Hey everyone, while working on optimization for our new money site design service I thought that adding schema.org and SSL would be very useful for both affiliate sites and local business sites. After few of these tests I will decide if its worth adding it to our default setup.

I have 5 sites in total that are similar in age (3-6 months) and had similar amount of links added to them, all of them sitting on 2nd or 3rd page for some time.

3 of them are affiliate sites (Amazon) and 2 of them are local business sites. Last 3 sites will be control and have no schema or ssl

This is the breakdown of ranks before adding schema and SSL

  • Site 1 (Affiliate): Main Keyword #26
  • Site 2 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword #34
  • Site 3 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword #18
  • Site 4 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword #15
  • Site 5 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword #26
  • Site 6 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW #13
  • Site 7 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW #21
  • Site 8 (local) – Control – Main KW #31

Why Schema.org and SSL ?

Adding Structured Data Markup to your pages should give more information to Google what your page is about and it’s considered one of the ranking factors, even more so in 2016. Further benefit for product reviews is the star rating that will appear in Google SERP improving your Click Through Rate (CTR). For local sites schema.org markup is becoming essential since it gives strong indication about your business and location. For adding schema markup I will be using Project Supremacy and Yoast local seo , just to compare these two plugins in action.

On the other hand, recent studies show that adding SSL (https version of your site) is another ranking factor, and that it’s becoming more important in 2016.

Results

I will be monitoring any changes for these 5 sites over 4 weeks, without any link building to them.

Week 1 :

  • Site 1 (Affiliate): Main Keyword remains #26
  • Site 2 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword hovers around #31
  • Site 3 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword gains few spots and is #14
  • Site 4 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword jumps to #11
  • Site 5 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword jumps to #19
  • Site 6 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW remains #13
  • Site 7 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW remains #21
  • Site 8 (local) – Control – Main KW down to #36

Nothing conclusive here, 2 local sites did get a nice jump but other sites pretty much remain the same

Week 2:

  • Site 1 (Affiliate): Main Keyword jumps 2 spots to #24
  • Site 2 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword down 4 spots to #35
  • Site 3 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword jumps nicely by 6 spots #8
  • Site 4 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword jumps 2 spots to #9
  • Site 5 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword jumps 4 spots #15
  • Site 6 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW down 1 spot #14
  • Site 7 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW down 3 spot #24
  • Site 8 (local) – Control – Main KW up by 2 spots #34

Week 3:

  • Site 1 (Affiliate): Main Keyword jumps 3 spots to #21
  • Site 2 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword remains #35
  • Site 3 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword drops by 2 spots #10
  • Site 4 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword jumps 2 spots to #9
  • Site 5 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword jumps 4 spots #15
  • Site 6 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW  remains #14
  • Site 7 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW  remains around #22-24
  • Site 8 (local) – Control – Main KW jumps by 6 spots #28

Week 4: Pending

  • Site 1 (Affiliate): Main Keyword remains #21
  • Site 2 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword remains #35
  • Site 3 (Affiliate) : Main Keyword hovers around #9-11
  • Site 4 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword down by 1 spot to #10
  • Site 5 (Local Lead Gen) : Main Keyword jumps 2 spots #13
  • Site 6 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW  remains #14
  • Site 7 (affiliate) – Control – Main KW  remains around #22-24
  • Site 8 (local) – Control – Main KW jumps by 2 spots #26

Results

  • Site 1 (Affiliate): Started at #26, ended up at #21 ( up by 5 positions )
  • Site 2 (Affiliate) : Started at #34, ended up at #35 (no change)
  • Site 3 (Affiliate) : Started at #18, ended up at around #10 (up by 8 spots)
  • Site 4 (Local Lead Gen) : Started at #15, ended up at #10 (up by 5 spots)
  • Site 5 (Local Lead Gen) : Started at #26, ended up at #13 (up by 13 spots)
  • Site 6 (affiliate) – Control – Started at #13, ended up at #14 (no change)
  • Site 7 (affiliate) – Control – Started at #21, ended up at #23 (down 3 positions)
  • Site 8 (local) – Control – Started at #31 , ended up at #26 (up by 5 spots)

Conclusion

Adding schema markup and SSL did help a bit but nothing spectacular. After all, these sites are all on 2nd or 3rd page where there can be a lot of fluctuations. Note that the site that jumped 13 spots was moved to a VPS resulting in faster load times, which can interfere with results.

Is schema.org markup mandatory ?

No, I dont think so, but for every single piece of the puzzle that we complete Google gives us a candy in terms of better ranking. SSL is especially hard to implement, and I dont think it gives many benefits in terms of ranking, yet. If you have a site that handles sensitive information like passwords and login info its mandatory to have, but if its an affiliate site, I don’t think its worth the pain of going through the process and waiting for things to reindex.

I am interested in your opinion about this, do you setup SSL for your sites and more importantly do you use Schema.org markup these days ?

Share This