5 ways to use structured data in B2B marketing
Structured data is added to a webpage to help Google understand what’s on the page. Helping Google understand what it’s looking at, makes your site and the particular page, eligible for enhanced visibility in search engine results.
Enhanced visibility might be inclusion in an image carousel at the top of the results page or your logo in the search results and Google Knowledge Graph – examples of how structured data will affect how your site appears in search results can be found here (worth pointing out that Google’s changing the way it displays search engine results all the time. This means structured data you add today might not have the same effect tomorrow. However it also means that structured data that doesn’t power enhanced search results today, may do tomorrow. That means, in theory, you’re well served to add as much useful structured data as possible – think of it like the icing on the cake though. If you’ve got your SEO game down and you’re producing better content than every other online competitor for the keywords you’re interested in, then great, fill your boots with additional structured data). Note: adding structured data is not a guarantee you will benefit from enhanced results, it simply makes it possible for you to benefit.
Be aware: adding structured data to a webpage will not make it rank higher in organic search results. It is not a ranking factor in itself. But, it can increase your search listing’s prominence which in turn draws more attention to your brand and website, leading to more traffic and leads. It can also be used to dominate the search engine results pages. Each results page is only a certain number of pixels long, if you’re taking up more search engine real estate then your pushing competitors further down the results, even on to the second page (remember that wilderness?).
To confirm, Google’s John Mueller said in a Webmaster Hangout late last year (regards structured data):
“With regard to using structured data in general for ranking, I think that’s kind of tricky. So, on the one hand we do use structured data to better understand the entities on a page and to find out where that page is more relevant.
“But that doesn’t mean that just because people are doing things in a technically correct way on a website that that page is a better page than it would be otherwise.
“So we will try to use that to show it in more relevant search results that would perhaps bring more users to your pages that actually match the topics of your pages. But it doesn’t mean that we would show it to more users or that it would rank better.”
Mueller making it clear there (as he often does), that content is still king and adding structured data wont boost rankings.
A cursory glance at Google’s structured data search gallery might leave you feeling like it’s a consumer play: recipe mark-up and book and movie reviews are prominent. However, it definitely has its place in B2B search marketing.
(I’m going to be talking about JSON-LD, schema, properties and types in the following examples – if you don’t know what these things are, then check out our schema beginner’s guide.)
Here are five ways structured data can benefit B2B organisations.
You don’t have to be a news publisher to mark-up creative content - Google considers a blog to be an ‘article’. Use the schema type BlogPosting and make sure you’ve included detail on the date the blog was published (and the date it was modified if it has been), the blog headline and the image related to the blog. That’s it. Simple! As a lot of B2B organisations have vigorous blogging programmes as part of their content marketing strategies, it’s a worthwhile exercise as it’s so easy to do and can increase the blog’s visibility in the search engine results.
Here’s an example from a recent blog we wrote on building an SEO friendly site using the JSON-LD format:
"headline": "Building an SEO friendly site",
Maintaining customer satisfaction is very important. It can make the difference between keeping them and losing them. Nothing’s more frustrating than digging around on a supplier site looking for answers to questions. Using Question schema to identify FAQs on your site and provide answers in a clear and succinct way directly in the search engine results, is a great way to get information to your customers as quickly as possible.
If you have an app then be sure to mark it up with appropriate SoftwareApplication schema. Google requires you to stipulate its name, price and rating. You’re encouraged to also include detail on the type of app it is (even though it’s a free text answer Google provides a list of options – B2B ones include: BusinessApplication, DeveloperApplication, EducationalApplicatio or SecurityApplication) and the operating system required to use the app.
4. Job postings
Recruiting the right people is crucial to business success. Google displays job listings directly in the search results removing the need for a candidate to visit a job board, instead enabling them to click directly though to your site. Google also lets you differentiate between on-premise and work from home jobs - really important detail for a lot of prospective employees looking for roles in the new world of work.
You need to use JobPosting schema to include detail on the date the job was posted, a description of the responsibilities, qualification/experience required etc., the organisation offering the job, where the employee will be required to work, the location/s they’ll required to work at and finally the date the job posting will expire.
Google also recommends you include detail on salary and a few other bits and pieces too. Ultimately the more detail you can supply the more candidate interest you’re likely to get.
With a lot of events cancelled, B2B pipelines have been looking decidedly empty. The event is still a lead gen staple for a lot of B2B organisations. Whether it’s a vendor putting on an event for its resellers, or companies meeting other companies at industry events, without them, biz dev teams have struggled. As such, organisations have started moving events online.
While it’s not the same as face to face meetups, Google has recognised this offline to online transition and has given organisations ways to use schema to stipulate the new virtual location of an event, along with all the usual detail. You can now mark-up standard offline events, mixed online and offline events and purely online events using Event schema (you can also use schema to indicate if an event has an updated status i.e. moved from offline to online).
There you have it, five ways structured data can benefit B2B organisations. Now go forth and add schema (and if you’re stuck, just search ‘schema generator’ – there are plenty of free tools to get you started).
We recently sent a survey based on the four pillars of execution to 100 marketing leaders. The results of this survey were used in this report to demonstrate where marketers are at in their journey to digital marketing maturity. Check out all the findings here.