Shawn Manaher

Local Business Schema for Search Visibility

An image of beams meant to represent structured dataSearch engines crawl web pages so that they can be indexed and eventually served to users.  Despite the fact that bots have become very good at digesting content on the internet, they still need assistance.  Using structured data on your website for your local business information provides a lot of benefits.  By helping search engines digest your content, you can also help your customers find information about your business.

What is Local Business Schema?

Schemas are code used to markup content in web pages.  These help search providers interpret the text that makes up your website and enrich the content.  Content has a deeper meaning than just the text that it is.  For instance an address or a business name may just be words and numbers but to a human it has more meaning than its face value.  Search engines can read and index this content but they are not able to determine any other information about it.  Google can determine that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a number and some words but it may not realize that it is an address or a famous address.

It is important to point out that there are many different kinds of Schema that can be used to markup content.  For the purposes of this post we will be using microdata in our examples.  You can check out schema.org for more in-depth information on schema and how to use them.  Note that marking up your content does not improve your website’s ranking in search.

Local Business Schema

There are several types of information important for your customers or potential customers to find in search.  By marking up your content, you are helping search engines display your business information in the best possible way for users.  Here are some common types of content that can be marked up with local business schema:

  • Business name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Operating hours
  • Reviews
  • GeoCoordinates

Marking up your content is relatively easy if you have a basic understanding of HTML.  For the purposes of this post we will be using Microdata but there are other kinds of Schema to explore.  You can also use Google’s Data Highlighter which we’ll go over later in the post.

 

Marking Up Your Content

You’ll want to wrap your content in <div></div> and <span></span> tags.  In this example we’ll markup address, phone number, and operating hours all in the same block of content.  Start by putting all of your content within a div with the item type LocalBusiness.  Note that if you have a business featuring its own special schema (i.e. a restaurant, pharmacy, attorneys or store), you can use specific item types for those kinds of businesses.

 An example of local business schema

 

 

Notice how each element of the address has it’s respective property.  Structuring data in this way makes it consumable for machines crawling the web and indexing content.

Using Google’s Data Highlighter

If you don’t have access to your website’s source code (or maybe you don’t want access), you can use Google’s Data Highlighter tool to markup information on your website.  The Data Highlighter can be found within the Webmaster Tools interface.

 The webmaster tools data highlighter

I highly recommend checking out the video that is at the top of the screen when you get into the tool.  It will help you make the most of it.  The data highlighter allows you to teach Google about the patterns of structured data on your website.  The interface is pretty simple to use and there is no programming knowledge required.

Your first step is to create a page set that contains the pages you want to tell Google about.  A page set can contain one page or multiple pages.  To create a page set simply click the “Start Highlighting” button from within the webmaster tools interface.  Note that you must have the site you want to highlight data on configured in webmaster tools in order to do this.

 Data Highlighter Choices

Enter in the URL of the page you are highlighting data on and the type of data you plan to highlight.  You can then choose to highlight just that page or other pages like it.

Click next and you will then see the page you want to highlight within the interface of the Data Highlighter.  Simply start clicking and highlighting information and selecting what type of data it is from the drop down menu.

An example of highlighting content with googles data highlighter

You’ll notice that Google starts to add suggestions of other data on the page.  You can then add the category under which it should be entered.  Once you are finished click the publish button in the top right corner of the page.

Search engines are pretty good at crawling the web and indexing information but you should provide assistance wherever possible.  Using schemas to make your content machine understandable helps users find your relevant content faster.

Do you markup data on your website?  Has it improved your site’s performance in search?  Let us know by leaving a comment below.

 

 



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