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using schema markup

In building your set of marketing tools, don’t limit yourself to the things that are fast and easy. One of the most misunderstood tools in digital marketing is schema markup. Schema markup for SEO is a powerful marketing tool. I have a couple of theories on why marketers are missing out on this valuable SEO technique.

  1. Marketers are unfamiliar with some of the terms, causing them to feel like it’s a strategy that’s just out of their league.
  2. Marketers feel that setting up schema markup is more of a developer’s job because they’re more familiar with coding.

While it pays to be somewhat familiar with coding, the program at schema.org does most of the work for you as a structured data markup helper. If you’re ready to venture outside the box, schemas can organize your content in an informative way, attracting internet searchers to your site.

What Is Schema Markup and Why Is It Important?

Over 10 million sites use schema markups to enhance their SEO efforts. The top search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex first started collaborating on the development of schema.org in 2011. Now those same search engines are using schema markups to create rich, extensible user experiences. Schema markups give context to the content for non-human readers as in search engines.

Schema markup for SEO is a code that can be used with three systems:

  1. RDFa
  2. Microdata
  3. JSON-LD

Schema markups respond well to machine learning artificial intelligence systems like RankBrain and Hummingbird. Machine learning is a digital process where computers learn what to do next from things that have already happened, rather than people telling computers what to do. RankBrain is part of Google’s overall search algorithm, which sorts through billions of pages and selects the most relevant sites for various searches. Google implemented Hummingbird in 2013 which is also part of their algorithm. Hummingbird is designed to pay attention to each word in a query to get the whole meaning and direct searches to sites in the fastest, most precise way.

When you add schema markups to a webpage, it automatically crafts beautiful, well-organized content in the search results, which is commonly known as a rich snippet. The result will rank well in RankBrain and Hummingbird.

One of the great things about schema markups for marketers is that you don’t need to know coding to use it as part of your overall marketing plan. I have found that it helps to have somewhat of familiarity with what goes into schema markups.

That’s all you need to get started. When you’re ready, go to schema.org and they’ll walk you through the process.

Different Types of Schemas to Enhance Different Types of Products

To better understand schema markups, it helps to put yourself in the internet searcher’s shoes. For example, let’s say you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing salad recipe for your upcoming Fourth of July barbecue. Things that might be important to you are ratings—you want your guests to love it! You’ll want to know what ingredients you’ll need to buy, how long it takes to make, and how easy it is to prepare. Would you choose a recipe that had all that information in the search result over another result that told you very little about the recipe? Of course, you would. That’s how schema markups work.

The first step in setting up a schema markup is to identify the itemtype. Here are some of the most common schema types:

  • Recipes
  • Events
  • People
  • Products
  • Businesses
  • Organizations
  • Reviews
  • Videos

Schema Markup Format

You’ll need a bit of help from a developer if you’re using microdata or RDFa formats. With JSON-LD, you can do it yourself. Copy and paste the markup provided by Google for the correct item type, and then build on it as you like.

Use the markup to update the information with the relevant information about your business or website. After you’ve completed your markup, you’ll want to view it as it will appear in search engines. You can do this by dropping your JSON markup into the Structured Data Tool by  Google. The tool will highlight any errors in the code, so you can fix them before you publish the schema markup on your site.

I can offer you this helpful tip—if you get an error message, it’s almost always related to one of the following three factors:

  1. Missing a comma-(,)
  2. Missing a square bracket-(])
  3. Missing a brace-(})

Use commas for listed items in your markup. You don’t need a comma for the last item in any list.

Braces are those wiggly brackets. Use them when you’re ending or beginning a list. You will also use braces for nested lists of properties like the separate parts of an address. You’ll also use braces to wrap your whole schema in.

Use square brackets to enclose lists of values. A good example of this is if you’re listing your business’ hours of operation. Enclose the days of the week that you’re open in square brackets.

Once you’re sure that your schema markup is complete, you can ask your developer to upload it directly into of the HTML of your site. If you’re using JSON, you can add it yourself using Google Tag Manager.

If you’re not using schema markups, it’s worth stepping out of your comfort zone and giving it a try. Schema markups are sure to take your marketing strategy to the next level.

I had the opportunity to interview Oleg Shchegolev, CEO of SEMrush.

I could not let pass this opportunity to get to know him better and ask him some personal questions. I am always curious to learn about successful people and the challenges they overcome to become who they are.

 

Interview Oleg Shchegolev with Karina Tama

Talking with Oleg I learned that he and his partner Dimity created SEO quick and after many tests, they realized that people needed more software that is complex. That was the beginning of SEMrush.

Now SEMrush is one of the most popular digital marketing tools around the world.

 

Oleg told me that in order to succeed people should embrace afraid and experiment often. This is his key to success.

 

He also shared with me that in Russia the major Search Engine is Yandex. Search behavior in Russia is the same as in the USA;  people browse for products and services online.

 

Oleg told me that in the next 5 years SEMrush is planning to add more features that will help with content marketing, local SEO traffic, analytics, etc. SEMrush is currently working in updating the Chinese database so that it is able to cover Baidu searchers.

He also revealed to me that the headquarters is now in Chicago and not in Philadelphia.

I didn’t know that SEMrush organized a lot of meetups and worked with the USA and European universities in order to give opportunities to students who wish to explore and learn how to use SEMrush. I am fascinated by this amazing initiative because it is a great support for the new tech generation.

Oleg thinks that formal education is important but it is also important to be able to learn on your own. Technology moves fast and people that want to be part of the industry should be able to be self-taught.

Among the most important qualities of a leader, Oleg considers that intuition, perfect communication skills, and the ability to inspire others are the most important qualities. He said that “leadership is not about personal success, it is about the success of your team”.

Oleg’s day starts early. He usually wakes up at 5 am and gets a fresh cup of coffee, checks his twitter, listens to podcasts, checks his company reports (SEMrush). He multitasks all day. He also reads psychology and science books.

I was talking with Oleg about diversity and I asked him, what he thinks about gender bias in the industry? This is an important question for me because I am a woman and Hispanic. I am a minority and this topic really turns on my engines.

Oleg added that he is aware of the issue but that SEMrush is a company that welcomes people from any race and gender, a company that believes and practices equality. In addition, he told me that 50% of C –level employees in leadership positions are women. He also added that these women are excellent professionals, and they have helped SEMrush to be a leader in the industry.

I know many people want to know if websites should implement Amp pages or not. Oleg’s feedback was that Amp should definitely be implemented because it improves website speed and today users are very sensitive to that.

I also asked him if he thinks that Artifical Intelligence plays an important role in SEO, and how SEMrush is planning to help marketers.  Oleg said that AI will affect SEO but we do not have to worry much about it because AI is as good as the data that it shows. Marketers need to be prepared and be able to adapt to changes. Anyway, AI will not replace marketers for now because as he said before it is all about the data that the AI possess.

We also talked about e-commerce and voice search. Oleg shared with me that website content must be optimized for questions and not for keywords or phrases.

It is very important to optimize content with questions, such as: where, when, what, etc. Furthermore, talking about Local SEO; it is a priority to claim Google my business and optimize it. Also, to make sure that all the listings and citations are accurate.

I also learned from Oleg that as voice search is growing, it is important to use a more conversational language when we create content. A study from Backlinko shows that 40.7% of answers come from rich snippets. Then we should use question keywords in order to earn the rich snippets and be present in voice search results.

He also told me that to create content for voice search we must use long tail keywords and user intent keywords. SEMrush Magic toll can help marketers find these recommended keywords.

Oleg’s guess about Rankbrain’s next evolution is that Rankbrain will get more sophisticated and it will use AI mechanism. Being able to succeed in the new machine, AI’s challenges will be for the best marketers and professionals. These individuals will be able to provide users the right information.

Oleg told me that the most used SEMrush features are the keyword research tool. He invites us to explore more because SEMrush has much more to offer.

I really enjoyed my interview with Oleg and the collaboration of SEMrush PR team. This interview was very extensive that’s why I have written several articles about it. All of them with different information. You can find other articles about this interview in my Forbes, LinkedIn and Search Engine Watch 

 

Content Marketing on the blog

This is a fascinating time to be working in the field of marketing. Technology has given us so many interesting options to market our brands and attract our target audiences. One of the things that I love most about my job as digital senior manager for a senior home healthcare company is that the services we provide are very personal. Technology is advancing in ways that help me infuse my company’s message of providing personal care into our digital marketing efforts.

Blogs are a good start toward educating our audience about the benefits of in-home care, but that isn’t enough. We want our customers to get a sense of caring even before they decide to work with us. and infographics, provide a foundation for building that personal relationship.

I have used many different formats of content marketing in my digital marketing strategy, including articles, infographics and videos. Content marketing has helped my company strengthen our brand, earn natural backlinks and increase organic traffic.

Modern content marketing repurposes digital marketing.

When digital marketing became vogue, it was all the rage to maximize keywords to win top SEO rankings. Today’s content marketing approach ties many forms of digital marketing together in a cohesive way. This concept requires bringing people with many different skill sets together.

Our marketing team consists of people who are skilled in production, content distribution, branding, optimization, advertising, social media and analytics. Their combined talents create a synergy that unites our message across content marketing channels. These efforts work together not just to attract our target market, but to actively engage them and interact with them in a personal way.

Content marketing involves telling stories that help people relate.

Some people within our target audience are looking for information about our services. Scheduling in-home care is new territory for many of our first-time customers. That’s why we post blogs on informative topics, like health concerns, costs and more, to help them reach a comfort level with our services.

Our audience also wants to read facts about senior in-home care on the fly and in a succinct format, so I added colorful, well-designed infographics to our content marketing plan. Infographics are eye-catching and jam-packed with useful statistics that keep potential clients engaged and wanting to learn more.

One of the hottest new trends in content marketing is short, informative videos. This is one of the best ways to establish a personal connection with your audience. Through our videos, potential customers see people who are the same age and in the same stage of life. Our videos demonstrate to them that they are not alone in needing a little help or in asking for help for a loved one. Videos engage our audience because they get to see the types of services that we provide in action and how they provide a sense of comfort, help and relief to our customers. Our goal is to create a beautiful picture of how helpful our services could be for them. Video is also a good format for sharing testimonials. If your existing customers are willing to share the positive experiences they’ve had, include their testimonials on your blog, infographics and website.

Content marketing successfully delivers our message of caring for people across multiple digital marketing channels. Through collective and consistent messaging, our clients learn that they can trust us to deliver the personal care that our branding projects.

Content marketing is getting smarter.

As a digital marketer, keep a pulse on new trends in marketing, especially regarding artificial intelligence, Siri advancements, virtual assistants and the Internet of Things. The future of content marketing is sure to be even more interactive. I’m continually seeking new and innovative ways to use technology to enhance my company’s branding efforts.

Content is a base that marketers use as inspiration for other marketing vehicles.

Content in a written format is no longer our company’s entire platform. It’s an integral part of our expanded platform. I consider written content a springboard for developing other forms of digital marketing media. The challenge is taking the best parts of written content and learning what other media formats can take it to the next level. For example, we use much of the same content in our free, educational blog posts as we use in our ebooks. We may highlight the value that our service brings in other formats like infographics and video. The overall results bring the highest level of communication and engagement to our brand.

Moving from digital marketing to content marketing is only the first stage in marketing strategy. Advancements in technology will guide the direction of the next phase of content marketing. As a dedicated marketer, I’ll be on the lookout for the skills that our agency needs to keep our marketing efforts fresh and relevant. One thing that won’t change is my commitment to content marketing that keeps our target market connected in personal, caring ways.

Developing A Marketing Plan

During my tenure as a marketer in the senior in-home healthcare field, I’ve learned that aging adults want to live in the comfort of their own homes for as long as they can, and their adult children would be happy to be their caregivers if they weren’t so overwhelmed by their duties.

Where did I learn all this? From our clients.

In my role as the digital senior manager for a 24-hour senior home-care company, I’ve taken feedback from clients and used it to develop our marketing plan.

Use client feedback to develop a marketing plan.

Your salespeople interact with clients and prospects every day, so you can leverage their knowledge base to access client feedback. I have a weekly call with our sales team when they share insights about our clients. We talk about challenges and look for solutions. You should keep your sales team engaged and updated about what you are doing so they know what to ask and can address client challenges. We engage our sales team with a monthly newsletter and internal contests.

Also, you can develop a marketing plan based on buyer personas. We have multiple buyer personas: the adult child, the referral source (social worker), and the senior who oversees their own home-care plans.

Here’s an example of the information we’ve used to create a buyer persona for adult children caregivers: We heard the concerns of family caregivers when they told us that the requirements of taking care of seniors are more demanding than they could have imagined. I’ve seen the adult children try to do it all – provide quality care to their aging parents while managing their own family and affairs at home. Adult children of aging seniors are exhausted and burned out, placing their own health at risk. Not knowing what to do, they get their own families started on the day, spend the rest of the day caring for their parents, and return home in the early evening to tend to their own families. Before long, chronic stress and fatigue set in and they’re ready to throw up their hands and seek out alternative means of care.

Keep an eye on trends and practice active listening. 

As a senior in-home care marketer, I keep my eye on trends in senior care. No matter your industry, attend webinars and read publications. There are many resources available to stay on top of trends that will impact your marketing efforts and your ability to help your customers.

Another key to learning about the types of products and services your target audience needs is practicing active listening skills. For example, I listen to family caregivers and steer them toward the funding sources that they have available to them. Most people are familiar with some of the more common resources like Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Benefits, but those programs don’t help everyone or cover all services.

Learning more about a family’s circumstances tells me whether they have a life insurance policy with accelerated benefits or a long-term care insurance policy that allows flexibility of funds to be used for in-home senior care, and I can use this information to better advise them on their options.

Feature success stories and educational content.

Listening to our clients as well as the families and showing them how they can arrange for in-home senior caregiving helped us to develop a marketing platform that quickly directs senior caregivers to the services they need most. And with the launch of our new website, we can share our successes with prospective clients.

To optimize your website for conversions, you can create a success stories page to feature successful testimonials from your clients. This is a great way to convert website visitors into customers.

Educational content that answers frequently-asked questions is another way to appeal to potential customers. We are working on a price page to educate people about the cost of home care. This page will show referential price depending on the state. You can also build an online content library (with blog posts, articles and infographics) where users can navigate and find answers to their questions. After all, you are there to help!

The clients that I’ve worked with have taught me a lot, from how collective sibling agreements work when caring for aging parents to the unexpected demands of senior care. And by learning from them, I can constantly improve our marketing efforts to show how our services can be of assistance. That’s why you should always be listening to and leveraging feedback from your customers.

Topic Clusters Top Rankings

Marketers are always looking for strategies to gain top rankings in search engines. Just when you think you’ve tried every keyword and linking strategy known to man, the search engines change their algorithms. You find yourself going back to the drawing board to beat your competitors with a new strategy.

The latest algorithm updates put a new spin on SEO ranking. Keywords and linking are still relevant, but SEO is evolving and favoring a new model called topic clusters. Using topic clusters requires new ways of thinking about SEO. It also requires changing the architecture of your content.

Why Search Engines Keep Changing

Search engines keep changing because consumer behavior keeps changing. Technology is evolving, and consumers are evolving with it. They’re learning how to use it, which also means they are expecting more from it. For example, people are no longer putting the word “housekeeper” into the search box. They’re more likely to input a sophisticated phrase, such as “find me a reputable and reasonably priced housekeeper in Boston.” The customer will be looking for results that are accurate and relevant.

Every time there’s a change in consumer behavior, search engine developers get busy redesigning their algorithms to match consumer behavior. The Google Panda update in 2011 forced digital marketers to stop overusing keywords and start producing quality content. Some marketers thought that the Hummingbird update was the official switch to changing SEO patterns because it focuses on phrases rather than keywords.

In 2015, the RankBrain update broke the mold with a machine-learning algorithm that could understand phrases in search queries and put them together with the customer’s intended context. Google picks up multiple phrases and keywords from past searches on similar topics. In this way, the search engine “sees” what the consumer is looking for within the intended context. According to HubSpot research, after the RankBrain update, websites that had greater numbers of interlinks got better placements in search results. Sites with a lot of interlinks also got more impressions. 

Using topic clusters creates many interlinks. This new marketing strategy tells the search engine that you’re an authority on the subject because you have the highest quality of content, and it links to many other pages of high-quality content on the same topic. I like to think of topic clusters as spokes on a wheel. A single pillar page acts as the main hub.

Our pillar is in-home care for seniors. I set up several subtopics, such as senior care costs, quality senior care, care for Alzheimer’s and memory loss, etc. These topics form the center of the hub. Then, I expand on each topic with many more articles, linking each one to the center hub and to the others. A content hub about in-home costs for seniors might include interlinked articles about how much in-home care costs, how families fund it, how to blend family caregiving and professional care, and more. I then do the same with the other subtopics to create cleaner, more streamlined content architecture.

These topic clusters signal to the search engine that my company’s website covers our industry with a wide lens. It tells them that we’re a leading authority on in-home care. The result is that they’ll reward my efforts with a higher ranking.

Tips And Tricks For Topic Clustering

Try to keep the subtopic broad enough that you could easily add 30-40 posts on topics related to it. The topics that you add to the subtopic hub must have some type of connection. Each subtopic should cover one area of knowledge related to your industry. The interlinking topics connected by spokes (links) take your audience into greater detail.

Put solid thought into your subtopics. Are there any topics that you need to compete with other companies over? What do your customers need to know more about? Map out the problems that you know your customers have, and create subtopics around problems that you can help solve with your solutions. Take a look at your frequently asked questions to spark your imagination for even more topics. If your customers are asking the same questions, you need to create content to answer them.

Using topic clusters doesn’t mean that you should forget about other marketing strategies like keywords. I still use them in the content of the articles I create and add to the subtopic hub.

Looking Toward The Future Of Topic Clustering

Give yourself time to create new clusters for topics. A helpful resource for creating your new content architecture is to repurpose and revamp existing content. After it’s been on the web for a while, you can measure the results and restrategize if necessary.

Developers are also taking a look at how new tools can help website owners analyze and master cluster topic strategies. As a marketer, I look forward to these resources.