Structured data was not given too much attention in the search engine optimization factors until a decade ago. Before that, structured data had a completely different purpose in all kinds of applications. Overtime, it has affected the SEO industry as well. So, what should you know about it and how can it improve your SEO campaign?
The Concept of Structured Data
According to most statistics, less than 20% of all web marketers implement structured data into their campaigns. Major search engines have gotten together in 2011 to define the concept and set its attributes, yet it has been greatly overlooked due to its confusing profile. Luckily, it is quite simple to become familiar with it.
What Is Structured Data?
Structured data is self explanatory. It basically puts data together for search engines to identify the profile and niche of a website much easier. See it this way – you can have a bunch of notes in your smartphone with various meetings for the next week or you can have everything sorted out like a table in one note only. The second option is based on structured data. The same rule applies in SEO, only you are doing it for search engines.
Structured data has many benefits in SEO. Most importantly, it provides great search results as it can include pictures and different styles too. When it comes to mobile users, it provides rich cards – similar to rich search results.
Such results will boost the CTR and bring in more traffic, as they are more appealing from a visual point of view and they come up with extra details for researchers.
Complexity to Implement
At a first glance, structured data seems complicated. The entire process is about adding a markup on your website. Its main role is to provide some extra details about your content, so search engines can categorize your website in a more efficient manner.
The real complexity occurs when you have no idea where to start from or what kind of markup to implement. There are more approaches to implementing structured data and some of them seem to dominate the market. A little research can make the whole process much easier though.
If you have shopped online or at least searched for a product online, you have probably seen the star rating by certain pages in result lists. That is a review markup. In other words, you know that you can review something on that page. That page relies on structured data and it gives you additional information about it.
As a general rule of thumb, most top results have one type of markup or another, which helps them achieve their positions. If anything on your website can be reviewed (from a product to a service), this markup makes a good addition.
Common Uses of Structured Data
Structured data has plenty of uses – it normally depends on the website, niche and profile, as well as what visitors can do on the respective website. Categories are quite diversified, yet some of them stand out in the crowd.
As a general rule of thumb, information coming from or related to verified profiles over the Internet will always rank higher than content without any official verification – this feature is more common in social media networks.
Why? Easy! Users want the authentic thing, rather than a cheap close with no credibility.
Meta data is basically some data about your data. More and more customized meta tags and similar structured data are being implemented by social networks to come up with some standards. On the same note, search engines rely on structured data to provide the most accurate results to their users.
For instance, the charset tag defines the character set for the respective page. Similar in purpose but not really a meta tag, the title tag is usually located in the head as well.
Schema represents a joint effort from more companies set with the one and only purpose to develop and maintain schemas. Their main role is in standardizing structured data over the Internet, whether it comes to web pages, email messages or anything else that can be structured.
Many of these vocabulary entries are used by coders to help search engines become familiar with the content and understand it.
Rich snippets refer to structured data markups – some of them have become standard, yet new markups may be implemented every once in a while. They are normally added into the HTML code. Their main role is to support search engines. They understand the kind of information available on the respective page, so they can make better recommendations to those who search for something.
Testing Structured Data
Structured data comes in a few categories because every search engine involved in it has its own specifications and recommendations.
Google Structured Data
Google Structured Data is a set of practices put together by Google. There are more similar practices out there, yet the company is obviously more particular about its own. Google also comes with very strict requirements when it comes to recognizing your structured data.
There are no guarantees when using Google structured Data – you can use it and hope for the best. The search engine also provides a few tools to make sure your structures are well formatted.
Google and Yandex rely on different algorithms. Many times, what works for Google may not always work for Yandex and vice versa. Just like Google, Yandex has a series of tools to make your life easier. Given its profile, it is often referred to as a structured data validator. It may not be as popular as Google, but it definitely has its own user database.
Bottom line, structured data is mostly about supporting search engines by providing more details. Visitors will also benefit from it – for example, the title to your article is one of the first things your guests see. It may also be the one and only opportunity you have to make a good impression online.