Structured data and semantic markup are definitely going to feature more prominently in SEO in the future.
The great benefits of structured data and semantic mark-up are that they let us write in normal everyday language that appeals to our browsers, and at the same time let us break down in subtext that is read only by the search engines the significance of different words and phrases on the page and how they are inter-related.
In a nutshell, structured data and semantic mark-up label the different words used on your page, classifying them as “entities” such as “events”, “articles”, “products”, “persons”, etc, or as attributes or properties of those entities (eg, name, date, location, etc).
These labels can be read and understood by search engines and make the context, meaning and overall sense of the written information easier for them to track and categorize accurately.
It also means that you can extract the chunks of text you want according to the category of semantic markup it falls into.
We’ve all seen how using selected extracts of structured data and rich snippets can improve SERPs postings. It is a great advantage to be able to add in star ratings, reviews, additional text, images and more and research has shown that this type of information included in your SERP listings will significantly boost your click through rates.
But apart from making their postings appear more attractive and clickable, do you really believe that you are leveraging the full value of adding semantic markup or is there still room for improvement?
Do you actually know for sure that pages with semantic markup are out-performing pages without it?
This blog is going to show you how the benefits of adding schema.org code to your website do not end when the search engines pick up on it. You can also use it to analyze how the site is performing overall and so better track the return on your SEO investment.
For this type of analysis, you will need to become familiar with Google Tag Manager which, just as it sounds, is an application that allows you to manage the different types of tags that you can insert on your site. You can read more about Google Tag Manager here.
Adding Google Tags is a way to break down your website into a series of useable elements that can be extracted to use for other purposes – for example as rich snippets that appear on your SERP posting.
The great beauty of Google Tag Manager is that it allows you to custom build the elements you want to focus on, using macros, rules and tags to make the system work.
Tags are tracking codes that send information back to Google Analytics. So, for example, you can use a tag to add tracking code to an image, a paragraph, a heading, a photo, a quote, a video, etc. In fact, any element of a page that you want to monitor can be tagged. The tags are only triggered when the relevant rules and macros apply.
Rules are used to tell the Tag when to turn on and send information back to Google Analytics. For example, the rule could be that the tag is turned on when an image is clicked, when a paragraph is scrolled, when a video is turned on, etc.
Macros are used to identify the different elements of your page, such as photos, text, headers, title bars, videos, events such as clicking, scrolling, turning on videos, etc, as well as the semantic markups used on your site (main paragraph, main subject, keyword, synonym, review, etc).
When a browser accesses a page to view the information there, the macros will identify different elements and actions on your site and, when the appropriate rules (clicking, scrolling, etc) are tripped, tags or tracking codes will be fired off and these will send information back to Google Analytics.
When you understand how to write macros, rules and tags that work together to send detailed information back to Google Analytics, then you will also start to see the great potential of how structured data can serve as a tool for providing in-depth understanding of how your page is received and used by browsers.
For example, it can provide great insights in terms of showing you how long your viewers watch your videos, how many seconds they spend looking at images, how many minutes they spend scrolling through text, which elements of the page generate the most interest, whether a keyword or a synonym generated more attention, whether there are sections of your pages that merit no attention, etc.
It will also reveal which entities, events or products on your website got the most attention, even which “names”, “dates” or “locations” generated the most interest.
The scope of how you break down your semantic information for analysis is literally as wide as the macros, rules and tags you set up!
You can even use the same tags across different websites so that you have like data to compare in similar categories.
For a step by step guide as to how to set up the macros, rules and tags in Google Tag Manager take a look at semantic analytics.
This offers a detailed and structured approach that will get you started on the road to successful Google Tag Management and Semantic Analytics.