Boost your SEO with structured data
21 October 2022
How Google presents search results has changed a lot in recent years, with an increase in the use of snippets and rich results. The addition of structured data to your content helps Google to understand your website better. That improves your score and gives you more chance of achieving a place at the top of the search results. In this blog iO experts explain how you can make structured data work for your organisation.
Today Google shows more snippets and rich results: enriched search results give so much information that the user no longer even must click through to the source site. In 2020, 65% of all search results consisted of so-called zero-click searches, searches where the user did not click through to any of the results.
That’s why it’s important for your brand visibility that your content can be used as a snippet or a rich result. Even without a click, you can build familiarity and trust for your brand. With structured data you increase your chances of getting to the top of the search results and seeing your content appear as a snippet or rich result.
What is structured data?
Structured data is extra pieces of code in a web page, that allows search engines to better understand what your content is about. For users, it’s usually relatively easy to find out what a web page is about. For search engines, this is less obvious.
Through structured data, the search engine receives underlying additional information about the website’s content.
Why should I use structured data?
As we mentioned above, there is a rapid rise in zero-click searches, where a user finds the answer to their search without having to click through.
For example, rich snippets are pieces of information that Google pulls directly from a web page. This "summary" answers the search query directly. Rich snippets occupy the so-called position '0', above all search results.
Rich search results contain additional information that appear in the search results. Think, for example, of reviews that refer to recipe preparation times.
Google can only activate these "rich results" if it understands the content of your web page easily. Structured data can help with that by providing additional information about what every piece of content is about.
Please note adding structured data is no guarantee of success. Google decides for itself when to show such results, but the chance is much greater when Google fully understands the content of your page.
For example, when you look at the search results for the Centre for Evening Education website. Structured data means you can see when a course takes place, how much it costs and its assessment methods in the search results.
The increase in zero-click searches means that it is always worth optimising your content for enriched search results.
How do I use structured data?
Structured data is best compared to a language. Just like in a language, there is a grammatical system and a vocabulary:
The grammar or syntax contains the rules that determine how the language is written.
The vocabulary consists of all possible words.
To add structured data, you have to choose a syntax and a vocabulary. Over the years, different syntaxes and vocabularies have emerged. The most common on the web are the following:
JSON - LD
Choosing between grammar and vocabulary depends on small things, such as the spelling or possibilities in vocabulary. In this blog post we focus on the most commonly used grammar and vocabulary.
On the one hand, we have Microdata and RDFa. On the other hand, we have JSON-LD. For the vocabulary, we keep the focus on Schema.org.
When writing structured data, we have to select the grammar — that is the method we will use to communicate the extra information. Within this grammar, reference should always be made to which vocabulary is used, so that the search engine understands what the additional information refers to.
In the examples below, you will always see a reference to the vocabulary — in this case: Schema.org.
1. Microdata & RDFa
These grammars add additional "tags" of information to your web page's HTML tags.
Below we see a piece of microdata. First of all, the vocabulary is defined through Schema.org. Then we will give pieces of additional information from this vocabulary in the form of item properties or "itemprops". So, in this example we see name, director, and genre. These exact names are case sensitive and come directly from Schema.org.
Schema.org has several categories to describe content. In this case, a "movie" is described. At http://schema.org you click through to Schemas > Movie, you will find a list of all possible properties that can be used to structure a piece of content about a film:
RDFa is very similar in grammar to Microdata. As with Microdata, descriptive tags are added to the HTML tags. The difference is in small nuances and spelling.
JSON-LD looks like this:
Here, too, reference is made at the top to the vocabulary Schema.org. After that, the different properties and subproperties are addressed within Schema.org (name, location, etc.).
Google has confirmed that JSON-LD is the preferred syntax to provide structured data. In addition, Google also prefers the Schema.org vocabulary.
One of the main advantages of working with JSON-LD is that the page’s HTML doesn’t have to be edited, as with MicroData or RDFa and you can implement the created script via Google Tag Manager easily.
Schema.org is a vocabulary — developed by Google, Bing, and Yahoo! — to standardise structured data. This vocabulary consists of all kinds of categories and definitions that you can use to structure content. More information can be found on the website of Schema.org.
Because structured data can get technical quickly, there are useful tools that make it easier to create and monitor structured data.
1. Google Structured Data Markup Helper
For example, the Structured Data Markup Helper. This handy tool from Google helps you to structure content.
2. Google Search Console
With Google Search Console you now also have the option to monitor structured data from your website. In the Search Console you can see an overview of all pages with structured data and whether they are set up properly. This can be useful for detecting errors in structured data.
Stay ahead of your competitors
With the rise of rich search results, it is more important than ever to focus on structured data. The number of "rich answers" in Google continues to rise, and it doesn’t look like this revolution will be reversed any time soon.
For the (technical) online marketer and the content marketer, it is certainly advisable to delve into Schema.org and structured data. In addition, it is important to learn more about the implementation of this structured data.
Google Tag Manager and Yoast Structured Data plugin are examples of ways to enter structured data without having to modify the page's HTML code.
Use structured data so that search engines understand your content and you can stay ahead of your competitors.
Want to know more about how to exploit structured data and rich search results?
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