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ROI of Structured Data & – Semantic Search Marketing

Return on Investment of Adding Structured Data to your Website – Semantic Search Marketing

Semantic Search Marketing has had a rapidly growing audience and increasing cadence in the search engine optimization news. Why? Because search engine giants Google, Yahoo and Bing, have committed and are growing the use cases in which they reward sites that use it.  While the news from the search giants have made the words semantic search, structured data and more commonplace, the question still remains, what is the return on investment for doing semantic search marketing?

While the data over the years has showed that there is value in adding structured data to your site, much of it revolved around whether or not you could get a rich snippet in search results and the increased click through rate, and ranking position of those results.

In a discussion led by Semantic Marketing Expert Aaron Bradley in November 2015, he asked a panel of semantic marketing gurus (David Amerland,David Deering, Mike Arnesen and Jarno van Driel) “What is the ROI of doing Semantic Marketing”.  Their answer was focused on the power of using structured data for business intelligence. Once your site has structured data, you can better understand visitor behaviour and site performance.  How?  By being able to look at the data by entity (a specific concrete thing) and not just by URL.  Finally, they highlighted the value of using structured data for content strategy by using a data model to define the data. Watch the gurus answer it in their own words [10 minutes].

The case study on the value of semantic search marketing by Jarno van Driel, focuses on value of structured data on your content and how it can significantly impact inbound traffic.  

“There’s much more to it than Rich snippets alone folks, helping search engines understand your content matters!”  Jarno van Driel


The study focused on a Cosmetic Surgery Website. When they started the study, the site had been seeing two years of declining traffic even though during that period the site’s team done everything imaginable to get out underneath Google Panda releases. A foundation that couldn’t have been done without for what was to come next. After taking a methodical approach of building a strong structured data foundation, followed by measurement and iterations on structured data, they saw dramatic results.   Site-wide: 75% growth; Blog articles: 200% growth; Medical procedure pages: 300% growth.

Why did it work? They figured out that Google was having a hard time recognizing the overall quality of the website and differentiating between content and used structured data to clarify it for them.  Full Slide Deck and slide transcription.  All pictures below are credited to Jarno van Driel.

The journey outlines for you that using structured data for search engine optimization works. However, it requires an iterative approach using metrics and data to gauge impact.  Search Engines are constantly changing how they reward structured data, therefore your approach must combine what you know about changes in the search engine landscape and deep knowledge of  While building a structured data foundation is important, understanding how markup your content/site to allow search engines to understand it’s unique angle on the topic is essential. Structured Data Journey

Step 1: A Website’s Semantic Foundation Starts With A Knowledge Graph

Jarno started by building a structured data foundation by identifying how they could more clearly articulate their business and its parts. How? By building a knowledge graph. The graph explicitly detailed out their surgeon, their practice and their surgery center, and details about them. In addition to providing details about the business, they also included links to information across the web including their social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Youtube) and links to Dbpedia, Google+, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, etc.  The resulting knowledge graph looked like this.

Result:  By adding triples to relate the elements of your business, Google connected the data. features. Results were measured by testing the outputs of different searches to see how Google would connect and display the information.  They found that no matter how they searched, the surgeon was related to the practice and Google linked this information through the knowledge graph panel and in search results.

Step 2: Foundation  Building Part 2 – Social Media Markup

To build on the foundation, they added markup for Twitter’s Summary Card,  Summary card with Large Image, Open Graph article markup was added for Facebook, and Google +.  To get Google+ to work, they carefully planned out the template for the blog to contain four levels of details.  The graph for Google+ looked as follows:

Result: They could see that the social sharing provided the desired visual outcome. They saw some traffic spikes, however there was not sufficient data to show conclusive change
or increase in Google Analytics.

Step 3: Clarifying Content For Google With

On further review of Google’s Search Console; A tool that Google provides freely to webmasters so to give them some insight into how Google crawls, indexes and understands a website. It was clear that Google was confused. The tools showed that there was overlapping queries and pages. There were multiple pages competing for the same keyword. They started by adding clarification on the two topics that the articles spoke about. This resulted in no significant change.

Next they added more detail about the two topics and linked the data on the web in Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikidata, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, etc. What does this mean? For example, for the page that related to Breast Lift, they added the markup to call out that it was the same topic as

Result:  On the blogs with additional detail about the topics, traffic grew significantly. They measured it using Google Tag Manager’s Tags, Rules and Custom Javascript Macro’s in Google Analytics.  This enabled them to see traffic specifically for pages with specific structured data.

To learn more about semantic search marketing and learn from the experts, join the Google+ Semantic Search Marketing Community, co-moderated by Jarno van Driel.

Do you want to explore how structured data can help you increase your search traffic?

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