How to Optimize Your Local Business Website for SEO with Structured Data Snippets
A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating Structured Data Snippets for Your Local Business Site
This article shows a practical ‘How To’ for creating a structured data snippet for your Name, Address, Place profile for your business.
Review: SEO for Local Business – 3 Techniques That Most Businesses Are Not Doing. Be sure to check out the article here...
In this article, we’re going to cover:
It's important to know ‘why’ structured data is so important.
When somebody searches for a ‘restaurant near me’, Google’s algorithm to show results that match the intention of the search.
Google can determine where the search is originating from by using GPS (especially mobile devices) and IP addresses. Based on your location data, it then it displays the results.
Notice that some businesses will appear more prominently in the results. The best place to be is in the Map Info window!
The Map Info window is the premium location and is placed above the standard search results.
Think about this -the #1 entry in the search engine results page for this search is still below the map windows! This means that if you are a local service based business - you want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to get placed in the map window.
How to get placed in the Google Search Map Info Window
How does Google know...
That a particular business is a restaurant?
That the restaurant is ‘nearby’?
The Google search algorithm is really good at figuring this out - especially when we HELP GOOGLE by telling Google that we are a restaurant!
Remember, Google is going to shows search results that are most relevant. When it comes to ‘places’, the goal is to establish authority and credibility with Google.
This is why it is important that Google knows precisely and specifically the details about our business.
We can do this with Structured Data Snippets.
What Are Structured Snippets and Why are they Important?
As humans, we understand what an address is and intuitively comprehend the purpose of an address when we see it on a website. However, Google and other search engines are not as good at making inferences. They do recognize a street address - but they don’t know specifically that a particular section on your website with an address is your address.
We’re going to create a script in a very specific format that tells Google about the business. The script will include the category of business, the name, address and contact information.
Creating Structured Snippets for Local Business Listings
The snippet is actually a JSON-LD script. If you don’t know what JSON is or what it means, don’t worry about it - just know that Google prefers JSON scripts.
Here are two tools to use for creating a JSON code snippet:
The tool from Microdatagenerator is easier to review the JSON script (cleaner and easier to read). However, the tool from Ezlocal below has better listings of local business type categories. We’re going to use both to create an example.
Step 1: Organize Your Business Listing Details
Create a central document with all of your information so it can be used as a reference.
This part seems obvious - but it’s critical to be consistent! Your name, address and contact information should be consistent across all of the platforms (Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, etc) where it is listed.
Pro tip: It is surprising how many organizations have inconsistent phone numbers and contact details listed online. This reduces a website's authority with Google - so make sure to keep all of these details consistent!
Step 2: Go to Microdatagenerator.org and Fill in the Form
Make sure to complete every blank form. Note: If you don’t see your business type listed in the drop down, just select a ‘type’ that is closest to your organization. We will be able to edit this later.
Step 3: Create the JSON-LD Script
After you have filled in all of the information in the form, choose the output type. Google prefers JSON-LD, so make sure to select this option.
You will now see a window with the JSON-LD script containing your business information!
Note: If you did not see a business category that matched your business, this is how you can change it.
Open up a separate browser tab to EZlocal.com.
I like to use EZ Local for this part because their form has more approved options for business type descriptions. It’s important to use an established business type. EZ Local is pulling their ‘types’ from an organized classification system that is in alignment with schema.org.
Side note: Google recognizes the schema.org classification model. This tends to be a deeper topic with lots of ongoing debate! Just know that you should not make up your own business type description - instead, find the closest description for your business. For example, a Marketing Consultant business will use the more generic business type description of: “ProfessionalService”
In the newly created script, look for the line that says: “@type”: “Description” where description is the business description you chose from the form.
You can now replace the term “Description” with the new term that correctly matches your business.
Step 4: Test the JSON-LD Script with Google
Now that you have the JSON-LD script, it is time to test it with Google.
Open up a new browser window for Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
The Tool above is being deprecated... New Tool HERE - Google Rich Results Test
Choose the ‘Code Snippet’ option.
Next, paste your code into the Code Snippet test window and click on Run Test.
Google will run a test and if there are any errors, it will show exactly which lines in the script need to be fixed. Note: Make sure to fix any errors! Often, it can be a simple error caused by a type or copy/paste mistake.
After you have validated that your script is correct, save the final version as a text document.
Now it is time to install the script on your website.
The method for installing the script on your website is variable, and depends on what type of website you are using, what type of theme you are using, etc. For example, if you have a WordPress theme that allows you to install scripts, then you can copy/paste the JSON-LD script into your Body section.
Here is a method that can be used for most websites.
Note - there may be more preferred methods, but this is more an all-purpose hack that will do the trick.
Most website platforms have the option to insert custom HTML/code into a section on a page. For example, find the section on your website where you list your business address. Then, use your web page editor to insert custom HTML code in the same section.
If you use WordPress with a page builder there is usually an Element called Custom HTML
Insert the Element in the same section where you are showing your address. Then copy/paste the newly created JSON-LD code into the Custom HTML Element and save!
That’s it - You are done!!
Recap: Creating a JSON-LD Snippet for Local Business Listing SEO
Now that you know how Structured Data works and why it’s important, you can start using Structured Data Snippets strategically. For example, you can use Structured Data to create articles that are eligible to appear on Top Stories Carousel areas in search results.
For more information on how to create content with Structured Data, read Google’s guidelines on the Google Developer Website.