What's New with Schema and Structured Data in 2017
We all know how fast things move nowadays — trends come and go in only a matter of days, there’s a new flagship phone released every couple of months, and Google moves along quickly when it comes to updating their algorithms.
Working in SEO, all of us at Blue Compass know we need to keep our ears to the ground for any incoming trends or new tests that may affect our work — you never know when a minor update may completely change the way we’re operating and optimizing.
With this in mind, we had to push out an update on the changes schema and structured data have experienced already within the year.
What’s New With Schema
First off, it’s important to note that schema is constantly changing. Schema 3.2 was released in March, and there’s hope that Schema 3.3 is right around the corner (there’s some seriously cool stuff coming!).
In just the short amount of time since our December article outlining schema best practices for 2017, there were some significant changes.
Off the bat, Google has allowed schema markup/rich snippets in image search. Clicking on an image in Image Search can pull up a rich snippet with the price and description of an item. This was awesome to see, as it’s proof that Google is expanding its focus on rich snippets and placing them in other parts of the search experience.
Schema 3.2 gave us fact-check reviews, digital publishing accessibility, and a more thorough treatment of menus to the schema vocabulary and index. Not to mention, the advent of iot.schema.org, a schema collaboration made to give a common web vocabulary to the Internet of Things (just like how Google, Yahoo, and Bing joined up to give a common language to internet search).
Outside of these notable highlights, the schema vocabulary is always growing. New classes and relations are added all the time, expanding the way we can use schema markup for our websites. In 2015, just four years after it’s inception, there were 638 classes and 965 relations, and while we can’t grab an exact number for its current figures, we can only imagine how much it has grown since its wide adoption across the web these past few years.
On The Horizon
Now that you’re up to date with schema so far, it’s time to dive into what’s coming in the second half of 2017.
There’s a rumor floating around about a “HowTo” tag that will be added to the schema library. If you’re into content like we are, you know how exciting this is.
When it comes to content, answer boxes, zero rankings and rich snippets have long been a guessing game for the marketing community. There’s no exact formula or format to automatically get your hands on one, but the “HowTo” markup should be a step in the right direction.
Remember when I mentioned structured data for the Internet of Things? Well, we’re really excited to see where this is headed.
The IoT isn’t new or necessarily exciting, but it’s still in its infancy when it comes to practical applications. Currently, it’s connectivity for connectivity’s sake.
We’re hoping structured data adds some clarification and direction to how devices interact with one another and the web as a whole.
Voice search has risen to fame with the introduction of Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana. Devices like Google Home and the Amazon Echo have only furthered the reach of voice search and increased its accessibility.
In 2015 alone, voice search went from zero percent to ten percent of overall search volume. But what does voice search have to do with structured data? There’s no real correlation as of yet, but with the way Google has been moving, we believe rich snippets are part of the future of voice search.
Think about it: Google is getting so smart that it is pulling up rich snippets of web pages to give basic answers to your query. Sounds a whole lot like voice search, right? Schema markup helps the search identify what your content is about, and we think it’s the start toward optimizing for voice search.
The Elephant in the Room
If we’re going to talk about rich snippets, we have to talk about the elephant in the room, in regards to Google’s recent testing.
A couple of weeks ago, The SEM Post found that Google was nixing organic results if an answer box, or zero ranking, had shown up from the search query. While this is still believed to still be in testing (it didn’t affect every search query), it’s important to note.
Zero rankings are hard to get but have some serious upsides. A Hubspot study found that zero rankings had a 114% CTR increase — even when a brand already ranked number one.
Based on that study, you’re probably wondering why losing a one to ten spot in search is an issue — you’ll have an 114% CTR increase, right?
Our main concern with the zero ranking nix comes from a concern of no click-through at all.
If you finally hit that zero ranking, and your rich snippet is everything someone could want and have, why would they click-through? Google’s job is to show the most relevant information it can to answer a user’s query, but our job as SEOs is to get the user onto our client’s webpage. Could zero rankings hurt that chance? Only time will tell.
Feel like you’re caught up with schema?
We know how complicated and convoluted schema markup can be, especially for those not working in it every day. As complex as it is, it’s a necessary part of any 2017 website that wants to stay up-to-date. If you have any questions regarding schema, its changes, or even the implementation of it, contact us today. We would love to talk!
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