Your website can have 2, 20, 200 or 20,000 pages. Not all pages will be relevant from the SEO standpoint. But for the pages that matter for SEO, you invest time and energy in keyword research, writing & editing content, and putting the page in the most logical flow.
Now, imagine this, after all this hard work, when the Google bot comes to read your SEO-optimised page, it struggles to understand the content of the page & you start losing out on the opportunity to rank higher and pull high-quality, high-intent traffic.
Not a situation anyone would want to be in.
No, you are not at fault here, and neither is google. It’s just that the connection between the webpage content and how google works were broken.
Websites today need to speak the language that search engines understand.
What is the language that search engines understand?
The language is- structured data
Structured data? What, where & how?
Google along with other major search engines like- Yahoo, Bing & Yandex created a library of codes for them to understand the content of your page more easily.
These codes are known as markups.
The library from where these codes can be found is known as Schema.org
Let’s say you have an e-commerce website & you sell shoes from your site.
Now, for google to understand the content of your shoe page better, you can use the below markup & implement it on all the pages of your website that has details on shoes.
The property column in the above figure is the sections you want search engines to find instantly. For example, Brand or colour or rating.
You can choose to define specific properties. Adding all the properties is not important, just add the ones that are important.
If you are a marketer, pass on the Product URL of schema.org to your developer & tell them which properties you wish to add to your markup and the specifics of that property. For example, you can define colour-black, rating- <pull from the page dynamically> & Brand- Adidas. Your developer should be able to create markup from this information and add it to your webpage.
(In case your developer struggles to figure it out the first time, tell them to go through this document for better understanding: https://schema.org/docs/gs.html)
Similarly, there is Structured data for almost everything on schema.org
Some commonly used item types for structured data are as follows:
- Creative works: CreativeWork, Book, Movie, MusicRecording, Recipe, TVSeries
- Embedded non-text objects: AudioObject, ImageObject, VideoObject
- Place, LocalBusiness, Restaurant …
- Product, Offer, AggregateOffer
- Review, AggregateRating
A thumb rule to remember:
More is better, except for hidden text. In general, the more content you mark up, the better. However, as a general rule, you should mark up only the content that is visible to people who visit the web page and not content in hidden page elements.
You publish books on your site, you can use structured data to identify the author, abstract or date of publishing.
You are in the events business, use structured data to point to timing, price, venue of the event and so on.
And so on…
There are 3 more terms that pop up along with Structured data- JSON-LD, microdata & RDFa
These are the languages in which you define the properties of your webpage to communicate with search engines. These are just a way to write code. You (or your developer) can use any one of these languages. Though it is recommended to use JSON-LD because other markups are likely to break your site. Plus, it is a format that Google likes best.
Why is structured data important?
For 3 reasons primarily:
- Help search engines to understand your content
- Can lead to higher SEO rankings
- Can lead to rich results
What are rich results?
I am sure you would have seen some results standing out on the google search result page than others with more information & taking more real estate. These results are known as ‘rich results’.
For example, a simple google search of ‘recipe for pasta’ shows 2 different kinds of results.
The ones on top look like this:
In these 3 results, you will notice, that they take up more space on the google search result page & also have more information like- Ratings, number of reviews, time for preparation, ingredients etc.
This information is visible to users on the google search result page itself because websites like Swasthis recipes and foodviva.com have used structured data and with the help of schema.org, they have used markups for ratings, number of reviews, time for preparation and ingredients. This is what rich results look like and the reason why they are important is that they can give you more clicks and hence higher rankings.
The second set of results you will find for the same search- ‘recipe for pasta’ looks like this:
These results have limited information and always rank below ‘rich results’. Hence these get limited visibility, limited clicks and comparatively lower rankings.
Resources you need to implement Structured data correctly, at scale on your site:
- Identification of pages where you wish to use structured data
- A Developer to help you implement
- Schema.org library
- Structured data testing tool: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/structured-data This tool is used to check if structured data is correctly implemented on a webpage. A marketer or developer can use this to understand if the markups are used correctly. You can run this test either on the basis of code or URL.
Using structured data on your website can truly change the face of your organic traffic and conversions. Even though this is such an important way to communicate with search engines, there are very limited sites on the internet that are able to do this correctly. But once it becomes a part of your website checklist, the impact is inevitable.
Also, What are you doing on the weekend? If you don’t have major holiday plans, come, see us on a Live masterclass where we talk about Structured data and much more in a very small group of students. After all what better than Live learning and networking 🙂