Danielle St. Cyr
So What Is Structured Data, Really: The Basics
Structured data can seem intimidating at first; it looks like yet another type of code that needs to be mastered. But don’t despair, because structured data is not only easy to use, it can provide an immediate boost to your rankings.
First, an explanation. Structured data is nothing more than some simple code that explains what is on the webpage so that Google has a better idea of the relevance and organization of the information on the webpage. Google uses this code to understand how to show your organic listing and also to produce rich results on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) – and appearing in rich results is a fantastic way to boost your traffic and conversions, and build trust with consumers.
Structured data, also known as Schema, is a markup language, like HTML. This means that the structured data explains how to organize the data on a web page, but is not visible to the user. You can think of it like a more complex set of meta data. This structured data markup means that a search engine knows exactly what is contained on the webpage, and does not have to use its algorithm to try to understand the data – and that means you have lots of control over how your listing appears in the SERPs. Using structured data is not really optional anymore; top spots in the SERPs are extremely competitive, and it’s almost a certainty that your competitors are using structured data.
There are hundreds of options for marking up your on-page data (for a complete list, go to www.schema.org), but there are a number of commonly used schema types:
Many of the available schema types may not make sense for your website, or may only make sense on certain pages, and that’s fine. You can have different structured data markup on all of your webpages – but it makes the most sense to have all pages of a particular type (ie. all blog pages) have the same markup so they appear consistent in the SERP listings.
The way to get the structured data on the webpage is through a script, likely JSON-LD, since this is both Google’s preferred version of structured data and the simplest version to work with. The JSON-LD script can be placed in the header or anywhere in the page body code, and can be easily edited in any text or code editor you prefer. (For another look at structured data, including an example of a code snippet, take a look at Google’s Developer guide, and to test your schema, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.)
Structured data is essential for your site to maximize changes for top organic ranking and rich results in the SERPs. Adding schema to your page isn’t ridiculously complicated, but deciding what schema types to use and editing the script can be confusing for a first-time user. If you’d like some help getting started on adding structured data to your site, contact us and we can start talking about what schema types make sense for your company, and get you rising to the top of the SERPs!