When most companies think of website optimization, they tend to think of keyword usage, spending considerable amounts of time testing specific words and phrases that have been shown to be popular among their target audience. Keywords and phrases are certainly important components of a well-designed SEO strategy; but companies should also be focusing on semantic markup, which can have a substantial effect on search engine rankings and click-through results.
What is semantic markup?
If you have a website, you probably know what markup is: Essentially, markup comprises all the HTML coding that helps your site run – and run smoothly. It’s the language that allows your site to communicate with the Internet at large and search engines specifically. The word “semantics” means “meaning.” So, broadly speaking, semantic markup is the use of HTML to highlight the site’s purpose. More specifically, it’s the use of HTML to highlight specific features of the site, much in the same manner as keywords. But, instead of embedding relevant words and phrases within the text of your site, semantic HTML uses the site’s underlying code to highlight those aspects of your business that appeal to your target audience. Proper semantic markup can help search engines interpret your site’s information more clearly, enhancing your company’s search engine rankings and results. To get a better understanding, consider the following examples of semantic markup usage:
What are the benefits of semantic markup?
In addition to improving overall search results, semantic markup used correctly can improve the chances that search engines will highlight your business’ site by using rich snippets, detailed information that enhances the search experience and increases click-through rates. In essence, rich snippets help a search engine user determine the relevance of your site right on the search page. That means that when someone clicks to your site, that person is much more likely to be interested in your product or service- and hence, much more likely to become a customer.
Types of semantic markup
- Authorship markup
This is arguably the most critical type of semantic markup, allowing your photograph from your Google+ account to appear in search results right alongside the pages and content you’ve created. In local search, adding your personal photograph can increase the authority of your site among search engine users, making your site appear more legitimate and user-friendly.
- Places/Local markup
Using place formatting from schema.org, local markup emphasizes your company’s physical location, including the address and contact information, in addition to hours of operation, types of payment accepted, a map to your location, listings of events and more information about your business’ place or location. Schema.org’s place formatting also lets you provide geotagging information for your business using geocoordinates to make finding your business a breeze.
- Object markup
Objects can be video clips or audio clips, news articles and other items that help define your company and the products or services it offers. Each type of object has its own markup style and contents. There are many types of object markup options, covering physical items for sale on your site, written content like news articles and other posts, and video and audio content. For instance, object markup for a “thing” lets you include an item description and an image of the item along with the item’s description. Object markup for a creative work includes information about that work, review ratings user comments and even the intended audience in addition to coding for the physical properties of the object. Audio and video objects include similar information as well as information about the type of player required to view or listen to the object. Again, all of this markup provides a more comprehensive search experience for potential customers and improves relevant click-throughs by providing search engine users with more specific information.
- Product markup
This one is fairly self-explanatory: If your company offers products for sale on its site, product markup can include the price and availability of your products as well as providing customer ratings. It’s an effective way of drawing attention to your products at the search engine level and can significantly increase click-throughs to your site.
Does your business participate in or host events? Using events markup can help draw attention to those events as well as making your site look more established and consumer-friendly in searches. Similarly, offer schema formatting lets companies highlight coupons, sales and other special offers to draw customers.
- Meta tags
Meta tags have been around for a long time, and despite the fact that they are an important tool in both the search engine rankings process and the click-through rate, many businesses still neglect them. Often, meta information is provided as the snippet that shows up under your business name in search engine results, so every company should take care to create a tag that accurately describes their business. Tags also allow companies to provide additional information that can improve search engine rankings, so be sure to take full advantage of this critical component of site development and design.
Successful web development involves the incorporation of all these elements and more. Creative Development’s team of SEO experts is ready to ensure your site fully utilizes semantic markup to improve its search engine rankings and results and drive new business to your site.