From schema markup to rich snippets, here’s what marketers need to know about structured data.
Here, you’ll find:
- How structured data works
- The ways it benefits SEO
- Why this data is so necessary
- How to add it to your website
Being efficient at the post office is a skill so valuable that, in my opinion, they should teach it in schools.
After all, how many times have you stood in line to mail something, only to get to the counter and realize you wrote the address upside down, didn’t use enough stamps, or choose the wrong type of box?
Don’t even get me started on the forms you have to fill out to mail things internationally.
But it’s all for good reason. Packaging your mail properly means it’ll have an easier time getting to its destination. Structured data for your website works in a similar way. It ups your chances that the information you provide gets to those it’s designed for.
Structured data is a standardized way to share webpage information with a search engine. While it’s possible for the search engine to crawl your website without this data, it could miss something important.
Even if it seems that search engines’ efforts are limitless, they only have a certain amount of bandwidth and resources to organize efficient search results. Just like putting the right amount of stamps on your letter, by focusing on structured data, you can make it easier for the search engine to do its job properly, while boosting your SEO in the process.
How structured data works
Structured data or schema markup is a way of describing your website to make it easier for search engines to index it. By embedding tags of code throughout the HTML of your page, you’re telling search engines what your content is all about.
As SEMrush explains, “Schema markup (schema.org) is a structured data vocabulary that helps search engines better understand the info on your website in order to serve rich results.” Basically, it’s a specific language of this data type.
Without schema markup, search engines don’t see the “meaning” of your data when crawling a page or site. Instead, they have to make an extra effort to go from “seeing” to “understanding.”
While structured data is not a ranking factor, it simplifies the ranking process. And since the main goal of your search engine optimization tactics is to climb higher on the search engine results page (SERP), helping search engines analyze your site should be a priority.
Benefits of using structured data for SEO
The key benefits of using structured data for SEO include:
1. Improved communication with search engines
When you use structured data, search engines receive all the information they need to understand your website. Without this type of data, Google can miss important details, which can negatively affect your rankings.
Think of schema markup as a translator. It provides a full translation from “human” to “search engine” language. Without the schema markup, search engines have to spend time and effort translating what you want to say.
If you don’t have structured data, the search engine’s translation may not always do a great job interpreting your page’s purpose quickly. In turn, this could cause errors and indexing delays.
Pro tip: Schema.org has its own structured data testing tool you can use to make sure yours is set up properly.
2. A better shot at rich snippets
Search engines use the information they get from structured data to create rich snippets (snippets with more contextual info than regular snippets).
If you don’t implement it, you lose potential real estate on the SERPs and hinder your SEO efforts. Rich snippets in Google vary from product information and reviews to FAQ and news article headlines.
Google constantly changes its rich snippet requirements. For example, in June 2021, it limited the number of FAQ rich results to two per search. Regular changes make it even more important to keep structured data clean and readily available.
Since having this data helps you increase the amount of space you take up on the SERPs, you may also see click-through rates rise as a result.
3. Streamlined E-A-T
The expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (or E-A-T) of your webpage’s content plays an important role in your SEO efforts.
The most important data Google needs in order to determine the page’s quality includes:
- The purpose of the page
- Main content quality and amount
- Data about the website and main content creator
- The reputation of the main content creator or the website
A big chunk of the information Google requires to assess the above can be sourced from structured data. While E-A-T isn’t a direct ranking factor, it helps Google understand the overall quality of the page, which affects ranking decisions.
4. Access to Google’s Knowledge Graph
For many websites, getting ahead of the competition involves appearing in Google’s Knowledge Graph. If your website is connected to the Knowledge Graph, it can gain extra real estate on the SERPs.
The Knowledge Graph information card appears on the right-hand side of search results. It provides users valuable factual information, which can vary from a country’s population to a company’s contact details.
To make it easier for Google to add your website to its Knowledge Graph, you need to — you guessed it! — implement structured data.
5. Better Local SEO
One of the best ways to improve your local SEO efforts is to take advantage of the local business markup. Doing so will help you display information for specific branches of your business, including address, operating hours, contact details, and more.
Structured data also allows you to provide updated information about your company. If there are any changes you want to communicate to the audience, you need to update your schema markup.
The need for structured data
While it may seem that structured data is optional, failing to use it can put your business at a disadvantage, especially if your competition is leveraging it.
Search engines are working harder and harder to meet users’ need for an optimized search. The more resources are required for proper indexing, the less time Google has for interpreting.
In the future, Google is likely to leave pages without structured data for later, turning schema markup into a direct ranking factor. By that time, if your website doesn’t have this data, your rankings will drop dramatically.
How to add structured data to your website
Several ways exist to add this data to your website. They include:
The first two options are fairly straightforward and don’t require coding knowledge. The third one is more complex and detailed. It allows you to ensure extensive clarity of communicating with the search engine.
Need more insight into your structured data or website SEO in general? We can help.
Structured data is a communication tool. Keeping it in good shape means you can provide search engines with the necessary information about your website during crawls.
While search engines will eventually find this information anyway, adding a schema markup can speed up and enhance the process.
Even though it’s not a direct ranking factor, schema markup affects the way Google assesses webpages. That’s why, today, using this type of data is a must.