Sunday, June 16, 2019

How To Write How-To Structured Data for Google SERPs

I know that there is a lot of debate in the SEO world about succumbing to Google's rich results options. If you give your content to Google, you are giving away clicks. Or so they say (and some have seen happen). However, that has NOT been the case as I've seen it so far with the pages I've implemented HowTo structured data. As you'll see in the examples below, I believe the How-to rich results do a good job of encouraging the user to continue through to the website

As of May 9th (the day after the I/O announcement of recognizing How-To as a SERP feature), I had two articles showing up.

Comparing the 30 days prior and the 30 days after:

  • 15% increase in impressions
  • 4% increase in clicks
While overall CTR slightly dropped, average CTR within the How-to rich results was 6% higher than the overall average of those pages from the 30 days prior. Another aside is when checking on Google Home devices (NOT with video), the article was winning in voice search results.

I'll spare you all the nitty gritty details. But some old code and odd layout structure in comparison to how things are nested in the HowTo, meant that trying to make the microdata work was just too much. I couldn't properly nest images within the HowToStep, so I had to use the "standard" set up, not the one for images with each step. Something to note from that is if you have an image nested inside of the HowToDirection, then you have to be sure to use the "beforeMedia," "duringMedia," or "afterMedia" itemprop instead of "image."

After all that, I gave the JSON-LD set up a try this week on another article. Now I am a total believer in the JSON-LD. I didn't have to worry at all about how the page was structured (I don't want to mess with any layout/design or copy so I don't have to go through a new approval process).

So as not to be one of those recipe blogs everyone hates, let me get to the real deal here. Below I've shared a link to VIEW a Google Sheets I built with Google Apps Scripts that will allow you to input names, descriptions, image URLs, etc only into some cells. Then run my scripts to generate the appropriate JSON-LD for the How-to rich result with images for each step.

Google Sheet to Generate How-to Schema JSON-LD

Don't forget to make a copy of that sheet in order to edit it for your needs! Let me know if you have any feedback or questions

I already used it to set up another article, tested the script, updated the site, asked for a priority reindex, and here it is already in the results. From creating the JSON-LD to showing up in the mobile SERP, all within an hour!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Using Keyword Research for Product Development

"Unprecedented success." That's what the company is calling a new product launch this January that I discovered as an opportunity in keyword research back in September 2017. Back then I wasn't even TRYING to find the next big product; I was doing some keyword research in Moz Keyword Explorer to optimize a buying guide. Thankfully, buying guides cover a broad range of queries around a product category. I tend to start with a head term and let the "Keyword Opportunities" guide me on long-tail terms that might be a worthwhile ranking opportunity.

While I usually log and analyze keywords that have some search volume aside from "n/a" and a relatively low difficulty and high organic CTR (color scales make this easier for humans to spot in large keyword lists!), this product opportunity was sitting near the top when sorting by largest search volume, with monthly searches ranging from 1701-2900 searches per month (in the pictured March 2019 analysis it was the second listed, now at 2901-4300). When I gave those numbers to the product manager, they didn't need any comparison to know that seemed like a good find. What made it even better was that when I pulled up the SERP to analyze the competition there was almost no competitor actually offering it -- one small niche shop and then the big retail competitors own site search pages with no truly relevant results.

Like organic optimization, new product development can take a lot of time. Sometimes in that time, trends change and interest starts dropping off. You don't want your production time to put you in the downtrend. While Moz Keyword Explorer doesn't show trends, keeping keyword lists, exporting them, and saving them down with the Date Analyzed allows you to create trend graphs. To try to get way ahead of consumer interest, we now do regular reports on social media insights and influencer requests to help identify trends before they've really hit general consumers.

Now I've encouraged (and, of course, trained) the product development team to try to do the same in Keyword Explorer to check against new product ideas they are considering. To understand how these new opportunities measure up, comparing them to a similar term in the category that we are already optimized for helps. Google Ads can bring in some additional insight on those keywords and possibly show a trend if it has remained in an ad group for a while.