There’s a very specific type of schema that inLinks autogenerates, based on the topic you associate with a page. We wanted to conduct a blind study, with multiple independent SEOs around the globe, to see if this schema was having any effect on rankings and visibility. We were very pleased to have a bunch of people from the SEO Signals Lab help us to generate some really interesting findings.
Can The Webpage “About” Schema boost search visibility?Short answer “Yes, if used correctly.”
What is WebPage Schema, exactly?
WebPage is a schema type defined by Schema.org and explicitly tells a bot (like Googlebot or BingBot) what topics a webpage is primarily about and what other topics the content on the page mentions. We specifically refer to predefined topics here, not simply keywords and we reinforce that topicality by clearly linking the associations to Wikipedia articles.
Wait! Isn’t SEO about keywords? Not Wikipedia articles?Time to read our Semantic SEO guide. You have catching up to do.
In Fact, there is also a Keywords attribute defined in the documentation, but keywords metadata was so spammed by SEOs in the “noughties” that it is rather redundant these days. In addition, Google’s whole operation has been shifting from “connecting keywords” to “understanding and connecting concepts” for many years now. We are pretty confident that Google uses Wikidata in particular as a training set for building out its Knowledge Graph. We also know that they purchased Metaweb, the company behind Freebase, which had itself raised over $50M in venture capital, back in 2010. It was one of the first large scale knowledge graphs – with 12 million entities reportedly at the time of the acquisition.
What is the “About” Attribute
The main attribute that concerns us is the “About” attribute. Inlinks has a fantastic (proprietory) Natural Language Processing algorithm which tends to be much more granular than Google’s API and tends to find significantly more topics in a page of content. However, whilst our systems can sometimes make a guess as to the MAIN topics of the content, it really still helps if it is explicitly defined by you as the writer. In doing so, the theory is, you are raising this topic’s relevance above the others found on the page. This can help machine learning to understand the content hierarchy.
What is the Mentions attribute?
The second attribute that is useful is the lesser “mentions” attribute. This helps to tell machines that the content refers to these topics, but they are not the main subject of the content. This could help to “connect the dots” between ideas and topics, showing the close relationship between a bunch of topics.
SEOs were initially asked to signal their interest in a closed group. The experiment would only go ahead of more than 100 people showed an interest. When this threshold was reached, this smaller group were invited to add webpage “About” and Mention” schema to a webpage that was already ranking for something in the SERPs. They were asked not to make any other changes to the page. They had to provide the adjudicator with the URL and the keyword, which was then tracked. This ensured that all the sites were tracked independently, using the same rank tracking system.
About 20 SEOs took up the challenge. Over the next few weeks, we tracked the progress of the experiment, before bringing it to an end just before the core May update. Participants were invited to use InLinks to generate the schema but were not mandated to do so.
The Initial Setup 8th April 2020
Some of the initial entries were discounted as they could not be found ranking for any discernable phrase. 18 survived the initial cull and these were all asked to add the code after this initial table had been established.
Two Weeks Later…
After the initial launch, there were a flurry of “late entries” taking the test up to 24 users.
- Number of Sites With Position Gains: 11
- Number of Sites With Position Losses: 8
- Position Gains for All Sites: 67
- Position Losses for All Sites: 43
This was our first checkpoint in the experiment. We were, therefore, able to check the underlying code to make sure that the code was correctly applied. Here we found some interesting anomalies. Several sites had (unsurprisingly) not honoured their commitment to adding the code at all! These people were approached and asked helped to add the code where needed. In one case, though, the code was added but in a way that would most likely harm Google’s understanding of the content if Google was using the attribute. This is because different “things” can have the same name and if you imply your content is about (say) “Magic”, this could either be the artform or the card game. If you link it to the wrong definition in Wikipedia, then don’t expect good things to happen. We tried to correct these where we could.
Four Weeks Later
We finished track on Star Wars day (May the 4th). At this point the headline changes were as follows:
- Number of Sites With Position Gains: 14
- Number of Sites With Position Losses: 7
- Position Gains for All Sites: 74
- Position Losses for All Sites: 63
Again, this did not show the whole story, because 2 of the ones with significant losses remained the ones that had incorrectly implemented the code. In addition, my own entry (line 22) went from an initial +10 to a -5 most likely due to the server problems when I tried to use my personal server backup the whole of the InLinks data servers. That entry has now returned to the initial gains, more or less. That said, I am sure that other factors affected other sites positively and independently of the experiment in the other direction, so I think the results represent a balanced view.
Over the course of a month, twice as many sites gained rankings than lost rankings.Adding About Schema can seem to be a net benefit
This is the most important finding. Adding About Schema and Mentions schema does look to be a useful way to help Google understand and prioritise the content on your page. Inlinks automates this for you and is free forever for the first 20 pages of your site. (Sign up here)
Some content benefits much more than others, when Schema is addedBut make sure you make sensible associations
The second finding was that some pages – pages with rich content – benefitted far more than others. Similarly, bad associations could do more harm than good.
What Else does InLinks do?
Since you are here… Inlinks does a lot more than add webpage schema. It is a powerful Market Trend analysis tool, helps optimize web content and automates internal links, based on a semantic (rather than keyword) approach. It is very different from other SEO tools. Give it a try, There’s a free option.