Anxious about how your website or digital content will fare in light of voice search and Google’s looming mobile-first index? Then read on. Google is pushing for webmasters to mark up everything with structured data, something that the search engine will likely become increasingly reliant on in 2018.
“Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content,” explains Google.
Google uses it to understand the content of a page and enable special search result features and enhancements (like image badges, carousels, knowledge graphs, and breadcrumbs in your search results). Schema.org is the most common structured data language. Others include JSON-LD, microdata, or RDFa.
Structured data is beautifully fit for voice-enabled devices
Why the push for more structured data? Google doesn’t want to rely so heavily on crawling and parsing all the content on the web in order to understand it. The effort is time consuming and almost sisyphean, given that new web content is published around the clock. (Fun fact: two million blog posts alone are published every day.)
With structured data in place, Google can work more efficiently across devices and search methods (uh, hello voice-enabled devices, voice search, and mobile search)! Note that Google’s structured data testing tool is specifically geared towards interactions related to things like restaurants, reservations, travel plans, music, TV, movies, and recipes–all things you might complete an action, search for, or request via voice.
Content that is well marked up with structured data can be easily parsed and presented through voice search on non-traditional devices like Google Home, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Siri, Fitbit, and even voice-enabled TV remotes.
Structured data supports Google’s mobile-first index
Google also provides instructions for adding structured data to your database, something that mobile SEO expert Cindy Krum says hasn’t gotten due attention.
“Databases don’t necessarily have URLs or need websites,” says Krum, “and this is core to the theory that the mobile-first index will not require URLs for indexing and that it will rely on schemas and entity understanding.”
For an example of what we mean by “entity understanding,” grab your smartphone and do a Google search for “stephen king.”
You’ll see that Google aggregates a whole bunch of web pages into one utility to give users great info directly in their search results.
You can quickly navigate between tabs to King’s movies, TV shows, and quotes. Just below is a brief bio of King, videos related to his work, thumbnails of his most popular books, and a carousel of individuals “people also search for.”
Since this info is an aggregate, it doesn’t have a static URL. Instead, Google includes a triangle “share” link so that the aggregation can be shared.
“This sharing functionality is something that you can expect to see much more of in mobile-first indexing,” predicts Krum. “It is an indication that Google views a topic as an entity and thus has stored, aggregated, or assimilated information on the topic as a whole (the entity). Dynamic links are links that Google generates on the fly, for content that it understands, but that it does not naturally have a URL.”
It’s a downright great way to communicate with Google
Marking up your content with structured data is one of the best ways to prepare for the expansion of voice search and Google’s mobile-first index. From product pages to store directions, almost every content element has a coordinating markup language.
Google’s mobile-first index will mix together websites with apps, progressive web apps, and other data sets that don’t have URLs, which is where structured data markup will prove especially beneficial. And voice search? Voice-enabled devices will rely on structured data markup to deliver the right info, for the right query, at the right time.
While structured data markup is not a ranking factor, implementing it correctly can indirectly lead to better rankings and help future-proof your content. Structured data helps you communicate to Google what your content is about and that’s a win-win for you, site users, and for Google.
If you have questions about structured data markup or the future of voice search and SEO, contact GPO. Call 512-535-6633 to talk to a local search pro today!