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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.