If you are confused about meta descriptions in SEO, why they are important and how to nail it with the help of artificial intelligence, this article is for you.
If you are eager to start experimenting with an AI-writer, read the full article. At the end, I will give you a script to help you write meta descriptions on scale using BERT: Google’s pre-trained, unsupervised language model that has recently gained great momentum in the SEO community after both, Google and BING announced that they use it for providing more useful results.
I used to underestimate the importance of meta descriptions myself: after all Google will use it only on 35.9% of the cases (according to a Moz analysis from last year by the illustrious @dr_pete). In reality, these brief snippets of text, greatly help to entice more users to your website and, indirectly, might even influence your ranking thanks to higher click-through-rate (CTR).
While Google can overrule the meta descriptions added in the HTML of your pages, if you properly align:
the main intent of the user (the query you are targeting),
the title of the page and
the meta description
There are many possibilities to improve the CTR on Google’s result pages. In the course of this article we will investigate the following aspects and, since it’s a long article, feel free to jump to the section that interests you the most — code is available at the end.
As usual I tend to “ask” “experts” online a definition to get started, and with a simple query on Google, we can get this definition from our friends at WooRank:
Meta descriptions are HTML tags that appear in the head section of a web page. The content within the tag provides a description of what the page and its content are about. In the context of SEO, meta descriptions should be around 160 characters long.
Here’s an example of what a meta description usually looks like (from that same article):
How long should your meta description be?
We want to be, as with any other content on our site, authentic, conversational and user-friendly. Having said that, in 2020, you will want to stick to the 155-160 characters limit (this corresponds to 920 pixels). We also want to keep in mind that the “optimal” length might change based on the query of the user. This means that you should really do your best in the first 120 characters and think in terms of creating a meaningful chain by linking the query, the title tag and the meta description. In some cases, within this chain it is also very important to consider the role of the breadcrumbs. As in the example above from WooRank I can quickly see that the definition is coming from an educational page of their site: this fits very well with my information request.
What meta descriptions should we focus on?
SEO is a process: we need to set our goals, analyze the data we’re starting with, improve our content, and measure the results. There is no point in looking at a large website and saying, I need to write a gazillion of meta descriptions since they are all missing. It would simply be a waste of time.
Besides the fact that in some cases – we might decide not to add a meta description at all. For example, when a page covers different queries and the text is already well structured we might leave it to Google to craft the best snippet for each super query (they are super good at it ?). We need to look at the critical pages we have – let’s not forget that writing a good meta description is just like writing an ad copy — driving clicks is not a trivial game.
As a rule of thumb I prefer to focus my attention on:
Pages that are already ranking on Google (position > 0); adding a meta description to a page that is not ranking will not make a difference.
Pages that are not in the top 3 positions: if they are already highly ranked, unless I can see some real opportunities – I prefer to leave them as they are.
Pages that have a business value: on the wordlift website (the company I work for), there is no point in adding meta descriptions to landing pages that have no organic potential. I would rather prefer to focus on content from our blog. This varies of course but is very important to understand what type of pages I want to focus on.
This criteria can be useful, especially if you plan to programmatically crawl our website and choose where to focus our attention using crawl data. Keep on reading and we’ll get there, I promise.
A quick introduction to single-document text summarization
Automatic text summarization is a challenging NLP task to provide a short and possibly accurate summary of a long text. While, with the growing amount of online content, the need for understanding and summarizing content is very high. In pure technological terms, the challenge for creating well formed summaries is huge and results are, most of the time, still far from being perfect (or human-level).
The first research work on automatic text summarization goes back to 50 years ago and various techniques. Since then, they have been used to extract relevant content from unstructured text.
“The different dimensions of text summarization can be generally categorized based on its input type (single or multi document), purpose (generic, domain specific, or query-based) and output type (extractive or abstractive).”
Rich snippets and other features that you can obtain on Google’s SERP using the schema markup in 2019
Within the past 10 years, the appearance and function of Google’s SERP have drastically changed with the inclusion of several rich snippets and SERP features that provide additional functionalities for users and adds challenges for SEO experts.
In fact, these rich snippets provide unique opportunities to increase CTRs as well as lower opportunities of appearing on the SERP with a simple blue link. This guide will introduce you to the various forms of rich snippets you can find on the SERP and then will focus on using structured data to optimize your content for rich snippets.
What are Rich Snippets and SERP Features and why they are important?
When you search for Neil Armstrong on Google, you will receive different results both in the form of snippets and blue links. What distinguishes a rich snippet from a normal one is that a rich snippet is a specialized form of search result that is tailored for a particular task or function rather than a simple blue link.
In this example, you can see a Knowledge Card about Neil Armstrong, a collection of movies about him, a group of people who are usually searched together with this astronaut, and a series of Top News which refer to this search.
Other examples include: the movie schedule for a given cinema when searching for movies in your area. When searching for a chocolate cake, a photo, item description, nutritional information and recipes pop-up.
What makes rich snippets important in SEO is that now, these snippets have become more important than the regular blue links. Rich snippets are more engaging as they can contain pictures, highlighted information and links more closely associated with the search terms. In addition, they are viewed as both more trustworthy and convenient as not only does the content stand out from the other search results, but it is far more likely to be much more closely associated with the official content such as an official website and social media.
An Important Note on Structured Data
Much of these rich snippets require the development of structured data to fully utilize their benefits. Structured data is an on-page markup that adds additional information to your website and provides it to users seeking relevant information on the SERP. It utilizes HTML coding and Schema markup to communicate with the search engine regarding your content.
Google uses structured data that it finds on the web to understand the content of the page, as well as to gather information about the web and the world in general.
In this article, you will find more specific information on how to optimize your content for each type of rich snippet using structured data.
We at WordLift can help you develop structured content for your website, not only to be on the Google SERP, but to appear in the newer, much more engaging content found in rich snippets. We’ll go through the types and uses of much of this data using the schema markup. If you’re wanting more specific uses of structured data or how best to utilize it for your content, we’re always happy to provide our services and assistance.
Informational – The Do-It-All Features
Some search features are just as potatoes: they can be served in a number of different ways and are a good pairing with a good number of different plates. In this page, you will find out how to obtain visibility with:
Answer Box Results
Knowledge Graph Carousel
A featured snippet features a website in a specialized format, providing a relevant passage and an accompanying photo. Featured snippets on Google may lead to higher CTRs, due to their more highlighted presence and description.
To increase the odds of being featured in a featured snippet, your website should include at least a brief description relevant to the topic. The more precise and vivid you are in your descriptions, the more likely it is that Google will understand your webpage. A more careful selection of keywords will also help Google’s algorithm understand the website.
Structured Data and Featured Snippets
Structured data may help, but it’s not always needed to appear with a featured snippet. In this case the most relevant answer with a well-curated formatting is often enough.
People Also Ask (PAA) is a rich snippet that contains a selection of questions that are similar to those found in a Q&A section of a website. Each question in the snippet can be opened to reveal its corresponding answer. As a question is selected, the revealed answer lists to a website and the snippet expands to add more questions related to the one answered.
If you want the answers in the snippet to link back to your website, start by optimizing your content for each targeted query. Adding keywords to headings and use paragraph tags also helps. Keep in mind that if you want to be on a PAA snippet list for a particular question, you will want to make sure your content meets the News Publisher criteria for fact checks.
Structured Data and PAA
Utilizing structured data is a vital aspect to having your website provide answers on the PAA snippet. Using the Schema.org markup, answers can be provided in different forms, such as: specific questions from an FAQ or Q&A page (Question markup), specific questions and their specific answers (QAPage markup) or instructions on how to achieve a result by following sequential steps (HowTo markup). Using these markups will make your content more likely to appear on the SERP as part of a PAA snippet. Read the full definitions of Question, QAPage and HowTo on Schema.
A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page uses official questions from a website on a particular topic. Note that this is only for official answers and questions and should not include content submitted by other users. This rich snippet appears in a block comprising of a series of similar questions, similar to the PAA section. The block titles indicate more specific questions. A FAQ page is useful for:
General business enquiries
Inquiries arising from brand properties
Inquiries concerning long-form products
Inquiries concerning specific products
Each question in a FAQ page depends on the answer provided. The more Google can provide answers, the more chances there are for users to find their way to the right website. For each section, it’s recommended that you add a title describing the content of the questions as a means of content organization and helping Google identify your content.
The FAQ type indicates that the page contains a question and answer excerpt. If the content is a long-form answer, you may want to consider including an FAQ section on your website.
Structured Data and FAQ
Note that FAQ is a structured data dependent feature which uses the FAQPage schema markup. You can use the Structured Data Testing Tool to validate and preview your content. The full definition of FAQPage is available on Schema.
HowTo results are snippets that present instructions on completing a specific task or activity. These results can be categorized into varying types depending on the kind of details that need to be provided. The HowTo type indicates that the page contains a tutorial, a list of steps, or a list of actions. There are two types of HowTo types:
A pre-filled HowTo type, represented by a container element containing steps or a list of steps.
A more structured data-heavy HowTo type, represented by a child container item containing an HTML snippet.
The former type is intended for informational content that answers questions, while the latter type is designed specifically for videos and other experiences that require viewers to follow a series or a chapter in order to be successful. Note that HowTo structure type does not include recipes, as that has its own form of structured data markup.
Structured Data and HowTo
You must include the required properties for HowTo pages for your content to be eligible to display it as a rich result. Most websites are able to display HowTo rich results regardless if they have HowTo structured data. You can use the Structured Data Testing Tool to validate and preview your structured data. Please note that HowTo pages may not appear in all languages. The full definition of HowTo is available at Schema.
Answer Box Results
This is a snippet that you might see on the SERP for question queries like “Why can’t I eat?” The Answer Box usually appears at the top of the main feed under AdWords results. It’s part of the core Knowledge Graph that contains other relevant contextual information like ratings and questions. When you click on it, you‘ll be taken to a result that lists the previous or current queries of the users.
This feature is helpful for those users who can’t provide a specified question, as the previous search results can show the answer. This feature is also useful for content creators, as it makes their content more likely to appear. This feature can also be seen in the Top Stories carousel.
Structured Data and Answer Box Results
While there isn’t a specific markup of structured data that is utilized with the Answer Box Result, you can use HowTo, Question and QAPage to provide useful markup for your page. Providing keywords, entities (people, places, objects) and direct answers to a provided question can help to highlight your website. The full definitions of HowTo, Question and QAPage andcan be found on Schema.
The Explore Panel displays a card with up to seven images, a description (usually from wikipedia), important information, and related searches. In the above example of the “Battle of Waterloo,” the panel includes several images related to the event, a brief description linked to Wikipedia, some important information and related searches.
Three factors drive the inclusion of infographic content in search results: relevance, the number of items to be shown, and the quality of the resulting presentation. Focusing on these factors will help provide enough content necessitate the inclusion of an Explore Panel.
Structured Data and the Explore Panel
Structured data relevance for the Explore Panel has not being documented by Google or suggested by anyone else for the moment being. Still, structured data may help Google better understand and classify your content in order to include it.
Knowledge Graph Carousel
The Knowledge Graph Carousel features information from different sources that are grouped under a specific heading. The main benefit of this feature is the ability to provide more specific answers to a query. All items within a carousel must be of the same type, such as: a recipe or an article. Note that the Knowledge Graph Carousel does not include any Google ads.
To maximize the visibility of your content, it is recommended to update your web pages with schema markup. This will make the content eligible for the Knowledge Graph feature. The Knowledge Graph Carousel contains information from Google’s Knowledge Graph, which has a lot of different websites under its roof. It can help your site reach the right keywords by providing a better contextual link between the different websites. SEOs can then focus on optimizing websites to provide users with the information that Google needs.
Structured Data and the Knowledge Graph Carousel
Using the ListItem markup will allow you to list the items that will be used for the carousel. This can be done as separately, listing all of the items linked to different pages; or as one page, providing the full information of each item. The full definition of ListItem is available at Schema.
Google Search can also expose sitelinks. This results in a white box with links to subsections of a website appearing under the results on the SERP, which can help users reach the right sections of a website. Google Search can also automatically add a sitelinks search box or sitelinks search result to your site if it can prove to Google that the search intent of the users is not being served the content through other means. Here is an example of a sitelinks search result, which is shown for searches related to ‘DisneyWorld’
The sitelinks feature includes an embedded search box that provides quick access to a website’s search results. Google Search can automatically add this search box to your site if it detects content that qualifies as technical information for a search question or a result that answers a question.
Structured Data and Sitelinks
A search box can also be added to your website, so long as you’re using its own search engine embedded in the site. Then, use the WebSite schema markup to provide structured data for the search box. The full definition of WebSite can be found at Schema.
Effectively ranking a video-on-demand website in search engines is a challenge many content creators and businesses face.
And with the ongoing global pandemic and current landscape, many have started looking into taking their businesses, events, and organization online by launching a video-on-demand site to host/monetize their content and have it globally accessible.
When the majority of your content is video-based and hidden behind a paywall, it can make on-page SEO feel like a constant uphill battle. But it doesn’t need to be.
By learning how to build your video website the correct way, you can create a platform that ranks well for your target keywords and also outranks YouTube, like this one.
In this guide, I’m going to show you how our best Uscreen clients have optimized their video websites to rank high on SERPs and convert.
How To Build A High-Ranking Video Website In 7 Steps
Step 1: Perform A “Netflix Audit”
The first step is to perform what I call a “Netflix Audit.”
This involves going through your website and stripping it of any elements that make the logged-out view of your website look like Netflix’s logged-in dashboard. That’s this page here:
Video websites often try to emulate Netflix’s design because it looks aesthetically brilliant, showcases the depth of their video database, and has a familiar feel to their target customers.
As you can see from the design below on Magic Stream’s website, it looks and feels just like Netflix:
But this type of theme design on your website’s customer-facing website pages comes at a high cost to both SEO and conversions, because it:
Decreases your website’s speed
Limits the amount of text (and keywords) which feature on a page
Doesn’t contain elements needed to convert a customer (like CTAs or product info)
Combined, these elements can have a negative impact on your website’s rankings. If nothing else, the layout is complex for Google’s crawlers to work their way through, and filled with information they struggle to interpret.
Netflix understands the pitfalls of using this dashboard view and, despite not having a search-led marketing campaign, they still opt for a text-based homepage.
If your video website is heavily reliant on this Netflix-style theme, I highly recommend you keep this dashboard-view for the paid (read: logged-in) version of your website and use a more traditional-style landing page for your homepage and subsequent category and taxonomy landing pages.
Step 2: Optimise Your Website’s Homepage
The most important page of any video on demand website is the homepage. It has two crucial jobs:
Ranking: it needs to be well structured to compete for good positions in the SERPs
Converting: it needs to convince visitors to become customers
Your homepage is one of the few pages that will be eligible to rank for search terms because it isn’t behind a paywall, so it’s your chance to shine in the SERPs. It’s also one of the few pages visitors will see before making a purchasing decision.
These factors mean the page will need to be optimized enough to rank for your target keywords but also structured in a way that showcases your product. Basically, it needs to be both a landing page and a sales page rolled into one.
To help you achieve this, let’s split this step into mini-sections.
Ranking: How To Optimise Your Video Homepage For Search Engines
To create a well-optimized homepage, you will want to rank for two kinds of keywords:
Branded: the keywords you “own” (such as your company or product name)
Most relevant: a short or medium-tail keyword likely to drive relevant traffic
If you’re already fleshing out your SEO strategy, you will already have these keywords in place. Use this guide to understand how keyword research works and how to get started.
To ensure you have space to naturally include these keywords on your page, follow the 80/20 rule:
80% of your homepage should be made up of keyword optimizable elements (headers, text, images, etc.)
20%of your homepage should be made up of video
In a recent study, we’ve found that your homepage’s length doesn’t play too much of a role in how you rank—our top four ranking Uscreen video websites have less than 500 words on their homepage—but making use of this 80/20 balance does.
Be sure to feature your target keywords in
At least one H1 or H2 tag
The Alt tags for at least one image
Your title tags and meta description
IndieFilmHustle TV, a video website focused on indie filmmakers and screenwriters, is a great example of getting this right with limited text.
Their target keyword is “Indie Film Channel” which they strategically placed in key places for semantic search, namely the page’s header, and title tags:
Doing this has enabled them to have enough information and context for Google to willingly rank them in the second position for their target keyword.
Converting: How To Structure Your Video Homepage For Sales (A 10-Point System)
We find high-converting video homepages all follow a similar structure from the top of their page to the bottom.
This can be varied depending on your branding and what you feel looks best for your site, but these elements should be present in some way. Here are the 10 points they all hit:
Hero image or carousel: vivid and relevant product or niche imagery
Subscription info: two-to-three sentences about your product and any free trials
Expanded product info: text-based information about your product or page (which can be supported by video or text)
“How It Works”section: a bullet-point list of how video on demand works (as it relates to your product)
Testimonials: share the views of your fans and customers
Payment and pricing: the cost of your product with a sign-up button
Featured videos: a small catalog section with JPEG images internally linked to video pages
Social media: updates from your latest social media posts (if applicable)
Free trial link: a final mention of your product’s free trial
A great example of this structure is the video on demand website, Naturally Sassy:
If you work your way down the page, the comprehensive home page allows the videos and services as the focus, without compromising on any on-page SEO factors.
Step 03: Make Use Of Strategic Target Keywords
When Google has a limited amount of information to work with, context is everything.
The more information you can provide in fewer words, the more it will help you set the foundation for a highly rankable website. One way you can provide more context is by using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.
LSI keywords are related to your target keyword or the focus of your website and help Google understand the big picture of what your website is about. And even though Latent Semantic Indexing is old technology, and search engines might not heavily rely on LSI these days, it’s still one of the best SEO practices to make sure that your storefront and other pages are targeting a set of keywords and key phrases relevant to what you represent and what searchers are actively looking for when searching for your content.
Let’s say you run a pop-culture website and you create a video web page talking about “Avatar.” Google would look for these set of keywords to determine if you are referencing:
Avatar – The 2009 Film (Film, James Cameron, CGI, etc.)
Avatar – The Metal Band (Music, Guitar Solo, Tour Dates, etc.)
Avatar – The Anime Cartoon (Aang, Nickelodeon, Waterbending, etc)
These keywords are especially important if your target keyword could be interpreted in multiple ways. Take KweliTV, an independent film streaming platform, for example, whose target keyword is “black streaming service.”
The word “black” makes this keyword unspecific; it could be referring to a brand called Black or an illegal black-market streaming service.
To ensure their website is recognized as a streaming service for black people, KweliTV uses a range of LSI keywords like:
African descent: – Caribbean, – African American – Latin American – European
These keywords will often naturally appear in your website’s copywriting. But, you can also find them suggested using a tool like WooRank’s keyword tool.
Step 04: Hit The “Big Three” Of Video Optimisation
Description: a clear description of what the video is about
Thumbnail: an image relevant to the content
These enable Google to determine what your video is about if it’s unique and valuable, and whether it’s worth ranking and are non-negotiables in the eyes of Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Because Google doesn’t “watch” your video in the same way it “reads” a blog post or article, this extra information provides more context and an understanding of how the video will look to the viewer.
Step 05: Build Video Optimised Pages To Attract Traffic
As a video content creator, you are likely to use video to help promote your business. One way to capitalize on this, and to generate more organic search traffic, is to focus on ranking video pages and category pages.
These pages are a great way to add high-value content to your video on demand site, which is also likely to attract links and social signals that can improve your rankings.
The structure of these pages is similar to that of a blog post, which as standard will include:
Keywords in your headline tags
LSI keywords throughout the page
An optimized meta-description
Minimum 300 words text
Internal links to other website pages
Moz does this brilliantly with their Weekly Whiteboard Friday video posts, like this one on SEO title hacks:
They use a short, keyword-rich introduction to the video, and then follow it up with a blog-post style transcription of the video below.
Video content is well and truly at the core of this content, but these extra touches help to increase the perceived value of the content and have some positive semantic search factors.
Step 06: Use Schema Markup To Add Depth
Google has a hard time understanding video content. They can glean limited information from the audio and video files but are still heavily reliant on text and users to provide context.
You can make Google’s job much easier by applying schema markup to each of your video and category pages. This allows you to tag elements of your video like:
Another great tactic to increase your SERP real estate and drive more clicks is to use FAQ schema markups on your video and category pages.
What is FAQ schema?
“A Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page contains a list of questions and answers pertaining to a particular topic. Properly marked up FAQ pages may be eligible to have a rich result on Search and an Action on the Google Assistant, which can help your site reach the right users.” -Google
Here’s an example of an FAQ rich result:
Although Google only mentions FAQ schemas for FAQ pages, this doesn’t mean that you can’t leverage this type of schema on other pages.
In fact, adding a FAQ section to your category and video pages, not only will allow you to naturally add context to the pages but also will allow you to answer frequently asked questions, boost your visibility on SERPs and organic traffic.
For example, let’s say you’ve launched an online yoga studio and published a series of yoga workout videos for back pain. By answering several frequently asked questions around the topic (Yoga poses for back pain), and adding FAQ markup to your category page, you can both elevate the user-experience as well as organic traffic.
In the example below, you can see how this page is using FAQ markup to do exactly that:
YouTube is the world’s largest video search engine and it should play a part in your website’s overall SEO strategy. As you can see in this example from TawzerDog, it’s possible to rank first for keywords on both search engines, without negatively impacting your search results:
Uploading your marketing videos to YouTube can provide social signals back to your website, as well as bringing in traffic from people who find you on their platform.
Providing your website with a structured content model is not only the best solution to better organize your content, but also a powerful strategy to improve the SEO of your website and increase organic traffic.
In this article, we’ll explain how the WordLift entity-based model, coupled with the new feature WL Mappings, will allow you to add a more specific markup to your content and to obtain a Knowledge Graph capable of communicating to search engines in a more effective way.
Why is the content model becoming a key tool for SEO?
During his webinar on content modeling for SEO in the WordLift Academy, Cruce Saunders highlights some of the main features that make the content model an indispensable tool for managing and enhancing online content.
In fact, the content model:
Specifies how information is organized on your website
Allows you to reuse content through different channels
Structured content model, in short, not only allows you to better organize data and information but to do it within a malleable structure capable of communicating:
to search engines through the use of structured data
to users through the enhancement of the user experience and the possibility of reusing the content by presenting it in the form of different layouts both on the site and in the SERP to respond to specific search intents (the same article, for example, may appear in the form of a snippet, of blue link, promotion, etc.)
Structuring your content model means creating a three-dimensional identity capable of highlighting your content and the relationships underlying it. This allows search engines to recognize you among hundreds of pieces of information, making you more visible to users who correspond to the search intent related to your business.
The more the content model is rich in structured data, the more chances you’ll have to meet exactly the users interested in you. That’s why we created WordLift Mappings, a new feature that allows you to select the information and connections that are truly relevant for your business and to create an increasingly specific and refined Knowledge Graph to highlight only the most relevant facets that make your identity more authoritative.
Through our entity-based model and WordLift Mappings, your content model becomes a powerful SEO weapon and a valuable resource to increase the value of your online data.
WordLift Mappings helps you create a custom Knowledge Graph and increase your online authority
WordLift creates a personalized and highly performing Knowledge Graph through the schema.org markup and the creation of a customized entity-based vocabulary containing the most relevant data to help Google better understand your online content.
Remember that Google uses entities to satisfy users’ search intent and allow them to find the best results. For this reason, an increasingly refined entity-based model such as WordLift is key to increase the visibility of your content for search engines.
WordLift Mappings increases the accuracy of this process and allows you to take greater care of your content and your Knowledge Graph.
By connecting to ACF (Advanced Custom Field), a WordPress plugin that allows you to create advanced fields to specify the attributes that characterize your content, WordLift Mappings allows you to structure your data starting from the fields that you have already configured with ACF or from new fields based on the schema.org taxonomy.
This means having more and more structured content, which can be used to add relevant details to your Knowledge Graph and shaped in different configurations to improve the user experience.
In this webinar, Andrea VolpiniandJason Barnard explain how they used WordLift Mappings to improve Jason’s content model and Knowledge Graph. Jason shows how he obtains a Knowledge Graph in which only the most relevant data to create an authoritarian and coherent Brand SERP are structured to stand out in the search results.
With over 100 podcasts made in collaboration with some of the greatest SEO experts on the planet, Kalicube – Jason Barnard‘s website – has an enviable wealth of content, relevant to the entire digital marketing sector. Thanks to WordLift Mappings, we helped Jason structure this content by following a model that focuses on content, events and people. Thus, each guest of Jason’s podcast has his own page connected with the podcasts in which he participated and with the events in which the podcasts were recorded.
In this way, the architecture of the Knowledge Graph is customized on the basis of the content model and the “network” of the links between the contents becomes the bearer of meanings and allows you to predict further connections. Below you can see the entity-based content model applied to Kalicube through WordLift Mappings.
What can you realistically expect in terms of traffic? How long does it take?
In recent weeks, our SEO team has implemented a new content model on the site of an American customer who deals with the dismantling and re-evaluation of used hardware on a large scale.
The results? After the first week, traffic increased by 14.6% and the growth curve does not seem to stop. To analyze the impact, isolating other factors that may influence the SEO of the site, we have developed a predictive model based on Bayesian networks which, analyzing the traffic in the month preceding the introduction of the WordLift Mappings, allowed us to isolate the benefit to the net of other ranking factors (it’s called causal inference analysis).
Here we see the real clicks in black and the traffic we would have had in blue (that is, the traffic predicted by the mathematical model), then in the following chart the difference between the real traffic and the estimated traffic and finally the delta of increase. In this way, we can be sure that, as analyzed, it has statistical relevance and is related to the introduction of the new content model. ?
In summary, WordLift Mappings allows you to:
Build a Custom Knowledge Graph based on your content model
Improve the SEO of your website through structured data
Shape the structure of your content to improve the user experience
Reuse chunks of content through different configurations to respond to different research purposes
Enhance any type of content composed of reusable elements (articles, courses, events, How-Tos etc.)
The implementation of a custom Knowledge Graph through WordLift Mappings has a positive and measurable impact on traffic.
In 1996 Bill Gates wrote “Content is King”, predicting a world where content would have been the main wealth on the Internet. Although this prediction has been a catchphrase in the contest of digital marketing in the 2000s, nowadays it could sound a little naive. It isn’t, if you rethink content separating it from its containers and try to understand and follow its law.
Don’t think in terms of pages, think in terms of entities
Pages are just one of a thousand ways in which content can be rendered and displayed to your users. An entity is the real single brick of your content strategy. It can be displayed through a page, but it’s something more. It is a thing (or a person, a place, an event, etc.) that has its own properties and relationships with other things.
Adding schema.org markup to your content you can define and describe your entities and help search engines better understand your content. Let’s say for example you have a recipe: as an entity, this recipe will have many properties such as recipeCuisine, recipeIngredient, recipeInstructions, recipeYield… and a lot more. All these properties can connect the entity to other entities or just exist as single data points.
Let’s say I’m looking for an apple pie with one single egg — because I have just one in the fridge, semantic search engines could give me the right recipe thanks to the additional information related to the entity. So, in the end, entities allow you to give a better answer to your potential readers.
Why are entities relevant in this context?
Structured content can help you build Actions for the Google Assistant upon some entity types such as recipes, how-tos, news articles and podcasts. And here is how schema.org markup comes handy for voice search.
Moving from building pages to creating structured data helps us create relationships between entities that matter. Entities are not isolated items, they are all connected into a cluster which is semantically meaningful.
This means that through entities you can feature different angles of a complex thing.
For example connecting all information related to a course or a webinar across multiple pages can be strategic to stand out on Google search and is the best way to answer to different user intents.
Structure your content building your own content model — and stick with that
As I said before, entities are just the first brick of your content strategy. Content modeling is the law that underlies your content. Structuring the content of your website allows you to reuse it in different formats and match different search intents.
For example, the content model of the WordLift Academy allows us to repurpose our content in different formats. Each main content is a webinar which is connected to different data points such as creation date and duration, other entities such as the topics covered during the webinar and the main speaker, and media such as the cover image, the profile picture of the speaker, and the video recording.
All this information can answer to different search intents and function as different entry points to the main content.
Experiment new formats starting from your content wealth ?
Now, let me tell you a story.
Recently, we’ve joined Google’s Mini Apps Early Access Pilot. The idea was to offer to the user an app experience built into the SERP to navigate into the Academy content.
I won’t enter into the details of the technological stack used to create this Mini App prototype through Google’s console. What matters here is that, having a structured content we have refined the search for WordLift courses allowing the users to navigate through them by selecting one or more topics of interest and/or a speaker.
As the pilot has been shut down due to COVID-19, you won’t see it on the SERP anytime soon. ? But… we are planning the same structure — well, with a few changes in terms of technology – to build an Assistant App for Google. ?
So users will be able, for example, to look for all the webinars about SEO by Jason Barnard on our Academy just invoking the App.
What’s the take-away of this story?
Formats may change and evolve, experiments come and go… but a strong content model allows you to reuse your content in different environments.