Structured data is used to assist search engines to better understand the content within your page. Search engines are good at measuring the technical parameters of your page, such as speed and mobile optimization. They are also good at identifying the type of page and its main topic. When it comes to smaller content elements, search engines need a little help.
This is where Schema mark up comes in, this is a collection of standardised tags that can be used to describe various elements within a page. Without these mark ups, search engines would perceive these elements as plain bits of code. With markup, these bits of code can be interpreted as company logos, reviews, contact details, recipes, job listing and thousands of other types of content.
What exactly is structured data?
Structured data is a way of describing page elements to search engines, these descriptions are added to the code of the page in the form of tags. The tags are made using specific vocabulary and grammar.
There are various types of vocabulary that can be used, such as Schema.ord and Microformats.org, as well as several syntaxes, e.g. JSON-LD and Microdata that can be used for structured data also.
All you have to do to apply structured data to your page is add this block of code to your HTML file. The only challenges here are learning about different types of markup and applying them at scale, e.g. if you have a huge website, but the code itself is fairly intuitive.
Why use structured data on your website?
Structured data has become an integral part of search optimization. More and more SERP real estate is given to rich and featured snippets, using structured data enables you to compete for ranking.
Enhance search results
Most immediately, applying Schema markup enhances your appearance in search results. Proper use of Schema will turn your regular snippets into rich snippets, as well as make your pages eligible for a featured snippet position at the top of SERP.
When you use markup to describe page elements you create entities that can increase the relevance of your website for certain types of searches.
When should you use Schema markup?
The importance of implementing Schema depends solely on your website and the current level of optimization that it holds.
As for some websites, they need structured data to be able to rank. Whereas for other websites, Schema is more of an added advantage and may not have influence over their rankings. For websites like this, their efforts should be focused on technical and on-page SEO.
How to implement structured data markup
In order to do this you have to decide on the types of Schema you are going to use throughout your website; as the types have to match the theme of your website along with the searcher intent.
Some of the most common types are:
- Local Business
It’s important to note that although there are hundreds of types, only a handful are currently used by Google for rich snippets.
Launch the markup tool
There are free markup tools available such as WordPress plugins like Yoast or Schema.
Tag page elements
Highlight page elements and assign Schema tags to them, you can add in missing tags if the ones you need aren’t on the list by clicking on the ‘adding missing tags’ button.
Save the HTML file
When you have finished adding in page elements, click create HTML and select JSON-LD from the dropdown menu. Copy the code and paste it into the <head> or <body> tags in the HTML code of the respective page on your website.
Monitor markup elements
Log in to Google’s Search Console, go to Enhancements and check the health of the various types of data markup applied to your pages. In case any errors are detected you will be provided with exact error locations and some guidance on how to fix them.
As well as tracking the technical health of your markup, you can also use Google Console to track the performance in search results. Go to Performance>Search Results>Search Appearance and see the summary of clicks and impressions for enhanced search results.