#35 – Tesla avoids a reputation pothole, Pizza Hut’s late hacking delivery, and a $250k reputation mistake 0

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Have bad news to share? Be quick to get your side of the story out!

Each week, Erin Jones and I take a look at the most interesting reputation management stories, answer your questions, and share valuable ORM tactics. In this week’s episode:

If you have a question you would like us to tackle, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.

Transcript (forgive us for any typos):

Andy Beal:                  We’re at episode 35 and it’s a good one. We’re going to start off with Tesla. You should be familiar with Tesla because they are the darling of well, not just the high-tech industry, but any industry. They manufacture the sleek electric cars that you probably see all over the place and drool over. However, they had an announcement this week where they fired an estimated 400 to 700 employees. We don’t know the number, that’s the media’s guess, 400 to 700. They said it’s because of regular performance reviews and that these happen to be employees that basically failed the performance reviews. The company came out and got ahead of the message and said … they insisted these are not layoffs, so this is not any indication that the company’s not doing too well, these were employees that didn’t meet their high standards and so they were fired.

It’s interesting because you could look at this, the conspiracy theorist, and you could say, “Hey, this is a cover-up and they’re just crafting the story to protect their reputation,” or you could look at it from the other side and say, “Hey, this is a company with such high standards that they’re willing to sacrifice these employees and go out and find better employees.” What say you Erin?

Erin Jones:                  It’s not uncommon for a company to lay off 5% even 10% of their workforce if they’re not seeing the numbers that they need to see. I don’t think that this traditionally falls in line with Tesla’s inclusive, feel-good reputation, but it sounds to me like they were trying to cut dead weight. I may be a little bit biased because I am waiting on a Tesla 3 to show up in my driveway.

Andy Beal:                  Good disclosure.

Erin Jones:                  Another curious thing that I heard, throw on your tinfoil hat really quickly, is that they may have been trying to avoid unionization, that some of the people that they let go were very vocal supporters of a local workers union. There are a lot of things swirling around here but I think that … Michael Harley over at Kelley Blue Book said that a major change in staff, whether it be dismissals or layoffs, can be a really good indication that there is an upper-level movement to put the train back on the tracks. Hopefully, regardless of the cause for what happened, they’re taking this time to really focus on getting things back where they need to be. Their production and development has been delayed for months now, there are rumors going around that they’re not doing great financially. I think it’ll be interesting to see and I think what’s really going to matter is how they take this moving forward.

Andy Beal:                  You make some interesting points and they could be killing two birds with one stone. They need to get the company back on track and they need to get rid of the dead weight, and so these are legitimate firings because they’re getting rid of the employees that are not pulling their weight, and they’re going to hire even better ones. Maybe they needed to let go whether it is for the potential for union or just because they’re in positions where they were overstaffed. I think the interesting thing is that Tesla, the interesting thing for me at least is that Tesla got out in front of this and created the narrative here that this is poor performance on the part of these employees that were let go.

That helps play into the reputation that Tesla has of being this just amazing company. I would argue that they’re like the Apple of our day. Apple’s kind of seeing a little bit of a drop-off and Tesla, everybody, well not everybody, but a lot of people want their cars and they’re doing amazing things with all kinds of technology. Whether this is a carefully crafted narrative to avoid using the term layoffs or not, it plays into the reputation that they’re trying to build of excellence.

Erin Jones:                  Definitely. Now, my question to you is: if you were advising them right now, what would you recommend they do moving forward so that they can maintain that great reputation without this being a long memory issue?

Andy Beal:                  Well I think that they need to demonstrate that the story that they’re spinning is true. I think that within the next few weeks or months they need to come out and announce hiring, or something positive along the lines of replacing these people that were let go. I think that they couldn’t afford to ignore any of the rumors. I wouldn’t go or give in any fuel to speculation about whether they were going to unionize or not, but keep an eye on it, make sure the mainstream media doesn’t bite onto that narrative, but I think they don’t want to get into the weeds here and start defending stuff, if it’s not true or not, getting any traction.

I think that they do need to demonstrate that their product and the promises that they’ve made about time lines can be trusted. That’s what they got to focus on. It’s all very well having this great reputation that they’ve built in the past, but when you have bumps in the road, pardon the pun, that reputation is only going to carry you so far before people start looking at this and saying, “Well wait a minute. You’ve had this go wrong, this has happened, this has happened,” and then they start saying that things are not as good there as they used to be.

Erin Jones:                  I agree. I think that if they can speed up production and really show an increase in efficiency, this is a great time to do it.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. Good lesson here for those listening about when you’ve got bad news to share, letting go of 400 to 700 people is not good news regardless of what happened. It’s important to get out in front of the story, not let it leak, and just put a positive spin on it if you like. Unlike our second story, which is Pizza Hut, who waited two weeks before telling an estimated 60,000 customers that their credit card information had been compromised due to a hack of their systems. It’s good that they came out and said, “Hey, look, there was this hack,” but it took them two weeks and in the meantime, you’ve got customers who’ve had their bank accounts drained, their credit cards compromised. If Pizza Hut had come out the day that they knew of it Erin, then they could have saved a lot of hassle for their customers.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. I think that this is another good time to remind people that if you can get in front of things before they pick up a lot of steam, then they tend to not gather a lot of news interest. Coming out two weeks later and saying, “We had a minor temporary security intrusion,” it sounds to me like they’re trying to minimize it and downplay it when there are people who have had their bank account drained. It doesn’t make people feel good. They did offer everyone affected a free year of credit monitoring and they were smart to not use Equifax, so I’ll give them that, but I think they could have handled this so much better and I think that they’re going to have some work to do to fix this now.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. We live in a day and age where we assume that somebody’s going to get hacked that we do business with on a regular basis. It’s just going to happen. We’re seeing it time and time again and so I think the key now is, how do you handle releasing that information and making things right with your customer and sitting on it for two weeks? Now, I could see how they were [inaudible 00:08:48] to make sure they had all the facts, maybe even to try and get some fix in place before they announced to the world that they’ve been compromised. I can see the need for that, but that doesn’t take two weeks, and I think that in this day and age with information moving quickly, especially when credit card numbers are being compromised, you need to get that information out ASAP even if it’s, “Hey, we don’t have a full solution in place yet. However, we have patched the hack. We have locked down this, that, and the other, and we’re in the process of putting together a compensation plan for our customers that involves more than free pepperoni pizza.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely. I think people just want to know that the brand cares enough to say, “We understand that this is bad and we need you to know that we’re working on it, and we will make this right.” This is advice that we are constantly giving to people in a variety of industries. Pizza Hut is no different.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah, and this is our lesson. You need to care more about your customers than you do protecting your brand. Your reputation is what your customers think of you, what the media think of you, and if you’re worrying so much about how this hack is going to affect your brand, your stock price, what investors think of you, and you focus too much on that, you’ll make decisions that are not as beneficial for the customer and trust me, if you don’t have the trust of the customer, you don’t have the business coming in and you won’t have the brand to worry about.

Erin Jones:                  Absolutely.

Andy Beal:                  All right. Let’s move on to our last story and it involves a quarter of a million dollar Ferrari and a blocked handicap parking space, and Erin you’ve got the details on that.

Erin Jones:                  I do. This story actually hits me sort of close to home because it happened in my hometown to someone that I’ve grown up with. A gentleman that I know is taking care of his handicapped mother and he took her out to lunch last week at a local Chili’s. When they got out of lunch they found a Ferrari parked over the line of the handicapped space, far enough that his mother had a really hard time getting into their vehicle because they were parked in the handicapped space. We live in a small community, so he posted a picture of it on our local group Facebook page and just said, “You guys, this is awful. Who does this?” Just a little bit of a rant.

Oddly enough a local realtor jumped to the Ferrari driver’s defense and said, “I’m pretty sure if you had a quarter of a million dollar car you wouldn’t want door dings either, now would you? Oh wait. I bet you drive a Prius.” Then she went on to say, “I’m going to kindly ask that you take this down because these are some of the nicest people I know.” Okay. “Kindly …” Really. There was not a whole lot kind going on there.

We’ve talked many times about coming into defense of someone. You can do that respectfully without insulting someone. What’s crazy about this story though is partially because a lot of us know this gentleman, immediately jump to his defense, especially because now we’re talking about her putting the value of a vehicle over the value of a handicapped person, which is not really admirable. It was funny because he put a picture up on the post of her face. He actually had one of her real estate notepads on his fridge the day that this all happened and said, “I don’t think you’re going to be selling my house now.”

First we got the non-apology, the, “I’m sorry but …” and that kept going. People started to get mean and it turns out that as this picked up more steam, the car owner and the realtor actually started getting threats online to the point where someone threatened her life.

Andy Beal:                  Wow.

Erin Jones:                  She reached out to my friend privately and they talked and it sounds like they’ve actually really got a good dialog going on at this point. He has since deleted the post, he never meant for anyone to get hurt. He was just trying to raise awareness for an issue, which I think he raised a whole lot of awareness for this issue. It has a couple of lessons for me. First, commenting like a jerk when you are a local personality is not intelligent. Secondly, for both sides of this argument, I think people forgot that there are people on both sides of the screen here and these aren’t just online personalities, but these are people in our local community. Is it worth threatening someone’s life or their safety? Probably not.

Andy Beal:                  No. Yeah. There’s so much involved here. One of the biggest things is that … the biggest lesson here is, this doesn’t have to be a mainstream media coverage in order to hurt your reputation. This was just local, confined pretty much to people in your community, a group of friends that live in the area, on Facebook, but has damaged that person’s reputation, both to people in that community. I looked on Google News and looked around briefly, didn’t see anybody picking this up, however, it doesn’t necessarily matter because within the community, that damage has been done. I think also it’s clear, and we’ll put a photo, we’ve got a screenshot of the photo, so we’ll put that in the blog post, but it’s clear that the person driving the Ferrari is in the wrong. They have parked over … honestly, if I drove a Ferrari, I would find a parking space at the back of the parking lot where nobody else is going to park, and park it there.

This person has encroached on a handicapped parking space, they’re clearly in the wrong. If you’re going to come to the defense of the person, you don’t defend what’s wrong. You can defend the character of the person, and it’s saying that, “Hey …” but you do it not the way that they did it. Don’t, “Hey, this is an expensive car and these are good people,” but say … if I was the realtor I’d say, “I know the owner of that car. I can’t believe that they parked like that. It’s so out of character for them. I’m sure they’ll be along shortly to apologize and try to make amends for the inconvenience that they caused.” That’s how I would handle it, but yeah, this realtor’s almost thrown gasoline on to a small spark of a reputation issue, and made it so much bigger, and I don’t know why. It’s one thing to defend a friend or a client, but you got to be careful when they’ve done something legitimately wrong, and this is a clear-cut case of doing something wrong.

Erin Jones:                  Agreed, and then the fact that she just kept on digging. I think that she’ll be lucky if her brokerage keeps her. If I owned a real estate company and this was one of my realtors, there would be a lot of conversations going on about how they’re representing my logo in the community at that point.

Andy Beal:                  I think that … go ahead.

Erin Jones:                  I was just going to say, I think that this is going to have a lot of far-reaching consequences not for the driver of the car. For them they could have come on and said, “I’m really sorry. That was a bonehead thing to do,” and it would have been fine. This didn’t have to be a huge issue.

Andy Beal:                  There’s a lot of times where I think that we over share on social media and create issues for ourselves because, and I think you’ve mentioned this a number of times before, we don’t look at the people behind the photo or the people behind the posts and we just … it’s easy to go on this attack because there’s so much distance, we’re not face to face. I don’t think these conversations would have happened face to face. In fact, the death threats would not happen if these people were face to face. We live in a time where everybody’s got a smartphone with a camera, your actions can be publicized. This is not the first time this is going to happen. You should know that if you encroach on a handicapped space, people that rely on those spaces are going to take photos. I see it time and time again, and I think it’s … I don’t blame them because I get mad just when someone encroaches on my parking space and I’m able-bodied and I can walk from the back of the parking lot.

I can understand the motivation for wanting to publicize it, but you need to understand that your actions are going to be publicized somewhere. That also applies to your reactions and how you react, and nine times out of ten, being humble, apologizing is the way to go. Like I said, for the realtor, they created their own issue. They could have just stayed quiet and kept out of it. Nobody knew anything about them. It’s not like someone went on the warpath and said, “Okay. Who is this person who parked this car? I want to know the name of their realtor because I want to give them trouble too.” The realtor just put themselves in the middle of the mess.

Erin Jones:                  Exactly.

Andy Beal:                  All right. A lesson there. I go back to the point I made earlier, it doesn’t have to show up in the Wall Street Journal or on the local CBS News affiliate for it to hurt your reputation. It just could be within the local community on Facebook, and all of a sudden this driver of this car and this realtor are going to be facing a tough few weeks ahead. That’s our show … go ahead.

Erin Jones:                  I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to talk over you. I was just going to say a really good thing to remember in situations like this is something that I talk to my seven-year-old about a lot is, am I being a good person right now? Is my behavior a behavior I would want to be remembered for? A lot of this probably is not.

Andy Beal:                  Yeah. Sometimes it’d be a good reminder. If someone was capturing this on video, would I want it published to Facebook? That’s a good litmus test for the action you’re about to take, and in this case, the answer is absolutely not. All right. That’s our show for this week. We thank you for tuning in. If you have a question or a comment about any of the stories, or would like us to answer a question about reputation management, please head to facebook.com/andybealorm. You can also go to andybeal.com, find any of the blog posts for the podcast and leave a question there. Erin, as always, enjoyed chatting with you.

Erin Jones:                  Thank you so much for having me.

Andy Beal:                  Thank you guys for listening. We hope you’ll join us again next time. Bye, bye.

The post #35 – Tesla avoids a reputation pothole, Pizza Hut’s late hacking delivery, and a $250k reputation mistake appeared first on Andy Beal .


Source: Andy Beal

5 More WordPress SEO Enhancements You Wish You Had 0

5 More WordPress SEO Enhancements You Wish You Had was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Are there certain things you wish you could accomplish with your SEO in WordPress, but the functionality is just not there? Me, too.

Last time I wrote about WordPress SEO enhancements, I talked about the popularity of WordPress as a platform for some of the world’s best-known websites. I also discussed the challenges that WordPress presents for doing SEO effectively, further challenged by the gap in functionality of SEO plugins out there today, even with 52,000 WordPress plugins in the marketplace.

WordPress.org has 52000 plugins

So I created a list of WordPress SEO enhancements we wish we had, including:

  • A plugin that allows you to focus on optimizing for more than one keyword
  • A plugin that clearly shows where the keywords are in the content
  • A plugin that shows the content creator how their content and their site are performing
  • A plugin that alerts you to problems with mobile usability and performance

At the end of the last post I asked for your vote. We wanted to know what functionality you would like to see in WordPress SEO, and here are the results:

Which of these WordPress enhancements do you want from an SEO plugin?
wordpres enhancements survey

Today, I’ll outline five more WordPress SEO enhancements you wish you had and why.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 1: You Can’t View Customized Keyword Recommendations

Existing WordPress SEO plugins make recommendations for keywords based on fixed SEO best practices, rather than customized guidance per keyword. The problem with that is best practices are good to know, but experienced SEOs realize that each keyword creates its own playing field in the search engine results pages.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 1: You Can’t View Customized Keyword Recommendations

We know that content is one of the top ranking factors, and so search engines will analyze all the top pages about a topic as a population to determine what attributes they share in their content.

This includes things like the total word count, title tag length, meta description length, the number of times keyword is used, the reading level and other factors.

The search engines will evaluate a newly published web page against the top competitors for a query to see how many of those top attributes it shares before the page is ranked among them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if an SEO plugin could size-up the competitors and tell you, for example, how long your page needs to be before you publish? Or, how many times a given keyword should appear?

The gap: A plugin that evaluates the top-ranked pages for your keywords in real-time, and then gives actual recommendations for keyword usage in tags and content, even word count, based upon these competitors. Just reporting usage is easy, but recommendations is what is needed.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 2: You Can’t See Content History per Keyword

As your website ages, you add more and more content. And, more people author those pages and posts, leaving it hard to know how many times you’ve written about a topic in the past at-a-glance, and how those posts are performing.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 2: You Can’t See Content History per Keyword

Today’s WordPress SEO plugins don’t address those challenges. For example, when choosing what keyword to focus on when creating content, it would be helpful to see:

  • The keywords you’ve already used in previous posts
  • How many posts or pages you’ve written for each keyword
  • How well those pages or posts are doing, for example, average rank, page views, clicks, impressions and click-through rates

There are ways to stitch this information together outside of WordPress by looking at Google Search Console and Google Analytics, but this takes time and resources away from the goal: creating more targeted content.

The gap: A plugin that shows how much content has been written on your site per keyword, and how each of those pages or posts are actually performing using Google Analytics data.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 3: You Can’t Gamify Publishing

Are you able to quickly tell who the top-performing authors are on your website? Within WordPress today, you can see a list of all your pages or posts, but you can’t tell which pages are your top performers and who authored those, and that can change daily or weekly.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 3: You Can’t Gamify Publishing

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the need to see top-performing posts and pages to influence your plan for new content:

When you don’t know which posts are resonating in organic search, it can hinder planning for future posts and social media campaigns. You’re basically flying blind.

Knowing which posts and topics are succeeding allows you to create more winning content. It also helps you avoid wasting time promoting content with high bounce rates or which generates little interest and little traffic to your site.

What you want is “unicorn” content — your very best, standout content. You want to be able to find your best content, amplify it, and then make more like it. You can only do this with analytics data informing you of the unicorns in the herd.

But what if you could also easily see how many posts an author has on the website, and how many of those posts are top performers? Things like page views and time on page could be useful metrics to gauge this by.

How could an organization use this data? Let’s say you’re a news publisher with hundreds of contributors, and you want to incentivize authors to properly optimize their posts so they gain more traffic.

With access to data that shows top-performing posts per author, you can stir up some healthy competition amongst contributors, and in turn, reward those top authors with recognition or goodies.

The gap: A plugin that shows the top performing posts or pages per author/contributor to the website as measured by actual visitors over a selectable period of time.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 4: You Don’t Know if You Have Duplicate Content

Google may not have an official penalty for duplicate content on your site, but when pages are too similar, the search engines filter out the “duplicates” from the search results. That equals less real estate for your website. If it happens a lot, your site might appear low quality. These outcomes make duplicate content an SEO concern.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 4: You Don’t Know if You Have Duplicate Content

Today, publishers can gather data about duplicate titles and meta descriptions in Google Search Console. If you’re on top of it, you’ll check regularly and fix those issues — but it’s easy to neglect.

That’s why website publishers using WordPress don’t have an easy way to know if they’re inadvertently creating duplicate content. This can happen, for example, when someone copies an existing title tag or meta description, or if someone mistakenly publishes the same page under two different URLs. Using canonical tags can prevent the auto-generated types of URLs from being indexed as duplicates — and your SEO plugin should add a canonical tag automatically, if your settings are right — but this is no cure for the inadvertent duplication of content in newly created pages.

The gap: A plugin that easily notifies website publishers when there is a possibility of duplicate content, like meta information or the content on a page.

SEO Plugin Gap No. 5: You Don’t Understand Your Content’s Reading Level Score

Reading level is just one of the many criteria that search engine algorithms may take into account when evaluating web pages against one another.

Coffee Break Reading Travel Book Lifestyle Concept

SEO Plugin Gap No. 5: You Don’t Understand Your Content’s Reading Level Score

Knowing a page’s or post’s reading level score, such as that generated by the Flesch-Kincaid readability tests can help you ensure your content is on par with the competition in the search results. The Yoast SEO plugin today does offer readability guidance that gives general recommendations on how to improve the overall ease of reading of your content, but there isn’t a plugin today that tailors reading level to the keyword.

As I mentioned earlier, each keyword query can have its own set of signals when it comes to the search engine algorithms, so readability scores can vary based on the type of query, for example, a medical query versus a shopping query.

The gap: A plugin that presents a readability goal based on your keywords and assesses the reading level on your pages and posts so the author can instantly know if the new content is on par with the competition at the top of the search results.

What WordPress Is Missing

Let’s face it, WordPress is in the business of WordPress, not the business of SEO.

WordPress is not exactly SEO enabled by default and finding the right plugins to help you accomplish everything you want in SEO can be a challenge. Consider my wish list and ask yourself if your job would be easier or goals closer to accomplishing with the right tool.

If you like this post or want to commiserate with a friend or colleague about the gap in the WordPress SEO plugin marketplace, please share.

If you have friends that could benefit from improved WordPress SEO guidance, then share this post series with them. And if you just like how we think, then tell everyone.

Save


Source: Bruce Clay

Call for Projects/Papers/Participation for 8th Annual Internet Law Works-in-Progress Conference, NYLS, March 24, 2018 0

Internet Law WIP Logo

Eighth Annual Internet Law Works-in-Progress, March 24, 2018, at New York Law School

Colleagues:

It is my honor to invite you to participate in the Eighth Annual Internet Law Works-in-Progress Conference at New York Law School on March 24, 2018. This conference series, co-sponsored by the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at New York Law School and the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law, was created for Internet law scholars to receive feedback on their papers and projects from their peers. It is an exciting, informal gathering where we work together to advance scholarship in our field. We also have a lot of fun!

The conference takes a broad view of the topics that fit under the Internet Law umbrella. So, we encourage you to join this growing group of scholars, practitioners, technologists, and social scientists at New York Law School’s campus in TriBeCa.

There are three categories of participation:
1. Papers-in-Progress: This track is for paper drafts sufficiently advanced to share with event attendees. We allocate extra speaking time to these presentations. Papers will be due in the middle of February 2018.
2. Projects-in-Progress: This track is for research projects without a paper draft, covering anything from nearly finished papers to new ideas.
3. Discussant: Space permitting, we welcome you to join the conversation as an active audience participant.

How to Participate

If you would like to join us in New York City in March, please complete this form by November 22, 2017 at 5pm Eastern.

We expect to notify accepted participants in early December. Submissions received after the deadline will be evaluated on a space-available basis.

There is no event participation fee. All participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses. Information about travel and lodging will be provided to all participants. There is no publication obligation associated with presenting at the conference. 

Want to bring friends?

If you know someone who would be interested in joining us, but may not have received this email—namely, is not on our email list or has never attended the conference before—please reach out to Joseph Forgione, Associate Director of the Innovation Center, atjoseph.forgione@nyls.edu, to add that friend’s name to the list. Please also forward this email to all those you think would be interested.

Need More Information?

The initial conference website is up and will be updated regularly with new information. You may also contact Joseph Forgione at joseph.forgione@nyls.edu with any questions.

We hope to see you in March!


Source: Eric Goldman Legal

Unlocking Hidden Gems Within Schema.org 0

Posted by alexis-sanders

Schema.org is cryptic. Or at least that’s what I had always thought. To me, it was a confusing source of information: missing the examples I needed, not explaining which item properties search engines require, and overall making the process of implementing structured data a daunting task. However, once I got past Schema.org’s intimidating shell, I found an incredibly useful and empowering tool. Once you know how to leverage it, Schema.org is an indispensable tool within your SEO toolbox.

A structured data toolbox

The first part of any journey is finding the map. In terms of structured data, there are a few different guiding resources:

  • The most prominent and useful are Google’s Structured Data Features Guides. These guides are organized by the different structured data markups Google is explicitly using. Useful examples are provided with required item properties.

    Tip: If any of the item types listed in the feature guides are relevant to your site, ensure that you’re annotating these elements.

  • I also want to share Merkle’s new, free, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Structured Data Markup Generator. It contains Google’s top markups with an incredibly user-friendly experience and all of the top item properties. This tool is a great support for starting your markups, and it’s great for individuals looking to reverse-engineer markups. It offers JSON-LD and some illustrative microdata markups. You can also send the generated markups directly to Google’s structured data testing tool.

  • If you’re looking to go beyond Google’s recommendations and structure more data, check out Schema.org’s Full Hierarchy. This is a full list of all Schema.org’s core and extended vocabulary (i.e., a list of all item types). This page is very useful to determine additional opportunities for markup that may align with your structured data strategy.

    Tip: Click “Core plus all extensions” to see extended Schema.org’s libraries and what’s in the pipeline.

  • Last but not least is Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. It is vital to check every markup with GSDTT for two reasons:

    • To avoid silly syntactic mistakes (don’t let commas be your worst enemy — there are way better enemies out there ☺).
    • Ensure all required item properties are included

As an example, I’m going to walk through the Aquarium item type Schema.org markup. For illustrative purposes, I’m going to stick with JSON-LD moving forward; however, if there are any microdata questions, please reach out in the comments.

Basic structure of all Schema.org pages

When you first enter a Schema.org item type’s page, notice that every page has the same layout, starting with the item type name, the canonical reference URL (currently the HTTP version*), where the markup lives within the Schema.org hierarchy, and that item type’s usage on the web.

*Leveraging the HTTPS version of a Schema.org markup is acceptable

What is an item type?

An item type is a piece of Schema.org’s vocabulary of data used to annotate and structure elements on a web page. You can think about it as what you’re marking up.

At the highest level of most Schema.org item types is Thing (alternatively, we’d be looking at DataType). This intuitively makes sense because almost everything is, at its highest level of abstraction, a Thing. The item type Thing has multiple children, all of which assume Thing’s properties in a cascading in a hierarchical fashion (i.e., a Product is a Thing, both can have names, descriptions, and images).

Explore Schema.org’s item types here with the various visualizations:

https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/schema-markup-generator/visual/

Item types are going to be the first attribute in your markup and will look a little like this (remember this for a little later):

Tip: Every Schema.org item type can be found by typing its name after Schema.org, i.e. http://schema.org/Aquarium (note that case is important).

Below, this is where things start to get fun — the properties, expected type, and description of each property.

What are item properties?

Item properties are attributes, which describe item types (i.e., it’s a property of the item). All item properties are inherited from the parent item type. The value of the property can be a word, URL, or number.

What is the “Expected Type”?

For every item type, there is a column the defines the expected item type of each item property. This is a signal which tells us whether or not nesting will be involved. If the expected property is a data type (i.e., text, number, etc.) you will not have to do anything; otherwise get ready for some good, old-fashioned nesting.

One of the things you may have noticed: under “Property” it says “Properties from CivicStructure.” We know that an Aquarium is a child of CivicStructure, as it is listed above. If we scan the page, we see the following “Properties from…”:

This looks strikingly like the hierarchy listed above and it is (just vertical… and backward). Only one thing is missing – where are the “Properties from Aquarium”?

The answer is actually quite simple — Aquarium has no item properties of its own. Therefore, CivilStructures (being the next most specific item type with properties) is listed first.

Structuring this information with more specific properties at the top makes a ton of sense intuitively. When marking up information, we are typically interested in the most specific item properties, ones that are closest conceptually to the thing we’re marking up. These properties are generally the most relevant.

Creating a markup

  1. Open the Schema.org item type page.

  2. Review all item properties and select all relevant attributes.
    • After looking at the documentation, openingHours, address, aggregateRating, telephone, alternateName, description, image, name, and sameAs (social media linking item property) stood out as the most cogent and useful for aquarium goers. In an effort to map out all of the information, I added the “Expected Type” (which will be important in the next step) and the value of the information we’re going to markup.
  3. Add the starting elements of all markup.
    • All markup, whether JSON-LD or microdata, starts with the same set of code/markup. One can memorize this code or leverage examples and copy/paste.
    • JSON-LD: Add the script tag with the JSON-LD type, along with the @context, and @type with the item type included:
  4. Start light. Add the easier item properties (i.e., the ones that don’t require nesting).
    • First off, how do you tell whether or not the property nests?

      • This is where the “Expected Type” column comes into play.
      • If the “Expected Type” is “Text”, “URL”, or “Number” — you don’t need to nest.
    • I’ve highlighted the item properties that do not require nesting above in green. We’ll start by adding these to our markup.
  • JSON-LD: Contains the item property in quotation marks, along with the value (text and URLs are always in quotation marks). If there are multiple values, they’re listed as arrays within square [brackets].

  • Finish strong. Add the nested item properties.
    • Nested item properties are item types within item types. Through nesting, we can access the properties of the nested item type.
    • JSON-LD: Nested item properties start off like normal item properties; however, things get weird after the colon. A curly brace opens up a new world. We start by declaring a new item type and thus, inside these curly braces all item properties now belong to the new item type. Note how commas are not included after the last property.
  • Test in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

    • Looks like we’re all good to go, with no errors and no warnings.
  • Side notes:

    • *address: Google’s documentation list address, nested within PostAddress as a requirement. This is a good indicator of why it’s important to review Google’s documentation.
    • openingHours: Multiple times are listed out in an array (as indicated by the square brackets). As the documentation’s “Description section” mentions – using a hyphen for ranges and military time.
      • Note: Google’s documentation uses the openingHoursSpecification item property, which nests OpeningHoursSpecification. This is a good example where Google documentation shows a more specific experience to consider.
    • telephone: Sometimes you need to add a country code (+1) for phone numbers.
    • image: URLs must be absolute (i.e., protocol and domain name included).

    TL;DR:

    • Schema.org’s documentation can be leveraged to supplement Google’s structured data documentation
    • The “Expected Type” on Schema.org tells you when you need to nest an item type
    • Check out Merkle’s Structured Data Markup Generator if you want to try simply inserting values and getting a preliminary markup

    Thanks!

    A huge thanks to Max Prin (@maxxeight), Adam Audette (@audette), and the @MerkleCRM team for reviewing this article. Plus, shout outs to Max (again), Steve Valenza (#TwitterlessSteve), and Eric Hammond (@elhammond) for their work, ideas, and thought leadership that went into the Schema Generator Tool!

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    Source: Moz