Google has updated its Structured Data section with two new pages on marking up your company’s website using structured data.

It’s of particular interest as the section now includes new features which the company is piloting.

The new section is labelled ‘Describe Your Local Business’ which includes an ‘Overview’ and a page on ‘Place Actions’.

These are guides with new ways to show additional information about your company on a prominent “Knowledge Panel” card.

places-structured-data-1

The pages have examples on how to integrate them within your site’s HTML using structured data markup that is already available on schema.org.

“Structured data markup” is a way of providing additional information about your content so that search engines (machines) can understand it.

When you markup your pages using structured data, Google (and other search engines) can use that data to understand and sometimes display this information in their search results such as rich snippets, as answers in the Knowledge Graph or, in this case, the “Knowledge Panel” card.

More SEO Opportunities For Local Businesses

Including additional, structured information allows local businesses to provide more information to search engines that might otherwise be hard to find or convey on their own website.

If Google can understand your content in a structured way, then it can display that information more confidently within its search results and applications.

For example, using the markup, Google will allow a user to see a store’s opening hours and the services/products they sell.

However, what is really cool is Place Actions: the feature that enables your users to book appointments, make reservations or even place an order straight from the search results.

Place Actions

Place Actions will be a new feature where users may see a prominent “Knowledge Panel” card with details about the searched-for business.

An actionable link may appear, such as ‘Book an appointment’, which would contain a link pointing to a specific page or place within an app with a form for reserving or placing an order.

places-structured-data-2

Rather than serving the landing page that is most relevant, this means businesses can specify their most actionable pages with Google directly linking to them from brand-related searches.

The Technical Perspective

These guides are particularly useful for location-based business. (Remember, they are still piloting this feature.)

If your company has an actionable page such as a page for a reservation or making an order, this will be of particular benefit as a link to the appropriate page will appear within your company’s “Knowledge Panel”, thereby serving a direct link to your ‘conversion’ page.

Adding the structured markup is a fairly simple process. One of the requirements is to define a schema.org LocalBusiness item for each of your business locations – the more specific, the better.

For example, if you are a day spa or a health club then configure your markup using the most appropriate schema available which would be http://schema.org/DaySpa or http://schema.org/HealthClub.

To implement something like Place Actions, you need a link to the webpage’s (or mobile app’s) form on which the user can complete the action.

The page must enable the user to complete the action online – for instance, they could fill in an online form. Linking to a page or app where it requires the user to make a telephone call will be unlikely to match Google’s requirements and therefore be ignored.

Other examples provided by Google:

  • A restaurant that accepts delivery orders and table reservations should define two actions: one OrderAction and one ReserveAction.
  • A restaurant that accepts delivery orders from two different providers should define two actions: one OrderAction for each provider.
  • A yoga studio that offers different classes through a single provider should define a single ReserveAction inclusive of all classes.
  • A hair salon that has multiple stylists, each with a unique menu of services, should define a single ReserveAction inclusive of all stylists.

Below, as shown by Google, is an example showing a yoga studio where users can reserve classes.

<script type=”application/ld+json”>
{
“@context”:”<a href=”http://schema.org”>http://schema.org</a>”,
“@type”:”HealthClub”,
“@id”:”<a href=”http://daveshouseofyoga.example.com/”>http://daveshouseofyoga.example.com/</a>”,
“name”:”Dave’s House of Yoga”,
“address”:{
“@type”:”PostalAddress”,
“streetAddress”:”3986 Rivermark Pkwy”,
“addressLocality”:”Santa Clara”,
“addressRegion”:”CA”,
“postalCode”:”95054″,
“addressCountry”:”US”
},
“geo”:{
“@type”:”GeoCoordinates”,
“latitude”:37.3952149,
“longitude”:-121.9474023
},
“telephone”:”+14085551135″,
“potentialAction”:{
“@type”:”ReserveAction”,
“target”:{
“@type”:”EntryPoint”,
“urlTemplate”:”<a href=”https://www.example.com/reserve?merchantId=20373″>https://www.example.com/reserve?merchantId=20373</a>”,
“inLanguage”:”en-US”,
“actionPlatform”:[
“<a href=”http://schema.org/DesktopWebPlatform”>http://schema.org/DesktopWebPlatform</a>”,
“<a href=”http://schema.org/IOSPlatform”>http://schema.org/IOSPlatform</a>”,
“<a href=”http://schema.org/AndroidPlatform”>http://schema.org/AndroidPlatform</a>”
]
},
“result”:{
“@type”:”HealthClubReservation”,
“name”:”Book a class”
}
}
}
</script>

When this feature is open to the public it should help users find answers related to your business in the local results or as answers from the Knowledge Graph. However, from our experience you seldom see Google showing these for a typical local business in the local results or its knowledge panel – usually these are for medium-to-large corporate sites with high levels of trust and authority.

Semantic Search Is Here To Stay

Semantic search and structured data is something we will continually see more of in the future from Google. Applying markup that allows Google to understand the ever-diversifying array of content types will be a trend we believe will continue.

What we think this means for marketers is that the technical optimisation of content will never go away. Right now, we’re talking about optimising content for local search, but the principle applies to technically optimising for Facebook, or Indeed or Twitter.

As algorithms are more and more in charge of the ‘feed’ we see on a daily basis, as marketers we need to know how to optimise our content for these algorithms – whether that be through Structured data, the OpenGraph or an XML feed.