What is structured data?
Structured data, or a SCHEMA markup, is a standardised format that contextualizes web content. Google alongside alternative search engines as well as our own SEO company in Melbourne uses this to better understand your content. For SEO, your structured data helps search engines locate and interpret your content to improve UX via SERPs.
Employing structured data ensures Google understands the individual elements of your data. Presenting your information in a standardized vocabulary and format is how Google can attain this data.
This specific vocabulary is defined by Schema.org, collaboratively working with Google. Other search engines like Bing define common schema types and properties used in the schema markup, comprising 615 types.
The various definitions include: Microdata, RDFa or JSON-LD, where Google recommends JSON-LD.
How can structured data improve websites?
1. Increase visibility in Google search results through Rich Results.
Rather than Google simply producing a simple results list, as previously done, now there are richer search result features.
Some of these newer features include: ratings, images, nutritional information, videos, popular products and common questions.
Google also links relevant pages based on the user’s location. These suggestions are paid results and listings via Google maps for local results.
Scrolling down, simply titled pages are linked with simple descriptions. Everlastsservices.com.au takes up twice the amount of real estate as compared against other links. If you follow the Everlastsservices.com.au link, a question and answer section is presented. Here the business included appropriate structured data. This told Google that this list of questions and answers are officially frequently asked questions.
Some of these rich features include: recipes, rating, product, events and videos.
2. An increased Click-through rate.
Ranking signals include the performance or use of SSL on your site, not necessarily structured data. Google outlines that when you’re performing well, you’ll be awarded. However, you’ll be penalized for the contrasting outcome. But why does structured data matter then?
Search features provide increased visibility, leading to an increased click through rate. Click through rates indicate the percentage of users that see your page in search results, and click onto your page. Where your CTR is 3% but dis-included in 100 user’s search, then 3 out of 100 clicked on your page.
How much of an increase can this give you?
Martha van Berkel at Schema App stipulates they see a 20% increase in CTR when implementing structured data.
Eric Enge at Perficient Digital conducted a study focussing on how search features impact CTR. Enge found that the aggregate CTR for results in the top 10 for branded queries was approximately 71%. For non-branded, approximately 38%.
3. Match the Searcher’s intent
Structured data indicates to Google the relevance of your pages by providing them with relevant contextualization. Google does not give structured data a ranking signal, so it doesn’t give or remove quality points. But, it can still impact search result rankings. The customization of search results based on location aims to provide relevant, associated search results linked to searcher intent. For instance, local bakers are ranked higher when a user searches for birthday cakes.
How to implement structured data?
- Open Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
- Select your data type and enter the URL.
- Highlight page elements and assign data tags.
- Create the HTML.
- Add the schema markup to your page.
- Test your markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
- Diagnose and fix any detected issues.
1. Open Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper
2. Select Your Data Type And Enter The URL
With the website tab open, select the type of data to which you’d like to add the HTML markup. Plug the web page URL (or the HTML code) at the bottom and click Start Tagging.
3. Highlight Page Elements And Assign Data Tags.
When the tool loads, your web page should be on the left side and data items on the right.
Highlight different components of your web page to assign data tags such as name, author, and date published. (the tool will suggest different different data tags.)
As you select and assign data tags, information will pop up under ‘My Data Tags’ on the right panel. Further, you can add missing tags that might not be visible on the web page by clicking ‘Add missing tags’.
4. Create HTML
After completing your tagging, click create HTML in the upper right-hand corner.
Structured data markup will be located on the right side of the next screen. The tool automatically generates the script as JSON-LD markup. But it can be changed to Microdata by clicking the JSON-LD drop-down menu in the top menu.
Next, click ‘Download’to download the script as an HTML file. Copy and paste the new HTML markup into a CMS or source code of your webpage to “publish” your markup. Lastly, click Finish in the top right corner.
6. Test Your Markup With Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
Open Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. After that, enter a URL (or HTML) code of a web page you want to test – click ‘Run Test’ to start.
7. Detected Issues
Your HTML markup will be on the left and your markup analysis on the right. Note any red errors or warnings. Click on any data row to highlight the corresponding markup on the left.
Though, if errors are in the HTML directly in the tool panel before “publishing”, test the HTML markup.
The new HTML can take Google weeks to re-crawl. As a result, your content isn’t guaranteed to be shown in rich snippets or other SERP features.
Give Google all the information it needs to know.
Based on Google Recommendations, our examples will employ the JSON-LD format. However, there are other formats: inline in the HTML using Microdata and RDFA.
Google’s John Mueller says: Do Not Put ‘Organization’ Schema Markup on Every Page
Many add Structured data in repeated areas on their website, in WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO per se. So, if not properly configured it can add the same structured data over and over in each page. Google advises against this. If you want to know where to use structured data, click here.
In addition, do not add markup content that readers cannot see. Google’s quality guidelines stipulate that human Google reviewers can be manually penalized.
Top 10 Most Common Microdata, Structured Data To Use In A Website
- Organisation – An organization like a school, NGO, corporation, club, etc.
2. Local Business SCHEMA – A physical business or branch of an organization. E.g. restaurants, certain restaurant chains, bank branches, medical practices, clubs, bowling alleys, etc.
3. Search Action – E.g.:
Helping Google to decide the Featured Snippets on Search Results:
This can be added on the following pages:
Breadcrumb data helps users understand the site’s content hierarchy. Thereby improving user navigation. Easier navigation encourages longer user interactions. Moreover, this means bounce rates decrease as users spend more time on the site.
While a schema exists for “Blog Posting” the most commonly used is News Article. Be sure to add this unique structured data to each of your posts.
A search query for a year and genre-based award, “2014 Nebula Award best novel”, may generate the following breadcrumb:
There are multiple ways to navigate to a page on your site, you can specify multiple breadcrumb trails for a single page.
Products consists of offered products or services, e.g. clothing; concert ticket; an online streamed TV episode. Product schema enables search engines to publish greater information about your products to help your web page rank higher. (ECOMM)
Reviews include a review of an item – e.g. a restaurant, movie, or store.
In a service-based business, there is no clear-cut answer on where the reviews should get pulled in. Unlike in e-Commerce businesses. Organic reviews can drastically help increase click-through, which can then increase SEO rank.
With associatedClaimReview, it is related by certain content, topics, or claims. So, this type of property is commonly employed for a single activity using both claim reviews and media reviews. RelatedMediaReview would have been used on a Claim Review. RelatedClaimReview is utilized on MediaReview.
Moreover, an associated MediaReview is also related by common content, topic or claim. It is expected the property is used where a single activity conducts claim reviews and media reviews. In this situation, relatedMediaReview is utilized on a ClaimReview. Simultaneously relatedClaimReview is used on MediaReview.
The associatedReview, indicating a review, and the itemReviewed, being the item being reviewed, both influence negativeNotes and positiveNotes. These are the context of a review in both negative and positive comments as unstructured text or a list, respectively.
ReviewAspect indcates if the review is pertinent to the itemReviewed.
The actual body of the review itself is the reviewBody.
The reviewRating is the specified, numeric rating of the linked review. But if you want to refer to the work of the review’s body, the aggregateRating property indicates this.
That is, businesses with event listings (Businesses that have an event happening at a certain time and location, e.g. concert). The offers property is where ticketing information is added. Repeated events may be distinctly structured as separate Event objects. SearchAction Schema – Search Site’s content directly from results.
“Event markup is incredibly powerful. If you think about any sort of ticket type company in today’s age – movie tickets, music tickets, other show tickets – if they aren’t utilizing this type of markup, they are missing out on a lot of potential organic traffic.”Geoff Atkinson, Founder and CEO of Huckabuy
Additionally, you want to avoid marking up non-events as events. Google may penalize your entire website by disqualifying all content from rich results. Non-events marked up as events may cover: short-term discounts or purchasing opportunities, business hours, and coupons or vouchers. See the excerpt from Google’s content guidelines below for more examples of misinformation.
Configuring your FAQs in the featured snippets on Google can increase organic traffic. Schema markups bolster this organic traffic as well. A QAPage is a WebPage specified for particular Question and its Answer(s).
Case Study: Does Webpage Schema (About & Mentions) Improve Rankings?
InLinks undertook a controlled experiment where 24 SEO professionals agreed to add two types of WebPage schema to pages on their sites.
Pre Schema (4th of April):
Post Schema Implementation (4th of May):
- Number of Sites With Position Gains: 14
- Number of Sites With Position Losses: 7
- Position Gains for All Sites: 74
Tracked over four weeks were the results. At the end of the month, they found twice as many of the sites gained in rank as lost, with no other changes to the pages.
It surfaced that several sites didn’t honour their commitment to adding the code where needed. In some cases, the code was added but in a way that tarnished Google’s comprehension of the content.
This was because of various “things” having the same name. If you connote your content is about (for example) “Rock”, this could either be the genre of music or a stone. Linking the wrong Wikipedia definition compromises your ranking.
Adding About Schema And Mentions Schema Can Help Google Understand And Prioritise Your Page’s Content.
About / Schema:
Mentions / Schema:
The second finding was that pages with rich content benefited more than others. Comparatively, bad associations could do more harm than good.
Should implementing structured data with schema code be something your business prioritizes? It really depends on many factors. These include: your industry, competitor rankings and user motivations.
Firstly, ensure your markup is on the page. If you are copying and pasting the JSON-LD into the page, you can right click on the web page, view source and search within the elements tab for “LD+JSON” to see if the code is there. If using Schema App or Google Tag Manager to input your code, it’s easier to use Google’s Rich Result Testing Tool for rich result eligibility. Using the Schema Markup Validator (SMV) for any errors in your schema markup syntax officially replaced Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT).
Alternatively, you can wait and check within Google Search Console to report on the rich results. This could take some time between a few days, or up to a month. It’s reliant upon how regularly Google crawls your site.
SAP case Study
The Schema App deployed two site markups. A community of users and product experts at answers.sap.com and Digitalist Magazine, a home for SAP’s thought leadership in cloud, mobile and big data technologies.
With SAP’s Answer centre, it observed 160% growth in impressions and 150% growth in clicks for results with rich results. Schema markup combined with a content migration contributed to the search results growth.
Here, there is a 41% growth in impressions and 28% growth in clicks for search results with rich result for Digitalist Mag. This demonstrated positive organic growth.
A markup to six of SAP’s web properties was deployed. In the three months leading up to December 9, 2019, SAP saw more than 400% growth in clicks from rich results from search engines to SAP.com domain. Clicks to their rich results have increased 4.3 times.
FAQ and Questions and Answers within search results now represent SAP. FAQ and Questions and Answers represent 67% of impressions for the SAP domain.
If you want to increase conversions via channelling quality traffic to your site, rich snippets are key. CLR’s increase by 20-30% when using rich snippets, according to Moz. Without Structured Data, webpages show up on a SERP with three main objects: a site title, the URL, and the meta description. With Rich Snippets your search content becomes richer. Search engines display more information about the results. As a result, increasing site click-throughs from SERP. Furthermore, rich snippets assist in reducing bounce rates, whilst increasing conversion rates. A more informed understanding of what searchers will see then becomes apparent by the increased information on the SERP.
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