Does Schema.org and Open Graph meta work?
For some time we have been adding Schema.org mark-up and open graph meta to all of our sites. In fact it's built into our core functions file.
Having been flat out on white label web design work for other local agencies, we've had very little opportunity to do any case studies. Then a new agency approached us, asking for a bare-bones, minimum budget website. They supplied all the artwork and it was down to use to turn this into a working website.
Looking over the initial designs it was obvious that many of the headings and links weren't that SEO friendly, so by working directly with the final customer we sorted all these issues out up front.
The intermediate agency and indeed final customer got far more than they asked for...
on the proviso we could do a little experimentation.
- Good content was added and all meta data was completed before putting the site live.
- It was registered and verified with all the search engines.
- Caching was in place.
- Compression was turned on and pages loaded in under 2 seconds (Not too bad for a highly graphic site).
- The domain was brand new '.co.uk'.
- The end clients' catchment area was a 30 mile radius of Poole, so many of the local towns were now mentioned in news articles.
- The client wasn't active on social media
To web developers, that should be all standard practice so far...
As agreed, we initially left out all open graph and schema.org mark-up. Also, as per the supplied designs, the address was only mentioned on the 'contact us' page. After 6 weeks, the site traffic had stabilised.
Organic traffic was up 31% on their old url (from a cheap on-line web-builder). Most of this increase was down to it now being mobile responsive and loading up to 3 times faster. The bounce rate reduced from 84% to 37%.
Adding the business address to the footer of every page
This one was surprising. We were expecting an increase, but not an almost overnight increase of around 40%! Some of this could be argued to be seasonal; being early January; but that is some jump! The increase of February on December was 29%. Interestingly, looking at the Google statistics, we could see not one person had clicked on the footer's email address in 4 weeks. The contact-us link in the header was doing most of the 'click through' work. The change was super subtle, but obviously worthwhile. The footer details were helping people find the site but weren't doing anything to convert 'bounces'.
Does Open Graph Meta work?
The quick answer is Yes. For local SEO I'd say it is vital.
NB. For national SEO we'd need a new 'case study'.
For a several target search phrases, the customer was already on page 1 of Google. However, the highest position they occupied was 6th. Not bad for a fresh site, but definitely room for improvement. Open Graph meta, for page description, titles and social media profiles get added by installing many of the 'off the shelf' free SEO plug-ins. However, we decided to go the 'whole hog' adding open graph meta for everything from email and telephone to address and latitude/longitudes.
Once added, organic traffic was up another 26%, but more importantly the site was now ranking top 3 for several search phrases meaning they appeared 'above the page fold' on laptops and for a business working in the B2B arena, with most traffic being non-mobile that's a great step.
Does Schema.org Markup Work?
Yes - Number 1 in Google for 5 out of 20 search phrases. Often taking 3 of the top ten spaces.
Traffic was only up another 11% and to be perfectly honest, this wasn't as high as I'd hoped. You could argue that most potential customers were already being 'caught' by the above tweaks. From the analytics it was obvious that 90% of the traffic was now within roughly 100 miles of Poole and the bounce rate interestingly had dropped to 23%. National traffic had increased but not by much (less than 2% with all mods). To get a wider on-line catchment group, they probably need to become active on social media.
It would be great to repeat the experiment, adding these tweaks in different orders for customers in different markets, but now knowing that these 'little' additions are indeed 100% vital, it would be wrong not to include them as part of our standard package.
Google definitely returns different search results depending on where in the country you search from. Without proper mark-up, google struggles to work out where a company is based. Simply mentioning local place names in news articles is a good start, but that might not be enough. This is where open graph and schema.org mark-up comes in. Learn it and use it before all your competitors do! Once all the competition is using it, your advantage has gone.
A year ago, we completed a huge study of 3000+ sites finding the vast majority of sites had poor SEO and virtually none were using open graph and schema.org. In the last year, we've done white-label work for 6 other agencies and on our advice, they now all specify it as a standard requirement for new sites.
Remember, Schema.org and open graph meta can be used in different formats for many trades. Whether you're B2B of B2C, there is probably a mark-up format for you: