Can I add microdata markup to my website to take advantage of Google’s sitelinks search box?
- What is the sitelinks search box? There’s a new Google feature called the “Sitelinks Search Box” that indexes searches on your site so it can present results for those searches in Google. For instance, if people are routinely searching for men’s sweaters on your site, it might index/save that search. Google then presents a second search box in the actual search results just for your website. This feature has been around for some select enterprise brands but, as of Sep 5, you may be able to have it too. What’s required is adding a code snippet and microdata to your site.
- What is microdata?: There is a way of marking up code so that search engines know what parts of your website data actually are. It differentiates kinds of content – not just pages and posts but, for instance, products and events – and even what the parts of those content pieces are – such as a product name, price, review, etc. Schema.org is one organization setting standards for this microdata, and it’s the most important recent hitter for Google search right now. For our purposes, let’s use the terms microdata and schema.org markup and itemprop entries (one of the markup methods) interchangeably.
- If you’re a *local* business, you should definitely ask your webmaster to ensure schema.org markup/data gets added to your site for your contact information. Not doing so doesn’t mean Google won’t regard you as a local business, but using Google’s preference for markup of this type earns favor with search.
- Most of the schema markup is for when a site provides: software & app downloads, event registrations, e-commerce products to buy & review, streaming tv episodes or music to download, etc – in other words content items and interaction possibilities that get beyond the page or the post. If you aren’t providing those types of interactions, most of the uses of microdata don’t actually apply to you. If you are providing those things consistently and frequently, then you may want your webmaster to automate adding the appropriate “itemprop” entries into the relevant portions of your site. That includes saving “searches” with microdata to appear in Google’s new “sitelinks search box”.
- If your site is/has a blog: and you are blogging routinely, blog posts are already well indexed by google. You can use a plugin like “itemprop WP” to add article-like schema markup (article is one of the categories) but this will only partly automate the process. This is a relatively new markup and, while wordpress moves faster than anyone, neither wordpress core nor wordpress plugins have caught up with this yet, and likely won’t for a while. It’s unlikely, however, that Google will actually treat your blog posts as “articles” in the same sense as an article on Huffington Post.
- If you just want to add the sitelinks search code snippet: to your site, you can ask your webmaster or use a plugin like the Sitelinks Search Box plugin for WordPress or the respected Yoast SEO plugin reports that it already has the code built-in, so there’s nothing to do. Will this guarantee you will get a search box in Google? Probably not. If you’re not selling sweaters or air conditioners, it’s not likely to apply to you. You maybe have gotten a note from Google saying you’re eligible; but you still might not be. If you’re a site with just some pages and posts, you probably aren’t. Sites with a) very high traffic, b) a variety of products for sale, c) a brand name that itself results in tons of searches (like Lennox, Walmart, and Firestone.
Overall, my advice is not to fall into feeling that eeking every last iota of search relevance from your site is where you should be investing time and energy. The best SEO guys in the world are focused on creating killer content and nurturing an audience around it. You’d do better having a fully fleshed out marketing plan that isn’t chasing the latest thing, but is doing the stuff that has worked for years.
MadPipe can help you with that. Reach out, and let’s talk.
Thanks to Phil in Boston for this question.