Semantic markup: Putting it in an SEO context
If you’re looking for an ethical ‘quick win’ in relation to your search-generated traffic, providing extra context for search engines in the form of semantic markup could be your best move…
It’s sometimes easy to forget that major search engines such as Google are machines. Despite their incredible ability to aid our research and to lead us to the information we need, they don’t have the eyeballs to read our search requests or the brain to consider the content of queries we make.
So while Google can find content – lots and lots of content – based on the keywords used in our search requests, it doesn’t actually understand that content. For example, when the search engine identifies a piece of copy as containing the word ‘apple’ it doesn’t automatically know whether the copy is referring to the fruit or the company.
As human beings, we would be able to discern the correct meaning by placing the word within the context of the wider discussion taking place or previous discussions.
One use of semantic markup is to provide this context for search engines by inserting additional lines of code that sit in the HTML source code of a web page.
This extra code provides search engines with information about the relationship between objects or different items of content. (This code is invisible to the user unless they actively choose to delve into the source code themselves.)
There are already a number of areas where you can add semantic markup data to assist search engines and this is growing all the time, but a classic example would be to include location information. It is important to remember however that just because your contact details are included in your web copy, it doesn’t mean that Google understands where you are based - it doesn’t, but it would like to.
After all, if someone in Liverpool searches for a plumber, there is little value in Google providing a link to any extremely welloptimised website in Kent.
Likewise, for different businesses, it may be useful for the company to provide semantic markup to add data on product descriptions, stock quantities and availability. They could also choose to offer information relating to price, or in the case of events, a specific range of dates.
Another popular use of semantic markup is to link content to third party reviews elsewhere on the web and display them in Google search results within your pages listing. The combination of semantic markup and webmaster tools mean that different reviews are displayed for different pages, optimised for different keyword search terms.
For example, a cosmetic surgery client of ours recently employed semantic markup o provide reviews from a third party site, categorised not only by brand name but also providing more specific reviews on each procedure and each individual surgeon. This allowed us to display the average star rating (out of five) per surgeon, procedure or for the whole company.
By including semantic markup, where relevant, you can also secure more space
for your search results listings. It’s human nature that anything which occupies more real estate on the screen is more likely to grab the reader’s attention.
These pages can earn more click-throughs, even in places where your listing doesn’t rank as highly as a competitor and even if they aren’t using a semantic markup strategy.
This means that a competitor may have a stronger site in terms of SEO generally but, without structured data, and without semantic markup, their organic search listing won’t be as attractive as yours.
Semantic markup isn’t a new practice but it is one that’s starting to move into the mainstream. If your competitors aren’t doing it already, now is the perfect time to steal a march on them. If they are, then it’s time to catch up!
At Click Consult, we’re highly experienced at advising businesses and organisations
of all sizes on how to use semantic markup to form an integral part of their business strategy.
If you’d like to know more, get in touch with Click Consult today.
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