Structured Data – But What Actually Is It?
Searching on Google equals coming across so called structured data. Star ratings, reviews, photos… All of these is displayed on the Google search page. Assigning such elements to your search result may significantly improve CTR of your website. But how to implement such visual extras?
Structured data – what is it?
Structured data, meaning schema, is responsible for star ratings, thumbnails, and any extra search result rows. And properly implemented structured data will make the snippet of your site look really impressive.
Schema are tags, most often written in the HTML code, which provide Google robots with additional descriptions and categorize all the information for them. It helps the bots to better analyze the code which in turn influences the way it’s displayed. Thanks to schema, Google is able not only to read the content but also to interpret and comprehend its meaning.
So, for the Google robot the word “Delante” is only a few strange characters until it sees the structured data where we had determined that “Delante” means the name of the company.
The same applies to numbers provided on a website. For robots they’re only a sequence of characters, however, if the structured data specifies that the number stands for price, then, in the search results, Google is able to display the numbers as a price of a given product.
However, pay attention to structured data you use. Photos are important for example in the case of recipes but if you apply them without any reason, Google may block the display of any structured data of your website. So how to use structured data in a way that doesn’t do harm to the domain? Provide the robots only with honest and verified information consistent with the content of your website. Additionally, structured data should be related to elements visible on the site. Using schema is really a good boost to your SEO when done right. However, if you have doubts – you can always consult your activity with technical SEO specialists.
Most commonly encountered structured data
- Product – describing something as a product to buy. If you define a product this way, then you can assign to it elements such as price, availability or gender.
- BreadcrumbList – this is a way to show the user around your website architecture. The path is presented as a group of URLs. The solution is really convenient for users and Google robots which consequently find it easier to index the site.
- Recipes – allow you to include photos, star rating systems or time essential to prepare the meal.
- LocalBusiness – displays the most basic information about the company such as phone number, opening hours or reviews.
- Reviews – these are available e.g. on review websites and include number of votes and average rating.
- Video – this is particularly useful when your online activity is based on publishing a lot of videos.
Structured data vs. positions
Presenting your product in the abovementioned way looks impressive and also encourages users to click, however, it’s generally assumed that it doesn’t affect the position on which your website is displayed in the search results. The fact that Google really understands your site and displays extra text rows can make users choose your website even if it isn’t in the top 10 of the search results.
At the same time, Gary Illyes claims that:
“But more importantly, add structured data to your pages because during indexing, we will be able to better understand what your site is about”.
And this proves that structured data somehow influences the way Google robots index a website.
On the other hand, in 2016 John Mueller said:
“If we can recognize someone is looking for a car, we can say oh well, we have these pages that are marked up with structured data for a car, so probably they are pretty useful in that regard. We don’t have to guess if this page is about a car”.
So as you can see, everyone benefits from structured data. And it’s worth mentioning that it’s supposed to get even more extended (e.g. with new elements), therefore, if you thought you didn’t need structured data, it’s high time you got down to it.
Structured data formats
If you want to start implementing your structured data, use the schema.org dictionary. This dictionary has been made public to allow everyone reviewing and deploying those tags that fit the subject matter and character of the site best.
Some CMSs, such as WordPress, enable using plugin to enter structured data. However, not every CMS offers such a convenient solution and then you can use one of the three methods: Microdata, RDFa or JSON-LD. The last method is believed to be the easiest one, moreover, it’s also recommended by Google. What’s important, none of these methods overload or slow down the website.
If you’ve never entered structured data before, Google Data Highlighter should be very useful for you. To find out more about this tool, go to our previous article: https://delante.co/google-data-highlighter/
Use Google documentation!
- Microdata is information placed directly in the HTML code. You can define 3 microdata elements: types, properties and values, but each type must have a defined dictionary address.
- RDFa is very similar to microdata but it uses the WC3 system. It’s extremely flexible when it comes to using it in various types of documents.
Once you’ve implemented your structured data, you should verify it. Take advantage of the tool provided by Google: https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/u/0/?hl=en
When using this tool, you should remember that it only analyzes a specific subpage that is being scanned at the moment. Therefore, you need to scan every subpage separately, especially if it’s been created on a different template (for example, different product and category template).
We still don’t know the algorithm responsible for displaying structured data and even when entering it, you can never be sure that it’s going to appear in the search results. Google claims that marking structured data is only a tip, not a guideline, however, it’s always better to provide your website with this type of information.
According to the article: https://searchengineland.com/how-to-get-a-30-increase-in-ctr-with-structured-markup-105830, your organic traffic and CTR can increase even by 30% thanks to marking your structured data.