Live at SMX East 2013: Why Structured Data and Semantic SEO Are Important

By Scott Garrett | Oct 2, 2013
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Optimizing your content for search engines is the key goal for anyone concerned with SEO. More and more structured data seems to be the answer to this optimization question. Using schema, open graph, and other structured data are key to having your content show up as rich snippets in search engines. This panel at SMX East discussed the standards and techniques needed to get started with this next-gen approach to optimizing content. Below I will go into short bios for each presenter and also the main talking points from their presentation. 

za 1

Mike Arnesen is a self-confessed SEO addict and uber-geek. Beyond leading the SEO team at SwellPath, Mike is also a prolific blogger, speaker, and company culture advocate.

  • Structured data allows us to give semantic meaning  to content on a webpage.
    • In the past, tactics like keyword density were used, but now we need to focus beyond the keyword and look at the content or data of the page.
    • What do you mean by data?
      • Data are the objects, properties, and/or relationships on the page that need to be conveyed to the search engine.
  • Shared vocabularies make semantic markup meaningful.
  • What is semantic SEO?za 2
    • According to Google, Webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by providing high quality data that users and applications will want to use…structured data is then the answer:
      • It allows for more effective organization of the web.
      • It helps deliver better results and builds trust with users, making your site a resource that users will want to link to.

Aaron Bradley is an in-house SEO and internet marketer based in Vancouver, BC, who specializes in organic search engine optimization for enterprise-level websites. Aaron has worked at improving the search visibility for sites in numerous industries, including gaming, ecommerce and news.

  • Semantic search is at a turning point and is the future of search.
    • Shift from “strings to things.”
    • Shift from keywords to entities.
    • SEOs should not just use structured data tactics to increase CTR,  but they should use a semantic search strategy to help search engines understand the context and information on their site.
    • Keywords are imprecise:
      • Different keywords can be used to describe the same entity.
      • The same keyword can also be used to describe different entities.za 3
      • The semantic web has a standard for describing something:
        • The subject -> predicate -> object
          • Allows for markup to identify products
          • Triples in this action express the relation between a subject and an object
          • Is it worth it to add structured data to objects that currently have no rich snippets?
            • Yes, even though it doesn’t have a rich snippet (ex. video games) it allows Google to further understand your site and helps them connect the dots by declaring what your content is on your site.
            • Google + is a social network, but is also used by Google to verify  identities (ex. Google Authorship).

Jon has been involved with website development and Internet strategy since 1995. He’s taught Internet training courses professionally and has spent a good portion of his career consulting for SMBs. He is currently the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer for Raven Internet Marketing Tools, a multi-user Web-based application for managing SEO, Social and PPC online marketing campaigns.

  • Structured data communicates more than just an object, it allows you to communicate the intent of a site or page such as:
    • Language tagging
    • Geo-tagging - http://clck.io/geotag
    • Titles
    • Images
    • Below are some important semantic elements that help search engine bots figure out what is on your page and what you intend to communicate through your page:
      • Header
      • Navigation
      • Article
        • Syndication, i.e blog posts
        • Generic sections
        • Main content of the page
        • Footer
    • Make sure you always validate your code: http://clck.io/validate
    • Microformats vs. RDFa vs. Schema.org
      • The choice is Schema.org, as it is most favored by the Google bot and should be the most utilized for implementing structured data

Overall, this session was interesting and had a great overview about structured data. Do you use structured data? Comment below and follow me on Twitter @scottgarrett89.

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