Structured data, commonly referred to as schema markup, is a code that is formatted in a specific way for search engines like Google, Yahoo!, etc. to interpret it. Search engines then use this to make the website or article to be displayed as a rich result when searched. In a nutshell it communicates what your data means and expresses that to search engines. Without it, search engines are only able to tell what your data says, not what it means. In this article, we will discuss the types of structured data, why structured data is important, what a structured data generator is, different ways to utilize structured data, and common schema terms.
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Types of Structured Data
There are numerous types of structured data that companies can use for their web page. The three I feel are most frequently seen and used are: descriptions, star ratings, and location/directions. Each of these can increase the customer’s awareness on the type of site you offer and can ultimately give you leverage against competition.
One of the most common types of structured data is descriptions. Descriptions are located directly below the title of the article. They are there to give a brief summary of the most important pieces of the article. The description might include the exact words you typed out for your convenience or other information relevant to the search. Descriptions might even break down into different subcategories. For example, a website might display four different categories of products and include a description for each. These subcategories make it easier for a customer to find exactly what they are looking for without the frustration of searching through various tabs on a website.
Star ratings are used on a multitude of websites and are an effective type of structured data. They are located just below the title of the article and more commonly under the description. Not only is there a graphic of the stars filled in to demonstrate the rating, but there is also a number computed right next to it to show the exact rating out of 5 stars. These two work together to provide a very clear demonstration that is easy to recognize and interpret.
Looking for your favorite restaurant nearby? Done. Another type of structured data is location and directions. When you search the name of a restaurant, or store, search results pull up the official website of the place and include an option that generates locations near you. This convenient option is displayed as a link that brings you to Google Maps to give you detailed directions. Maps gives you various options to locations nearby and allows you to choose any one of them.
Why is Structured Data Important?
Structured data helps search engines like Google to understand your website’s content better. It actually increases the machines’ chance of pulling up your website with similar keywords in the search. This means users are more likely to come across your website and you will see an increase in the average volume of traffic. Structured Data is an integral part of SEO. Even though structured data does not directly impact your SEO ranking, it helps strengthen the guest experience and makes your website more readily available to them.
Structured data also makes it much more convenient for potential customers/users of your website. For example, when a user is looking up a recipe for pancakes they get thousands of results. In order to know which one is the “best” structured data helps generate a quick description under the title, often followed by a star rating to reveal how much users enjoy it. These key characteristics allow a person to instantly identify which recipe they want to go with, without even clicking on the website. The structured data, or markup schema, appears in grey text to differentiate it from the title and other search results. It helps users navigate more effectively and efficiently.
Structured Data Generator
The structured data generator allows you to identify important information on your web pages and mark it up. It offers all of the vocabulary from schema.org along with properties that search engines recommend to create rich results. In turn, this will increase the amount of click-throughs your website gets, based on the ranking assigned to your site.
How to Use the Structured Data Generator
The structured data generator is a simple way to use schema markup that does not require a thorough background in coding or information systems. It is easy to use and assures accuracy. I have broken down three steps on how to use the structured data generator as follows:
- The first step when using the structured data generator is to enter the details. By this I mean selecting the type of markup you want to create. Examples are as follows: events, recipes, product, and many more.
- Next, enter the URL of the page you want data for. Make sure you fill in details for each of the required fields.
- Then copy the newly generated JSON-LD schema and paste it in the designated portion of your website.
- Finally, the last step when using the structured data generator, is to test it with the structured data testing tool.
Different Ways to Utilize Structured Data
Structured data is useful for any business in any industry. There are a plethora of ways to successfully implement it on your website. If you are a restaurant, reviews are a beneficial way that determine the quality of your food and service. If you are a well known grocery store adding location and directions is convenient for potential customers and even has the power of urging them to your store over another. There are a variety of resources that can help you implement structured data successfully. These include: JSON-LD, Schema.org, RDFa, and Microdata.
JSON-LD is a linked data format that is specially designed for programming formats, but anyone with some coding knowledge will be able to use it. The greatest benefit is that it does not require specific HTML formatting. It pairs with and uses Schema.org vocabulary. JSON-LD annotates elements within a page which search engines can then utilize to uncover facts involving entities. This creates a much more organized and efficient web for users.
As we discussed earlier, schema.org provides a consistent vocabulary that can be interpreted by major search engines. The vocabulary can be used with JSON-LD, RDFa, and Microdata. It is versatile in that it can work with all three of these successfully.
RDFa is an extension to HTML5 that helps you implement markups. It is useful in a variety of HTML-like languages, such as: XML documents, SVG documents, HTML 4,XHTML 1, and XHTML 5 documents. It gives your company better visibility and presence within the web. RDFa is best suited for people who have a stronger background knowledge in coding. This one is a bit more difficult to use.
Microdata is an international standard for markup involving HTML pages. In this instance, data gets embedded in documents with HTML which machines can then interpret. It is similar to a translator for computers that identifies contents on your webpage. Microdata is useful in helping your SEO ranking.
The Most Common Schema Terms
While it may seem confusing to familiarize yourself with commonly used schema terms, it is relatively simple. You do not need a degree in coding or the like, but rather ten minutes to get to know the three terms: itemscope, itemtype, itemprop, and how they are applied. These terms are universally used and relied upon so it is worth your while to sit back and get comfortable with them.
Itemscope is in charge of organizing your content by topic. You mark the content that applies to the same topic as itemscope and it tells the search engine these different parts are all linked to the same subject. You simply add it to the end of your <div> tag and you are good to go.
Itemtype does further analysis to add on to the correlations established by itemscope. Itemscope was able to categorize content as relating to one another where itemtype takes that information and determines what type of item your content is about. It gives a more detailed description of what is being said.
Itemprop breaks this information down even more. It shares the specific properties your items have. For each item, make sure you are sharing thorough detail to help interpret more accurately. It is important to be as detailed as you can.
When all is said and done, structured data can take your company from good to great! It plays an instrumental role in helping a company increase its presence on the web and accumulate more customers over time. It is important for you to stay innovative and up-to-date with the latest and greatest as business becomes hyper-focused on technology and selling online. Structured data is available in a variety of formats for every industry possible. From cosmetics to food to automotive and beyond, anyone can successfully benefit from it.
For help utilizing structured data, contact SEO Design Chicago today!