When Google removed a traffic-driving rich snippet from Funkin’s most popular recipe page, the resulting traffic drops could have been dire. Taking urgent action, Selesti started with two small changes to the website’s Recipes section.
Namely, these were:
- Adding ‘Recipe’ Schema across the site’s Recipe pages
- Adding new internal links between a few key Recipe and Product pages
Since implementation of our changes, Funkin has recorded:
increase in ranked keywords for Recipes
increased Recipe impressions in Google
increase in Organic sessions on target pages
The challenge: losing an important rich snippet
Funkin’s website was in an interesting position in 2018, with over 30% of traffic being captured by a single page: the pornstar martini recipe.
The vast majority of this page’s clicks had been driven by a rich snippet.
For those who don’t know, a rich snippet is one of Google’s ‘instant answers’. These are presented before any other answers on the search engine results pages (or SERPs). When you search for ‘pornstar martini ingredients’ or ‘pornstar martini recipe’, for example, there’s a chance you’ll see a box like this at the very top:
That’s a rich snippet. Google chooses which types of web content are best placed in these snippets, and will often recalculate the answer based on a number of factors. Sitting in the top spot of the results as they do, they can be impressive traffic generators.
After Funkin owned this snippet for the better part of a year, Google’s algorithm now opted to serve BBC Good Food’s recipe in its place.
This sudden removal sent site-wide traffic statistics into a spiral. From a reliable 15,000 sessions per month via this page, the total was reduced to only 4,300 (-71%). Naturally, this was beginning to have a knock-on effect on associated products which were highlighted on that page: the passion fruit puree and syrup, for instance.
The right approach
Rather than focusing efforts on restoring this individual recipe page to its past glory as the key traffic driver for the site, we decided that the best approach would be to bring other recipe pages up to the pornstar martini’s historic standard. Strengthening and diversifying the recipe content which leads people to the site would certainly pay dividends in the future.
To accomplish this, we set out to use a combination of Schema markup and targeted internal linking to help Google better its understanding of the content on these pages.
Schema markup / structured data
What is Schema markup? Also known as structured data, it is essentially an additional type of code you can add to your webpages. This code provides definitions and classifications for the content contained on the page, which helps search engines to understand and display information from these pages in the SERPs - especially in the form of ‘instant answers’.
Some in the search industry debate whether Schema markup can affect Google rankings beyond influencing rich snippets. However, the understanding that Schema provides clearer content signals is a theory backed up by separate studies and analyses.
Consequently, we opted to add Recipe Schema markup to every Recipe page on the website, with two principal aims:
- Win back the lost rich snippet and gain more snippets where possible
- Improve Google’s understanding of the recipe content on-site
Using a programmatic approach to pick text and data already on the page and populate our JSON-LD code (one of two main forms of Schema markup), this process required very little development time to implement.
Now, it’s worth noting: we can’t say with absolute certainty if Recipe Schema was a main contributor to our improved results, given the multitude of factors affecting search rankings.
However, the 92% increase in impressions since implementation, and 156% increase since last year, speaks to a positive correlation. Total organic page views across this section also increased by 21% between January and May, a year-on-year increase of 44%.
As the second part of our initiative - internal linking - only interacted with three pages, it is unlikely to be responsible for the section-wide increase. We can therefore safely assume that Schema was a contributor to this performance increase, given that no other major SEO-led changes have been made here.
It may be worth noting that, despite these improvements, our mission to win rich snippets continues. Regardless of Schema markup added in February 2019, no steady gains in this area were recorded by early June. However, this is really of no surprise. Our top rich snippet competitors, like the highly-authoritative BBC Good Food, continue to offer more extensive information on their recipe pages than Funkin. As a result, our Schema is only partially implemented, missing information from many recommended fields. However, with plans to add all this essential content to these pages underway, we expect to see many rich snippet victories in the near future.
Improving internal linking between Recipe pages and their associated products was the second part of our attack plan.
Previously, the pornstar martini page had been one of the few Recipe pages which linked internally to related products. As this was one of the page’s only differentiating features, we identified this as a good reason for the historically strong performance of the recipe and its linked puree and syrup pages.
Adding similar internal links to other recipe pages seemed a logical way to help signal the relevancy and interconnection between the Recipes and the cocktail ingredients sold by the online store.
We took three recipe pages - the Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito and Guava Colada - and implemented new internal links to their associated products. These products included:
- Pure Pour Lime Juice
- Sugar Cane Syrup
- Strawberry Puree
- Guava Puree
Product Page Results
These product pages have seen significant improvements:
Pure Pour Lime Juice
With three new internal links pointing here from related recipe pages, since implementation we have seen:
- 151% increase in organic sessions
- 8 new relevant keyword rankings and 6 significant position increases
Sugar Cane Syrup
With the same application of internal links, we saw:
- 102% increase in organic sessions
- 5 new relevant keyword rankings, several new top 10 rankings and 6 significant position increases
This product gained only one internal link from the popular Strawberry Daiquiri recipe, delivering these results:
- 100% increase in organic sessions
- 3 new relevant keyword rankings and 7 significant position increases
This product also gained only one internal link. However, more than other pages, this product was hit negatively by Google’s indexing bug in April. This flux has made the longer term ranking trends difficult to discern, despite a 30% increase in organic sessions since the internal links were implemented.
Recipe Page Results
The results from the recipe pages, the source of the new internal links and new recipients of Schema markup, have also been enlightening.
For this recipe page, an upward trend for overall visibility begins after implementation of the links in February:
The same result can be seen in a post-February spike in ranking keywords for the Mojito recipe page:
Of course, there’s always an outlier. Imagine our disappointment at the ranking trends for the Guava Colada recipe page:
However bad this looks, a closer examination actually reveals that the keywords lost weren’t relevant to begin with. This looks a lot like Google gaining a better understanding of the content on the page, and deciding to serve irrelevant keywords elsewhere. Keywords lost or declined included terms of dubious intent (such as ‘guava’ on its own), unrelated origin (‘iguanas’ terms), or tangential relevance at best (e.g. ‘pink hurricane’).
Importantly, the hypothesis that structured data and targeted internal links can help to clarify site content is unshaken by these results.
As a result of these changes and the confidence given by the results, Selesti can now press ahead with expanding and improving Schema Markup and internal linking across the recipes section of the site and beyond. We are looking forward to making further positive impacts on search visibility for Funkin Cocktails.