November 22, 2012
Structured Data: What is it and How it Affects Your SEO
What is Structured Data?
Structured data in the world of SEO is data that has been organised into a universal, easily accessible format so that search engines can recognise and serve this data to users. It basically allows webmasters to define different content on a webpage such as people, organisation, events, reviews, products, ratings and much more.
The beauty of structured data is that, when integrated properly into your website, it can allow you to add rich snippets of data to your organic search results allowing for more attractive and eye catching search listings.
This of course can help give you the edge over your competition while increasing your organic click through rates.
Below is an example of how a ‘review’ based rich snippet using structured data is enhancing the natural Google listings for the search term “iphone 4s review.”
Nearly all of the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex) have come together on a shared mark-up vocabulary in order to make the task of integrating structured data simpler for webmasters. You can find the universal mark-up for rich snippets and structured data at schema.org.
Why You Should be Using It
With the introduction of an industry standard for structured data mark-up defined by schema.org, search engines are able to display richer, more relevant results to their users.
The following are just a few benefits of integrating structured data mark-up into your website:
- Webmasters can highlight specific types of content/data in search results;
- The universal markup at schema.org is recognised by nearly all major search engines;
- Your website can gain greater visibility in the major search engines;
- Every search engine user’s experience becomes richer with more detailed search results such as product ratings, reviews and places appearing in their results; and
- Webmasters can benefit from better click through rates (CTR) and, therefore, more traffic and conversions.
How to Apply Structured Data to Your Site
Below is a list of some of the more commonly used schemas (in code speak!):
- Creative works: CreativeWork, Book, Movie, MusicRecording, Recipe, TVSeries
- Embedded non-text objects: AudioObject, ImageObject, VideoObject
- Place, LocalBusiness, Restaurant
- Product, Offer, AggregateOffer
- Review, AggregateRating
It is easy to implement the above mentioned schemas whether you’re designing a new site from scratch, redesigning your site or just working with a current site.
Let’s look at an example:
Say you had an ecommerce website that sells office equipment, you’d just need to head to the product section of shema.org:
In this example, the website has both category pages and product pages. Each product page comes up with the product image, price, availability, product description and user ratings.
The structured data used on this page is therefore:
- Product image
- Product description
- Customer Ratings
As you can see below, the search engine will display results for this page in the following manner:
Useful Tools to Test Structured Data on Your Website
Google’s rich snippet testing tool is a great free tool that will let you test whether your markup is installed correctly.
Also, Google recently introduced the Structured Data Dashboard in Google Webmaster Tools to provide webmasters with greater visibility and reporting options with regards to the structured data they have set up:
There are three views in the structured data dashboard:
- Item type; and
With the help of the structured data dashboard, webmasters can now verify whether Google is recognising structured mark-up language used on their website. It also helps with problem identification and pinpointing errors with current mark-up on the website.
It is highly recommended to add structured data to your website in order to: increase the visibility, click through rate and user experience of your natural search results. With the above tips in mind, we recommend you have a go at setting rich snippets and structured data up for your website today.
Let us know how you go!