How Schema Can Help You Dominate the SERP Features (and earn more clicks)
Reading Time: 6 minutes
For website owners and marketers, organic clicks are what we all want. Sure, you have to work hard to get to the top of the rankings, but when you do, all those clicks roll in for free!
An alarming trend in SEO, though, is the prevalence of the zero-click search. In Q1 of 2019, 49% of Google searches led to the user not clicking on one of the results (source). Why is this? If you’re putting all your effort into ranking number 1 for a keyword, you want people to be clicking to your website.
Well, in recent years, Google and co have been making big changes in the way they present their results. They recognize their users want quick, concise results, and so they developed SERP features that give a quick answer to the user’s query on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) page.
This is great for search engine users, but it’s tempting to look at this development as a negative for website owners and digital marketers. After all, Google is taking your information, summarizing it, and giving it to their users without necessarily sending them to your page.
However, like many SEO changes, the move towards SERP features is actually a huge opportunity for digital marketers. Whereas in the past, we all aspired to be number one in the SERPs there’s now something even better to aspire to – position zero. The best thing about it is, your competitors might still be aspiring to number one, but you are not only focused on first position; you want position zero too.
So, what actually are SERP features, and how can you or your SEO management company benefit from position zero?
What are SERP Features?
SERP features are designed to improve the user experience of search engine users. SERP features, such as snippets, image packs, local packs, reviews, video, shopping, and many others, will appear right at the top of Google’s results, even above the number one position.
This position above the top result has earned these features, such as the snippet the title position zero. Achieving the featured snippet means that a snippet (short summary) of your page or business is the first thing a user will see on their results page. Your competitor might rank number one, but if you own the snippet, then you will appear before them in the SERPs.
Needless to say, this is a massive opportunity to collect a lot of clicks to your website.
Like anything in SEO though, you don’t win the featured snippet or any other SERP feature by accident. In order to earn a spot in the SERP features, you have to be able to communicate properly with the search engines, and that means effectively using rich snippets and business schema markup.
The more the search engines can understand about your web pages, the better they can send the right people to those pages, but to convey this information, your webpages need to speak the search engines’ language.
We all know the importance of keywords in ranking, but when it comes to things like local SEO, you can boost your snippet with local schema SEO.
How Does Schema Work?
Schema helps your website communicate to the search engines what it is about.
So, if you’re a barber in Little Rock, Arkansas, your schema should tell Google that you’re a local business, where you are based, and how to contact you, amongst other things.
As a small barbershop in Arkansas, you don’t care about ranking number one for barbershops in Chicago or any other city, but you do care about featuring in Little Rock and the surrounding areas.
If you’re using the correct schema org local business, then Google will understand this and be able to list you as a local business, along with your contact details, opening hours, reviews, and other important information. All of this will come up in a SERP feature that is shown in position zero.
You don’t just have to be a local business, whether you’re an online retailer, a food recipe website, a review website, or any other business; there’s a business schema that will allow you to communicate better with the search engines.
If you use a link building service for your website, then see if they can help you out with your Google rich snippets schema org.
Local SEO and Schema
Many websites are rightly focused on ranking well for prominent keywords in big markets, but there are also a lot of clicks to be had from local SEO.
Using a local SEO service will help you to focus on the kind of local link building, Google My Business profile, local schema SEO, and Google reviews that can benefit local businesses.
In many cases, when you’re running a local business, particularly a bricks and mortar business, it’s not your priority to rank worldwide for lots of keywords. Instead, you simply want to reach the people in your area who are looking for your services.
Understanding how to communicate this to the search engines is the first step in getting more leads and turning those leads into customers.
If you’re doing your local SEO well, whenever someone types in a query that relates to your business and has a geo qualifier, such as “in Little Rock,” then your business should come up on the map along with a star rating, address, contact number, and opening times.
While the advent of the featured snippets is great for websites that are successfully using local SEO to boost their visibility in the rankings, the same can’t be said for the websites that aren’t. The featured snippet draws so much attention and offers a lot of information in an easy to consume way, which means people tend not to scroll down to the main SERP results.
The search engines offer an excellent platform for local businesses to advertise themselves, but they’ve got to be able to use local SEO to be able to take advantage of this.
How to Take Advantage of SERP Features and Local SEO
The easiest way to start fixing your local SEO is with a local SEO audit. By doing an SEO audit, you can find out how your website is performing in a number of key areas:
- On-site optimization
- Ranking performance
You might already pay close attention to these areas, but it always helps to have a second pair of eyes looking at the problem. Local SEO requires slightly different strategies to other SEO, and you might just find some areas you can further optimize.
Understanding how to implement the correct schema can be a slightly tricky requirement of successful local SEO, so if you need help figuring things out, then an SEO audit can be the ideal remedy.
Dominating the Snippet
The big SERP feature that marketers particularly love winning is the featured snippet. While local packs, image packs, and shopping tend to list you as one of a number of options, if you win the rich snippet, it’s often just you, out there on your own at the top of the SERPs.
These snippets are commonly found for queries that ask questions, look for reviews, or are searching for recipes.
Say you’re looking for a review of the latest book from your favorite author. When you type in your query, you’re likely to find a little snippet at the top of the page which summarizes the book for you in a few words.
If you get your website to win these snippets, then you’re going to see a huge increase in your click-through rate.
To start boosting your chances of winning the featured snippet, consider these points:
- Find snippet opportunities.
- Answer the question you’re focusing on.
- Structure your content so Google can understand it (40 to 50 words is optimum).
- Use headings and subheadings.
- Using Google rich snippets schema org or Bing rich snippets schema doesn’t necessarily help you win the featured snippet, but it will increase your click-through rate if you’re page ranks highly.
In one study by Search Engine Land, one particular web page enjoyed a 505% increase in organic traffic from mobile searches from winning the featured snippet (source). This just goes to show what an incredible tool the snippet (and other SERP features) can be.
Work with your SEO management company to develop a plan to dominate the featured snippet, and you can see the same spike in your traffic.
SERP Features are Too Big to Ignore
You can’t just focus on being number one in the SERPs anymore. Yes, ranking number one is very important, but it has to be done in conjunction with things like winning the featured snippet.
The one thing that is certain is that Google and the rest of the search engines are going to keep on changing, and you’ve got to change with them. In the past, ranking number one was the ultimate, but today, position zero beats position one in many searches.
This means that you have to make SERP features like the featured snippet a big part of your SEO planning. Failing to do so could mean a lot less traffic to your website in the future.