Dixon Jones brings awareness to emerging opportunities in the augmented reality space for SEOs in 2023, and highlights the importance of being ready for the future in this space.
Dixon says: “Now is the time to start thinking about how to optimise for augmented reality”.
What qualifies as augmented reality?
“Pokemon Go is a good example, but it’s not particularly good for SEO. Augmented reality involves using a device to literally look at a location through a camera lens. You can then augment further information onto that - for example, looking at a flower and the augmented reality telling you its name and characteristics. The future will see us pointing a device at something and uncovering considerable information about it. Let’s say you’re travelling past Wembley Stadium and wonder what’s going on there next week. You could point your camera at the stadium and get information about what events are scheduled.
It’s worth carrying out some specific SEO now if you know it will have an effect when augmented reality becomes more prevalent. Location schema is useful for certain types of businesses, although not so much if you’re a virtual business. If you work at a restaurant, you could use location schema to inform customers about the kinds of food you offer. You’d also have information tied to the location of the restaurant, meaning people could extract insight into the food you serve or when you have a special event coming up.
Augmented reality could then soak up that schema and use it within Google Lens. However, it’s important not to limit your scope to Google Lens because there will be other similar technologies that emerge later down the line. With this being said, there are some real things that we can do now as SEOs, to position ourselves for augmented reality.”
Should we make sure our websites are marked up in a way that makes it easy for search engines and discovery bots to work out who we are, and make them confident that they should be including your data?
“Yes. There are many different schemas built to help industries define things - with a view to a machine somewhere using this as part of its database. For example, it could help filter through a particular industry, product, video, etc. We’re yet to scratch the surface of schema. Lots of modern conventions try to automate schema for you, but these only tackle simple tasks and often fail to take tomorrow’s technologies into account. If you’re featuring more than one video on a page, for example, video schema will be completely useless - because it can’t refer to multiple videos on a single page.
It’s important to appreciate that schema is a little murky for SEO. People have started to use schema stuffing as a new version of keyword stuffing. You need to be laser targeted if you’re going to benefit because people won’t always go to ‘Google.com’ to find the information. It could easily be someone pointing a phone at a shop and picking up reviews that way. Our ways of ‘searching’ will start to transcend and become more embedded in augmented reality. What you can do is help inform users to decide what they want to do and where they want to go. Your ultimate goal is to make sure that the right customers come into your establishment.”
Is there ever a situation where a commercial website doesn’t need any schema or should there be schema on every single commercial website?
“No website has to have a schema; search engines can glean some things naturally. Just because you say your website is about ‘airfares’ doesn’t make your website any more about ‘airfares’ than the next website. All this does is clarify that information. If you’re starting to conceptualise things in a location-based setting - for example, you’re the only establishment in a given area - prospective customers could pan their camera around and see where you are, who you are, etc. This would save them the time and effort of looking at an old poster that’s out of date or browsing to access information online. It’s interesting to think about how augmented reality is going to propagate and the schema that will help augmented reality clarify your business.
Information from Google My Business can be embedded straight into your schema, meaning you won’t need a Google My Business type of portal if you use schema properly. That’s something that would get embedded into a Lens when someone is looking at your establishment.”
Is schema something you have to check quarterly to see if new ones have become available?
“That depends on the schema you’re using. If you’re talking about products and pricing (product schema) it’ll have the pricing of your product in there. As your pricing changes, your schema should change to reflect that. It’s not so much that the underlying schema will change - it’s the data it needs to be populated with that will need to be more dynamic going forward.
Other schemas are much more static - for example, the name of your organisation, registered address, etc. Schema.org is a very living, open kind of document - with lots of people editing and coming up with new types of schema that take time to be recognised by a large search engine. Other stuff is obvious and ubiquitous, so it’s valuable to go through and use what you can.
There are tools to help you WYSIWYG it, but SEOs are just setting up a schema for the home page of a website or on every single page. This is the equivalent of hitting a very finely tuned pin with a big mallet. Each page should be crafted in the same way that people craft content.”
What shouldn’t SEOs be doing in 2023? What’s seductive in terms of time, but ultimately counterproductive?
“People shouldn’t be trying to get more visitors specifically around a certain keyword. In 2023, people should stop using keyword search query volume to try and configure their keyword marketing strategy. The number of people that type in a keyword rarely bares relation to the number of people who are interested in buying a product.
For example, most people who type in the word ‘horseshoe’ are looking for a pub with that term in its name, not a farrier. There is a huge contextual difference between the number of people typing the word ‘horseshoe’ and the number of people looking to make a horseshoe for a horse. In fact, according to Knowledge Graph, people are more likely to be looking for the game ‘Horseshoes’.
For years, SEOs have been saying that user intent is all about whether a keyword is transactional, navigational, commercial, etc, but it’s not. Unless you’ve got the verb someone has typed in, you won’t have any idea.
If somebody types in ‘house’, it’s very different if they type in ‘buy a house’ than if they type in ‘decorate a house’. These are extremely different ideas. Often things are semantically very close but very different ideas. We need to get away from using a list of keywords and the search volume in a given country to plan our world. Life has to be more about answering the full query of the user.”
Dixon Jones is CEO of inLinks and a brand ambassador for Majestic. You can find him over at dixonjones.com.
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