Structured Data Markup – What Is It?
If you are unfamiliar with structured data markup, don’t worry, you would have already seen it on many searches you do on google and other search engines.
Structured data is a means of providing search engines with specific details and context about a website’s content. Without structure to a page, the search engine will crawl the page, trying to determine the information or content on the page. Structured data helps, as it presents the data in a specific way that search engines understand.
Structured data is simply code that is marked up in a specific format, so search engines understand it. Search engines read this marked up code and use it to display search results in a specific and much richer way.
Imagine you have a website with a lot of recipes. If you add structured data to a page with a recipe, your result in the search engines might change. It will be much “richer” regarding content that’s shown. That’s the reason we call these results rich snippets.
What Does Structured Data Markup Look Like?
The image below is an example of a search result from a webpage that does not use structured data markup. It displays the post title, the URL, a thumbnail of a featured image from the post and a snippet of text from the page. All pretty standard and a perfect example of a webpage that is not using structured data markup.
This second image is a perfect example of what structured data markup looks like in search results, using a recipe as an example.
Now you may not at first notice the difference between this search result that uses structured data markup and one above that doesn’t, so I’ll explain it and it will become obvious.
Starting at the top, you can see the post title, followed by the URL and on the left, a thumbnail of a featured image.
Besides the image, you see the star rating, how many votes it has received, how long it takes to cook (30 min) and how many calories it has.
Below this, you see the ingredients list.
This is what is termed a Rich Snippet. Using structured data markup is what enables the search engine to display the additional information in the search results presented to the user.
Structured data markup isn’t just used for recipes. Structured data is a code format. There’s structured data for books, for reviews, for movies, and for products in your online store and many others. Structured data simply adds more details to your snippet in the search results and defines context for the search engine.
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, Google doesn’t always create a rich snippet of your page, even if you’ve added the structured data. There are no guarantees. So all you can do is add it to your page, and hope Google will pick it up. even if it doesn’t display your snippet perfectly, it will still use the data for your site’s ranking.
Not Another Thing To Learn!
Not entirely, there are tools and plugins that make it easy to include in your webpages.
Having an awareness is important. With SEO, there is always a new thing to learn, or be aware of.
That is not a negative though, because, if you stay up to date with all the new things, you will have a massive advantage over all the other Website owners our there.
If you give the search engines what they want, they will reward you with high ranking search love.
Google Is Moving From Mobile To AI
As always in the tech World, things are changing fast. Google and others moved from the desktop World to a Mobile based World. Now the move is to an AI World. To profit from this shift, you need to move with it and build your content accordingly. This means Structured Data Markup.
Structured data is a tool you can use to tell Google specific detailed information about a page on your website. Google will be able to use this information to create informative, rich search results.
Structured Data Markup Helps With SEO
Structured data is important for SEO because it makes it easier for search engines to understand what your pages and your website are about. Using Google as an example, it needs to find out what a page is about to show it in the search results. Using structured data tells Google what your site is about. This helps with your rankings.
On top of that, structured data can change the way your snippet (your search results) is presented. It’ll show more information to the searcher. More specific information. And this will increase the likelihood a customer will click on your results. More clicks will eventually lead to even higher rankings!
How To Include Structured Data Markup In Your Webpages
If you want to include structured data markup in your webpages, you could go ahead and learn how to code it by hand. The big search engines have developed a project called Schema.org. On Schema.org you can find all the structured data markup supported by the search engines. This makes Schema.org a large collection of pieces of code.
An easier way is to use a plugin, which is what I use on this site.
I use a plugin called Rank Math, which is a free SEO plugin for WordPress. There are other SEO plugins which also help to include structured data markup in your posts, but to use all of their features, requires you to purchase a license. Rank Math is completely free.
Using Rank Math For Structured Data Markup
This will not be an in-depth tutorial on how to use Rank Math, I’ll save that for a later post. Instead, I’ll just briefly detail a bit about the Rich Snippet.
Google needs you to include special meta-data in your markup to describe what your content is. You need to use a special format called Schema.org, and it has to be perfectly valid.
Rank Math can format the Schema.org markup for you – that’s what the Rich Snippet tab does for you.
Simply including the meta-data does not guarantee a rich snippet listing. Google has to judge that your content is “worthy”. However, if you don’t include the right meta-data, Google will never recognize that your content is rich.
To start with, you have to select the right content type. You have to select from the options at the top of the Rich Snippet tab, selecting form the following options:
- None – Don’t use rich snippet code
- Article – Used for articles
- Book – Used for books
- Course – Used for online courses
- Event – Public meetups, gatherings, concerts, etc
- Job Posting – Used for job listings
- Local Business – If the page is about a local business
- Music – Used for music
- Product – Used for products that people can buy
- Recipe – Instructions on how to cook something
- Restaurant – Used for restaurants
- Video – If the main content on the post/page is a video
As you can see, there are a few options that should cater for most topic areas.
Giving an example for a blog post, you have to choose a title and the article type.
There are 3 article types:
- Blog Post
- News Article
- Article Type
Here are some tips to determine, which one to use.
If your content is not time-sensitive and covers a particular subject in-depth, it’s an article.
If it’s in-depth and related to a timely event, it’s a news article.
Everything else is a blog post.
In the context of this post, it would be an Article.
Structured Data Markup Summary
While the name may have seemed a bit intimidating for non-techies, I hope this post has shown that if using a plugin, it is easy to include Structured Data Markup in your posts.
This will help with SEO and help to raise you in the search engines, as well as appearing more appealing to the user.