What is Structured Data?
Google and other popular search engines use structured data to understand the content laid out on a website. This data allows you to organize and classify elements on your page. Semantic HTML is a great example of structured data. You can use structured data to indicate an image, an author, a headline, etc. This will produce special search result features when someone searches for your website. Depending on how you tag your content, these features may show up on a search engine in the form of an events list, a search bar, a knowledge card, etc. It may look something like this:
Why Should I Use Structured Data?
Structured data describes a page’s content using in-page markup. Search engines can use this data to translate the content on your page and organize it accordingly on SERPs. Structured data makes way for two types of search features:
- Content type features – includes direct answers, knowledge graph panels, or sliding galleries
- Enhancements – part of the search result snippet; includes breadcrumbs or ratings
Since we’re all competing for the perfect piece of real estate on results pages, you can use structured data to attract users and improve your SEO ranking. With structured data search features, your website is likely to have a higher click-through rate.
In addition, users will also have the ability to transfer structured data between websites and applications. For example, if you use structured data to indicate an upcoming event, it can be added straight to the user’s desktop calendar.
How Do I Implement Structured Data?
For the Non-Coder
Most search engines recognize structured data that uses schema.org vocabulary. This vocabulary is organized into “schemas,” or categories, complete with markup examples. Some of the most common schemas are:
First, you’ll need to choose a data type. For this particular page, I chose “Local Businesses.” This will show you tagging options that are relevant to local businesses, such as address, phone number, email, etc.
You’ll then be able to highlight and tag elements of your web page. I was able to tag Sevaa Group’s street address, city, state, zip code, phone number, and email. Once you’ve tagged the necessary elements, your tags will be listed in “My Data Items.”
The Markup Helper will then create the HTML code for you. All you have to do is copy and paste it on to that particular page, usually in the body’s code.
Finally, test your data using the Structured Data Testing Tool. This will notify if you there are any technical issues with your data.
The test shows you if you’re missing any required fields and recommends important data. For this example, the testing tool suggests that I include a price range, however, that’s not applicable to our contact page.
Add Your Structured Data Manually
If you decide to forgo the Markup Helper, you’ll need to be aware of the various guidelines set out by Google.
According to Google’s Introduction to Structured Data, Google supports three formats:
- Microdata – This format is an open-community HTML specification used to nest structured data within HTML content. This format uses HTML tag attributes to name the properties you want to expose as structured data.
- RDFa – This is an HTML5 extension that supports linked data by introducing HTML tag attributes that correspond to user-visible content that you want to indicate for the search engine.
To test the technical stability of your data, use the Structured Data Testing Tool. As mentioned above, this tool will let you know if there are any errors in your data. In addition, you should take advantage of the Search Console Structured Data report after you’ve deployed the data. This will monitor the functionality of your page and notify if you if anything breaks after deployment.
To ensure that the quality of your data is acceptable, follow the Google webmasters quality guidelines. Your content should be original and appropriate, and your data markup should be relevant and accurate.
Structured data is becoming consistently more important for companies who want to drive traffic to their website. Be aware that implementing structured data does not always guarantee that Google will produce rich snippets or enhanced features. However, it is recommended if you want to be eligible for those special search result features.
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