Making Australian Companies Visible on the Internet Again!

by Vitalii Semenov

28 February 2017

How to make Australian companies visible on the internet

In this post, we are not going to discuss SEO, Advertising or Social Media, but we will cover the must-do features that every company should implement if it is going to be more visible in Search Results or even become part of Google`s ( read humankind's) Knowledge Graph (Base). These features are handy not only for large companies and organisations, but small, ambitious businesses stand to benefit from implementation too.

For those readers who are too busy to read the whole post, here are some quick links:

What is Structured Data?

What is the Knowledge Graph?

What kind of Data can be marked as Structured Data?

How to mark up the data?

How to Test Structured Data Markup

Summary

So let's start by taking a look at Google Knowledge Graph in action:

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It is also worth mentioning that this feature works not only with geographic names but also with persons,

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brands, products and more …

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What we see here, whether it is in the right hand side informational column, additional links in Wikipedia snippets or rating stars of the IMBd website, is the Structured Data that search engines use to give users the most relevant information.

Structured data is one of the resources that many search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yandex and Baidu use to build their Knowledge Graphs.

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By the way…

you will also notice that some companies, such as Microsoft and LinkedIn also have their own Knowledge Graphs.

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There are some obvious advantages to having Structured Data on a website, such as:

  • Increase in a website`s Click Through Rate (CTR) in the search engine result page (SERP) - note: sometimes your website may show up more than once in SERP.
  • Better brand awareness - being highlighted or shown in a specific position subconsciously tells a user about the reliability of the company, at least from the search engine`s viewpoint. The subconscious message sounds like: ” I can rely on the company (person, brand, etc.) because Google believes in the company and shows the info of the company in a different way than for others. “
  • Becoming a part of Knowledge Graph which in turn means that your website, brand or product information might show up in additional relevant blocks in the SERP of a related search query.
  • Exposure to Google testing Structured Data tracking in closed beta Google Analytics, which means there may be more useful data to analyse in the future.
  • Continuing use of Structured Data in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Google Assistant in its Allo App. This means more relevant traffic not only from mobile but increasingly from voice search and Google Assistant.

So, what is Structured Data?

This term is self-descriptive - highly structured data, such as that found in a database, with a high level of organisation helps search engines understand what sort of information is on a web page.

Search engines organise and display structured data in creative ways using special markup applicable to specific data elements.

As previously mentioned in this article, Structured Data is used in different ways by different search engines. For example, here is how different search engines show a well-known product - Vegemite

The Chinese Search Engine Baidu depicts the Structured Data as a block of relevant links with images in the left column.

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Bing from Microsoft shows Structured Data the same way as Google does. It also sources Wikipedia's Structured Data Page as the main information resource as well as using Wikipedia’s snippet for additional quick links.

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For its Vegemite query, Yandex uses the Structured Data from Wikipedia as well as structured pages from other search engines:

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Last but not least, there is Google, leading the field of search engines, trying to use all the benefits of structured data markup pages

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What are Rich results (Rich Snippets) and Knowledge Graph cards (Rich cards)

As you may have noticed in the story with Vegemite, Google and Bing have two position categories where the data can be shown in search results: either in the main list of links or in the left-hand-side block.

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Google has divided these positions into two categories and describes them as:

Rich results (Rich Snippets) — Structured data for things like recipes, articles, and videos can appear in Rich Cards, as either a single element or a list of items. Other kinds of structured data can enhance the appearance of your site in Search, such as with Breadcrumbs, or a Sitelinks Search Box.

Knowledge Graph cards (Rich cards) — If you're the authority for certain content, Google can treat the structured data on your site as factual and import it into the Knowledge Graph, where it can power prominent answers in Search and across Google properties. Knowledge Graph cards appear for authoritative data about organisations, and events. Movie reviews, and movie/music play actions, while based on ranking, can also appear in Knowledge Graph cards once they are reconciled to Knowledge Graph entities.

What is the Knowledge Graph?

The Knowledge Graph might be described as a knowledge base for search engines to collect and link relevant information found in a wide variety of sources and then show the assembled data to the user.

In the introduction, we have already mentioned the benefits of using Structured Data. Just to emphasise again here that appearing in the Knowledge Graph should be one of the key goals for any kind of business or organisation website in Australia or the wider world.

Properly implemented markup of content could make your website the leader in your niche amongst your peer entities in Australia or on a world-wide scale.

Let's look at another example how Knowledge Graph works: When people ask the search engine a question and receive an answer.

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What we notice quite clearly is that the content of the website has to be marked up properly as Structured Data for the Search Engine. It then shows up in specific positions in SERP as well as appearing in the Knowledge Base.

But…

We still have a couple of questions left:

What kind of Data can be marked as Structured Data?

How can it be done?

And how can it be tested?

What kind of Data can be marked as Structured Data?

While schema.com provides a huge variety of different types of content that can be marked up, Google has highlighted in a shorter list several main categories of data as follows:

Data types for Creative Works

Data types for Commerce

Data types for Site Structure

Data types for Authorised Presence

  • Articles
  • Music
  • Recipes
  • Reviews
  • TV & Movies
  • Videos
  • Local Businesses
  • Events
  • Products
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Sitelinks
  • Searchbox
  • Sitename
  • Corporate Contacts
  • Logos
  • Social Profile Links

Is all this Vegemite discussion making you hungry for a vegemite chicken recipe?

Here is a good example of how Google uses Structured Data for the "vegemite chicken recipe" query.

See how there is a block with "Directions" from www.food.com on the top of the page

... and ...

There is a link to the website using a Rich Snippet including: Rating, calories and cooking time

With a couple of structured data markup additions, www.food.com appears twice on the page and consequently has doubled its odds for clicks and improved its CTR

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Even the small list of data types we provided, shows that every website could benefit from having structured data. We emphasise this is a must-do for big websites with a huge number of pages, such as:

  • Classifieds and Listing Websites
  • Price comparison websites
  • Government Websites
  • Educational Organisation Websites
  • Online Food Shops
  • Event Websites
  • Culinary websites

How to mark up the data

Web Coding Markup

To mark up structured data on a website, developers usually use the schema.org vocabulary sponsored by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex. Almost all of the search engines have their own recommendation for structured data implementation. Here they are:

This standard structured data vocabulary can be used with many different encodings, such as:

  • RDFa (Resource Description Framework in attributes)
  • Microdata
  • JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD)

Both RDFa and Microdata are inline markup syntaxes used to annotate content with specific machine-readable labels. Unlike RDFa and Microdata, JSON-LD is a block of JavaScript code that can be located anywhere on the web page.

JSON-LD is considered as the easiest format to implement structured data markup and Google recommends using JSON-LD for Rich Cards. At the same time, be aware that Bing does not recognize JSON-LD yet.

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Google Search Console Data Highlighter

Another way to mark up structured data on a website is Data Highlighter - one of the features of the Google Search Console. This very easy to use feature is widely used and at the time of writing this blog post, it supports highlighting the following Structured Data Types: Articles, Book Reviews, Events, Local Businesses, Movies, Products, Restaurants, Software Applications, TV Episodes

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The main benefits of using this method are the easy-to-use approach where the webmaster can just highlight a piece of content and then link it with the appropriate value, according to the structured data type chosen.

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Data Highlighter covers basic data types with certain item types, however, if you want to mark up more detailed data, you should probably try to use other ways and bear in mind that Data Highlighter works only for Google and neither Bing nor Yandex nor Baidu will recognise such markup.

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/data-highlighter

Structured data markup using Google Tag Manager

Using Google Tag Manager (GTM) is probably the most advanced and most agile way to add structured data markup on a web page. Unlike the Web Coding method, this approach does not require making global changes in the code of the website. It uses GTM which means that we can dynamically add and change JSON-LD structured data markup on any page on the website almost without changing any code.

How to Test Structured Data Markup

The final step after Structured Data Markup is Done - Testing

How can we test Structured Data Markup?

Basically, every search engine has its own testing tools which ask you to input either URL or source code for validation:

You can track and monitor your pages containing structured data and rich cards in the Search Appearance function of Google Search Console.

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/structured-data

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/rich-cards

Summary

Our aim in this post has been to explain how Australian companies and organisations, large and small, can counter competition on the world wide web. Modern business in Australia simply cannot escape being on the internet, so to build a prosperous company that stays ahead of your rivals, you should try to capitalise on each new feature that the internet unwraps.

Future directions that will fast gain traction include Rich Snippets and Rich Cards, as well as Knowledge Graphs, which are used in voice search and voice services like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana. No doubt, as AI develops into mainstream usage, it will also be a force to be reckoned with on the Internet.

Now we've covered the basics, do you think you will use structured data more? Do you have more questions about structured data or how to compete on the Internet? What do you think?

In one of our next blog posts, we will discuss Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which Google is pushing us to create to present websites on mobile gadgets. We invite you to look out for the upcoming post which will answer questions, such as:

How many Australian government, educational and business websites have an AMP version?

  • How many of them have a sitemap for the AMP version?
  • Did they use Google Tag Manager for their AMP versions?
  • Do these AMP websites have Structured Data markup shown in the carousel on mobile?

Thank you for browsing this post, stay tuned for more from Internetrix. Pick up the phone, Live Chat, or email us if you would like us to share our skills and knowledge to achieve your business goals and targets. Internetrix combines digital consulting with winning website design, smart website development and strong digital analytics and digital marketing skills to drive revenue or cut costs for our clients. We deliver web-based consulting, development and performance projects to customers across the Asia Pacific ranging from small business sole traders to ASX listed businesses and all levels of Australian government.

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