When Google introduced schema.org two years ago as a new markup language that search engines would prefer for webmasters to utilize and implement into the coding of their websites, many Internet marketers (myself included) saw this as part of the future of SEO.
In the beginning stages of search engine optimization, simply listing your meta keywords in the code of your website and hoping that your competition wasn’t aware of this SEO tip was almost enough for you to obtain #1 rankings on Yahoo!, Altavista, Lycos, and some of the other prehistoric search engines. A year or two later, you had to make sure that each web page’s pages titles, meta descriptions, and content were optimized for the keywords that you wanted to rank for. The next phase- local businesses started competing with each other by obtaining more links than their competitors, building more website pages, and were eventually devastated when Google’s Penguin and Panda penalties put them right back to square one.
Google Authorship and Schema.org are seen as part of the evolution of SEO, and phase 1 of schema.org- properly marking your law firm’s name, address, and phone number (commonly referred to as NAP) up using schema.org on your website- is important to obtaining top local rankings. But other than the NAP, there are very few schema.org implementations that you could implement into your website that would actually make a difference. You could implement the markup language around your client testimonials, videos, and recently, your logo, but today’s announcement by Google that they will now recommend that webmasters implement schema.org markup language around interior page content properties such as titles, description, dates published, article body, images, etc. so that they have a better chance of appearing in their new in-depth article search results feature is another opportunity for you to have a jump start on your competition.
There are already a few ways for your law firm to capitalize on this announcement:
1. Contact your website development/SEO firm, make sure they are up-to-speed, and find out how quickly they can implement the schema.org article-related markup into your website for your blog posts, articles, firm news section, etc.
2. Stay aware of which legal, medical, news, and other types of websites which are relevant to your practice area(s) and local area(s) actually appear for certain searches as Google’s new In-Depth Articles feature continues to evolve. If these websites, which are obviously staying on top of the constantly-evolving landscape of search engine marketing, offer guest contributions, then you probably want to look into this as an opportunity to gain more exposure.
Some additional items that you can mark up using schema.org are your Superlawyers, Martindale AV Rating, and other law-related award badges using the “award(s)” property, what audience is intended to be reached based on practice area and/or city, state, or county by using the “audience” property, and more.
By implementing advanced article-related schema.org properties such as audience, about, contributor, etc., you’ll be able to communicate to Google and other search engines who your intended target audience is. This advanced and specific markup language, coupled with the Authorship factors that continue to gain importance, seem to be a lot more credible ranking factors than how many links a website has or how many pages of content are indexed. The only question is whether or not your competition is as up-to-date as you are.
We’ll be implementing these schema.org markup properties onto client websites, which we predict will eventually result in an increase in author stat impressions in Webmaster Tools as the in-depth articles feature continues to evolve.