Structured Data 101: 7 Things To Know

If you manage a website, there’s a good chance most of the traffic that pours into your site comes from search engines, particularly Google. If so, you might be familiar with the different strategies to maximize website traffic. Examples include content marketing, paid advertising, and keyword research. But one particular strategy that stands out from the rest is the use of structured data.

What Is Structured Data?

As you may already know, the primary function of search engines is to fetch sites or pages for users to browse. These, of course, come in the form of items in a list in what experts call search engine results page, also known as SERPs. If you look closely at certain SERPs, you’ll find that some of them have been displayed differently from others. This is because they use structured data.

Structured data is a code that provides search engines like Google information about a particular page. They serve as a hint for search engines to better display that particular site on SERPs.

Suppose you’re managing a bakery and you have several pages that need to be seen in SERPs. Rather than displaying all sorts of data like info on a past event, you can use structured data so search engines would display the information you specify, such as the address and opening hours. In other words, structured data allows you to control what search engines show under your page in SERPs to a certain extent, which is often pretty handy when increasing traffic.

But as eager as you may be to implement structured data for your websites, you might want to learn more about the subject, and the following pointers should serve you well.

  • Structured Data Uses Schema.org As Its Language

Much like how you use programming languages to implement or create systems, you must also use a certain language to implement structured data, and that language would be Schema.org.

Schema.org, also known as the schema markup, is the computing language that allows you to describe the content of a particular page in a way that search engines understand. It has been around since 2011 and one may argue that it’s the result of a collaboration between the biggest search engines, namely Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. It mainly serves as the universal language for when anyone wants to implement structured data into their website.

  • There Are Different Types Of Schema Markup

Yes, although search engines have decided to use structured data as the universal format, individuals and organizations have developed different forms of schema markup. These include the following:

  • Company schema markup

This is the type of markup you’ll want to use if you want to introduce your company. It allows you to display your contact info, location, and social profiles in SERPs.

  • Person schema markup

Similarly, you can use this type of schema markup to introduce an individual. It allows you to display personal information such as education, address, birthday, name, and more.

  • Local business schema markup

This type of markup is fairly similar to company schema markup, except it specializes in showcasing local businesses, as the name suggests. This means it focuses on information like opening hours, contact info, physical address, description, and more.

  • Products & services schema markup

Product and services are particularly handy if you want to sell a specific item. You can use it to display information like name, price, brand, availability, and many more.

  • Article schema markup

If your website mainly consists of articles, this type of markup would be quite handy as it allows you to showcase articles by displaying data like featured images or headlines.

  • Event schema markup

As the name implies, event schema markup helps you showcase events by providing information such as location, price, date, and a description of the event.

Take note that there are many more types of schema markup and each one varies in terms of how it works for structured data. If you want to learn about the How’s of this subject, this HowTo Schema guide would be the perfect place to start.

  • Structured Data Works Well With Email Marketing As Well

Structured data is well known for its benefits for search engine optimization, but not many people are aware that it can also help with email marketing. So, how does it work?

To start with, structured data allows you to take important pieces of information on a particular page and get them in front of users. You can also do this with emails. To further clarify, you can fetch the most important pieces of information within an email and display them in the inbox of recipients, much like how you would display the improved version of your page result in the SERPs of searchers. This, of course, would have a positive impact on your campaign.

For one, your subscribers would at least have an idea of the contents of your email as soon as they look at their inbox, which is often difficult with the default format where only the subject is seen.

Since most email providers also operate search engines, like Yahoo! And Google, there’s a good chance the platform already has a built-in format for email schema markups. With these markups, you should be able to display data that would prove useful for your subscribers. For example, if you want to use markup for an email that talks about a discount, you can include data like:

  • Your logo
  • Discount offer code
  • Discount period
  • Discount description
  • Structured Data Is Not A Ranking Factor In Search Engines

Many experts believe that structured data can be an effective search engine optimization strategy, but that’s not entirely true. While it does help with your ranking by displaying data on your page more efficiently, it’s not a ranking factor in search engines, contrary to what many believe.

Of course, there’s still merit to implementing structured data even if that’s the case. After all, users would prefer visiting a site with better page results than those that use the default format.

  • Search Engines Understand Three Types Of Formats

On top of the different types of schema markups mentioned in the earlier section, there are three types of format search engines, particularly Google, understand. These include the following:

  • JSON-LD

JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data, also known as JSON-LD, is arguably the most commonly-used markup format for structured data. It’s also the most preferred format of Google. JSON-LD allows you to implement structured data without affecting the rest of the code of your website or HTML document, so complications are unlikely.

Another reason why JSON-LD is popular is the fact that you only have to copy and paste the code snippet and it’ll do its job without requiring much input from you.

  • Microdata

Microdata is yet another effective format that allows you to organize data of your page that are shown to users. However, you have to add the code snippet on each attribute or component of the page, which is not as effective as JSON-LD where you only have to copy and paste a block of code that will implement the structured data as needed.

While it does fit its name, Microdata, it’s not very effective and is time-consuming when it comes to large websites since you’ll have to deal with each attribute individually.

  • RDFA

Resource Description Framework in Attributes or RDFA works similarly with Microdata in the way that it deals with each attribute individually. Perhaps the main difference between the two is that RDFA works not only in HTML5 but with other languages.

If you want to implement structured data, you must first choose between these formats as this decision would have a massive impact on how well you can use this feature for your website.

  • Structured Data Does Not Guarantee A Rich Result

A rich result in search engines is a result in SERPs that have a richer or interactive format than most results. It’s essentially the main goal of structured data—to make your web pages look richer or more interactive to users. However, it’s worth noting that implementing structured data and using schema markups doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll get a rich result.

Search engines will still need to take into account several variables that would determine whether the page is worthy of being a rich result. These may include the website’s history, authority, etc.

While you may not be able to guarantee a rich result, you should be able to maximize your chances of success by avoiding the following schema markup mistakes:

  • Misleading structured data. You have to ensure the data you’re including on your structured data or markups are the actual content on your page.
  • Incorrect format. You have to use the correct format and type of schema markup according to the content of the webpage that you want to turn into a rich result.
  • Hidden content. Make sure there isn’t any content in your structured data that are hidden from your users.
  • Guidelines violation. There are guidelines on structured data that you can find on the official websites of search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Check if you’re violating any of the rules and regulations included in their guidelines.
  • Testing Is A Crucial Step To Implementing Schema Markups

Once you’ve created your schema markup, you must first test it to make sure it’ll work on your website. This is a crucial step in the implementation process of structured data. Not only will it allow you to detect any errors with the markup, which can potentially mess up your pages, it also provides you with a preview of how your webpages would look like in SERPs.

Wrapping Up

Many people are unfamiliar with structured data, but those that are fully aware of the benefits it can provide to their websites. Seeing as how you’ve read this guide; you should now have a better grasp of structured data than most people. With this, you’re now well-equipped to utilize structured data, or more specifically, schema markups to your advantage.

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