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In the aggressive pursuit to make the Internet more user-experience-centric, structured data will become (and probably already has become) a foundational building block of an effective search strategy. Want to see how schema markup can help you get better engagement from organic searches in Google?
What Is Structured Data
Structured data, also known as schema, rich snippets or microdata, is a type of code that makes it easier for search engines to understand your web content. The vocabulary used by search engines is called Schema.org. It contains all the structured data markup supported by the search engines.
By default, search engines can tell what your content says. Structured data adds another level, communicating to search engines what your data means. This allows search engines to recognise what the most relevant content is for users’ particular queries and display richer information about your web page in search results.
Schema markup is useful for all types of content, including job postings, businesses, articles, profiles on persons of interest, restaurants, movies, events and more.
Benefits of Using Structured Data
Structured data enables special search result features and enhancements to serve enhanced search result with additional, more appealing information to users. A search result that includes more than the blue link is not only simpler to read but also more visually appealing, making it more likely to be clicked on.
Rich snippets provide more information to the user, which means the search result has a better chance of meeting the search intent of the user. For example, a recipe page with valid structured data will display a picture of the dish, the ingredients, cooking time, temperature, calories, etc. Having this information at hand, the user can make more informed decisions when clicking.
Having structured data can help you appear in the top stories carousel (however, this is not guaranteed by Google as they seem to be prioritising AMP pages at the moment). You can also feature content in knowledge graphs in Google SERPs, assisting with taking up more real estate.
Aside from the possibility of your content being presented as a rich result, structured data gives your content the opportunity to be available as a voice answer to Google Assistant users.
Types of Structured Data
Organisation Schema Markup
The Organisation schema markup provides a company introduction, including official name, logo, contact information, location and social profiles.
Local Business Schema Markup
The local business structured data is specifically for local businesses or a local branch of an organisation. This kind of data allows business owners to tell Google about their business hours, address, contact information, different departments within their business, reviews and more. The Maps Booking API can be used if you want to help users make a reservation or place an order directly in search results.
Schema Product & Offer Markup
The product and offer markups attract potential buyers while they are searching for services, items to buy, or images that include products for sale. Details within the rich search result may include product information, price, availability and review ratings.
Person Schema Markup
The person schema markup provides basic information about a person of interest such as name, birthdate, alma mater, partner, family members, job and education.
Article Schema Markup
Article schema markup is commonly used for news articles and blog posts. It makes the content easier to understand for search engines and enhances the appearance of listings within the Google search results.
BreadcrumbList schema markup adds your breadcrumbs to snippets for your site in the search results, helping users to view the page’s location. Having breadcrumb schema in place can have a massive impact on your site page’s Click Through Rate (CTR) from search.
Video Schema Markup
Search engines still find it difficult to crawl video content. Adding VideoObject markup to your video content is a good way of helping search engines crawl and index the video on your website, and can help your video appear in video search results.
Event Schema Markup
The event schema markup provides extra information, such as date, location and price for concerts, lectures, webinars, festivals, etc.
Recipe Schema Markup
Recipe schema markup is designed for recipe web pages to display a recipe rich snippet, which can include details such as ingredients, cooking time, nutritional information, reviews and an image.
Job Posting Schema Markup
Adding schema markup to your job posting could push it right to the top of search results. Aside from the job title, the rich snippet also includes useful information such as location, firm, recruitment agency, job posting date and whether it’s full-time or part-time position.
Question and Answer Schema Markup
Questions and Answers are a hot topic in SEO right now. Question and answer schema markup such as this one provides users with an instant answer to their question in search results, which is clearly distinguishable from the rest of search results in a block with big type.
Structured Data Formats
Google Search supports structured data in the following formats:
- Microdata – an open-community HTML specification that is used to nest structured data within HTML content. It uses HTML tag attributes to name the properties you want to list as structured data.
- RDFa – Resource Description Framework in Attributes is an HTML5 extension that supports linked data. It introduces HTML tag attributes that correspond to the user-visible content that you want to describe for search engines.
Adding Structured Data to Your Site
Adding schema markup to your website can be somewhat of a lengthy process, depending on the system you use to manage your site and the level of control you want over the process. Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert in structured data to be able to add it to your website as there are easy ways of doing it.
How To Add Structured Data to Your Website
- Using Schema Markup Generators
One of the easiest ways of adding structured data to a web page is using a schema markup generator such as Schema Builder – it’s a free Google Chrome plugin extension that allows you to build structured data for your site within minutes.
The simple user interface allows you to follow along the guided instructions in building out your schema. Schema Builder supports more than 40 schema types, using JSON-LD code, which you’re able copy and paste directly into your pages
- Using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper
The Structured Data Markup Helper provided by Google makes it easy to add schema markup to your site, or even emails, without any hassle. This method works for any site, regardless where you host it or what kind of site it is.
Simply select the data type that you want to create from the 12 options provided and enter the URL or HTML of the page. Once you click the respective area of a page, the Markup Helper fills in information. You can then view the JSON-LD markup.
- Using CMS Plug-ins for Structured Data
Another easy way of implementing schema markup is using a CMS plug-in like Yoast, which is supported by WordPress. Yoast SEO lets you automatically implement Schema.org markup on your pages. It has a structured data graph, which tells search engines how different parts of structured data on your site fit together in unison.
Schema App Structured Data is another plug-in supported by WordPress. As soon as you activate the plug-in, it automatically creates schema.org markup for the all your pages, posts, author and category content, leveraging information that already exists in your WordPress website. The plug-in also allows you to go in manually and edit the markup yourself.
- Validating Structured Data Results
Pages might break after deployment due to templating or serving issues, so be sure to test your structured data using the Rich Results Test during development and the Rich result status reports in Google Search Console after deployment.