Structured Data for SEO: What It Is & How to Add It To Your Website to Get More Decisive Customers

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Structured Data for SEO: What It Is & How to Add It To Your Website to Get More Decisive Customersd-tags
26 September 2023
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?

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To achieve SEO success, you might excel at complex SEO tasks like keyword research, on-page optimization, backlink building, and technical SEO. You might even follow the ethical guidelines of white hat SEO, feeling proud of your accomplishments.

However, the reality is that all your efforts can go to waste if you neglect one critical aspect: proper data labeling. Or as we SEO Specialists call it – Google SEO structured data.

Let me explain why this matters.

Imagine your website as a room with 1,000 pieces of paper stuck to the wall, all with their blank sides facing inwards. Now, picture Google’s search bot as your friend, who enters the room and asks, ‘Where can I find information about your products?’ In response, you tell them, ‘Everything you’re looking for is written on a page.’

Here’s the problem.

The Google bot has no clue which of those 1,000 pages holds the information it seeks. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t have a clue either.

Sorting through each page one by one is time-consuming, inefficient, and increases the likelihood of missing the relevant information.

The consequence?

Your page may not show up in search results.

source: giphy

The consequence of the consequence?

Google will pick another website that is related and similar to yours, but with one significant difference/advantage – it features SEO structured data. This structured data in SEO ensures that every element on the website is correctly labeled, simplifying the process for the search bot to locate and index content

You know what? The list of “SEO structured data benefits for every online business owner” includes one more point, which is – a higher click-through rate.

Yep, that’s right. Adding structured data to your website code not only makes Google bots’ work easier but also keeps your customers happy. And when everyone’s happy, you can expect your cash register to start ringing with more sales.

source: giphy

So, stick with me, and I’ll walk you through

  • What structured data is + its benefits for website owners
  • Adding structured data manually and through plugins
  • Using ChatGPT and Google Markup Helper to create SEO structured data
  • Making use of free SEO structured data verification tools
  • The most common SEO structured data mistakes + how to avoid them

I’ll also use one of my Clients to show you the real-life example of how adding structured data to the website helped increase the number of keywords that improved their search engine rankings.

So, let’s start from the beginning.

Structured Data is challenging for you? Let’s talk and see how we can help you!

Find out more!

What Exactly Is Structured Data?

Structured data, or schema, is the key element behind those star ratings, eye-catching thumbnails, and additional search result goodies that make your website look like a rockstar among other search results. Staying in the context of “rockstars,” structured data in SEO is like the special HTML tags that give Google’s robots a backstage pass to understand your content better.

As mentioned above, think of the schema as the labels that categorize and describe your content in a language that Google bots can clearly understand. Without structured data, it will be just a bunch of random letters.

source: giphy

📢 Let me explain, to Google, “Delante” might as well be literary ANYTHING under the Sun until structured data reveals it’s the name of the SEO/SEM Agency I’m a part of.

Numbers, too, are just a jumble of digits without context. But when structured data says they’re prices, Google suddenly transforms them into clear product prices in search results.

In short, structured data for SEO is like GPS for search engines, guiding them through the content of your website.

🚨 But a word of caution: using structured data incorrectly may hit you hard. If you are using incorrect structural data (even when you’re not aware of that) then google can read this as an attempt at manipulation and may block the display of structured data in SERPs for all your pages. And you don’t want that.

So, use structured data wisely. Stick to honest, accurate info that matches your website’s content, and make sure it’s related to what your target audience can actually see on your website.

Now that you know what structured data in SEO is, let me explain why adding it to your website’s code is a smart move.

The Visible Effects of Structured Data

There are 3 main benefits of using structured data:

  • Your content becomes more prominent in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
  • You can display extra information about your products or services in snippets, enriching the user’s understanding.
  • Structured data enhances the overall user experience, making the search more informative and engaging.

You know what? Just see it for yourself.

Right below there is a view of a search result tagged with structured data.

Structured data in SERP example

And here’s a regular search result.

SERP result withouth structured data example

🤔 Which one are you more eager to interact with? Which one seems to be more “welcoming?” And finally, and most importantly, which one are you more likely to click?

I bet it’s the first one.

📢 DISCLAIMER It’s important to note, though, that while structured data helps, it doesn’t guarantee a spot. Featured Snippets depend on various factors like content quality and relevance, so keep creating awesome content to up your chances.

What Features Can You Actually Expose Through SEO Structured Data?

There are around 20+ types of information you can expose in the SERP through structured data. Here are the most common ones:

Product information – details about products, such as name, price, availability, and reviews

Product data in SERP example

In the example above, you see the average rating, the number of people who left reviews, the price, the cost of shipping, availability, and return timeframe.

Breadcrumbs – a navigation path of your website’s pages

Example of breadcrumbs in serps

It helps search engines understand the hierarchy and navigation path of your website’s pages. Also, it allows you to expose the organization of your content, showing users the path from the homepage to the current page they are viewing in search results.

Additional tip:
You can add an emoji to the navigation path and breadcrumbs schema, which will also make you SERP more attractive to users. The emoji will be displayed only if it is in the breadcrumbs schema and it will be in the n-1 position (that is, always the second-to-last element).

Recipes – ingredients, preparation steps, cooking times, and nutrition information for recipes

Recipies structured data example in serps

This schema isn’t just for culinary websites; it’s also valuable for those offering food products or simply running blogs. Typically, it provides users with comprehensive culinary guidance.

Local business – information about businesses, such as name, address, phone number, operating hours, and customer reviews

Local business structured data in serp example

local business structured data in serp example

Local business schema is great for presenting a company’s physical locations, and it’s especially handy for businesses that operate in specific local areas.

Review – star ratings and review summaries for products, services, or businesses

Review structured data in serps example

Video – information about videos, such as titles, descriptions, thumbnails, and upload dates

Video structured data in serps example

This is particularly useful when your online work revolves around sharing many videos.

These are just structured data examples that we use most often when optimizing the websites for our Clients. For the complete list, please refer to the Structured data markup that Google Search supports, which is an article published on Google Search Central. Additionally, you can gain a broader understanding of the advantages each snippet offers you by reading our What Are Google SERP Features?

Now, that you are fully aware of what structured data SEO is, and that you know using them in your website’s code offers you nothing but benefits, let’s see…

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How to Add  Structured Data to Your Website

It’s time to label those pieces of paper from the beginning, isn’t it? 😉 First, you’ll need to identify which elements of your website can benefit from structured data, and later determine which ones are actually worth exposing in SERP.

💡 Example? Let’s imagine you run a local bakery. To me, you may think about using structured data for menu items, special promotions, payment methods, photos, customer testimonials, and takeout options. In case you’re planning to organize some baking workshops, make sure you use the event hosting schema.

When you already have a list of the chosen elements, think about which structured data format is going to be the easiest for you to use.

3 Most Popular  Structured Data Formats

Structured data is typically implemented using specific formats or syntax to make it understandable to search engines. There are 3 main types of structured data formats you may consider using.

The first one is microdata. I’d compare them to small labels or tags you can attach to specific parts of your website’s content, like product names, prices, or event dates. These labels provide extra information to search engines, making it easier for them to understand what your content is about. While Microdata works well, it can be a bit like adding tiny stickers to your webpage’s code, which might require a bit more work and attention to detail.

Another solution is RDF (Resource Description Framework). Imagine RDF as a way to create a web of information where data on your webpage connects to other data on the internet. It’s like linking your webpage to a big network. RDF uses special codes within your webpage’s content to establish these connections. This format can be more complex, but it’s powerful for connecting your data to the broader web of information.

And finally, my absolute favorite – JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). JSON is like a universal language for structured data. Instead of adding little stickers or building intricate networks, you simply write down the details about your content in a clear, easy-to-read format, like writing a shopping list. JSON-LD, a variant of JSON, is particularly popular because it’s simple, effective, and doesn’t contribute to slower page loading. And as you know, loading time and website responsiveness is one of the factors search engines use as ranking factor.

So, once again: microdata involves adding labels, RDF creates a web of information, and JSON simplifies the process by using a clear and universal language for structured data. JSON, especially JSON-LD, is commonly recommended for being user-friendly.

Oh, and there is one more reason why I consider JSON superior – this schema format even spawns plugins for content management systems (CMS), proving it’s the best choice, especially for beginners. So, while mentioning the plugins, let’s see…

How to Add SEO Structured Data through Plugins

Many CMS platforms, including WordPress, offer the convenience of adding structured data through plugins. It’s arguably the easiest way to go about it, isn’t it?

These plugins create structured data using the JSON format and allow you to select the schema type that fits your content. Plus, they simplify the process of creating and implementing structured data in SEO.

If your CMS of choice is WordPress then I suggest you use plugins like

  • Schema PRO
  • WP SEO Structured Data Schema
  • Rank Math

If you’re a fan of Joomla, then think about using

  • JoomSEF
  • sh404SEF

Is Magneto your CMS of choice? Great, then you can choose among

  • Yoast SEO for Magneto 2
  • Magneto SEO Suite Ultimate Extension

And for PrestaShop, you may consider trying out

  • PrestaShop SEO Manager
  • PrestaShop Google Rich Snippets

Before you start adding structured data to your website, 🤚 please, hold on for a second 🤚

Just back up your website, first.

If it happens that a given plugin isn’t compatible with your CMS version, it could potentially cause issues. Like big issues. Therefore, having a backup may be your lifesaver. If any unexpected hiccups occur, you can quickly restore your website, avoiding massive havoc.

source: giphy

Coming back, most of these plugins also offer straightforward ways to input and enhance your data, making it unnecessary for me to walk you through a step-by-step process. They’re designed with user-friendliness in mind, so you can get your structured data up and running smoothly.

Just back up your website, first 😉

But what if this incredibly convenient plugin method isn’t at your disposal? Well, you may be somehow forced to do some manual work.

How to Add SEO Structured Data Manually

If your website’s CMS doesn’t offer the option to install a plugin for structured data or if you simply prefer to add it manually, then let me show you how to do this.

The good news is that you can handle this with ease. Creating the schema is quite straightforward, and you don’t need any coding experience to get started. However, if you’re not familiar with coding at all, you might want to consider getting some assistance with the final implementation. In such cases, having a web developer or programmer lend a hand can be your best option.

So, let me demonstrate how to manually create and later integrate SEO structured data into your website. One of the methods I’m going to discuss involves using ChatGPT, the others in turn require getting access to dedicated tools. I truly believe you will find the most convenient option.

Let’s start with our little AI-based tool.

ChatGPT for Creating SEO Structured Data Schema |  Method #1

The great part is that using ChatGPT for writing structured data is a walk in the park. Basically, you need to take just a few steps.

STEP 1 Open ChatGPT (note: all versions are okay).

STEP 2 Enter a prompt, giving the instructions on which schema type you want to receive.

Remember when I told you that JSON-LD is the most user-friendly format? So, let’s use it now – work smart, not hard, right? 🧠

The exemplary prompt may be:

Exemplary promt in chatGPT

After a couple of seconds, your AI assistant will show you a code, similar to the one shown below:

Example of JSON Schema created by ChatGPT

📢 Let me draw your attention to one thing: As you can see, the chatbot fills in the fields with some random values that it comes up with itself. That’s why, when using this method, you must remember to…

STEP 3 input accurate values for your product (page, service, article, or anything else you might be using it for).

So, that’s it. Just 3 simple steps and your SEO structured data for the product page are ready.

Truth be told, using ChatGPT for creating schema doesn’t differ much from copying code directly from schema.org and filling it out with your own values.

Sure, let’s explore a somewhat more advanced approach where the chatbot not only produces a “standard” code for incorporating structured data but also inserts your unique values into it.

ChatGPT for Creating SEO Structured Data Schema | Method #2

STEP 1 Think about the most important pieces of information about your product. Of course, it’s possible for you to include all the data that fits within a product schema, yet I advise you against doing so. Why? Simply because you want to avoid overcrowding it with unnecessary details.

If you’re now asking yourself, ‘How do I know which pieces of information to pick?’ then my advice to you is as follows:

Make sure to prioritize only those pieces of information that your target audience may be truly interested in. Leave out all the rest.

STEP 2 Create a prompt. It may look like this

Exemplary promt in chatGPT with more data

STEP 3 Click Enter and wait for the code to be generated.

JSON Schema created by chatGPT based on the provided promt

As you can see, when you added the all required information, you got a code ready for being implemented on your website. If needed, ask a developer to put it in the right place.

STEP 4 Continue following the same process to create other types of SEO structured data.

Okay, so that was ChatGPT. Now let’s make use of another tool.

Google Markup Helper for Creating SEO Structured Data Schema

A brief introduction: Google Markup Helper allows you to choose the structured data type in a pretty cool way. You just visit your website and use your cursor to indicate the elements you want it to generate a schema for. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Here’s how you do this.

STEP 1 Go to Google Structured Data Markup Helper.

STEP 2 Select a data type and later enter your page URL and click the blue Start Tagging button.

Screen from structured data markup helper

STEP 3 What you see is the page you introduced a step before.

Screen from Structured data markup helper with a particular page

STEP 4 Highlight the elements you want to get the structured data created.

Screen showing how to create structured data in Structure Data Markup Helper

Screen showing how to create structured data in Structure Data Markup Helper

STEP 5 When your selection is ready, click the red Create HTML button.

STEP 6 What you get is the JSON code that you can use on your website.

Screen showing how to create structured data in Structure Data Markup Helper

STEP 7 Hand the schema code to a developer or implement it yourself if you want to.

That’s it.

Naturally, other page types feature other pieces of information. The one I’ve just used as a blog post page, so I could create author schema, FAQ schema, rating and review schema, or image schema. But if you do the same for a product page, you may create a brand schema, availability schema, and offer schema. What I want to say is basically that different page types allow you to create different types of structured data for SEO.

What’s the next step? Well, now we need to see if the schema works as you want it to.

Check how we can help you with your technical SEO!

Technical SEO Services

Your New Best Friends: Structured Data Testing Tools

Regardless of which method of schema preparation and implementation you choose – you should always check that it will work properly. Therefore, now I will show you how to do it.

There are 2 tools I recommend you try:

Both are free and easy to use. If that’s not a description of a perfect tool, then I don’t know what is 😃

Schema Validator and Rich Results Test work similarly, so let’s go through the test phase together, using the former.

STEP 1 Go to Schema Validator’s official website (I liked it above).

STEP 2 Enter your page’s URL and click Run Test.

Screen showing how to use Structure Data validator from schema

STEP 3 The tool provides you with the page’s code and information regarding the structured data that has been implemented.

The cool thing is, here you can do more than just check if the tool spots any errors or warnings. You can also manually review the data to make sure everything looks good. This is important because the tool won’t really get the meaning behind what you’ve selected.

I said that you can spot some elements for improvement. But what actually can go wrong?

The 6 Most Common Structural Data Mistakes to Avoid

Even though the process of adding structured data to your website seems to be pretty trouble-free, there are some things that can get messed up a bit.

I’m going to show you 6 that I come across the most often in my job as an SEO Specialist.

Mismatched Schema Types

There are some universal types of structured data in SEO like breadcrumbs and organization schemas that can be applied across various pages. However, it’s not uncommon for me to run into pages where specific schemas don’t quite match the content.

💡 For example, a few days ago I found a service page tagged with a product schema instead of the correct service schema.

In such cases, this mismatched structured data can cause search engines to misinterpret the page’s nature – if I may call it that way. Essentially, this gives Google (or other search engines) the wrong impression about these pages.

I guess I should give you a couple of examples of how using the wrong structured data creates confusion.

  • Providing inaccurate pricing information in a product schema can confuse potential customers and harm your credibility.
  • Using a “Product” schema for a service page can mislead search engines about your offerings.
  • Using a “Restaurant” schema for a catering service can misinform search engines about your business type.
  • Including product reviews in a “Local Business” schema instead of a dedicated “Product” schema may not provide accurate information to users.

Data Inaccuracy in Structured Data

You need to make sure the information in your structured content matches what users see on your website. Sometimes, you may encounter a situation where, say, the price shown in your structured content is outdated while the website displays a new one. It doesn’t matter if the new price is higher or lower; this is always considered a mistake.

This happens when the structured content is set up incorrectly or isn’t regularly updated. Sadly, even the automated tools, we used above, might not catch these errors. I want you to keep in mind that referring to the Schema Validator or Rich Results Test to check for errors may not always work 100%.

🚨 You just need to make sure the info displayed in a snippet matches what’s on your website.

By keeping your data accurate in structured content, you’re giving people and search engines the correct info. This helps your website do better in search results and makes the user experience even better.

UnintentionalManipulative & Deceptive Practices in Structured Data

I know you don’t use manipulative practices to gain more web traffic on purpose. Sometimes, however, deceptive situations – if I may call it that way – simply happen by mistake.

‘What are you talking about?’, you may ask.

In plain English, unintentional manipulation and deception occur when structured data on your page describes something that isn’t actually there.

‘Again, what are you talking about?’ – let me explain.

💡 Imagine a scenario where on a website called X, there were job listings. These job listings had structured data describing them (as we saw earlier, it’s a separate category of data). But after the recruitment process ended, the job postings were removed, yet the structured data remained. In this situation, Google might display information from the structured data, enticing users to visit the page, only to find that the job listings are no longer available.

Google may interpret this as an attempt to deceive users, potentially resulting in penalties for the website.

source: giphy

The same applies to prices, availability, rating, news article publication dates, and so on, and so forth.

So, it’s essential to ensure that the structured data on your website accurately represents the current web content to maintain trust with both users and search engines.

Not Following Structured Data Guidelines

Google has laid out guidelines for developers on how structured data should be implemented. It’s a good idea for your developer or webmaster to take a look at these guidelines and work in line with them. Sometimes, despite the best intentions, structured data may not work as intended, and often, the issue boils down to how it was implemented.

By adhering to Google’s structured data policies and ensuring proper implementation, you can enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of your structured data. This proactive approach not only helps you prevent potential problems but also ensures that your structured data seamlessly aligns with Google’s standards, improving your website’s performance in search results.

Skipping the  Verification Stage

Everyone makes mistakes.

Even when you’ve prepared your structured data perfectly and nailed the implementation, errors can still fall through the cracks. That’s why I suggest you always double-check if everything looks as intended.

📣 Remember that you can use a tool to verify that everything’s in order, just as we discussed earlier.

Sure, you may think that everything is going great. After all, you’ve created the data and set it up, so you’d expect it to start working its magic in search results. But in reality, it might not deliver the results you’re hoping for because something’s not quite right, and you might not even realize it.

Just look – imagine you’ve prepared SEO structured data for a new product launch on your e-commerce website. You’ve followed all the guidelines, ensuring that every detail is just right.

You’re excited and expect to see your product neatly displayed in search results.

However, without verification, you might miss a small coding error that prevents your structured data from being correctly understood by search engines.

Result?

Even though your product is amazing, potential customers may not find it since it will lack all the infomation which I described in this text, and you page may be below your competitors pages. 

Verification, in this case, would have caught that coding glitch, ensuring your hard work pays off, and your new product gets the visibility it deserves. To me, it’s like having a second set of eyes to make sure everything runs smoothly and your structured data performs at its best.

So, wrapping up the most common structured data mistakes, let me give you the following piece of advice:

📣 Remember, a little verification can make a big difference in ensuring your structured data works as intended and gets you the results you want in search rankings.

source: giphy

Extra Tip: Universal Structured Data Types That You Can Apply to Every Website

I’ve shown you specific structured data examples, like the ones that help your product pages rank higher.

However, did you know that there are also some versatile types of structured data that work for any kind of website or page?

Let’s check out these universal structured data types that you should consider using:

  1. Breadcrumbs aka navigation menu help users understand where they are on your website and make it easier for them to move around.
  2. Use Organization structured data on your homepage or contact page to tell everyone about your brand.
  3. You can use WebPage structured data for every single page on your website. It’s like the foundation that helps search engines understand your website’s structure.
  4. Article structured data is fantastic for blogs and all sorts of articles. It helps Google identify your original content, especially if someone copies or rephrases it.

📌 Here’s a quick tip: Make sure to include the publication date. If someone happens to copy your content, Google will use this information to identify the true author, which, in this case, is you.

  1. If your website contains frequently asked questions, FAQ structured data allows you to mark them up, making it easier for search engines to feature your FAQs in search results. Although google recently wrote that it limits the use of the FAQ scheme for sites, it is worth implementing, because it will not couse any problems, and can only help.
  2. ImageObject structured data can be used to provide metadata for images, making it easier for search engines to index and display graphics in image search results

Here’s the cool part: These universal structured data types play nicely together. They don’t clash, and they don’t stop you from using more detailed data for specific parts of your website.

So, you can have both the universal and specific structured data markups on one page!

For example, you can include product-related data on a product page or job-related data on a job listing page, while having breadcrumbs and FAQ on each of those pages, too.

📢 Remember, by adding these universal structured data types, you’re making your website more user-friendly and informative. Plus, you’re following best practices, which means search engines like Google can better grasp your content and show it off in search results.

I wholeheartedly recommend you use them, no matter what type of website you have.

Real-Life Example: The Results of Adding SEO Structured Data to a Website

As you can read on Search Engine Journal:

‘Milestone Research, the research division of Milestone Inc., analyzed over 4.5 million queries to find users click on rich results 58% of the time, compared to a CTR of 41% for non-rich results.

Conclusion?

Adding structured data in an attempt to be featured in a Rich Snippet, you double your chances of being chosen and clicked on.

Besides, even Google itself recommends adding structured data because it can help engage your target audience with your website. As evidence of its effectiveness, Google highlights four well-known brands – Rotten Tomatoes, The Food Network, Rakuten, and Nestle – that experienced higher click-through rates for pages enriched with structured data. If you’re interested in specific percentages and data, you can find them in the Introduction to structured data markup in Google Search.

What is the impact of adding SEO structured data to a lesser-known brand’s website?

Properly implemented schemas together with the larger amount of written content published on the company blog played a significant role in boosting my Client’s rankings for specific keywords. In fact, the number of keywords that made it to the Rich Snippets increased by 221%!

Source: giphy

See the below. The first screenshot shows you the number of keywords (194 keywords) featured in Rich Snippets before the structured data had been implemented to the Client’s website:

Screen showing the number of SERP Features before implementing structured data

Compare it with the current number of mentions – 429 keywords – in Rich Snippets:

Screen showing the number of SERP features after implementing structured data

To me, that’s a massive increase and a huge SEO success that led to higher click-through rates and sales for my Client.

My Final Thoughts: Wrapping Up Structured Data for SEO

Just as you’d expect clear road signs in a new city, search engines expect websites to be properly labeled too.

Using SEO structured data, you label all crucial elements of your website. This makes it easier for Google bots to understand your web content.

Once these crawlers can effortlessly identify and recognize specific pieces of information on your website, they will reward you with higher positions in SERPs. And if you’re really lucky, you might be given this amazing spot that everybody fights for – Rich Snipped.

Let’s not forget about your potential customers! They love it when they can quickly find the information they need. You can help them do exactly that by adding SEO structured data for things like reviews, prices, availability, and all the important details your prospects want to know before making a purchase or clicking on a search result.

So, whenever it’s applicable, go ahead and implement those schema markups that increase click-through rates and bring more customers to your online store.

The best part? Implementing SEO structured data on your website won’t eat up much of your time. However, if you ever feel unsure or simply prefer not to do it yourself, remember that you can always reach out to me or any of my SEO colleagues. We’re here to help.

Author
Wiktoria Wójciak SEO Specialist
Author
Wiktoria Wójciak

SEO Specialist

She graduated in information management from Jagiellonian University. She took her first steps in the SEO industry as a copywriter, and joined the Delante team in 2021. In her free time, she learns Spanish, watches TV series, blogs about rats and visits Italian restaurants. She is a fan of dogs, rodents and crime books.

Author
Wiktoria Wójciak SEO Specialist
Author
Wiktoria Wójciak

SEO Specialist

She graduated in information management from Jagiellonian University. She took her first steps in the SEO industry as a copywriter, and joined the Delante team in 2021. In her free time, she learns Spanish, watches TV series, blogs about rats and visits Italian restaurants. She is a fan of dogs, rodents and crime books.

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