When it comes to SEO and your website, it sometimes seems like marketers and web developers are speaking another language; and in a sense they are. A lot of website development and optimization efforts are technical and require know-how and that’s especially true with structured data. Though it’s been around and supported since 2011at Schema.org, many sites are missing out on this optimization opportunity because they don’t understand it or can’t implement it.
What is structured data?
Structured data can kind of boil down to data about data or markup that shares more information about the specific page. Some types of structured data include:
- Facebook Open Graph markup
- Twitter cards
- Pinterest rich pins
- Rich snippets like star ratings or reviews
- AMP structured data
There are different types of structured data for products, organizations, books, movies, articles, restaurants, events, and so on. This data or markup can help tell the search engines or social media sites how you want information about your site displayed or what photo to pull from your site or any other important information.
For example, we’ve added Open Graph markup to our blog, so when we share links to specific articles on Facebook, it’ll display exactly how we want it to because we’ve told Facebook what the title is, given the article a description, and told it what image to use:
That’s just one example of how structured data works but the same principle applies to other sites. Structured data provides more information about what’s on your site so the search engines can properly understand your site and return it for the right search queries and display your result in the best way possible. Your website developer will add the right code to your site depending on what type of structured data you want to show. Another good example of this is how search engines display recipes. Say we want to make brownies for Halloween and we go to Google to search for recipes:
Those first two results look more appealing as they have a little photo, star-rating, a time estimate, and even a calorie count! All those little data points – or rich snippets – are there because of structured data. Now, we would like to note that the search engines don’t always play nice with structured data, meaning you could have it on your site and Google or Bing will ignore it.
Why do I need it?
Structured data not only can help your appearance in the search results (and hopefully improve your click-through rate) but can also assist your SEO efforts. Instead of waiting for the search engines to crawl your website and understand it, you can use structured data to tell the search engines what your site is about directly. The search engines also have a better understanding of your website as each piece of code means something to them. Instead of just indexing your site based on keywords and its content, the search engines can better understand and make connections with your structured data, which could improve your ranking.