Structured data in SEO - what is it?


Structured data is a way of providing information about a webpage to search engines in a standardized format. By using structured data, you can help search engines understand the content on your website and display it more prominently in search results. In this article, we'll discuss the benefits of using structured data and how to implement it on your website.


Benefits of Using Structured Data


  • Improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    One of the main benefits of using structured data is that it can help improve your website's search engine optimization (SEO). By providing search engines with detailed information about your website's content, you can help them understand the context and relevance of your pages, which can lead to higher rankings in search results.


    Google and other search engines use structured data to understand the content on a webpage and how it relates to the user's query. This helps them to provide more accurate and relevant search results. By using structured data, you can give search engines more information about your content and help them understand how it relates to the user's query.


    For example, by marking up your recipes with structured data, you can help search engines understand that your content is about recipes and what type of recipes they are. This can help your recipes show up in search results when someone is looking for a specific type of recipe.


  • Enhanced Search Results

    Structured data can also be used to enhance the appearance of your website's search results. For example, by marking up your products with structured data, you can enable Google to display images, prices, and ratings for your products in search results.


    This can make your search results stand out from the competition, and can also make it easier for users to find the information they need. For example, if a user is searching for a specific product, having the product's image, price, and rating displayed in the search results can help them identify the product they are looking for more quickly.


    In addition, by using structured data, you can also enable rich snippets, which are more visually appealing and can provide more information than a standard search result. For example, by marking up your reviews with structured data, you can enable Google to display the average rating and number of reviews for your products in search results. This can help your products stand out and provide users with more information about the product.


  • Rich Results

    Structured data can also be used to enable rich results in the search engine result page (SERP). Rich results are enhanced search results that can include images, videos, reviews, ratings and more. These rich results can provide users with more information and make it easier for them to find the information they need.


    For example, by marking up your recipes with structured data, you can enable Google to display images, cook time, and ratings for your recipes in search results. This can help users find the recipe they are looking for more quickly and can also provide them with more information about the recipe.


  • Better Understanding of User Intent

    By providing search engines with more information about your content, structured data can help search engines better understand the user's intent. For example, by marking up your reviews with structured data, you can help search engines understand that your content is about reviews and what type of reviews they are. This can help your reviews show up in search results when someone is looking for a specific type of review.


  • Better User Experience

    Structured data can also be used to improve the user experience on your website. For example, by marking up your products with structured data, you can enable Google to display images, prices, and ratings for your products in search results. This can help users find the product they are looking for more quickly and can also provide them with more information about the product.


    Additionally, by using structured data, you can also enable rich snippets, which can provide more information about your content and can also make it easier for users to find the information they need. For example, by marking up your reviews with structured data, you can enable Google to display the average rating and number of reviews for your products in search results. This can help users make more informed decisions when searching for products and can also improve the overall user experience on your website.


In summary, using structured data can greatly benefit your website by improving SEO, enhancing search results, enabling rich results, better understanding user intent, and providing a better user experience. It can also help search engines understand the context and relevance of your content, which can lead to higher rankings in search results. With the help of markup tools and testing tools, it is relatively easy to implement structured data on a website. Regularly updating the structured data can ensure that the search engine has the most recent information and that the user experience is optimal.


Implementing Structured Data


  • Choose the Right Format

    There are several formats you can use to implement structured data on your website, including Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD. The recommended format is JSON-LD, as it is the most widely supported and easiest to implement. JSON-LD is a JavaScript notation that can be used to add structured data to a webpage. It is also the format recommended by Google, as it is less intrusive than other formats and does not require any changes to the existing HTML code.


  • Use a Markup Tool

    To implement structured data on your website, you can use a markup tool such as Google's Structured Data Markup Helper or the Structured Data Linter. These tools can help you create the necessary code for your structured data, and also provide you with a preview of how your structured data will appear in search results.


    For example, Google's Structured Data Markup Helper allows you to select the type of content you want to mark up, such as an event, article, or product. You can then add the structured data by highlighting the relevant content on the webpage and using the tool to create the necessary code. The tool also provides a preview of how the structured data will appear in search results, allowing you to make any necessary adjustments before adding the code to your website.


  • Test Your Structured Data

    Once you have added structured data to your website, it's important to test it to ensure that it is being implemented correctly. You can use Google's Structured Data Testing Tool to check for any errors in your structured data. This tool allows you to enter the URL of a webpage and will display any structured data that has been implemented on the page, including any errors that have been found.


    For example, if you have marked up a product page with structured data, you can use the Structured Data Testing Tool to check that the structured data is correct, and that the product's name, image, and price are being displayed correctly. If there are any errors, the tool will highlight them, and you can make the necessary changes to the structured data.


  • Regularly update structured data

    It is important to regularly update the structured data, so that the search engine can have the latest information about the webpage. For example, if you've marked up a product page with structured data and the product's price changes, you should update the structured data to reflect the new price. This will ensure that the search engine is providing the most up-to-date information to users.


    In addition, you should also monitor your structured data to ensure that it is still valid. For example, if you've marked up an event with structured data, you should update the structured data if the event's date or location changes. This will ensure that users are not misled by outdated information.


For example, let's say you have a recipe website and you've marked up your recipes with structured data. This can help Google understand that your content is about recipes, and what type of recipes they are. This can help your recipes show up in search results when someone is looking for a specific type of recipe. Another example is if you're running an e-commerce website and you've marked up your products with structured data, you can enable Google to display images, prices, and ratings for your products in search results. This can help users find the product they are looking for more quickly and can also provide them with more information about the product.


Examples


JSON-LD

A code example of JSON-LD structured data for a product would look something like this:



<cript type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org/",
  "@type": "Product",
  "name": "Product Name",
  "image": "https://www.example.com/product-image.jpg",
  "description": "Product Description",
  "brand": {
    "@type": "Thing",
    "name": "Brand Name"
  },
  "offers": {
    "@type": "Offer",
    "priceCurrency": "USD",
    "price": "19.99",
    "availability": "http://schema.org/InStock"
  },
  "review": {
    "@type": "Review",
    "reviewRating": {
      "@type": "Rating",
      "ratingValue": "4",
      "bestRating": "5"
    },
    "author": {
      "@type": "Person",
      "name": "John Doe"
    }
  }
}
</script>

This JSON-LD code provides structured data for a product, including the product's name, image, description, brand, price, availability, and a review with a rating and the author's name.


It also uses the "@context" and "@type" properties to specify that the structured data is in the schema.org format and that it is for a product.


It's important to note that this is an example and you need to adapt the code to the specific products on your website.


It's important to note that Google and other search engines are constantly updating their understanding of structured data and the way they use it to understand web pages, so it's best to keep an eye on their guidelines and update your structured data accordingly.


Open Graph (OG)

In addition to JSON-LD, another commonly used format for structured data is Open Graph (OG) tags. OG tags allow you to provide information about your webpage to social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, so that when a link to your webpage is shared on these platforms, a rich preview of the content is displayed.


An example of OG tags for a blog post would look like this:



<meta property="og:title" content="Blog post title" />
<meta property="og:type" content="article" />
<meta property="og:url" content="https://www.example.com/blog-post-url" />
<meta property="og:image" content="https://www.example.com/blog-post-image.jpg" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Blog post description" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Example website" />

These OG tags provide information about the blog post, including the title, type, URL, image, description, and the name of the website it's from. This information is used by social media platforms to display a rich preview when the link is shared.


It's important to note that some platforms like Facebook (Open Graph), Twitter (read below) and LinkedIn (Open Graph) have their own tags which are different from Open Graph. Make sure you're using the right tags for the social media platform you're targeting.


Twitter card

Twitter uses its own set of structured data tags called Twitter Cards. These tags allow you to provide information about your webpage to Twitter, so that when a link to your webpage is shared on Twitter, a rich preview of the content is displayed.


An example of a Twitter Card for a blog post would look like this:



<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary" />
<meta name="twitter:site" content="@example" />
<meta name="twitter:title" content="Blog post title" />
<meta name="twitter:description" content="Blog post description" />
<meta name="twitter:image" content="https://www.example.com/blog-post-image.jpg" />

These Twitter Card tags provide information about the blog post, including the title, description, and image. The twitter:card property defines the type of card it is, in this case, it's a summary card. The twitter:site property is the handle of the website, it could be the handle of the business or the author.


It's important to note that Twitter has several types of cards, each with their own set of properties, such as "summary card with large image" and "player card", make sure you're using the right card type for your content.


Bonus / Conclusion


It's recommended to include all of the above cards to your blog/website. You can use static code generated by some online tool for generating these cards (there are a plenty of them, just Google around a bit...).


In that blog (blog-everything.com) we are storing the main meta data in our database, and generating these cards dynamically, based on the blog article you are reading at the moment.


We are using a php script for that, but there are many more options, how to do that. But be pretty sure, that it worth the effort, you will increase your social visibility, SEO visibility for the world and for your future visitors!


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