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What is Structured Data and How Can it Help Your Website?

In the world of SEO having an advantage is vitally important. And this advantage is harder to find in modern digital marketing, especially as someone, somewhere, is probably trying the same thing. That is why being able to get technical with your SEO is vital. Technical changes and additions can put you a level above your competition, improving your rankings significantly.

One of the biggest technical on-page SEO techniques currently being implemented as a matter, of course, is structured data. You don’t need to know how to code, but it can help.

So, here is what structured data is exactly and how it can work to improve your site’s SEO.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data, to put it simply, is extra information implemented in the code of your site. It gives search engine’s additional data that they otherwise would not have had. This data can be used to improve search results, as it can help to generate better information for the user searching. So, for example, it could pull out a full answer to a question, pull additional information (such as company data or products) and or just improve the look of a search result.

Here’s an example of what a structured data snippet looks like in Google Search:

Appearing in this hallowed spot in search can be quite impressive (it takes a lot of effort). But, it can also go a long way to improving your overall SEO performance. Implementing this, then, can be vitally important to learn as an important tool in your technical SEO tool kit.

Different Types of Structured Data

The good thing about structured data is that there are different types of structure and they can be implemented on your site, no matter the industry or website niche. This can include anything from recipes to events, with anything in between. The fact is that there is no limit when it comes to Structured Data, as it is always developing and being advanced by a dedicated community.

The advantage to this is that you can tailor your markup to your own individual website and niche. So, if you are a website that is concerned with cooking and recipes then you will obviously implement this on every relevant page. Likewise, as a job site, you would markup your individual job postings to make the role easily findable.

Of course, there are some markups which you should have on every page as a matter of course. This includes organizational markup on the homepage, product markup on products, rating markup to show your 5-star products or services, and can even be used to create a knowledge graph about an individual person. Obviously, your choice of Schema markup will be completely dependent on what you want to achieve in search.

To decide this, you need to take your site page by page. That way, you can tailor the markup to the individual content of every page.

Better Search Snippet Appearance

The biggest advantage of this is quite simple. Your markup just looks better. Take the two examples below:

Amazon is obviously very good at selling online. So, it’s no wonder they have Structured Data implemented very well on their site. If you type in “magnesium 60 caps supplements”, a random example, it’s no wonder they appear first organically. Through good structured data implementation, they clearly show the rating of the product which is 4.5 stars and the number of reviews. Both extremely important factors for the consumer.

Boots, on the other hand, don’t have any additional information displayed. And, for this reason, a high proportion of users will choose the Amazon result. Obviously, these are quite big brands and so people might choose Amazon for brand loyalty, ease or whatever other reason. But the same could be said even if these were two no-name results given as example instead.

Of course, this implementation isn’t perfect. Preferably, the search result would also show the price of the product. As giving the user that information straight away can actually improve your search click-through rate quite a bit.

This highlights the fact that even if you don’t manage to get Rich Snippets, which is the goal of many people’s Structure Data implementation, there can still be a benefit to your search results. More information, especially in relation to products, can improve a user’s search experience and thus draw them to your site much more easily.

Click-Through Rates Improvement

One reason that people choose to implement Structured Data is the fact that it reportedly improves click-through rates. It’s like the logic expressed above; the better looking your search result is, the more likely people will click through to it.

The fact is that click-through rates on the first page of Google never go beyond 20.5%. So, making your search result as attractive as possible, especially if you’re not in position one, actually can be very important. A title, link and text aren’t much for the user to go on. Providing them with as much additional information as possible, then, can actually work in favour of your site.

So, if you have relatively good rankings but struggle to actually generate traffic to your site, you may want to consider your search appearance. It could be the click-breakthrough that you need.

How to Implement Structured Data Markup

Implementing Structured Data isn’t as difficult as you might expect and you shouldn’t feel intimidated. Especially as you won’t need much, if any, coding knowledge to actually implement this.

For the simplest solution, you should use JSON-LD Structured Data language, it’s easy to use and supported by Google themselves. Here’s an example of organization markup, as tested in the Google Structure Data Testing Tool:

It’s quite straightforward, in that you have a certain number of fields that you need to input and most of them make logical sense. The brackets, punctuation and everything in between is what can confuse and trip up those new to this type of technical SEO implementation. If you’re struggling, there are a few resources you can check out to find the right type of implementation coding.

For example, you can auto-generate some JSON-LD markup using this tool. It’s basic, but it can really help you in the early days of learning Structured Data. Especially if you’re struggling.

And don’t worry about putting this into your site CSS code. We have already established: you don’t need to know coding to do Structured Data. Instead, depending on your platform, you can find an appropriate platform which achieves the same thing for you. On WordPress, you can use plugins such as Schema App (which allows for custom schema markups), Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP, and WP SEO Structured Data Schema.

As a concluding thought, there can be a lot of positive reasons you might want to implement Structured Data on your website. And implementing it isn’t as hard as you might imagine. So, start a plan to implement Structured Data on your site today and benefit from the impact on your search results tomorrow!

Bio

Zack Halliwell is a freelance writer in the business and marketing niche, giving advice on anything from the perfect branding to the latest Alexa development. When not writing he can be found on long mountain walks with his dog, Batman.

 

Simple Steps To Optimize Your Local SEO With Local Schema

When it comes to optimizing for local SEO, schema markup is one of the most effective, yet underused practices. Local businesses can add schema markup to their websites to make it easier for search engines like Google to understand your business and index your site better. This helps boost your SEO, and helps you rank better in relevant SERPs.

But before we get to the ‘how’, let’s first talk about the ‘what’.

What is Schema Markup?

Schema markup is basically snippets of frontend code that you include in your website’s header or footer section, that contains microdata about your business. Developed by Schema.org, which is a collaborative effort from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex, schema markup can be used to help search engines crawl and understand your website better. They also enhance online user engagement with your business, by providing relevant data to users directly on SERPs. In this article, we will be focusing on local business schema, and how you can use it to optimize your local SEO.

LocalBusiness Schema

Schema has a number of categorizations, based on the type of information that it provides. Some of the commonly used categories include event, person, organization, product, etc. LocalBusiness schema is a part of the ‘Organization’ category and can be used by business owners to provide information such as their business’ NAP, open hours, and even rich data such as maps, images, and menus to users directly on the SERPs.

Schema.org has a number of types listed for local businesses. You can find all these types, along with the complete list of custom properties here.

Now let’s get down to how you can use local schema to optimize your local SEO.

#1 Make Use of the Available Business Types

Schema.org has a vast number of business types that you can use in your website’s markup. Many a time, businesses tend to stick to the generic ‘LocalBusiness’ type. While not wrong, this doesn’t give search engines a clear idea of the nature of your business.

So, instead of sticking to the ‘LocalBusiness’ type, you can use a more specific organizational markup, which looks something like this:

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Electrician”></div>

#2 Markup Your Business’ NAP Details accurately

One of the most important aspects of local SEO is to get your business’ NAP listed consistently and accurately. This also applies to schema markup, and is vital for search engines to understand your business’ exact location. Do make note that including your business’ NAP in your markup requires you to declare a new type – PostalAddress.

Here’s an example of how your NAP details would look in your markup:

<div itemprop=”address” itemscope

itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>

<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>397 10th Street</span>

<span itemprop=”addressLocality”>San Francisco</span>,

<span itemprop=”addressRegion”>CA</span>

<span itemprop=”postalCode”>94103</span>

</div>

Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”>555-248-1675</span>

#3 Incorporate Maps & Geo Properties

When it comes to local searches, the proximity of your business to the user is a huge factor for ranking organically. In order to help search engines in getting this right, you should incorporate both ‘hasMap’ and ‘geo’ properties in your markup.

The ‘hasMap’ property displays a local map with your business’ location in the search results, while the ‘geo’ property is used to pinpoint your business’ geographical coordinates. While the ‘hasMap’ property can be directly included in your LocalBusiness markup, the ‘geo’ property requires you to declare a new type, which is ‘GeoCoordinates’.

Here’s how a hasMap markup typically looks:

<link itemprop=”hasMap” href=”https://www.google.com/maps/place/Costco+Wholesale/@37.7695435,-122.4132266,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x808f7e28c2ee680b:0xe77ab2a37fb8babc!8m2!3d37.7702716!4d-122.4108656”>

And this is an example of a geo property in your markup:

<span itemprop=”geo” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/GeoCoordinates”>

<meta itemprop=”latitude” content=”37.770392″ />

<meta itemprop=”longitude” content=”-122.412797″ />

</span>

#4 Markup Your Business’ Social Profiles

Including your business’ social profiles as part of your schema markup connects the dots between your website and your social profiles. This helps search engines discover your business’ citations faster, which we all know has a direct impact on local rankings.

You can do this using the ‘sameAs’ property to markup your business’ social profiles. This property lets search engines know that your business is the same one as cited in the given URL.

Here’s what the code looks like:

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Plumber”>

<span itemprop=”name”>Seattle Plumbing</span>

<link itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.seattleplumbing.com/”>

<link itemprop=”sameAs” href=”https://facebook.com/seattleplumbing”>

</div>

#5 Leverage The Site Navigation Schema Markup

Site navigation schema markup is a very useful element when it comes to local schema. This helps search engines understand your site structure and navigation better. It displays your website’s sections in SERPs, increasing organic sitelinks.

The ‘SiteNavigationElement’ property is used for this markup, and here’s how it looks:

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://www.schema.org/SiteNavigationElement”>

<span itemprop=”name”><a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.alexautoparts.com/car-parts”>Car Parts</a></span>

<span itemprop=”name”><a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.alexautoparts.com/custom-decals”>Custom Decals</a></span>

<span itemprop=”name”><a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.alexautoparts.com/used-cars”>Used Cars</a></span>

<span itemprop=”name”><a itemprop=”url” href=”http://www.alexautoparts.com/motorbike-parts”>Motorbike Parts</a></span>

</div>

And there you go! These simple local schema markups can not only boost your local SEO, but also make your website more dynamic and engaging in the SERPs. In order to maximise your results, you can combine these efforts along with getting your business listed on all major online directories, review sites, and social media sites. The more directories/sites your business is listed on, the more citations you have. This also aids in local discovery, and generating more reviews for your business. We recommend using an online tool like Synup for this, since manually listing your business on all major directories can be a cumbersome task.