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Posted on March 8, 2018 by
Have you heard of schema.org? You may not have before today, but it will quickly become one of your go-to sites—this website will positively change how potential customers find your content and will encourage them to click through from search engines more often. Want to know how? Let me explain.
You don’t need to own a business to recognize and appreciate the value of the search engine results page (SERP). Whether you’re trying to look up ingredients for a new dinner recipe or suddenly need to know the name of the actor who starred in Caddyshack, search engines like Google and Bing are always at our fingertips, ready with the answers.
While your average internet user may not need to know exactly how Google always finds the answers and shares the best results, business owners do. Because knowing the backend business of structuring data for your website pages ensures that your business shows up high in search results—and with the compelling information that will make users click!
Search engines are built on data; the data collected from user searches, the data collected from XML sitemaps, traffic data and so much more. Fortunately, we live in an age where all of this data is readily available—but before we can access these collections of data, they have to be organized and standardized and packaged to show up in our search engine results.
That’s where Schema.org comes in.
What is Schema?
Before we talk about schema, we need to define “metadata”: Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. And schema is one of those sets! Schema is the overall structure for that metadata. More specifically, schema metadata is the dataset that enables you to include more information about a web page when your site shows up in search engine results.
You not only score “points” with search engines by standardizing the data and creating a richer search result, you also get to highlight the exact information you know your ideal customer is searching for . . . making it that much more compelling for them to click on your search result and head to your page!
For example, if you search for the term “vodka martini recipe”, the top results include a photo, ratings, ingredients, instructions and more—offering you a rich and compelling recipe result searchers will want to click. Another example is Roaring Pajamas’ client, LoveToKnow. If you type “site:lovetoknow.com cats” into Google, you’ll see the breadcrumb from the site—and that was created using schema.
Why is Schema Important?
Search engines created a standard for search engine results to ensure a better experience for their users. By creating an experience where users are a lot more likely to find the answers they need directly on the SERP, search engines ensure that users stay in the search channel—and are more likely to click on the ads that make those search engines money!
As a business owner or marketer, a richer search engine result benefits you, too. Keep in mind that you only have seconds to gain the user’s attention—there are a lot of answers on that SERP, after all—so you should optimize your search result to appeal to your target audience and entice them to click-through to learn more.
Metadata called out in schema markup can also positively impact your search ranking—also known as your position on the SERP. Research has highlighted significant improvements in both search engine ranking and click-through rate when your content is appropriately optimized. That’s where schema.org comes in . . . but more on that later.
While you may have a different end goal in mind than the search engines do, richer search results benefit you both. A richer result benefits Google and if you leverage Google’s desire for a better search experience, the likelihood that people will click on your result is much higher.
How Do I Work with Schema?
The good news is you don’t have to build the schema for your metadata from scratch! Metadata needs to be standardized, so that data from one webpage can be compared to data from another. Schema.org is the collaborative community activity that provides a set of schema standards for marking up a web page depending upon the style of the page. You can find schema templates for everything from blog posts to recipes to books, events, articles and more!
Take a step back before you dive into the templates: As with all aspects of your business, consider your target audience first. Ask yourself: When my audience is searching for the information I can provide, what exactly are they looking for? If your website features recipes, are your ideal readers looking for the number of calories in each recipe? When creating your metadata content using schema as a guide, always give the user some of what they’re looking for and give them the next logical step: a call-to-action that encourages them to click to your web page and learn more.
Be intentional about including what your target audience is looking for when you optimize for search engines. But don’t give everything away either—make sure you include just enough information to make your search result stand out, but leave your audience wanting to click through to read more.
How Do I Add Metadata to My Website Using Schema?
Start with schema.org: Each of the templates on the site will give you different aspects and standards, and will even provide HTML code that you can copy and paste directly onto your webpage.
The SEO plugins for many content management systems also offer schema options, or you can download modules just for optimizing your schema tags. Lastly, there’s always the option to hand-code the data yourself—though that’s a bit more tedious than downloading a plugin or a module that will do the work for you.
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Creating, optimizing and adding metadata to your website using a schema template is actually quite simple—and incredibly valuable—when you use Schema.org. Give search engines as much data as you can to enrich the search experience for your potential customers, while also optimizing for a richer result that compels those same customers to click-through and buy from you!
Have you explored schema.org? Tell us the template you’ll try first in the comments below!
Posted on February 11, 2018 by
At Roaring Pajamas, an XML sitemap is one of the first items on our SEO audit checklist. Why? Because every website needs one—at least, every website needs one if they want to make it easy for search engine crawlers to find and index the right pages on their site.
In this post, I explain exactly what XML sitemaps are, explain why you need one and walk you through the steps to set yours up correctly.
What is an XML Sitemap?
Let’s start with what an XML sitemap is not. You may have an HTML sitemap—the user-friendly list of each published page on your site; the one that helps visitors quickly find what they need.
XML sitemaps are different.
XML sitemaps are not made for users; they’re made for search engines. So while an XML sitemap also contains a list of links to pages on your website, this sitemap is not user-friendly, and does not visibly appear on your site.
An XML sitemap may be a single file containing up to 10,000 links to pages; or a sitemap may be an index linking to multiple other XML files, each containing groups of pages. For example, a sitemap for a very large website may be organized into multiple files such as:
Your sitemap doesn’t require this complexity unless your site includes thousands of pages (like Amazon or Huffington Post or another large content site). Keeping it simple makes it easier on the search engines. The pages in your sitemap simply need to include the pages you wish to see in Google or Bing’s search engine index—the “landing pages” that you want to show up in search results. We keep our clients’ sitemaps (and our own!) simple and clean, as much as possible.
Why Do I Need One?
A well-constructed sitemap makes finding and sharing your website content easier for search engines—and eventually, those potential customers, too!
There are a couple of different ways to set up your sitemap—and, of course, there are pros and cons to each approach.
One of the easiest ways to set up a sitemap is to hire an expert to help. At Roaring Pajamas, we consider a lot of variables when creating an XML sitemap as part of SEO services we offer, and we advise our clients to continue updating their sitemaps long after we’re done (more on that later). The pro to hiring help with your sitemap is that the setup is done for you and (hopefully!) done right. But if the cost of hiring help is too much of a con, you have other options, too.
Try a Plugin
Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress have plugins that will generate your sitemap for you. Ideally, these plugins will also keep your sitemap up-to-date when you add or delete pages from your CMS—or they will update the sitemap at the frequency you designate. You can also add “excluded pages” to the plugin; ensuring that they are not included in future updates to your sitemap. Again, this seemingly simple, done-for-you solution is a definite pro! But on the con side, you still need to customize the plugin to ensure your sitemap is built to work effectively. In the end, getting the job done right is doable on your own with a plugin, but not quite as simple as hiring someone to handle the setup for you.
Use a Tool
There are other helpful tools you can use to set up your sitemap if you’re CMS doesn’t offer a plugin solution. We recommend (and use) Screaming Frog, but a quick Google search will bring up several other viable options. Much like a CMS plugin, these tools will do the work of building your sitemap for you. We don’t recommend that you rely solely on a third-party tool for setup though. Again, you should customize the setup to ensure your sitemap includes (and excludes) the appropriate pages, and continue to use the tool for each additional update to your sitemap. Though the additional customization and updates could be considered a downside, there is added value in having much of the work done for you!
DIY: Do It Yourself
Finally, you could manually build your XML sitemap yourself! As with most DIY projects, you’ll likely save money using this option. But this approach will also probably cost you time and energy. If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and found that DIY is the way to go, keep a few things in mind:
You’re not quite done yet—sitemaps require regular maintenance, too. But this is the easiest step of all.
To start, after you’ve constructed your sitemap, you still need to let search engines know that you have one! You can add your sitemap in Google’s Search Console and in Bing’s Webmaster Tools. The process is relatively simple and, once your sitemap is submitted, both search engines will start crawling your site.
Then, make sure you’re keeping your sitemap up-to-date. At Roaring Pajamas, we update our sitemap often—every time we make a change to our site. In the same way, you should update your sitemap at the same frequency that you’re making updates to your website! Following that, re-submit your sitemap to Google and Bing regularly—keeping in mind that submitting more than once per week is not recommended (even if your sitemap is updated daily).
I know that constructing and managing an XML sitemap seems like a lot of work! And that’s because . . . to be honest, it can be a lot of work. But your sitemap is a vital aspect of your website’s SEO and a key part of your marketing strategy. Hopefully, these tips will give you the clarity and direction you need to get yours set up ASAP!
Have you set up an XML sitemap for your website? Share your questions with us in the comments below!
Posted on January 30, 2018 by
We’re only one month into 2018, but already the top social media trends of the year are clear. I’m not a psychic, of course—the social media landscape is constantly evolving, and I can’t predict what will come out on top. But, as always, our Roaring Pajamas team has been paying close attention to what captured audiences’ attention last year—and what’s on their radar in the months to come.
So which social media trends should you be paying attention to—and taking advantage of—in 2018? Here are five of the top social media #trendingtopics to keep your eye (and marketing strategy) on this year:
Sure, Instagram Stories have been around for awhile. The feature quickly garnered buzz after launching in August 2016—and Stories’ popularity has only grown from there. Though similar in design and features to its predecessor, Snapchat, Instagram Stories has rightfully earned the status as leader of the pack. And with over 300 million active daily users—more than half of Instagram’s total users—brands clearly have an extraordinary opportunity to connect with an active audience on the platform. So, how do you make that connection? Get personal! Instagram Stories offer a fun opportunity to share behind-the-scenes information, share exclusive updates, offer sneak peeks and so much more. Instagram Stories is also one of few platforms where brands can still (somewhat) easily connect to consumers without spending money. Take advantage of this up-close-and-personal medium sooner rather than later!
Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Youtube Live—seemingly every social media platform is jumping on the opportunity to broadcast in real-time to their followers. And jumping on that bandwagon makes sense! Users are loving the authentic connection to their favorite friends and fan pages. You can take advantage of this new trend by researching when your target audience is most likely to be on Facebook (or Instagram or YouTube) and going live then. You could pick a regular day and time to go Live every week, schedule Live sessions intermittently or simply surprise your followers by showing up Live on their feed. Use the feature to answer questions, to announce contests or giveaways, to interview people on your team or in your industry—and so much more! As with all of your content, create Live videos that are interesting, valuable and authentic (which they often are by default because they’re live). No matter what you do, don’t miss out on this opportunity for true and immediate connection.
Higher Ad Spend
I know this may not be what you want to hear, but somebody has to say it! Ad spend is no longer “something to consider”; social media advertising dollars are a “must have” marketing line item if you want to have significant reach and engagement on social media in 2018. With social media algorithms changing seemingly every other day (ahem, Facebook), many brands are finding that showing up in the social media feeds of even their most fervent fans is harder and harder to do. And while you could easily just grumble at the changes and the increase to your bottom line, this is what marketing budgets (and strategy) are for. As a business, working hard—and perhaps paying—for your customer’s attention will always be necessary. So yes, one of the top 2018 social media trends is to prioritize the targeted and personal connection you get to your audience through social media advertising, while also continuing to post engaging, quality content that your favorite fans will want to engage with . . . with ad spend or without.
Taking a Stand
As you know, social media platforms are often the best and most immediate way to connect with your audience. But, of course, that makes standing out harder and harder to do—because every other brand knows that, too. When social media users see post after post from different companies—even those they’ve chosen to follow—they need a way to differentiate one company from the next. And, according to a recent study, one of the best ways to stand out is by standing up for what you believe in. Users want to know: where do you stand on the important issues that are showing up on their news feeds every single day? There’s risk of alienating customers, of course—those who may not agree with your stance or those who disagree with brands having an “opinion” on anything other than their product or service. But clearly, two-thirds of customers think taking a stand is important. You don’t have to comment on everything, of course—just consider what does and does not align with your company’s mission and values. Taking a stand is not about being controversial or inauthentic; this is about aligning with what’s most important to you. The right customers will feel that’s important, too.
Generation Z vs Millennials
Who is Generation Z, you ask? Don’t worry—I did, too. They are millennials’ younger siblings; those born after 1998. And while millennials tended to make purchases based on promotions and discounts, Generation Z are 2-3 times more likely to be influenced simply by engaging social media content (not just a good sale). That’s what makes this singular generation one of the top social media trends of 2018. The oldest of this newest generation are still quite young—around 20-22 years old—but they’re nearly out of school and about to enter the workforce. They have money to spend (whether theirs or their parents’) and, as the first generation of true “digital natives”, they’re going online to find out where they should. Focus your marketing efforts where Generation Z spends their time—Instagram and Snapchat are a great start—and focus on how they’re spending their time. Taking action on every one of the trends we’ve mentioned in this article will help you do just that.
With a heads up on what’s happening in 2018, take some time to tweak your social media marketing strategy and take advantage of these trends! Because regardless of how social media evolves this year, the brands that win with their customers are the ones that stay on top of that evolution.
Which social media trends will you add to your marketing strategy in 2018? Share your favorite ideas in the comments below!← Older posts