Why You Need More Than Local Business Schema

Google offer simple tools for applying structured data, including the data set Local Business. This is better than no structured data at all, but given everything structured data can do, it’s not the most effective way it can be used…
  • ...when all the big search players are collaborating on a project specifically designed to help you convey the meaning of your data to search engines, you have to take notice.
  • If you’re using Local Business Schema, you’re communicating nothing other than the fact that you are a local business.
  • ...we can expect more long-tail, and complex phrases forcing search engines to deliver better and more personalised results.

Google provides two tools for helping site owners make the most out of structured data, the Data Highlighter and Structured Data Markup Helper. They both count one of the most applicable data types, Local Business, among their limited offerings. While this can be extremely useful for communicating name, address and phone (NAP) data with search engines, many businesses could be missing out on some extra value if they don’t investigate further.

As Schema, a popular form of structured data, continues to grow in scope, and its effect on search results becomes more noticeable, those interested in search marketing can’t fail to take notice.

TL;DR

  • Google offer simple tools for applying structured data, including the data set Local Business
  • This is better than no structured data at all, but given everything structured data can do, it’s not the most effective way it can be used
  • With voice search becoming more popular, search engines may prize websites with detailed structured data over others

Enhancing communication with search engines

Schema.org came about as a joint effort between the major search engines Bing, Google and Yahoo! As Google stated in a blog announcing the introduction of Schema.org, the objective is to “create and support a common set of Schemas for structured data markup on web pages”.

In SEO, it’s advisable to treat certain developments with a healthy level of scepticism before making it a potential component of your strategy. But when all the big search players are collaborating on a project specifically designed to help you convey the meaning of your data to search engines, you have to take notice.

Ultimately, Schema markup enables you to communicate specific, crucial elements of a webpage that you want search engines to take notice of. It goes without saying that taking advantage of any method for clearly identifying yourself to a search engine should be a priority.

It’s important to note that adding Schema markup to a website has a benefit for search engines beyond Google. For example, all major search engines will unequivocally recognise your business address, average customer review or service area if you use Schema markup to identify it.

The problem with Local Business Schema

Schema allows you to communicate the specifics of your business and its services to search engines. Settling for Local Business, one of the most easily implemented Schema types, is a missed opportunity.

If you’re using Local Business Schema, you’re communicating nothing other than the fact that you are a local business. This is certainly not without its merits: if you’re supplying business name, address and phone (NAP) data, then you’re providing useful information that is likely to help your local SEO performance. However, it’s still tied to a particularly general Schema type.

Through searching the full hierarchy on Schema.org, you should be able to find a far more accurate company type.

For example, a removals company could use Moving Company in the place of Local Business.

<div itemscope itemtype="http://Schema.org/LocalBusinessMovingCompany">
<span itemprop="name" content="Mary’s Marvellous Moves">
<div itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://Schema.org/PostalAddress">
<span itemprop="streetAddress" content="Street">
<span itemprop="addressLocality" content="City">
<span itemprop="addressRegion" content="Region">
<span itemprop="postalCode" content="Post Code">
<span itemprop="telephone" content="Phone Number">
</div>

The future of Schema

Schema’s ability to enhance online visibility is likely to extend well into the future, especially now that we’ve seen seen dramatic growth for voice searches. As of December 2015, 40 percent of smartphone users had started using voice search in the last 6 months.

As Search Engine Journal have reported, there are a plethora of voice-activated home products on the horizon which can fulfil a variety of different online tasks without a screen. In the scenario where more conversational searches become the norm, we can expect more long-tail, and complex phrases forcing search engines to deliver better and more personalised results.

Search engines have already started to respond to these kinds of search queries, evidence for which can be seen in Google’s ability to present accurate answers to specific questions.

who-directed-titanic-snippet

Google is becoming increasingly adept at providing accurate answers in search results.

But with voice search increasingly normalised, and platforms able to handle complicated requests, we could see voice activated queries like the following becoming commonplace: “OK Google, find me a hotel in a 10 mile radius that serves breakfast and charges less than £100 a night”.

For searches like this, the information contained in structured data will be favoured over web copy. This means it will be essential to have as much structured data applied to your services as possible.