Adding structured data to your website can be a wise move for your digital marketing if you want to gain organic traffic from search engines. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why nowadays you need structured data to compete on the SERP, what’s the impact of structured data and what’s its usage around the web.
The ROI of Structured Data
A short premise
Marketing is all about intercepting the right potential clients to increase sales of products or services. Under the names of different techniques and tactics, that’s it really. Digital marketing and SEO are no exceptions to this rule. In the end of the day, marketers and business owners need to know how the marketing effort is going to pay back.
Structured data and knowledge graphs are the core of our SEO services, here at WordLift, and working with a wide range of clients from different countries and industries, there are a few questions that occur quite often:
What’s the impact of structured data on my site in terms of ROI?
How do I measure the impact of structured data on my SEO strategy?
What’s the real business value that comes with structured data?
The point, behind each of these questions is: how does structured data impact my bottom line?
Although the answer can be very specific for each business, combined with the characteristics of its website and vertical, it’s generally true that structured data nowadays can create a competitive advantage SEO, content findability, and content reuse.
“Aside from web page listings, Google Search may have some special features where certain basic structured data is required to be eligible to appear, such as carousels.”
As John Mu said once…
So, there is actually an impact in SEO results when you use structured data as schema.org markup makes your content eligible for specific rich results and SERP features — which help your pages gain a higher CTR. Moreover, as suggested by John Mu within the tweet above, structured data helps search engines understand web content and serve them to the right users at the right time.
The advantages of structured data go far beyond SEO, and also include opportunities of content reuse, internal findabilty, and semantic analytics.
How many sites are using schema.org in 2020?
Our partner Woorank has crawled more than 20 million websites and checked how many of them are using schema.org today.
As you can guess from the graph below, the web is adapting quite slowly to structured data. Worldwide schema.org usage covers less than one third of the websites — and frontline runners, USA and France, are just slightly above the 40%.
This statistic alone can say that in this context schema.org markup can create a competitive advantage on the SERP. But there’s more.
It’s not just about quantity, it’s about quality
Many sites use schema.org to add a very basic markup. What can make a difference here is:
How much granular and accurate the structured data is?
What do you do with the data you are publishing?
Are you building a knowledge graph that allows you to reuse your data and content?
When you move from a quantity to a quality perspective, a whole new world opens up.
“While Google is sunsetting the support for data-vocabulary.org and we see an increasing usage of structured data in general, the focus becomes data quality. Are we prioritizing the highest converting content on our website? Is the data that we’re adding to our pages both clean and useful, from a search engine perspective? What story are we trying to tell with our data?”
Pagination allows website editors to split long content into different pages. This technique really belongs to the ABC of web design and information architecture, but — still — pagination SEO best practices are debated. Therefore, dealing with it is not that easy as it could seem.
In this article, we are going to guide you over the dos and don’ts of pagination from an SEO standpoint and to present you WordLift Pagination, a quick and easy-to-use plugin to apply an SEO friendly pagination to your WordPress articles.
What are the benefits of WordLift Pagination on your editorial content? The impact of the pagination plugin on the engagement metrics is terrific.
Source: Google Analytics of Windows Report on a selection of articles where the Pagination Plugin has ben applied
Is pagination good for SEO?
Pagination helps SEO as long as it helps the reader consume content in a simpler way. We measured a 4% increase in rankings on long articles that had been paginated: accessing the content, from mobile devices, was faster and simpler (the table of content helps readers jump to specific sections).
Why is our pagination giving such a good impact on the website’s metrics?
For years, we’ve been huge fans of the long-form articles, since Google seemed to appreciate the capacity of a piece of content to approach a topic with a detailed, in depth approach.
With the roll-out of the Mobile First Index, something started to change… again. Obviously, long-form articles can take longer time to load — because of the presence of multimedia content such as images, audios, and videos. That’s why Google started to prefer short content for some keywords.
We have noticed that some SERPs are now dominated by lighter content with 800 words or even less that contain few media and are rendered in less than one second on smartphones and other mobile devices.
So… what happens when you have a long-form article which is outranked by short content? Well, here is where the WordLift Pagination comes in very handy by fragmenting the content into short fraggles (if the word fraggle doesn’t sound familiar to you, you definitely have to watch this webinar by Cindy Krum) which make enough sense to answer to searcher’s intent.
Before discussing further the functionalities and results of our pagination plugin, I’d like to give you an overview on the state of pagination SEO. On the editorial strategic side, the first question you need to ask yourself is…
Article pagination: when should I use it?
Pagination is used to divide lists of articles and products, to provide an easy way to access to the multimedia content of a gallery, and to break long-form articles into digestible chunks of information.
Let’s focus on article pagination: when and why should you apply it to your content?
When the SERP you are competing for is dominated by short, straight-to-the-point content: in this case, just a second or two on the mobile page speed can make a lot of difference in your traffic metrics.
When your article serves different specific search intents together with a broader one. In this case, breaking the content into small chunks of information can help your users find immediately what they are looking for.
When your article contains many multimedia items that could make the page heavier and hard to access from mobile devices/connections. Dividing the content into different pages allows the browser to download small pieces of content instead of a heavy page crowded with images and videos. It would result in higher page speed.
As you can notice, in both cases the UX should be on top of concerns. Pagination only makes sense when it adds something to the user experience.
Pagination […] affects two critical elements of search engine accessibility.
Crawl Depth: Best practices demand that the search engine spiders reach content-rich pages in as few “clicks” as possible (turns out, users like this, too). This also impacts calculations like Google’s PageRank (or Bing‘s StaticRank), which determine the raw popularity of a URL and are an element of the overall algorithmic ranking system.
Duplicate Content: Search engines take duplication very seriously and attempt to show only a single URL that contains any given piece of content. When pagination is implemented improperly, it can cause duplicate content problems, both for individual articles and the landing pages that allow browsing access to them.
For years, SEO experts dealt with this issues using rel=“next” and rel=“prev”. These link attributes were used to help search engines understand that the linked pages where included in the context of a pagination.
Adding more complexity to the matter, this March Google announced that it no longer uses rel=“next” and rel=“prev” as an indexing signal.
As we evaluated our indexing signals, we decided to retire rel=prev/next. Studies show that users love single-page content, aim for that when possible, but multi-part is also fine for Google Search. Know and do what's best for *your* users! #springiscomingpic.twitter.com/hCODPoKgKp
As you can imagine, the SEO community reacted to this tweet feeling lost and confused. A few days after, John Mueller specified that Google treats paginated pages as normal ones for its indexing and ranking purposes.
Not all the search traffic comes from Google, and even if Googlebot is ignoring this link attributes, Bing is not.
We're using rel prev/next (like most markup) as hints for page discovery and site structure understanding. At this point we're not merging pages together in the index based on these and we're not using prev/next in the ranking model. https://t.co/ZwbSZkn3Jf
So, the problem is still there: how to deal with pagination from an SEO standpoint?
Dos and Don’ts for Pagination SEO
Below, you will find a list of best practices. All the technical SEO aspects have already been incorporated in our SEO Pagination Plugin.
Create unique URLs for each paginated page. Each page should have a unique URL to allow Google to crawl and index your content.
Use crawlable links to paginated pages and allow paginated pages to be indexed.
Use the right signals to indicate to Google that paginated pages are canonical URLs and should be indexed.
Put the links to all the paginated pages on each of them in order to reduce click depth.
Create unique and useful content on pagination pages.
Manage pagination keyword cannibalization.
Here you find some outdated or ineffective strategies that you should avoid if you don’t want pagination to be penalizing for your website:
Don’t let Google decide how to prioritize your paginated content. Give clear signals to the crawlers to be sure that your content will be interpreted and indexed appropriately.
Don’t create a View All version of your paginated content — keep in mind that you need to serve the UX. If a content is too long for your users, then it doesn’t make sense to create a separate View All version for search engines.
Don’t use the first page as the canonical page for all paginated pages. This would give crawlers a wrong signal, because the content of each page is different.
Don’t add noindex to the paginated pages and don’t use any other technique to discourage or block crawlers.
Don’t use infinite scrolling or load more, because if you do certain crawlers could not be able to actually crawl all your content.
Meet the WordLift Pagination — the SEO-friendly Pagination Plugin
In WordLift, we want SEO to be as easy as possibile, automating tasks so that our users can focus on crafting great unique content. That’s why we have developed WordLift Pagination, the first SEO-Friendly Pagination Plugin — which helps you add pagination to your content in a snap, without even worry about SEO, because it does it for you.
How does WordLift Pagination impact on session length and page views?
The first experiment with WordLift Pagination was conducted with our VIP client Windows Report. We applied the pagination to long-form articles on windowsreport.com. The results on the engagement metric was unexpectedly positive even for us.
Source: Google Analytics
Splitting single page content in paginated articles had a positive impact on pages per session, session duration, and even on page rankings (+4%). These results prove that the WordLift Pagination improved the user experience, and triggered the growth of all the engagement metrics.
Pagination and Page Speed
The pagination plugin also creates a huge impact on page speed.
In the context of a large website with an average page speed of 2 seconds, 14 of the pages created with the pagination plugin are the fastest pages on the site according to the new Speed report of the GSC.
How does this affect the rankings?
In the case of our client Windows Report, the rankings of the paginated articles went up by 4% on average, which results in an impactful improvement in terms of traffic. Our assumption is that the growth of the rankings was the direct consequence of a better mobile UX — which is mainly, but not only, related with an increased page speed.
The improvements in terms of engagement can be also read as a signal of a UX that really works.
What can you do with WordLift Pagination?
Here is what our new stand-alone plugin does for your long-form articles:
Splits your articles into different pages on the basis of your headings
Adds a Table of Content linked to the single pages that have been generated for the readers who only need to read specific chunks of the article
Adds a set of numbered navigation links on the bottom of each page for the readers who want to read the article consequentially.
To have it on your pages, all you have to do is installing the plugin and adding a flag on the long-form articles that you need to split into different pages. It’s that easy! ?
Ready to add pagination to your content in a snap? Install our WordLift Pagination now!
The SEO Friendly Pagination Plugin
Add SEO-friendly pagination to your long-form content in a snap!
When you think about any potential topic you can write about, as an editor (or a content marketer) you know that you have to find the right angle to catch your reader’s attention. It’s not easy to guess what your readers are looking for, but the fact is that Google knows it better than you – and any content writer in the world.
In this article, I want to share with you a method to find new editorial opportunities on a given topic and to understand which angle and subtopics have a chance to be showcased by Google into its PAA snippet.
Finding editorial opportunities and approaching them from the right angle is one of the most difficult – and crucial – parts of the editorial work for publishers and content marketers. Google’s related questions that appear in the rich snippet People Also Ask can be a useful tool to understand what matters to your target audience.
What are users really looking for when they search for something on Google? What are the subtopics that matter most to Google around a specific topic? Follow me and you will understand how to figure it out for every single topic you are working on.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is the PAA snippet?
PAA, the acronym for People Also Ask and also known as Related Questions, is an accordion-like rich snippet that contains a selection of questions, which help Google’s users to go in-depth a topic without even leaving the SERP. Each answer in the PAA snippet comes from a different source that Google considers authoritative about a specific subtopic.
At first, you only see 4 different questions. As you start interacting with this snippet and click on the arrow to read one of the answers, you will notice that Google populates the snippet with an apparently never-ending list of new questions.
This is the PAA that you can see on the SERP for family business, one of the main keywords for Tharawat Magazine
Actually, these questions may be a lot, but they are not infinite and, if you pay attention, you will notice that at a certain point questions become quite repetitive. In fact, there is a logic under these questions and they have a hierarchical organization.
The first four questions are used to better understand the search intent and the choices of the searcher are used to deliver a secondary group of questions, which descend from the one that the user clicked.
The PAA snippet has a pervasive impact on Google’s SERPs. Nowadays, Related Questions appear in 84.4% of the SERPS in the USA market (source: MozCast), this makes it the first rich snippet in terms of occurrences. It is far more common than the rich snippet (19,1% of the SERPs), and it grew more quickly in the last three years.
What makes the PAA even more interesting from a publisher’s standpoint is that a single PAA can show up in 21 unique SERPs (source: GetStat).
In other words, if you get a spot on a PAA, you have your chance to be featured in different SERPs within the same semantic domain.
Let’s get back to the family business example. Google shows the same PAA when users are searching for the main keyword (‘family business’) and also when they search for other related topics such as ‘family business succession’, ‘family owned business success stories’, and much more of them.
This means that when your content is elected as a good answer by Google for its related questions, you will have great exposure and a serious boost in traffic.
So, there are serious opportunities for your website ahead! ?
Why Google is suggesting (all these) related questions?
Search engines are eager for content to give users the best answers for different intents and needs. There was a time when Google’s aim was to give the users a set of results in the form of blue links and bring them to other websites seamlessly.
Then rich snippets entered the SERP and everything changed.
Nowadays Google plays all its cards to keep the users on its SERP as much as possible. The accordion-like rich snippet known as People Also Ask is just another way to keep the user on the SERP and investigate on the intent of the search.
So, basically, Google is trying to profile users by providing more context and guessing what they are more interested in around a specific topic. According to PageRanger, the initial 4 questions in a PAA target on average 2.8 different intents.
How to extract and analyze the PAA snippet from a SERP
As a content writer, looking at the questions from the People Also Ask, you can guess how Google is connecting entities. This quick peek into Google’s knowledge graph can give you a hint on:
what kind of angle you can adopt while writing on a specific topic
which related topics you can cover on your website to catch your target audience’s attention
how you can organize your content to optimize their visibility on the SERP.
Before thinking about how to craft your editorial content to answer related questions, you need to extract your list of related questions. To this purpose, there are several tools that you can do.
For example, the Italian SEO consultant Alessio Nittoli created a Pythonscript that scrapes Google PAAs giving you a list of questions in a CSV format. The code is available on GitHub.
Keep in mind that scraping Google without permission is illegal, as Alessio states in his disclaimer:
⚠ DISCLAIMER: This software is not authorized by Google and doesn’t follow Google’s robots.txt. Scraping without Google explicit written permission is a violation of their terms and conditions on scraping and can potentially cause a lawsuit
This software is provided as is, for educational purposes, to show how a crawler can be made to recursively parse Google’s “People also asked”. Use at your own risk.
When you have your list of related questions coming from the PAA snippet, you can move to the editorial strategy around your chosen content.
How to spot and organize editorial opportunities from a list of ‘People Also Asked’ questions
Spot new content opportunities
While analyzing the questions that come out your topic research through PAAs, you will notice that some questions are repeated frequently with slight variations that represent different intents. Other questions are logically connected: from generic concepts to more specific subtopics.
Depending on how these questions are related and how much you can get in-depth, you can plan a new article about a concept and then add more specific subtopics as paragraphs, or you can write a page about a concept or an entity and then write an article to cover each specific subtopic.
Here in WordLift, we adopt this latest model, that we have named the Entity Based Content Model: it develops around an entity and explores the relations that connect it to specific subtopics and to other entities.
Rearrange and organize your content
If you have been writing around a specific and narrow topic for a while, chances are that the content that answers the questions can already be on your website – but it may need to be rearranged. For example, you can add new headlines and paragraphs to highlight your answers and make them stand out of the content. A good practice could be to build an FAQ page.
Wrapping things up
Google PAAs are becoming so much pervasive, that if you get your spot on the Google PAA of your main keyword (and on some related long-tail keywords), you’ll get the chance to have a great boost in visibility and clicks.
Once you extract the related questions, you can use them to enrich, refine and improve your editorial plan and to optimize existing content.
In WordLift, we are using the Entity Based Content Model to organize different pieces of content around a specific topic and offer to search engines and readers what they need to know.
If you want to know how to apply this model to your website content and to your niche, write us a few lines about your editorial project and let’s talk!
Ramia Marielle El Agamy has dedicated her professional journey to her family’s business. Through activities in education solutions, publishing, content marketing and family business networking the El Agamy family is growing its companies between Europe and the Middle East. Ambitious, business-focused, and charismatic, Ramia is the consummate modern leader.
Ten years ago she co-founded Tharawat Magazine, a quarterly family business magazine, with her family. In 2015, the editorial project went online with the aim of inspiring family business owners and entrepreneurs globally. Two years later, she added a new branch to her business with Orbis Terra Media, a content studio enabling brands to achieve narrative consistency across multiple platforms to reach their audience.
Back in 2017, Ramia was looking for a solution to reach a wider online audience to establish Tharawat Magazine as the preeminent publisher on family business topics.
That’s when we met. Tharawat Magazine’s team wanted to introduce an SEO approach in their editorial workflow.
She had a conversation with our business developer Gennaro — at first, she was sceptical. She tried WordLift, however, and after using it for a few months, she became one of our first VIP clients, adopting our tailored SEO services as a part of Tharawat’s editorial workflow. Joining forces has proven highly beneficial: in the last 5 months, Tharawat Magazine has grown by +321% in terms of traffic.
We also had the chance to refine a bespoke workflow built around a rich and well-organized editorial plan, but this is another story.
We spoke with Ramia to learn more about the fascinating world of family business.
Let’s begin with a very simple question: what is Tharawat Magazine, and how is it structured?
Today, Tharawat Magazine is one of the world’s foremost publications on family-owned businesses. With over a decade of experience and a thousand published articles, we have established our publication as a source of inspiration for business owners and experts alike.
Family businesses and their sustainability is integral to economic stability worldwide. We tell family business stories to teach, inspire and celebrate their successes.
Today, Tharawat Magazine is a part of Orbis Terra Media (OTM), a global content production and marketing studio based in Switzerland. OTM is a family-owned company operating with a decentralized team. They add significant value and a global perspective to the organisation.
Tharawat Magazine Editorial Team. From the left side: Ramia El Agamy (Editor in Chief), Sam Harrison and Alice Fogliata Cresswell (both Senior Editors), and Brianna Lish (Brand Manager).
In 5 months, your organic traffic has grown by a staggering +321%. This is a 64% increase month over month – how did this happen?
We attribute this success almost entirely to our collaboration with the WordLift team. When we came across the WordLift solution two years ago, we were under-utilizing the wealth of content we had. WordLift stepped in, cleaned up and structured over 1000 articles to increase their visibility. The accelerated returns over the last 5 months are a result of our editorial team’s understanding of how to read the traffic data to make editorial planning more SEO friendly.
Speaking of the editorial team, how do you organize their work?
We are fully decentralized; OTM team members work from around the world and come together around our magazine. We work with SaaS like Asana and HubSpot to coordinate our workflow and are also fully integrated with the WordLift team on Slack. We create original content, so we always start with the audio from recorded interviews, which is then transcribed and worked into written articles for the website and print and then resourced for our podcast the Family Business Voice.
We also field submissions from all over the world — the work of experts and academics who wish to share their latest insights on matters related family business.
From WordLift, we’ve learned the importance of creating SEO friendly content like industry-specific listicles that allow easy structuring and get rewarded by high rankings on Google SERP.
Tharawat Magazine is devoted to a very specific vertical: family business. To its credit, Tharawat Magazine also is a family business. Does it make your editorial work easier?
My family owns Orbis Terra Media, and we founded Tharawat Magazine. So let’s just say we really know what we are talking about when we publish family business stories.
However, the real force behind the success of Tharawat Magazine is our editorial team and the many family businesses who agree to share their stories with us.
Tharawat Magazine is the editorial side of a larger project, Orbis Terra Media, which you define as a content studio. Why did you decide to leverage your experience in content creation to provide a set services?
We founded Tharawat Magazine around 11 years ago in the middle of a major disruption in the publishing industry. After a few years, it became apparent to us that publishing alone would not result in the growth we wanted, and so we thought about what our strengths were. We knew that our skills in creating high-value and original content lent themselves well to content marketing services. So, we built Orbis Terra Media, which is now a global content studio. Coupled with a company culture keen on integrating technology and involving strategic partners such as the team at WordLift, we provide these services combining the best of our creative and editorial capabilities with data-based insights. At the end of the day, whether it’s for Tharawat Magazine or OTM’s content marketing clients, our goal is to create content that moves.
If you are a web content writer, there is no need to remind you all the struggle you have to face to distribute your content. Maybe you spend hours – or even days! – of hard work writing awesome content, but once your article is done, you know that your job has just begun. Now it’s time to fine-tune your content for SEO purposes, share it on several channels, monitor search keywords for your next article… Wouldn’t be wonderful to just focus on writing and nothing more?
Semantic markup is the key to success. Schema markup can really help your pages get the traffic they deserve. How? To explain it, we need to do a few steps back: first of all, you need to know what schema.org is.
What is schema.org markup
Schema.org is an initiative launched in 2011 by the world’s largest search engines (Bing, Google, and Yahoo!) to implement a shared vocabulary and adopt standard formats to structure data on web pages.
Schema.org markup helps machines understand your content, without fail or ambiguity.
Let’s explore how to use the Schema markup, the benefits of using it and how it can be implemented on your WordPress website.
How to add Schema.org markup to WordPress
To use schema markup on your pages, you can either use a tool like WordLift or do it manually. WordLift plugin enables you to add Schema markup on WordPress without writing a single line of code. Once you configured the plugin, a new menu will appear on the right side of your article in the WordPress editor: it will allow you to annotate your content and, by doing so, to create an internal vocabulary to your website or blog.
WordLift uses JSON-LD to inject schema.org markup in your web pages. Click here to see the magic: it’s a gif which shows you the data representation of this article with JSON-LD!
Imagine you have published an event on your website: once you completed creating your specific content, the final step will be to add a normal meta description, which will appear on the search page as plain text. But, by adding Schema markup to the page, you can really help your content stand out by transforming it into a rich snippet and therefore getting a lot more clicks ?
There are several types of schema you can use to mark your content, and by using the event schema markup is possible to show dates, locations and any other detail related to a specific event to help people easily get access to all the information they might need:
Once the purpose of adding structured data is clear – that is to provide accurate information about what your content’s website is about, you could also see that adding Schema markup to your site really is a highly-customizable process.
How to increase your traffic with semantic markup
While crawling the web looking for some specific content to be served to users, search engines will unquestionably identify the context your articles belong to. Nowadays this is the most effective and affordable way to distribute your content and made it “findable” to those who are looking for it through Search Engines.
The example above shows the results of a long-tail search about the upcoming Salzburgerland Party Meeting event. As you can see, the first result is a rich snippetwith 2 links and allows you to skip directly to the next events. All that is made possible by the markup, which helps search engines detect the structured data matching the user’s answer inside the whole website. It’s been proven that rich snippets increase the Click Trough Rate: so, more qualified traffic for you, here!
Salzburgland.com uses WordLift to structure its content.
Moreover, you can explore new ways to disseminate your content based on chatbots, which can serve your just-baked articles to your readers depending on their interests.
In the image on the right side, you can see how Intelligent Agents such as Google Allo can answer your voice search questions with appropriate content if they are correctly structured.
Assess markup quality with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
Once you added your schema markup to WordPress, it’s easy to determine that everything was done right, simply by using the Structured Data Testing Tool made available by Google. Just enter the URL you need to analyze and let the tool verify your content.
Let’s see, as an example, the markup of the SEMANTiCS 2018 Conference on our blog:
As we can see, everything worked just fine, there’s only 1 warning about the field Offer that in this case has no value added.
The first rule while adding schema markup is to be clear. Google will know! Also, remember that adding schema markup to your page might as well not guarantee any result at first. But it’s always recommended to do it because it can definitely give you the best chance for success in SERPs, and help increase your CTR.
Automating structured data markup with WordLift
While developing WordLift plugin, we focused on making more accurate than ever our schema.org markup.
Now we can say – without fear of contradiction – that our Plugin offers you one of the most extended sets of markup to structure data on a WordPress website… without writing a single line of code!
Here is a list of improvements on the markup that SEO specialists are going to appreciate:
ARTICLE: we’ve added the markup schema.org:Article for each article/blog post, publishing it with the property Main Entity of Page. Simply put: we say to Google and to the other search engines that this web page is an article. To know more about this property, read this how-to by Jarno Van Driel.
PUBLISHER: we also communicate the publisher’s information related to each article as structured data. The publisher can be an individual with his/her proper name or an organization with a brand name and a logo.
ID: with WordLift we also made available the Publisher ID. What is an ID, and why it is so important? For each entity, article, and publisher, we generate a permanent ID: a unique identifier which is fundamental in the context of 5 stars Linked Data because it allows the connections between data on the web. Each entity, article, and publisher can be connected to other data, hosted – for example – in WikiData, with the “same as” property and each of them can also be decoded with a JSON-LD data representation.
RELATED ENTITIES: we used the meta tag “mentions” to say which entities are mentioned. In this way, you’ll have a hierarchy or entities where the main one defines the article itself and the other ones are recognized as mentioned on it.
To play around with JSON-LD markup that WordLift created for this article head straight to the JSON-LD Playground.