Search engine optimization is more complex and confusing than it ever has been. There are a greater number of ranking factors than ever before. There is also a lot of confusion regarding what does help to enhance a website’s search engine placing and what doesn’t. One area where there has certainly been a lot of discussion is when it comes to structured data markup. With that being said, read on to discover exactly what this is and whether or not it impacts website ranking.
What is structured data?
Google and other search engines work very hard to determine what the content of a page really means. You can help Google by providing the search engine with explicit clues regarding the meaning of your page. You can do this through the inclusion of structured data on your website. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information regarding a page and classifying the content of a page, for example, if this were for a recipe page, then it would be things like the calories, cooking temperature and time, and the ingredients too.
Google and other search engines use structured data that it finds on the web so that the content on a page is understood, as well as for the purpose of gathering information about the web and the world in general.
What is a Schema data markup?
People often confuse structured data markup with Schema. Schema or Schema.org is a semantic vocabulary of tags or microdata, which can be added to your HTML for the purpose of improving the manner in which search engines read and represent your page in SERPs. This is one of the most common vocabularies used for structured data.
Schema.org is what has resulted because of a collaboration between all of the major search engine providers. Of course, we have Google, and the search engine giant has also linked up with Yahoo!, Yandex, and Bing to ensure you provide all of the information that they need so your content is thoroughly understood and so they are able to provide the best possible search results. If you add Schema markup to your HTML, it will enhance the manner in which your page is displayed in SERPs through enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed below the page title. You can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to generate your own code.
The difference between Schema, microdata, and structured data
Schema.org is a project that provides a certain set of definitions, which have been agreed-upon, for microdata tags. Microdata is one type of structured data that works with HTML. So, what is structured data? This is a system of pairing a name with a value, which helps Google and other search engines to categorize and index your content.
Testing is vital
You need to make sure your structured data is tested during development. You can do this by utilizing the Structured Data Testing tool. After deployment, Rich result status reports can be used. These are vital so that the health of your pages can be monitored. Servicing or templating issues can cause pages to break after deployment.
How does structured data support SEO?
Google and other search engines like Bing encourage website owners and webmasters to utilized structured data. They incentivize this use by providing benefits to sites whereby structured data has been implemented correctly. Some of these advantages incorporate content-specific features and search result enhancements. This includes…
- Rich results for AMP – To have your Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) appear with rich results and in carousels, you are going to need to incorporate structured data.
- Carousels – A collection of numerous rich results in a carousel style.
- Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs in your search result.
- Knowledge graph – Information about an entity such as a brand.
- Enriched search results – This includes immersive or interactive features.
- Rich search results – This includes visual enhancements like images and styling.
- Rich cards – A variation on rich search results, which is designed for mobile users and is very similar to rich snippets.
These enhanced search results can also drive extra traffic and improve your click-through rate (CTR). That is because they are more visually appealing, as well as providing your searchers with additional information. Plus, your rankings can also be improved indirectly through your CTR improving, as a user behavior signal.
If you implement structured data on your website, it is also a manner of preparing for the search. That’s because Google, in particular, is continuing to move forward in the direction of hyper-personalization, solving issues, and answering queries directly.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that while structured data can help you to rank better indirectly, it is not an actual ranking factor. Utilizing structured data in the right way will enable search engines to have a better understanding of your content and what it is about. This can lead to stronger relevancy signals. Furthermore, there have been studies that have shown that click-through rate can improve through rich snippets. This can also lead to an indirect improvement when it comes to your rankings. However, this does not mean that structured data on its own is a ranking signal.
Another common myth regarding structured data markup is that Google can figure your website out without you needing to do all of this extra work. It can’t! Yet, another myth is that implementing structured data will guarantee rich snippets or cards. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to the realm of search engine optimization.
Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of what structured data is and its relevance when it comes to search engine optimization. This can be a complex part of SEO to understand. However, there is no denying that it is a very important one.
Andrew Oziemblo, Founder & CEO of Chicago SEO Geeks, the digital marketing & SEO agency helping businesses achieve long-term growth goals.