Ever wondered about the importance of schema—or structured data—in SEO? In competitive niches, it could give you the boost you need to get to page one and drive more qualified traffic through organic search. Crystal Carter, head of SEO Communications at Wix, is here to spill the beans on why schema matters more than you think!
The Secret Sauce of SEO Episode Summary
- Schema helps search engines understand a page’s content by structuring the data. It can improve SEO even without changing page content.
- Specific schema markup types allow pages to appear in rich results like recipe cards, job postings, etc.
- Schema helps define a website’s brand entity, which improves how AI systems understand the site.
- Schema implementation doesn’t affect site design. It’s added in the backend code.
- Impact can be measured via search performance of pages with schema, rich result appearances, and search console data.
The Secret Sauce of SEO Episode Transcript
Rich: My guest today is the head of SEO communications at Wix. She is an SEO and digital marketing professional with over 15 years’ experience working with SEO and marketing clients around the world like Disney, McDonald’s, Tommy, and more. As an SEO, she identifies and implements tactics that help businesses optimize digital activity, drive sales, engagement, and growth online.
She’s contributed to events, webinars, and publications from Google Search Central, Brighton SEO, Moz, Whitespark, LocalSearch Summit, SEMRush, SMX, Search Engine Land, Lumar, Women in Tech SEO, and so much more. And today, she’s here to give us the 411 on Schema, so that you can drive more qualified traffic to your website. So please welcome Crystal Carter. Crystal, welcome to the podcast.
Crystal: Thank you so much for that fantastic introduction. I also like the shout out to the 411, which is throwback to the… do people still use 411, are they still doing it?
Rich: I think they only say 411.
Crystal: Like people say ‘video’ and they don’t actually mean a video cassette, they mean watching a video. But I remember having to do tracking on the blockbuster video and having to rewind it. “Be kind, rewind.”
Rich: I would not have guessed that you are old enough to remember that, but that’s absolutely true for sure. And I still say things like ‘books on tape’ instead of ‘audio books’, because I used to literally put cassette tapes in my car and listen to inspirational conversations while I drove around as a salesperson in my previous life. So there you go.
All right. So first off, you have the best superhero alter ego name ever, right up there with Clark Kent and Peter Parker. Do you hear that a lot or am I just a super nerd?
Crystal: I do get told that I have a good name. It’s not much of my doing. So obviously my mom and dad gave me the name Crystal. I married into Carter. But the best thing about it, or one of the best things about it, is that I am also Mrs. Carter. So when I went to see Beyonce, they said, “Hey, Mrs. Carter.” And I was like, it’s me. It’s obviously not me. It’s the other Mrs. Carter, who’s much more famous, but there we go.
Rich: So far. And then of course, I’m also a Marvel Comics geek, so then I think of Agent Carter. And this is the Agents of Change, so you’re my Agent Carter, as far as I’m concerned.
Crystal: Oh, I’ll take that, too. I’ll take that, too. Yeah, I’ll have that one as well.
Rich: So for people who are listening who really don’t know a lot about schema, how do you describe it, and what does it mean to a website’s search engine optimization?
Crystal: Okay, so schema is the name that everybody uses. SEOs will call it schema when we mean structured data, and it might be schema markup. Well, the schema markup comes from schema.org, and basically schema.org. set the library of all of the schema stuff that we use to categorize the things on a website.
So essentially what you would do is on your about page, for instance, is a good one. On your about page, you might have on your website something like, “Hello, this is Crystal Carter Incorporated, and we sell inspirational mixtapes. And we are based in Wisconsin, and we were founded in 1997” or something, whatever it is. So you might have a lovely paragraph, lots of things written on your website, lots of pictures and stuff on your website that are written of qualitative information.
And essentially what schema markup does is it gives criteria and definitions for structuring data. Now structuring data is essentially like headers on your website when you write, when you make something into an H1 or an H2 if you’re doing SEO formatting, or if you put something in a bullet list.
Or let’s say to put it another way if you were to organize your sock drawer, you have your socks and they’re everywhere. When you pair them up you’re structuring that data, so you’re structuring that essentially. What schema does is they have all these lists, and they’ll say, okay, organization, right? Instead of it just being Crystal Carter or Crystal Carter Incorporated and Google having to crawl all over the page to find Crystal Carter Incorporated and what the name of the business is, you can put a little bit of code in the back end of your website and it will say, “Name of organization: Crystal Carter Incorporated,” Location: Wisconsin”, “Industry: et cetera”, founder this, address this, customer service number this.
So there’s all these different criteria that you can go through that are specific to the type of business, and sometimes it’ll just say organization or corporation. But it might say something more specific, like a restaurant or like an amusement park or something to that effect. There’s over a thousand different ways to categorize and organize the software that is your website so that it’s easy for bots to get to it. And that all sounds super techy, right? I’m sure that there’s a lot of content folks and a lot of people who are like, I just want to grow my website, who are tuning out to hearing all of that.
But the thing that it does is that it gives you access to certain parts of the Google that you cannot get to if you don’t have it. And for some businesses, this is mission critical. So if you are working in the recruitment space, for instance, every job that you have there’s a structured data formatting. There’s structured data formatting that you can do for every single job that you list that says what the name of the job is, what the salary is, where it’s located who the person is, like the description for the job the criteria, like all of that sort of stuff. And you can list all of those things in your structured data. And if you do that, then you’re eligible for Google for jobs. If you do not do that, then you are not eligible for Google for jobs. And this is very important because Google for jobs shows at the top of the SERP. So if it doesn’t, if you don’t have your data structured that way, then your jobs won’t show in Google jobs. They won’t show there at all.
Similarly with recipes. If you don’t structure your recipe page using structured data, then your recipe cards won’t show in the recipe carousel when people look up a chocolate cake. So they’ll look up a chocolate cake and they’ll see all these fantastic little cards that have a pre roll video, and they’ve got stars, and they’ve got the name of the delicious chocolate cake, and all of that sort of stuff, and it looks great and it’s really easy to click on mobile. But if yours is all the way down the bottom or even third, or first even and just the plain link doesn’t have structured data, that it won’t show in those carousels and you’re less likely to get clicks through to your website.
It’s a little bit of code and a little bit of organizing that you can do on your website to help you get access to some of these super fun features, including Google shopping and lots of other things as well. And they’re constantly adding more and more elements to the mix of things that they’re giving high priority in terms of structured data.
Rich: Oh my God, there was so much to unpack from that answer, and you also answered like four of my other questions, so I’m glad I have backups on this. But first of all, just like a shout out because you seem to bring back so many things from our opening conversation, everything from mixtapes and but also 1997, which was the year I founded my company. So I don’t know if you pulled that out of your hat or whatever, but just that was impressive.
What I hear you saying, for the layperson, is that schema or structured data is an agreed upon language that helps search engines decipher what’s on our page. We’re making it simpler for Google and other search engines to get the information they need to put it in front of the people that we want to get in front of. Is that an accurate summarization?
Crystal: And it’s also, it also gives them the option to mix and match. So if you were to think about your website as a pizza, let’s say you had a meat lover’s pizza or something, right? I don’t eat meat anymore, but let’s say it was a meat lover’s pizza. Let’s say I’m having a party and we got a meat lover’s pizza. So you have all this ingredients on your pizza, for instance, but let’s say somebody just wants a cheese pizza or somebody just wants pepperoni. Or somebody just wants a pepperoni and sausage or whatever it is. What Google can do is if they know that people want to see certain parts of your page, they can pull through certain parts of your page into the server, not the whole pizza, just the parts the person wants.
And that means that gives them more flexibility with what they want to do. It also gives them more flexibility with when they want to change or enhance some of those SERP features. Because they’ve told everyone this is the criteria. If you want in on the recipe cards, this is what you got to do. And they’re very clear. There’s a section of their website, the rich results gallery, where they tell you all of the things that you need to do in order to be eligible for different parts of these SERP features, these rich results cards. And you can pick, and you can opt into and add as much information as you can in order to be eligible for those things.
So yeah, it’s super useful for them. It essentially turns your website into a spreadsheet, essentially. I very often describe it as spreadsheet buying your website and it saves them. I think they started with recipes. It’s interesting. So they started with recipes, and if anybody remembers recipe websites in the early 2000’s, early 2010’s or whatever they were all, they’d all start with a 400-word essay about walking through the park on a lovely autumn eve before they got to the pumpkin spice latte or whatever at the bottom. And they started with recipes because nobody wanted to wade through all of that. People just wanted the recipe. So they started with the recipe that just pulls out the actual information that you need and doesn’t mean that you have to wait through all of that stuff to get to the good part.
Rich: As somebody who often turns to the internet for recipes, they’re still doing that. But yes, at least now they have ‘jump to recipe’ features. So that at least that’s helpful as well.
I also want to compliment you. My team makes fun of me because I use metaphors to explain everything, but you’re doing a great job. Between socks and pizza, I think everybody’s following along. That’s great. What are some of the most common use schema markup types that websites should implement?
Crystal: So generally speaking there’s a couple of ways to do this. You can be a feature chaser, which is essentially as I said, there’s the rich results gallery, and there are lots of different rich results that are eligible only via rich results or only via schema markup. And essentially you can use those, like for recipes for instance, or products. Or FAQ was one that SEOs did to death, and then it went a bit askew. Job posting events as well. Those are all super useful. Video markup is also really important as well.
And these are things that really help you to get in front of customers. And there’s something that Google put a lot of emphasis on. Events are really important, particularly if you’re in the event space. And some of these are ones that are fairly simple to implement if you have it built into your structure. Like these are things that you can build into the framework of your website.
So at Wix, for instance, we’ve built some of these into the frameworks of our website. So all of our blogs have a standardized blogging schema markup. If you make an event on Wix using Wix events, then they all have that all their Wix products. They all have a schema markup that will give you certain things and the product I bring up in particular. Because within that we built our schema to the spec of Google’s expectations, and right in there in order to get a rich result for a product, they said you have to have schema markup for the first image. But we also built in schema markup for the additional images. And then after we built this initially, Google said, “Oh, we will also include these additional images later on.”
And that’s the other thing that you can do with schema. So with schema, with structured data, you can look at the features and go just for the features. And that’s a great place to start, particularly if you are in a space where you’re seeing everybody else doing it. Everybody else is doing it and you’re not doing it. And if that’s the case, then you should definitely do those first.
But it’s also important to look at the things that give the Googlebot and give other search engines because Bing are using this, all of the other all of the other search engines are doing this as well because they all helped build schema.org. But if you’re looking at this and you’re like, oh, there’s actually some more information, some more schema that we can use to illustrate the information on our page, then you should write if it’s if it helps with the information, then you should.
For instance, FAQ schema used to give you a lot of space on Google. So you’d be like, oh, what are the top things about schema and what else should I know? And all that sort of stuff. And people would have loads of these FAQs all over Google. And then Google said whoa, I see you’re having too much fun with this. We’re only going to use FAQs for very important, very official websites, like the government or the CDC etc.
So now people are saying, oh no, we shouldn’t use FAQs. They’ve deprecated them, they don’t exist anymore. I’m like no, that’s not exactly the case. They’re saying they won’t necessarily show them. That doesn’t mean that they’re not going to read them. So to my mind if you have information on your website that would benefit from a clear structuring of that information using schema, like an FAQ.
So if you have an FAQ on your website, then add FAQ schema to your website because it will help the bots to understand and find that information more clearly. So you can chase cert features, but you can also use it as an opportunity to organize the information on your website really well. And this is particularly important if you’re thinking about entity management and if you’re a business that has a knowledge panel and a knowledge graph and things like that. Because schema also helps you to define and identify entities across your website, which can help you to have more of the sort of a rich surf understanding from Google.
Rich: Yeah, there’s still, every time you give an answer there’s so much to unpack. It’s just so rich, I love it.
So from what I’m hearing, it sounds like that there’s good reasons to do schema anyways to help the search engines understand it. Sometimes you get the added benefit of getting into snippets, featured snippets, that you wouldn’t have. Google may have deprecated them, but we also, for those of us who have been around long enough, we also know that Google sometimes gives, sometimes it takes away, and then it brings something back. So FAQs could be the hottest thing in 2024, 2025, we have no idea. It’s not the featured snippets, from what you’re saying, is not the only reason to do schema, but it’s an excellent benefit for the times where it does appear.
Crystal: So I should just clear something up just slightly. Featured snippets and rich results are not exactly the same thing. People use them interchangeably a lot, I know, but I just want to clear up that. Because I’ve been flagged on it as well, because I used to use them interchangeably.
So featured snippets come from content, come from a different type of structured data. So featured snippets come from bullet points, and headers, and tables, and things like that. And featured snippets sometimes include content that has been identified in structured data, like images in particular.
So I’ve seen it where I’ve added image structured data to a blog and seen us do better on featured snippets, for instance. But featured snippets and rich results are slightly different, although rich results are sometimes referred to as ‘rich snippets’. So it all gets very confusing, but I just wanted to just make that just a little bit clear.
But I also totally agree with you on the giveth and taketh away. Because forums used to be a big thing like way back in the day. And now they’re saying, oh, forums are big, and then they faded away. And I think they’ve recently been talking about bringing RSS back, which I’m really excited about because I love RSS. So there’s lots of things around there.
Rich: You have been doing this for a while.
Crystal: It’s true. Nobody else loves RSS but me.
Rich: But I remember it was the next big thing. And it’s still important, but it’s under the radar, is what I feel when it comes to RSS. Thank you for the clarification. That actually was really helpful.
So one of the things that I know is important to SEO, or at least Google tells us, is page speed. And I guess part of me is concerned about if we’re adding all the schema indiscriminately seemingly to all of our pages on the website, do we need to worry about code below? Do we need to worry about page speed? And are there ways to minimize that impact?
Crystal: Yeah, so this is something that you should consider. And I think it’ll depend on your configuration, obviously. So it depends on where your schema is implemented and whether or not your server side rendered or client side rendered or all of that sort of stuff. So you should look at your configuration.
However, one of the efficiencies that you can do with schema markup is that you can use a node identifier and you can essentially use it as a sort of you can define a variable. So you can say, on your about page, you can say, Crystal Carter Incorporated. I can’t remember what I decided my industry was this time, but whatever I say.
Rich: Mixed Tapes, I think it was.
Crystal: Mixed Tapes. That’s right. Inspirational mixtapes. Okay. Crystal Carter Incorporated. So you define the organization. So the organization is Crystal Carter. So then on your blog you can nest, and you can use the node identifier. So you can say, “This blog is created by”, and then you can say organization and then you can link to the place where you actually have the full schema on your organization. So you can include it in your code you can reference the one you’ve identified in other places.
It does take some organization. And it does take some planning. And sometimes it means that you have to go back through and make sure that everything’s all connected up. But it’s something that’s worth doing. And it’s worth looking at some of those foundational pages and foundational schema that you’ll need to reference in different places. So that’s one way to be more effective. And again, to nest where you can.
So for instance this web page as part of this website created by this organization. So you can nest those things. And there’s some great tools that you can use for that. So I think schema app, for instance, they’ve got a great tool that helps you to guide that to look at some of those things. And I think that, for instance, on our Wix blog we have a set of schema that already includes that sort of thing. So when you build out some of your other schema markups, they will reference through some of those as well.
Rich: Awesome. I guess in the same vein, some people believe that schema will mess with your website design or layout. Is that true at all?
Crystal: So one of my favorite things about schema is that it’s in the back end, right? So if you as an SEO or you as a business owner or you as a marketing person have trouble getting sign off on content – which happens a lot – where they’re like, “Oh, we’re working with a financial client and literally it took us forever to get signed off on anything.” I think we had spent ages putting together this blog project, and then it was like six months getting signed off on it. And by the time we got signed off on it, the financial regulations had changed, and we had to redo it again. And it was like a whole thing. So I’m sure anybody who’s worked in marketing or SEO has seen that kind of thing happen.
And the thing that’s great about schema is that you’re not changing anything on the front end of the website. Your schema should always reflect what’s on the front of your website. So if on the blog, for instance, it says that the author is Crystal Carter, then in the schema it should say that the author is Crystal Carter as well. So you’re not changing anything on the front. You’re reflecting what’s on the front in the backend, and organizing it in a really efficient way. So it’s really effective if you just want to get, if you want to improve your SEO, but you don’t necessarily want to have to do a content planning thing and getting information or getting approvals and getting signed up, all of that stuff, because it’s all the same, right? We’re not changing anything on top. The copy’s not changing. It’s exactly the same. Everything’s fine.
And the other thing that it can do is that, for instance, for some of the criteria it can mean that you have to declare certain things. For instance for products, if you have some apparel, some clothing, then you typically – if I remember correctly from the last time I checked – you have to declare the gender on the clothing. And it might be that maybe on your website when the person was putting together the page, maybe they forgot to add that. Or maybe they forgot to add a certain element, another element of it. The schema markup can sometimes guide you on some of the things that people expect to see, that Google expects to see.
It might be that there’s a part of the job posting that you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t consider that would be something that people were thinking of, that they want to know whether it’s remote or not.” And that can guide you to say, “Oh, we should include that whether or not it’s remote in our content going forward.” And also if you’re working with other people in your team, and they’re not sure whether or not this is something that should be included, you could say “Look, this is criteria from Google, from Bing, from Yahoo, from all these people. And they’re saying that it should be. And also, if you look on the surf, it’s also showing that as well.”
So it can be something that can guide you with your content updates. But even if you don’t do any content updates, it can also just help you to get everything moved forward and to help you move the needle from a technical point of view without changing anything in terms of content.
Rich: Crystal, is there any downside if you’ve got something in schema – and this is not a great example – but if in the schema I say, “Crystal Carter is the author of this blog post”, but I don’t actually put your name on the web page, is that a disconnect? Is that considered to be something that might be sneaky, like white text on a white background, or is that absolutely fine, and maybe helpful in some situations?
Crystal: I think that for some, particularly for things that are front of mind in terms of the schema markup. So when you’re looking at the rich results gallery, when you’re looking at Google’s criteria for certain schema markup, they will have ‘required’ and they will have a ‘recommended’ schema.
For instance, I have an article on structured data validation. Because one of the things that we get from clients sometimes is people going, “Oh, I have this yellow warning. And it’s saying, I haven’t included the skew.” And I’m like, yeah, but you don’t have skews because you make handmade candles. So you don’t have skews on your candles because you made them in your kitchen or whatever. S that’s recommended, it’s not required.
So the required ones you should probably have those on your page. From both the trust point of view but also from a Google point of view, so that they can call them so they reflect them. I would say that it’s probably best practice to have it on the page for things like that, and I would say author probably goes to that point. But at the same time, for instance like for image markup. If you have an image on your blog, and this is one that I didn’t know. And I actually spoke to somebody else, and they were like, “Oh, I didn’t realize that either.” So I’m going to share it here.
And basically for your images when you have schema markup, when you have rich results eligible content with schema markup, it shows up in Google Search Console. And you can see it in your enhancements reports. So you can see jobs, breadcrumbs, you can see other things as well. Products, for instance, and videos as well.
But I was looking at the rich results gallery just hanging out as I do, and it said you can also see images and I was like, no, you can’t. And they were like, yeah, you can. You just have to declare who the creator is. And so I said I’m going to see if I can do that. And all of the blogs on the Wix SEO hub are all made by us. So it’s a creator, Wix. And I did this, and I saw an immediate 15% uptick in our image performance across Google. And we also saw that all of them were showing up as rich results and that’s all great.
Now on the blog, we don’t necessarily have, “this is created by Wix.” It’s pretty obvious that it’s created by Wix, it’s our blog. So I think that’s a pretty low-level one. That’s not a huge, big deal. But I think in terms of the author one, that’s important. And if you have the author on the page and you have the author in the schema markup, then those 2 should line up. And I would also say for any of the required, structured data things, particularly for rich results, I would absolutely have those on the page. And then I think for the other ones, I’d take a view and see how you perform.
It’s always worth testing these things. But generally speaking, everything that’s in your schema should be on the page. I wouldn’t say that if you didn’t have it on, it was as bad as white text on a white background. I don’t think it’s that bad. But Google has a lot of emphasis on expertise, authority, and trust, and experience as well. And I think it can be seen as also as a sort of trust signal if it’s not on the page as well.
Rich: All right. You mentioned that Wix has a lot of these schema tools built in to help guide your users. And Wix is a huge user base, but obviously not everybody’s on a Wix site. For those people who aren’t, how do we actually get the schema onto our pages? A lot of people on WordPress or Squarespace, do you know if there are tools for those ones? Or even if they’re not on those, do you hand code them into the pages? What do you recommend for those people not lucky enough to be on Wix?
Crystal: Okay, so first of all, you probably should be. But second of all, so your structured data, there’s a couple of ways to do structured data via code. And you can do it in your HTML is one way to do it. You can also use syntax to make it dynamic. But yeah, generally speaking, particularly if you’re using JSON LD, you can add it into your HTML of your page, depending on how the rest of your web page is configured. There are some apps that help you do this as well, so look for those if you need to.
But I would also say that it’s worth checking those and making sure that everything works well for you. There are some great tools to help you generate structured data as well. In my article, Structured Data Validation, I mentioned a few that help you to validate them. Because that’s the other thing is that you need to validate your structured data to make sure that it’s parsable, which means that the machines can even read it, that the code is even valid. And you also need to validate it to make sure that Google’s happy with it as well, and that the other folks are happy with it.
And this can be a bit confusing for people, because sometimes you can run it through Google’s rich results test and not see the schema that you’ve put on your page. And then people will go, “Oh no, it’s not there.” I’m like, it is there. It’s just, Google only shows you the ones that give you rich results, and not every single type of schema gives you a rich result. So it’s important to validate it.
A few things. The schema.org has a fantastic collection, obviously they have information on all of the schema that they have, but they also have a lot of examples. So if you go to schema.org and you type in a type of business or a type of schema that you’re looking for, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom, they’ll show you examples of the JSON LD code. They’ll also show you examples of micro data. And I have worked on clients who have used micro data as well, and that’s a different type of code that sits in a different part of the website. And that can also help you in certain cases.
Micro data is seen as less, not necessarily less good, but not necessarily the favored type of schema markup. JSON LD is the sort of favored one, but they’re both valid. I’ve seen them both work well. So JSON LD is the best one, but basically I would say go to schema.org, have a look at some of the examples, and then get into sort of figuring out how to validate. I love writing schema, it’s super fun. And you can use some of the tools there as well.
What I would also hazard against is, ChatGPT is fine if you know what you’re doing and it’s fine for checking things. If you know nothing about schema markup, do not use it by itself because it will make things up. It will make up URLs. If you say, “I want it to be this type that includes this property,” it will just write you schema markup for that, whether it’s valid or not. So if you don’t know what you’re doing, I would not use ChatGPT to generate schema markup. But you could use it in parallel with something else, or you could use it with if you are somebody who knows how to use schema market, you’re probably already using ChatGPT to help you with it a little bit sometimes as well. But yeah, once you get it, then you can add it into your HTML and then you’re on your way.
Rich: Awesome. You mentioned a few times about seeing upticks in this percentage of increases. How can we track the impact that schema is doing, whether it’s through Google Analytics or through some other tools, so we can actually then say to our bosses or to our clients, “Look, it’s working”?
Crystal: Okay, so there’s a couple of ways. For instance, features. If the goal of the schema markup is to get visibility on a rich result like job postings, or on video videos, or on other schema markup recipe cards or whatever it may be, then you can see whether or not you’re getting those rich results in Google Search Console, it will tell you. And if you look at other search tools, I use SEMrush a lot. And if you look on those, they’ll also show you which rich results you’re getting. So pay attention to which pages you’ve made the schema implementation on, and which ones are seeing an uptick in serve features. And that’s a good way to gauge it.
The other thing to look at is overall visibility for certain criteria. So for instance if you’ve added those pages and you’ve seen an overall increase in visibility based on the date from when you did the update, that’s also perfectly fine. And also you can see in Google Search Console on the enhancements report how many are valid, how many are coming through, and all of that sort of stuff, which percentage of pages are getting that kind of traffic.
But I would basically say that it’s worth looking at exactly which pages have had the impact, have had the schema update, and tracking the result that you would expect to see after you’ve implemented it. If you’re switching to a new CMS, for instance Wix has it built in, then make sure which pages have which schema built into them. So you can use a crawl and scheming. Screaming Frog you can crawl the whole site. Or on SEMrush, for instance, you can crawl the whole site and it’ll tell you which pages have schema markup on them. And then you can track the impact of the before and after of those pages as they’ve been added. Similarly, if you’re newly working on a website then you also want to do that, and just make sure that you’re updating that.
Rich: All right. You mentioned AI briefly with ChatGPT. And just the other day I was having a conversation, and somebody mentioned that GSE – Generative Search Experience – because of this, schema is going to play an even bigger role moving forward. Have you heard this? Do you know if there’s any truth to that?
Crystal: So I think that this has to do with entities. So schema is something that helps you to define the entities on your website. And if you’re not sure what entities are, Google sort of defines them as things in strings. So named objects are entities. So I am an entity, you are an entity, an airplane is an entity, an owl is an entity, the Statue of Liberty is an entity, all of those sorts of things. But also, blogging is an entity. And you’ll notice these things when you Google them they have a knowledge panel, they’ll have lots of information about them and things like that.
LLMs, large language models, they work with under their understanding of entities and their understandings of language, therefore having a stronger understanding of your brand entity via schema markup, having a stronger outline of your brand entity and the entities on your website, can help with making sure that the LLMs are able to understand your website.
So for instance, I entered into an AI tool the summary for the Barbie movie. And the summary for the Barbie movie is like, “Barbie and Ken go on an adventure…” to human land or something. I can’t remember exactly what it is. And then I took that and I ran it through an AI tool. And the AI tool pulled out the entities from it and they pulled out ‘Barbie’ and they pulled out ‘Ken’. And under that they categorized those entities, and they said, “Barbie is a fashion doll.” Now in the summary, it doesn’t say, “Barbie the doll”, it doesn’t say, “Barbie the toy”, it doesn’t say anything about toys or dolls or any of that. But they understand that the entity of Barbie, and particularly with the proximity to Ken, is related to Barbie the fashion doll.
Now, then I went to ChatGPT and I said, “Hey, ChatGPT what is a good fashion doll?” And they said, “Barbie is a great fashion doll.” It was the first thing they thought of, right? Similarly, our Wix brand entity is associated to website building. If you go in, if we’re a cloud-based website builder, that’s what it says on our Wikipedia. And if you go and you type in ChatGPT, “What’s a good cloud-based web builder, what’s a good web builder”, we will show up on the list because they have a good understanding of what our brand entity is.
If these LLMs have a good understanding of what your entity is, because you have a good understanding of what your entity is, then you will perform better with some of these tools. And I think that it’s something that people should think about.
I was on a discussion the other day, and it was for a website, I won’t say the name, but the website was somebody who sold adult toys and they were having trouble with safe search. And they were like, we can’t figure out why we have trouble with safe search. Then I looked up their entity, and on Wikipedia it said that their industry was adult toys. And then I looked up some of their competitors and none of their competitors had this in their entity. None of their competitors had this on their Wikipedia page. One of their competitors had it as retail. Another one had it as had it as a manufacturer. And Google’s understanding your entity and adjusting the cert accordingly. So think very carefully about your entity, about what’s on Wikidata, what’s on Wikipedia, what Google understands from your blog, from your other things.
And even for smaller businesses, one of the things I’ve seen really frequently is where people will have a blog and the blog is all over the place. And I’m sure you’ve seen this as well. They won’t just talk about what their subject is, they’re talking about other random things as well that really don’t build upon their brand entity, don’t build upon the topics that they should be an expert on and that they should be demonstrating expertise on. They’re all over the place. Get rid of that stuff, right? Does it spark joy? No, it doesn’t spark joy. Get rid of it. You don’t need it because it’s diluting your entity. So make sure that it’s very clear. And you can also do this with images as well.
So I’ve spoken a lot on visual search and things. And one of the things with visual searches, they can identify location. So if I take a picture of the Statue of Liberty, they know that’s the Statue of Liberty and they know exactly where it is, and they know exactly they’ve got the Google business profile for it, they know all of those sorts of things. So Google can identify with its Vision AI tools, it can identify the entities in your photos. So if you are a business that’s based in San Francisco, you should have photos of San Francisco on your website, for instance, and that will help Google to understand that you’re based in San Francisco. And these are things that you can be thinking about on lots of different levels.
And again, you can also articulate that in your structured data. You can say, this is an image description, like Golden Gate Bridge. And you can say this is our shop in San Francisco. Here’s the address in San Francisco. Here are the things. So there’s lots of ways that you can use the structured data to help verify your entity and to help solidify your digital presence.
Rich: That was incredible. I feel like on some level we’re just scratching the surface, but then you provided so much value and so much insight. And there’s a million things I want to get done right now as soon as we get off this call. Crystal, this was fantastic. Where can we send people who want to learn more about you or learn more about Wix?
Crystal: So I am one of the writers. I’m one of the guiding people around the Wix SEO learning hub. We have some fantastic articles, webinars that we do, a weekly podcast as well, after you’ve listened to all of the other podcasts in this podcast collection as well. And I’ve got a great article on structured data validation there, so check me out there.
I’m on LinkedIn and I’m on Twitter, those are my two most active channels, so do find me there. And if you want to chat schema, like all the time, anytime, that’s my favorite thing. Because I’m just that much fun.
Rich: All right. Awesome. We’ll have all those links in the show notes as always. And Crystal, really, thank you so much for coming by today and sharing your expertise.
Crystal: Thank you for having me. It’s been great. Thanks.
Crystal Carter is a seasoned professional in SEO and Digital Marketing, excelling in identifying and implementing innovative tactics that empower businesses to optimize their digital presence, boost sales, drive engagement, and achieve exponential growth online. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and check out her many informative articles online.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 25+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.