the world of Schema.org, we’d like to remind you that our Local SEO for WordPress plugin does all of this. If you don’t want to mess with the technical side of things or if you think it’s too difficult, then this is the plugin for you. It’s easy to install, easy to work with and keeps you from having to add code yourself. It is actively developed and will get many more features in the near future.

Improve local rankings

Getting a good ranking for your local business means offering search engines as much data about your business as possible. Besides that, you need a good mobile-friendly website, quality content, links, and reviews.

To improve your rankings, you should focus on being the most relevant result for a specific query. In addition to that, your business has to be the best result. One way of getting this kind of recognition is by asking your customers for reviews. Reviews help search engines figure out which business is legit and which isn’t.

Why Schema.org

The main thing to remember is that Schema.org tells search engines what your data means, not just what it reads. Search engines can find out a lot about your site by crawling it. However, if you add structured data, you can give everything meaning. This way, search engines instantly grasp what the data means and how they should present it. In addition to that, Schema.org is a shared initiative by the big search engines, so using it will lead to consistent results in the respective search engines.

Rich search results for businesses

So, when we mean rich search results, we are talking about the information about a business you can directly see in search results, without clicking a link. There are a couple of different results here: a regular organic search result for a business can feature breadcrumbs, highlighted pages or even a search box. In Google, there’s also the Knowledge Panel on the right-hand side. Here you’ll find lots of metadata about a business, from opening hours to photos. Last but not least, the results you see when you search for a specific term, rather than a business. See the screenshots below for the different results you can get for a specific or generic search.

local listings 1

Searching for a specific business

local-listings-2

Searching for a specific business, including location

local-listings-3

Looking for a local business using a specific term

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Why you should use JSON-LD

To get rich results, you need to use structured data in the form of Schema.org. In the past, it was fairly difficult to add Schema.org data to your post, because it had to be embedded in your HTML code. Now, with the advent of JSON-LD, you just have to add a block of JavaScript code anywhere on your page. Plus, the code is readable and easy to change.

With JSON-LD you don’t have code wrapping around your HTML elements anymore, with less possibility of messing things up. In addition to that, Google advises you to use it. Now, let’s see how it’s done.

How to add Schema.org to your local business listing

The most important thing to keep in mind when you are working on your listing is to pick the correct business type. Make sure to pick a specific one, not a broad one. So if you own a barber shop, you can use the Local Business Type Hair Salon. There are over 400 types of businesses, so you’ll probably find one that matches closely. If not, try using the product types ontology. This site uses Wikipedia pages for describing products or services with GoodRelations and Schema.org. Here, you can get more specific information if your listing is too broad.

While it’s possible to write Schema.org JSON-LD code by hand, it’s not recommended. Use a generator like this JSON-LD Schema Generator or Google’s Structured Data Helper. Always validate your Schema.org data in the Structured Data Test Tool. Using Synup’s Schema Scanner, you can check your site to see if the Schema.org data is implemented correctly. Don’t forget to add your site to Search Console, so you can check how Google presents your site.

Required properties for local businesses

There’s one main Schema.org at play here: Schema.org/LocalBusiness. In this Schema.org, you’ll find everything you need to inform search engines about your local business. To get started, you need at least the following properties:

  • @id (globally unique id of the specific business in the form of a URL)
  • name of business
  • image (as of now, you have to supply a logo)
  • address
    • address.streetAddress
    • address.addressLocality
    • address.addressRegion
    • address.postalCode
    • address.addressCountry

Recommended properties

The properties mentioned in the previous paragraph don’t get you very far, though. To make the most of structured data for your site, you need to go further. Be sure to add the following properties as well, if applicable. This is just the beginning, on Schema.org/LocalBusiness you’ll find loads more.

  • url (unlike the @id, should be a working link)
  •  geo
    • geo.latitude
    • geo.longitude
  • telephone
  • potentialAction
    • ReserveAction
    • OrderAction
  • openingHoursSpecification
    • openingHoursSpecification,opens
    • openingHoursSpecification.closes
    • openingHoursSpecification.dayOfWeek
    • openingHoursSpecification.validFrom
    • openingHoursSpecification.validThrough
  • menu
  • acceptsReservations (true/false)
  • priceRange (how many $?)

Example code for local business Schema.org

To clarify how all of this works, we will use a real local business: Unique Vintage in Burbank, CA. This makes it a bit easier to validate the data we enter. In the code below, you’ll find all the NAP details, URL’s, geolocation data, maps, opening hours and reviews you might need.

<script type='application/ld+json'> 
{
   "@context": "http://www.schema.org",
   "@type": "ClothingStore",
   "@id": "http://unique-vintage.example.com",
   "name": "Unique Vintage",
   "url": "http://www.unique-vintage.com",
   "logo": "http://www.unique-vintage.com/example_logo.jpg",
   "image": "http://www.unique-vintage.com/example_image.jpg",
   "description": "Clothing store featuring vintage-inspired women's separates & dresses plus men's shirts & hats.",
   "telephone": " +1 818-848-1540",
   "address": {
    "@type": "PostalAddress",
    "streetAddress": "2011 W Magnolia Blvd",
    "addressLocality": "Burbank",
    "addressRegion": "CA",
    "postalCode": "91506",
    "addressCountry": "USA"
      },
 "geo": {
   "@type": "GeoCoordinates",
    "latitude": "34.1736486",
    "longitude": "-118.332408"
      },
   "hasMap": "https://www.google.nl/maps/place/Unique+Vintage/@34.1736486,-118.332408,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x47a3a037cf1e183b!8m2!3d34.173649!4d-118.3302131",
   "openingHours": "Mo, Tu, We, Th, Fr 11:00-19:00 Sa 10:00-18:00 Su 12:00-17:00",
   "priceRange": "$$",
   "aggregateRating": {
   "@type": "AggregateRating",
     "ratingValue": "4",
     "reviewCount": "250"
  }
}
 </script>

Reviews

Reviews are a major driver for new clientele. Scoring well in Google means your business provides quality, and this can eventually lead to better local rankings. Think about how you pick the next business to visit. Will it be the one with three two star reviews or the one with eighty five star reviews?

In the example above, we’ve added a review section. If you want to use reviews in your Schema.org data, you have to keep in mind that these reviews have to live on your site. You cannot use sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor to generate reviews to show in the search engines. Simply ask your customers to leave a review. Make a review page, collect the reviews and present them to the world.

Social

Another element to add to complete your online profile, are links to your social media accounts. To do this, you must specify an organization or a person. The URL has to lead to your main site, while the sameAs links lead to your social media profiles.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
 "@context": "http://schema.org",
 "@type": "Organization",
 "name": "Example shop",
 "url": "http://www.exampleshop.com",
 "sameAs": [
 "http://www.facebook.com/exampleshop",
 "http://instagram.com/exampleshop",
 "http://twitter.com/exampleshop"
 ]
}
</script>

Place Action

Google is currently working on an interesting new feature for local businesses, especially for local searches: direct actions from the search results. If you have a restaurant or a hair salon, you can use it to book an appointment or reserve a seat. Shortly, you can use reserveAction or orderAction to trigger this event. Eventually, you’ll see a nice call-to-action in your rich results that let customers contact you directly. Google is working with a small number of businesses to develop this.

Google My Business

There is another way to add your local business to Google. By opening a Google My Business account, you will be able to verify that you are in fact the owner of your business. After that, you can add or edit all relevant information about your business, such as address information, opening hours and photos. In addition to that, you can even manage the reviews people add to Google and see how your local listing performs.

Conversely, this only applies to Google. Every search engine can interpret Schema.org, so it is still advisable to add structured data to your site. Additionally, Schema.org can do so much more than just add relevant local business locations. Therefore, Schema.org should be your main focus.

In spite of all this, you’re still very much in Google’s hands. Some businesses appear in the Knowledge Panel, while others don’t. Some products get rich listings, including prices, reviews and availability, in the search results, while the same product from a different vendor doesn’t. It’s hard to predict what will happen. However, don’t let this stop you.

Structured data for your local business

As we’ve shown, Schema.org can play an important part in the optimization of your site and in your SEO strategy. Structured data can do much more, just look at all those properties on Schema.org. We’ll keep an eye on what structured data can do for your site and keep you in the loop!

And don’t forget, if you want an easier way to add your local business data to your pages, than you should check out our Local SEO for WordPress plugin.

Read more: ‘New plugin: Local SEO for WooCommerce’ »

You see them in search results a lot: product listings with added metadata, like price, availability, reviews and specifications. However, not every site offering the same product has the same rich snippets. This could have two reasons. One, Google doesn’t deem the site important enough to show additional metadata. Or two, the site hasn’t been enhanced with Schema.org data. In this article, we’ll focus on Schema.org data for product listings. Already have Schema.org for your products? Learn how to handle your sale prices!

Structured data for rich snippets

The information in rich snippets doesn’t just magically appear; you have to add in the data to give Google the chance to add it to the results. Even then, it’s up to Google if your data is visible or not. Google uses structured data to include the extra data in the search results. The markup for structured data is taken from an open initiative called Schema.org. This data format is developed by several search engines to make sure data can be consistently interpreted by them. You can add all kinds of stuff, like product information, ratings and reviews, or information about your local business.

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To implement structured data, you need to offer search engines the correct markup. Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD are the most important technologies used to work with structured data. JSON-LD is a lightweight data format that’s easy to read for both humans and machines and appears to be favored by Google these days. Remember, Bing still doesn’t support it.

Rich snippets products

Rich snippets for a Sony camera on BHPhotoReview.com

An example product

There are two kinds of product information you can show in search results. A product page describes a single product, while a shopping aggregate page describes a list with a single product along with different sellers that offer that product.

Your landing page should contain a Schema.org Product type; this is the product you are selling. It should also contain a nested Offer type; this type describes how the product is sold. The data should be present in the HTML code and not be rewritten in JavaScript.

There are a couple of guidelines you need to follow to work with product markup. For instance, you must use it only for individual products, not a product category. You cannot use it for adult related products, and the name of a reviewer must be a valid name or team.

Example code

The code below describes an example product. In this code, you see different parts of Schema.org code, plus the way JSON-LD presents these. Some highlights:

  • type: Describes what kind of product it is
  • name, image and description: These are quite obvious
  • brand: The brand of the product
    • thing: A thing is the most generic type of item
  • aggerateRating: A nested aggregate rating of the product
    • ratingValue: Is the average rating of the product
    • reviewCount: The total number of reviews
  • offers: This an indication that the product is for sale
    • offer: An offer to provide a service or sell a product
    • priceCurrency and price: These are quite obvious
  • review: A written review of the product, plus rating
    • type: The Schema.org type is a review, of course
    • author: Who wrote it? Has to be a real name
    • datePublished: When was it published?
    • description: The body text of the review
    • name: The title of the review
    • reviewRating: What grade did it get (1-5)
      • bestRating: Five is the max
      • ratingValue: The rating the reviewer gave
      • worstRating: One is the lowest

Other things you can add to your page are, among other things, availability, different kinds of product identification, like SKU, model, color, height, depth and a highPrice and lowPrice.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context": "http://schema.org/",
  "@type": "Product",
  "name": "Yoast SEO for WordPress",
  "image": "https://cdn-images.yoast.com/uploads/2010/10/Yoast_SEO_WP_plugin_FB.png",
  "description": "Yoast SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin. It handles the technical optimization of your site & assists with optimizing your content.",
"brand": {
  "@type": "Thing",
  "name": "Yoast"
  },
"aggregateRating": {
  "@type": "AggregateRating",
  "ratingValue": "4.7",
  "reviewCount": "7514"
 },
"offers": {
  "@type": "Offer",
  "priceCurrency": "USD",
  "price": "69.00"
  },
"review": {
  "@type": "Review",
  "author": "Hank Jones",
  "datePublished": "2016-11-01",
  "description": "Yoast SEO is a great plugin.",
  "name": "Awesome!",
 "reviewRating": {
  "@type": "Rating",
  "bestRating": "5",
  "ratingValue": "5",
  "worstRating": "1"
  }
 }
}
</script>

Ratings and reviews

We’ve been talking about ratings and reviews in a previous article. There is a small, but important difference between a rating and a review. A rating is a value a product gets on a scale from one to five. A review uses the same scale, but also adds a written explanation text to the rating.

In the code example above, we’ve added a rating and reviews section. This kind of information can be picked up by Google and shown in the search results, right beside your product listing.

Keep the following in mind when working with reviews and ratings. You should clearly refer to a specific product or service. The reviews and ratings must be visible to users from the marked-up page. Use it only for a particular product, not a category. You can only use a valid name for a reviewer, so no ‘Black Friday sale: $50 off’. Plus, ratings have to use the five-point scale.

Temporary price drops in Schema.org

Let’s say you are running a Black Friday sale, and you want it to appear in the search results. Normally, you’d change the price in your Schema.org data and wait for Google’s crawlers to pick it up. However, there is another way to get temporary price/data changes in the results.

To do this, you can use Schema.org/Offer and Schema.org/PriceSpecification. Specify the correct price and the date when the price starts (priceValidFrom) and ends (priceValidUntil). Once you have written your code, you always have to make sure your structured data is valid. To check this, you can use the Structured Data Testing Tool.

If you want to update your price now, you could hit Fetch and Render in Google Search Console and Submit to index. Now, you just have to cross your fingers and hope Google picks it up as soon as possible.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context": "http://schema.org/",
  "@type": "Product",
  "name": "An excellent product",
  "image": "http://www.example.com/example.jpg",
  "description": "You really should buy this excellent product, because it's excellent.",
  "mpn": "567896",
  "brand": {
  "@type": "Thing",
  "name": "Excellent product"
  },
"aggregateRating": {
  "@type": "AggregateRating",
  "ratingValue": "5",
  "reviewCount": "5657"
  },
"offers": {
  "@type": "Offer",
  "priceCurrency": "USD",
  "price": "99.99",
  "priceValidFrom": "2016-11-28",
  "priceValidUntil": "2016-11-29",
  "itemCondition": "http://schema.org/NewCondition",
  "availability": "http://schema.org/InStock",
"seller": {
  "@type": "Organization",
  "name": "Maker of excellent products"
  }
 }
}
</script>

This is only the beginning

We’ve only shown you the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more you can do with Schema.org, and there’s a ton of terms you can add to make your listings even richer. Schema.org is a treasure trove of structured data vocabulary. On pending.schema.org, you can find upcoming terms.

Remember that you should never provide incorrect metadata for Google. So whatever you do, don’t forget to test your code with the Structured Data Testing Tool!

Read more: ‘Product page SEO’ »

Reviews or testimonials are mostly said to work on the basis of social proof. Social proof is a psychological process in which people copy the behavior of others, in an attempt to reflect correct behavior.

A testimonial tells you that someone you can identify with has bought a product and loved it. That must mean the product is just the right thing for you as well. However, ratings and reviews are not just valuable for your customers alone: Google uses them in various ways too, as I’ll explain in this post. Moreover, I’ll show how you can help Google show ratings and reviews in the search results, with the right Schema.org markup.

Ratings

Ratings for your website or online shop can be twofold:

  • For your entire business
  • For a specific product

Business ratings

Ratings for your brand or shop will most probably be given on a website like Resellerratings.com or Google My Business. Google will see these ratings and will even add Google My Business ratings to their Knowledge Graph information. The time that Google added stars to search result pages for any website that added these ratings in schema.org is over. Google was simply flooded with ratings, and it made less sense to add them to all the results anymore. That doesn’t mean they are entirely gone, as the opinion of your visitor or customer is still equally valuable to Google. So where it makes sense, like for hotels, Google will still show that rating. Google also tends to show shop ratings in their Google Shopping results, by the way:rating of shop in SERP

Product ratings

Product ratings are a bit of a different breed, although they work pretty much the same. Have people rate a product on your website, and add an Aggregate rating on a nice spot on your product page. Next to Google picking up on that rating and showing it in, for instance, the Google Shopping result, it increases trust in a product.

product rating in SERP

As you can see, product ratings have a different color in Google Shopping results.

Besides, in their Shopping results, you can also find product reviews from major websites in the search result pages, like this one from CNET:

cnet review

CNET is a trusted source for Google, so they feel comfortable showing that rating and link these reviews on page one in the search result pages.

Obviously, it’s key to monitor these ratings and act if a product is just getting negative reviews. Either contact the reseller and ask them to fix the issues or stop selling that specific product.

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Reviews

Most of the times the ratings we discussed earlier are just half of a package deal. Ratings are great, and great ratings even greater. But if that rating is accompanied by a detailed review as well, people will be able to relate to the experience another customer had even more. Regardless if that’s for a product or an entire website. These reviews influence the decision-making process of your visitor. If they come to your website and see only negative reviews, written by real people that speak from experience, they will think twice. If these reviews are all raving about the product, people will just need a split second to click the buy button.

Reviews influence local ranking

Especially for local rankings, or local products, reviews are important. They tell Google the public perception of a brand or website. Google can process these reviews and take them into account for rankings if needed. Websites like Yelp and Foursquare help people from all over the world to find the right coffee shop or bakery. Sites like Booking.com tell people where to stay and allow people to share their experiences afterward. If you have sufficient reviews, Google shows these ratings and allows you to pick right from their search result pages already. If you search for a specific hotel in Google, you’ll find even more reviews in the search result pages:

ratings and reviews hotel in serp

It’s up to you which source you trust more. But we think you can’t go wrong with this hotel, right?

The image shows that you shouldn’t rule out Facebook in this as well. Maintain an active page and allow for reviews. Again, monitor these. All this positive ‘word of mouth’ combined will contribute to Google liking and ranking your online shop even better.

Ratings, reviews, and Schema.org

Google uses structured data to include extra information in the search results. The markup for structured data is taken from a vocabulary called Schema.org. A combined effort of Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Yandex, this open data format’s goal is to offer structured data that search engines can consistently use to present rich results. This could be product information, ratings, and reviews, or information about your local business.

To implement structured data, you need to offer search engines the correct markup. There are a couple of ways of doing that: Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD. According to Google, the latter is the easiest way of adding metadata to sites these days. JSON-LD is a lightweight data-format that’s easy to read for both humans and machines. You can test your code in Google’s Structured Data Test Tool.

Reviews and ratings

By adding certain Schema.org elements to your code, it’s possible for Google to add reviews and ratings to your search results. You need to tell which parts are about the review and what that element represents. In Schema.org a rating is the aggregate value a product gets. A review is a rating, with an explanation in text.

In the example below, you see a typical Schema.org review in JSON-LD format. A couple of highlights:

  • type: The schema.org type (a review)
    • itemReviewed: What you are reviewing
    • type: The schema.org thing (a thing)
  • reviewRating: Is it a review or a rating?
    • type: It’s a rating
    • ratingValue: The number of stars (1-5)
  • name: The title of the review
  • author: Who wrote it?
    • type: It’s a person, of course
    • name: Name of the author
  • reviewBody: Where was the review published
    • publisher: The actual publisher
    • type: Most of the time it’s an organization
    • name: Name of the organization
<script type=“application/ld+json”>
{
 “@context”: “http://schema.org/“,
 “@type”: “Review”,
  “itemReviewed”: {
  “@type”: “Thing”,
  “image”: “https://cdn-images.yoast.com/uploads/2010/10/Yoast_SEO_WP_plugin_FB.png”,
  “name”: “Yoast SEO”
 },
 “reviewRating”: {
  “@type”: “Rating”,
  “ratingValue”: “5”
 },
 “name”: “The best SEO plugin ever!”,
  “author”: {
  “@type”: “Person”,
  “name”: “Calvin Jones”
 },
 “reviewBody”: “I love working with it.”,
  “publisher”: {
  “@type”: “Organization”,
  “name”: “WordPress.org”
 }
}
</script>

Products

The same can be done for product listings. If you use the right markup, Google can pick up the data and show it in the results. You can add specifications, price, availability, reviews and ratings, and more to your listings. The code to use is comparable to the one above. In a future post, we’ll be elaborating on that a bit more.

Local businesses

Reviews are a godsend for local businesses. That’s why it’s rather important to add them to your listings. Using Schema.org and, for instance, JSON-LD, you give Google the opportunity to add your ratings to the search results. Potential customers will get a good idea of the quality of your business, right in the search engine.

Keep an eye on our site, because we will be diving deeper into Schema.org for products, ratings and reviews, and what it all means for local businesses.

Read more: ‘Use JSON-LD to add schema.org to your website’ »

We’ve just pushed out a new release of Yoast SEO, our flagship plugin. The new version, 3.5, mostly has a metric ton of small bugfixes. In this post, we’ll discuss the most notable changes, but you should mostly be aware that this is what we would call a bugfix release.

XML Sitemap changes

We’ve decided to remove the change frequency and priority variables from our XML Sitemaps. Google has said publicly that they don’t use them on most sites. Private discussions with Googlers have led us to believe there’s really no compelling reason to keep them around. This change makes XML sitemaps faster and easier to generate.

There are plugins out there that allow you to change the priority and change frequency of just about everything. We really do not believe that adds any value whatsoever.

Flesch reading ease for German and Dutch

We’ve added Flesch reading ease compatibility for German and Dutch. This doesn’t just mean we’ve enabled it for those languages. The Flesch reading ease test needs to change because each language is different. If you’re interested in the technicalities, this ticket has the formulas.

To be able to do this, we need to be able to recognize syllables in words. We’re working on adding this for more languages, but as you can imagine that’s a fair bit of work. This comes on top of the changes in 3.4, where we added support for transition words checks for German as well. This means German and Dutch writers will now get a score that is meaningful for their language.

Add @id to schema.org output

Yoast SEO outputs JSON+LD metadata on the page. This metadata informs Google about whether this is a site for a person or a company, what your social profiles are, etc.

This change, which is admittedly a bit more on the technical side allows other plugins to tie into our metadata. They can output pieces of JSON+LD metadata and combine them with ours. For instance saying “this is extra info related to this organization”, where “this organization” is a pointer for our organization info. They can do this by referencing the @id‘s we’ve added, something that wasn’t possible before this change.

i18n and a11y improvements

We’ve, again, made many internationalization (i18n) and accessibility (a11y) improvements in this release. From making sure everything is translatable to adding descriptions and adding more explanation everywhere.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium

Buy this plugin nowYoast SEO for WordPress plugin

A new Premium page

For the last few years, Yoast SEO has had an extensions page. We’ve now replaced that extensions page with a Go Premium page. It explains the features of Yoast SEO Premium and our extensions a lot better. It’s also much more in line with our current style, as you can see:

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 15.18.34

Full changelog

The full changelog is available on WordPress.org, if you see anything in there that you’d like clarification on, let us know in the comments!

If you have a restaurant and a restaurant website to go with it, you might want to read this article. We have covered a lot of topics on this website already but have decided to focus a bit more on specific types of websites in a number of posts to come. This one will be about what you need to keep in mind when planning or building your restaurant website and is focused on both restaurant owners and web development agencies.

how to optimize your restaurant website

First things first: what needs to be on your restaurant website?

When planning a website, it will pay off to ask around and figure out what your friends and family would expect on a website like yours. For a restaurant, I think we can agree on the following things that need to be on your website:

  1. Your address (and more). This is obviously the most important element: people need to know where you are. There is more than one way to share your address with your (potential) guests.
  2. Photos of the interior. If I’m going to spend my money in your establishment, I want to know I’ll have a cozy evening and a nice table to sit at.
  3. Your menu. Not your website menu, but a list of all the food you’ll possibly be serving me at a certain price.
  4. Client testimonials. All the good stuff people tell me about your place.
  5. A way to make a reservation. Obviously.

Now let’s look into these aspects of a restaurant website in more detail.

Your address (and more details)

If you add your address to your website, you want to do it the right way. First of all, you want it to be in a spot where everybody can find it without searching for it. That means adding it in a clear spot on your homepage, perhaps repeat it in your footer, and definitely put it on your contact page. On your contact page, you might want to consider adding a route map as well.

Schema.org/Restaurant

Don’t just add the address, but mark it up the right way. That means you’ll have to add schema.org markup to your address. The most obvious schema.org variation would be… Restaurant. This is actually a subschema of the FoodEstablishment schema, which allows you to add detailed stuff like acceptsReservations, menu and servesCuisine to your address.

All these details are added with the purpose of telling the search engine as much as possible about your restaurant, in a predefined way. It will make sure Google easily fetches the right information. That might already get you mentions like this:

Restaurant website: Restaurant listing in Google, Fat Duck example

That is actually a combined effort, I think. It’s a combination of listing the right information the right way on your website, and a good listing in Google My Business.

Google My Business

Never heard of Google My Business?

Google My Business complements your existing website by giving your business a public identity and presence on Google. The information you provide about your business can appear on Google Search, Maps and Google+.

Go read and list your website . Ask your visitor to leave a review on your Google My Business, as this seems to help your rankings at the Google map as shown above as well.

Google My Business might give you another edge: a proper listing in the Google search result pages’ sidebar (where they keep the Knowledge Graph):

Restaurant website: Restaurant listing in knowledge graph example

Nice, huh. Be sure to tell Google as much details as possible and see what they come up with.

Facebook Places

Like Google My Business, Facebook Places isn’t on your website itself. Still, it will pay off to list your restaurant here. Facebook is improving its search engine by the day, and if there is one place where all your friends have and share their opinion, it’s on Facebook.

Make sure you list your restaurant as a Place by adding all the basic information. If you list your restaurant in the Local Business category (be sure to do so), you’ll be able to list:

  • A short description
  • Your website, email, phone and address
  • A map to your restaurant

Besides that, listing your restaurant in the local business category, you’ll be able to allow check-ins and ratings & reviews and that is obviously just what you want! These check-ins and reviews are actually very important, as search results in Facebook are ranked by recommendations and check-ins from your friends. Besides that, “results that are similar to the people, places and things that a person is already connected to may be ranked higher.” All the more reason to list your restaurant on Facebook as well, and ask all of your friends to like, review and check-in to your restaurant.

TripAdvisor

I’m going to name TripAdvisor here as another place to list you restaurant, but it is obviously one of many other websites you can use to list your restaurant details, like:

Especially since your restaurant is a local business, adding your website to services like that will also help your SEO, as all of these have a local focus.

After adding your website to TripAdvisor, be sure to monitor your reviews on that website. Bad reviews are always a bummer, but not acting on bad reviews might be even worse. Engage with a disappointed guest and see if you can change his opinion to something more positive. Perhaps he just had a bad day, or your chef did. Most bad reviews are mere incidents.

If you want to improve your TripAdvisor profile, be sure to read these 8 steps to optimize your restaurant listing on TripAdvisor.

Photos of the interior

From a UX and conversion point of view, showing your interior makes a lot of sense. By showing the visitor in what great environment he or she will be dining if they come to your place, people can decide in advance if your restaurant matches the occasion. If we want to grab a quick bite, a pub-like establishment with wooden chairs and beer will do. If I have the whole evening planned for exquisite food, I might want to see chandeliers, candles, and glasses of wine.

It’s all about managing expectations on a restaurant website. If your website’s photos match the mood you want to set in your restaurant, first-time visitors will click to your reservations form and reserve themselves a table at your place. Don’t go cheap on this. You have paid a lot of money to get the interior the way you wanted it, now pay a great photographer to make pictures for your website (and menu/posters/flyers and Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook or whatever you can use these for).

If you are looking for insights on how to add these to your website properly, please read my post on image SEO.

Show your menu on your restaurant website

You spent all these hours coming up with your monthly changing menu, and now you’ve just put the PDF containing your menu on your website as a link. That’s ruining my user experience. I honestly don’t like to click a link on a website, only to find that it opens a PDF. There’s no need for that anymore as well. You can easily put your restaurant menu on a separate page on your website and link it from your website menu. You might still want to add a link to a PDF with the same content at the bottom of that page, by the way. For saving in Evernote, for instance.

As mentioned above in the Address section of this article, you could also add a link to your menu page in schema.org, just to top things off.

Testimonials

Next to the testimonials in Google My Business, be sure to add some testimonials on your website as well. That could just be one-liners spread across your website, but a decent testimonial will make that reservation easier. If other people like it, you might like it too.

We have done an article last year called Testimonials: increase your visitor’s trust you should read. Although that article is mainly focused on e-commerce shops, your restaurant site will benefit from it as well. The main things to keep in mind when using testimonials: make sure they are genuine testimonials. Add the name of the reviewer, preferably a photo as well. And don’t be afraid to list these on a prominent spot on your website. It’s others doing marketing for you. Google lists them, as you can see in the above, so why would you hide these on a single page instead of listing them right below your reservations button?

One last thing: reservations

I already mentioned the option to add via schema.org if making a reservation is possible on your restaurant website. Would this have any influence on your rankings? Probably not. But if I need to make a reservation before eating at your restaurant, I want to know. And I want to be able to do this online.

Making a reservation online should be easy as pie. Enter your details, get a clear ‘sent!’ message and an email confirming your reservation. What you don’t want (true story) is an email afterwards that the restaurant is closed on the desired day. In my book, I  shouldn’t be able to make a reservation for that day in the first place. In conclusion: make sure people are able to make a reservation via your restaurant website, but only when possible and always make sure there is a clear communication afterwards.

That concludes this article on how to optimize your restaurant site. If you have (an example of) a restaurant website that nails this, I would like to invite you to leave the URL of that website in the comments!

Read more: ‘5 things you are doing wrong’ »

Besides optimizing your product pages for user experience, you want to make sure these pages are as good as possible for SEO as well. Obviously, you might think. In this post, I’ll show you two not so obvious (at least for most website owners) elements of product page SEO and tell you why it’s so important to take these things into account.

product page SEO - beware of the panda and penguinBasics of product page SEO

A product page is a page as well, so all the SEO things that matter for your content page, go for product pages as well:

  • Add a great title, focusing on the product name (including a manufacturer name, if applicable). If your product is, for instance, a small part of a larger machine (screw, tube), include the SKU as well. People might search that specific. I would.
  • Add a proper description of the product. Most of the times, that isn’t the description the manufacturer shipped with the product. That description might be used on hundreds of websites, only to be duplicate content and a sign of low quality for your website (to Google). Prevent duplicate content due to manufacturer descriptions at all times. If all your content (content pages, category pages, blog) is unique, and the content used on thousands of product pages isn’t, most of your site isn’t. Think about that and don’t take that lightly. Google’s collection of black and white animals is waiting for you. Create unique content.
  • Add an inviting meta description. Usually, a product page contains a lot of general information as well, varying from dimensions to terms of service. To avoid Google using that unrelated text in a meta description, you want to add a meta description to your product pages, even more than to content pages. In most cases we have come across in our website reviews, meta descriptions are added in some kind of templated way, where just the product name is changed per product. That’s ok to start with, but ideally all meta descriptions are unique.
  • Add images with proper ALT text. Include the product name in at least the main product image.
  • Add all the things mentioned in my Product Page UX post. UX is an important part of holistic SEO.

You can go even more into detail when discussing product page SEO, but for now this will be your basic optimization. The remainder of this post will be about some more technical product page SEO. I’ll show and explain a bit about schema.org data and Open Graph data for your product page.

Schema.org/Product

I’ll jump right in by showing you this example from our valued customer Arnoldservice.com:

Product Page SEO: Schema.org in Arnoldservice.comClick to enlarge.

What are we seeing here? I highlighted two parts. These two parts show schema.org declarations for product elements. The importance of this for your product page SEO is that the major search engines came up with this markup, not the W3C consortium. Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex agreed upon this markup, so they could identify product pages and all the product elements / characteristics more easily. Why would they want that? So they could a) index these pages a lot better and b) show you rich snippets like this:

Product Page SEO: Arnoldservice.com in Google

Schema.org markup consists roughly of two main items:

  1. The itemscope (the type of schema declaration)
  2. The itemprop(s) (the elements within that specific schema)

For Arnold’s Services, there are two itemscopes in this example, being Product and Offer:

  •  The Product schema, or Product itemscope, tells the search engine more about the product. It could include characteristics like product description, manufacturer, brand, name, dimensions, and color, but also the SKU I mentioned earlier.
  • The Offer schema includes more information on price and availability, like currency and stock. It can even include your accepted payments in an itemprop called acceptedPaymentMethod.

I have to say that there are a lot of options that I haven’t seen used in a website, to be honest. There’s a lot that can be declared, but it’s usually just the basics that are included in the templates of webshops.

As you might have noticed, Google actually picked up on the Schema items:

Product Page SEO: Schema in Google

That is why you want to add Schema.org data for Product Page SEO: easier to recognize for Google, and it makes sure to include important extra’s in Google already. This is actually also expectation management. Your visitor knows your price up front, and knows that the product is in stock. How’s that for user experience!

Open Graph Product tags & Twitter’s Products Card

Open Graph tags and Twitter Cards are actually pretty similar to schema.org markup. It divides the product page into easy-to-digest chunks, but this time these chunks are not for Google, but for social websites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

You can highlight things like product images, and prices and availability. For WordPress websites, we have developed a plugin, Yoast WooCommerce SEO, that will make this a breeze.

In the next example, you’ll find og:type and twitter:card. These are similar to the itemscope in schema.org. These items tell the social media platform that the page is about a product. Click the image below to enlarge it.

Product Page SEO: OpenGraphs and Twitter Card

In the screenshot above – which is actually the same product page as the examples used at schema.org – I’ve highlighted the elements that matter for product page SEO that aren’t included in other pages. og:title / twitter:title is the product name, og:description / twitter:description is the product description. These elements have the same function in content pages. It will show the title and description as used in for instance Facebook posts.

Note that “adding Open Graph tags to your website won’t directly affect your on-page SEO, but it will influence the performance of your links on social media, so that means it’s worth looking into.” The same goes for Twitter Cards.

The extras that are added for making your social sharing a whole lot more attractive and professional, will improve the CTR to your product page. Which helps your product page SEO. Social media is like a conventional marketplace. If people are talking about your products, your products must be worth it. Adding Open Graph tags and Twitter Card data is like providing all the people that share your product with a nicely designed product brochure.

In our plugin, you can set a separate image for this. That is actually pretty important, as Facebook won’t add the image if it isn’t of high quality / large dimensions. Here’s a short overview of the preferred dimensions:

  • Facebook: 1,200 x 628 pixels – validator tool
  • Twitter: 1,024 x 512 pixels – validator tool
  • Pinterest: 735 x 1,102 pixels – validator tool
  • Instagram: 1,080 x 1,080 pixels – uses Facebook’s validator tool

Source: Bufferapp.com

TL;DR

If you’re serious about optimizing our product page SEO, you shouldn’t focus on the regular optimization alone. You’ll have to dig a little deeper into the technical aspects of your product page:

  1. Add schema.org Product tags so Google can easily index all the details about your product and show these in search result pages already.
  2. Add Open Graph tags (for Facebook and Pinterest) and Twitter Card meta data (for Twitter) so social networks will show nice, informative snippets for your products.

Be sure to add all of the above.