I wanted to share a simple tactic on not only boosting the rankings of certain pages, but also totally dominating the first page of Google with your site.

The aim is to turn a page into an FAQ Page using structured data. If you don’t know what structured data is, have a look at schema.org and the Google Search Gallery. See the update at the end of this article for some excellent resources. This blog post uses FAQPage structured data – you can view the results here.

There are around 600 different ways of structuring data from schema.org, Google currently only uses about 30 of them. It’s worth browsing what types of data can be structured as it’s use can only increase in the future.

Note: before trying this technique and if you aren’t already tracking your website position in Google, have a read of my post How to track website position in Google rankings as it has some useful information and tools for tracking what position your pages rank for specific keywords in Google. Also have a quick read on how to add star ratings in Google for another technique.

Contents

  1. Case Study: FAQ Page Structured Data for SEO
  2. Implementing FAQ Page Structured Data
  3. Displaying Structured Data in SERPs
  4. Side effect: How to get featured snippets in Google
  5. How can I create an FAQ page?
  6. Structured Data Resources
  7. FAQs: Structured Data for SEO

Case Study: FAQ Page Structured Data for SEO

For those that don’t know, I’ve been working at White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors for the last 14 years. White Dalton are the UK’s No.1 personal injury solicitors for motorcyclists that have been involved in a road traffic accident.

I’m not just saying that – check out the 900 reviews on their website from former clients – they are all real reviews because I add them to the site each week from the client feedback we do.

As part of my time at White Dalton I have been managing their website, www.whitedalton.co.uk. It’s gone through about 5 iterations over the years. One thing has remained constant though and that is the continual battle to maintain high SERP rankings (Search Engine Result Page).

Implementing FAQ Page Structured Data

I tested this out on one page, specifically the page that I targeted showed up for the search “can i ride a motorbike on a pavement”, which for motorcyclists is a fairly common legal question. The page was already at position 7 on the first page in Google. If your site hasn’t got an FAQ page and you are struggling to think of what topic you can create one for jump to the bottom of this article for a simple way to create your FAQ page.

As my aim was to turn it into an FAQ page, the copy needed to be re-formatted and paragraphed under specific question headings, then re-coded to provide the necessary schema.org structured data for Google.

The process is fairly straightforward and if you employ things like Advanced Custom Fields on your WordPress website, really easy to put into your posts/pages templates. If you are struggling with structured data, there is a tool by Google that will validate and show you any errors in your data/page.

Here is a shortened example from the Google Search Gallery

If you are using Advanced Custom Fields to populate additional content, here’s a short block of code for displaying FAQs from a repeater field.

Note the use of the PHP function .It’s important because in my FAQs I have links to other pages but in the FAQ Page specification only a limited range of HTML tags are allowed in the JSON+LD.

Displaying Structured Data in SERPs

With the page copy amended and schema data added, the page, over the period of about 2 weeks, moved up in position to around place 3/4 on the first page. Google had indexed the FAQ schema.org data and was showing some nice additions to our SERP result.

Side effect: How to get featured snippets in Google

Over the following 2 weeks something additional appeared, Google had turned this page into one if it’s ‘featured snippets’. This meant Google had selected this specific page to appear right at the top of the SERP page. Have a read on moz.com about their article on optimizing for featured snippets. This page now has position 1 and 2 on Google for this search!

You can’t control how and when these featured snippets appear, Google algorithm does it on it’s own and determines, from the query and the results shown, which page should appear.

It is of my opinion that adding the schema.org structured data to my newly created FAQ page was a signal to Google that our site was the better site for answering this search question.

Note: featured snippets work best for question type searches. After all Google wants people to find the answer to their question as quickly and easily as possible, and placing the most relevant content right at the top will satisy the searchers query.

When I saw what had happened I screengrabbed the first page of Google and calculated how much first page real estate had our site shown, turns out an amazing 25%. What is even better, traffic and impressions to this page increased dramatically. I implemented the changes on 28th July 2019 and you can see from the stats below that the page gained increased CTR and impressions as a result

Increased CTR from structured data

 

Look at the screengrab below. Outlined in blue is what I consider the 100% of SERP space (people generally only look at the website results shown). In red is the space taken up by this newly optimized page.

In summary then:

  • Structured data only works for a select range of information
  • FAQ style page content is ideal for gaining ‘featured snippets’
  • Adding FAQ pages is super easy to do – most businesses are in a niche and are able to write answers to their potential customers questions
  • Adding FAQ structured data does give you a boost in rankings, and in this case an extra big perk
  • Your page needs to be on page one of Google already (e.g. if you haven’t already, get optimizing your content). Edit: it actually works for new pages as well. I had a freshly published FAQ page that got ranked on page 4/5. After a couple of weeks it’s now on the first page with FAQs for a highly competitive search phrase

 

How can I create an FAQ page?

If your website hasn’t got any FAQ pages and you are struggling to think of a topic around which to create one, here is a simple process to find out relevant questions that revolve around a search phrase you may be targeting.

  1. Go to Google and type in the search phrase you want to rank highly for on Google
  2. Usually, there is a box under the first few results called “People also ask…”. If there isn’t, try a slightly different search phrase as the absence of this search feature means people might not be searching using your term
    Paople also ask
  3. Look at the questions that appear and copy them out. You’ll also notice that if you click on a question, more relevant questions will appear underneath – copy those too. Basically copy as many as you can even if they are similar to each other.
  4. Also look at the “Searches related to” at the bottom of the search results as that sometimes reveals more relevant questions
    Searches related to
  5. Sort through the copied questions grouping those that are essentially asking the same thing – we’ll want to use the phrasing in those similar questions in your answers. You want to end up with more than three questions.
  6. Answer each of the questions. Aim for more than 190 words (994 characters) as that’ll generate a more link in the answer when Google displays your FAQ entry. The more link goes to your website FAQ page
    More link
  7. Structure your FAQ page – have a table of contents (an ordered list) of each of the questions that will then link to each of your answers
  8. Make each question an H2 title tag
  9. Code up your FAQ structured data JSON+LD and publish the page

If the page ranks lower than page 1 you won’t see the FAQs appear. Wait a few weeks for the page to get indexed properly by Google. As soon as the page hits the first page of Google the FAQs will appear.

Structured Data Resources

Some further research into how people are using structured data to markup their websites for SEO benefit has yielded some really good resources on implementing JSON+LD.

Steal Our JSON-LD has some fantastic practical examples of the different Schema.org data types that you can use on your website and they’ve even scanned some high profile websites to see how they are using JSON+LD.

There is a great GitHub repo linked to from the above site that also provides examples of many different types of data that can be marked up.

Here is a nice FAQPage Structured Data generator if you aren’t handy with programming it – https://saijogeorge.com/json-ld-schema-generator/faq/

There was one type of data called EmailMessage which I found interesting. You can actually markup your email HTML to include structured data. This will yield ‘highlights’ and ‘actions’ in mail clients such as Gmail which is great for increasing user interaction in email campaigns or transactional emails. See Google’s Schema.org Email Markup resource for more information. One data type I particularly like and is applicable to White Dalton is ‘Multiple Article’. We send out email newsletters each week with 4 or 5 articles and it would work great for those campaigns.

I’ve used FAQPage Structured Data across a few sites in the last few weeks and it really does give boost in rankings. One site went form non-existent for their key search phrases to page 1 in 2 days from the simple addition of FAQPage Structured Data on a blog post!

FAQs: Structured Data for SEO

What is structured data and is there a benefit for an SEO in using it to boost website rankings?

You may have heard about structured data and schema.org and if you are using Yoast plugin on your WordPress site you are already using schema.org markup but Yoast only goes so far.

Of course there are no guarantees that implementing schema structured data on a website will improve rankings but it will improve your click through rate if your implementation gets shown in a SERP.

Contents

  1. What is Structured Data?
  2. What data can I markup for SEO?
  3. What happens when I markup my webpage for Schema?
  4. What's the benefit for SEO in using structured data?
  5. Will using structured data boost my rankings?
  6. I've read my page needs to rank highly already to take advantage of structured data?
  7. How do I test my structured data markup?
  8. Conclusion: Should I be using Structured Data for SEO?

1. What is Structured Data?

Structured Data is a way for website owners to apply meaning to the content on a web page in a machine readable way. Whilst HTML allows for layout structure and visual style definitions, it doesn't have a method for signalling to a search engine exactly what the content means.

Schema.org is a specification for marking up content on a webpage that is recognised by the major search engines and it was founded in 2011 by Google, Microsoft, Yandex and Yahoo.

Schema can be implemented in different ways (RDFa, Microdata) but Google's recommended method is to use JSON+LD. If you have Yoast installed on your site then you are already using structured data - to some extent.

2. What data can I markup for SEO?

Yoast is great but it only goes so far with structured data. There are many types of data that can be marked up and in fact schema.org, which provides (https://schema.org/docs/full.html) the specification, has over 600 different data types. Currently Google recognises about 30 of these data types.

For the full list see the Google Search Gallery which recognises common types of data that people search for such as Products, Reviews, Recipes, FAQs and How-tos.

At the time of writing this post, the number one result for the search "Structured Data for SEO" is a Moz.com article from 2017 which also has featured snippet status as well. Their article is a great example of content that can be marked up using the FAQPage data type - questions with answers. It's ironic that they haven't marked up this page with the schema FAQPage data type definition. To be fair, the FAQPage structure only came out in 2018 but that doesn't stop you going back and editing your posts.

3. What happens when I markup my webpage for Schema?

A correcly marked up web page using schema should display in the SERPs - see the Google Search Gallery to see how the various data types currently recognised by Google will look when they appear.

4. What's the benefit for SEO in using structured data?

The primary benefit is increased click through rates (CTR) as your result in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) will stand out from the rest of the results.

I have also seen some other positive side effects from marked up pages, specifically I've noticed that these pages make them ideal candidates for gaining 'featured snippets'.

5. Will using structured data boost my rankings?

In my testing on live sites, I have seen pages get a ranking boost from structured data. This ranking boost varies depending on how competitive the target search phrase is, but generally speaking the effect is positive and might place your webpage on page one of Google at least.

If your target webpage was on page one already then it is highly likely you can achieve number one in organic rankings.

I've had web pages that were down on page four suddenly increase their rank to page one from the simple addition of structured data. I have also had blog posts that were never live before rank straight on page one once they were published with structured data.

6. I've read my page needs to rank highly already to take advantage of structured data?

There are some articles out there that say your web page needs to be ranking in the top 20 results (either on page 1 or 2) in order for Google to display the content as structured data. This is not true at all.

Generally speaking Google will only display structured markup on page one of its SERPs for some of it's data types like FAQPage for example. But if you implement star ratings, these will display on whatever page in the SERPs you rank for.

7. How do I test my structured data markup?

The primary tool to use to test structured data is the Structured Data Testing Tool from Google. You can use it in two ways, either by scanning a live URL or by pasting in your schema JSON+LD. It will highlight problems with your code - warnings you can take as advisory, errors you will need to fix.

8. Conclusion: Should I be using Structured Data for SEO?

Definitely. It has positive effects on CTR and Impressions and can give pages a ranking boost.