How to Improve Your SEO With Structured Data
13th August 2021
While there are many ways to improve your content for better SEO, there are also some more technical things you can do as a marketer to improve your site’s search engine visibility and ultimately conversions. One of these things is implementing structured data, and this article explains what this means, why it’s important, and how to go about it.
What is Structured Data?
Structured data is also known as schema markup, and it’s code you put on your pages to help robots – like Google’s site crawlers – better understand the content on your website. There are many types of structured data you can use, and which ones you opt for will likely be dictated by your unique website, business and the content you create. This code doesn’t change how a page looks to the user, but it provides Google and other search engines with information that can help them to identify content on your site that’s relevant to a user’s search and display it in the most effective way in search results – giving you more opportunities for page visits and leads or conversions.
Why is Structured Data Important?
Search engines use structured data to show the right content to the right users in the most effective way. In particular, structured data can help bots to understand the content on your website and then display it on search engine results pages (SERPs) in featured snippets or rich results.
Take this search for “best pizza recipes” as an example. You can see that Google has identified some relevant recipes from various websites and is showing them on the SERP, giving these websites much more prominence than others that appear in the regular listings:
This has been achieved by using structured data to tell Google that a particular piece of content is a recipe. You can see from this example that using structured data means users can find the information they need more easily, and your website can take up more valuable real estate on the SERPs. While there is no evidence structured data directly impacts rankings, the potential improved prominence of your website in search results could lead to higher click-through rates.
Which Structured Data Should You Use?
Recipes are just one example of many options you have for identifying content with structured data. In fact, there is an entire collection of shared vocabulary that webmasters can use to mark up their pages. Google, Microsoft, Yandex and Yahoo! will all be able to understand this schema markup. You can find a list of structured data vocabulary here, and we've picked out some examples that could apply to your website:
- Local Business
- Opening hours
- Date published
- Release date
- Creative work
- Podcast episode
- FAQ page
- Business event
- Event series
- Exhibition event
- Publication event
How To Implement Structured Data
To get started with structured data, you'll first need to decide which schema markup you'd like to implement. The examples above have hopefully given you some food for thought or a starting point, but with so many options available, you may want to consider what you would like to prioritise. What is the most important information on your website, can you apply schema markup to it, and how do you expect it to impact your visibility on SERPs? Something visual with images - like the recipe example above - could have a great impact on your click-through rates, so if that is relevant to your website, you may want to start there. Try searching for some of the queries you’d like to appear for, see if any rich results come up from other sites, and consider how schema markup might help you to appear there, too.
You should also consider which schema markup could be distributed across multiple pages. For example, if you'd like to use schema markup on your blog posts to show who the author is and the publication date, make sure this is set up so that every time you publish a new blog post, this schema is automatically added to the page. Consistency is key.
If you're adding structured data code to your website, you can use the Structured Data Markup Helper. The helper shows you your page and allows you to highlight the content on the page and select the appropriate markup. Once you've tagged everything you'd like to create schema for, the helper will generate the required code, which you can then add to your page.
Alternatively, you can use Data Highlighter in Google Search Console to teach Google about the structured data on your verified sites, without requiring any web development work. This is quick and easy if you don't have access to your website code, but it only works with Google, so other search engines such as Bing won't pick up your structured data. There are also only a limited number of properties you can mark up using this tool. It’s a useful tool if your time and resources are limited, but it’s best to apply schema markup code directly onto your website if you want to be thorough.
If you already have structured data on your page, you can use the Rich Results Test to find out if it’s working as expected. The tool will tell you if the URL you enter is eligible for rich results and which structured data items are detected on the page.
Get Help With Your Structured Data
At SilverDisc, our SEO experts are well-versed in the three aspects of SEO – content, architecture and links. We’re marketers with a strong background in technology, which makes us well-placed to understand and implement all manner of SEO strategies, including schema markup. If you would like help with your SEO, get in touch today.