Why Structured Data for SEO Is Crucial for Your Website

Figuring out everything there is to know about SEO is a lot like running through a maze blind. But with the right insights, you can shed light on your strategy and greatly improve it.

There are so many components and factors to hone in on in your strategy, which can make it all feel very overwhelming. And that’s exactly how many business owners feel about structured data for SEO.

But is it really something you have to pay attention to? Can you get away with ignoring it? Well, structured data has been the talk for several years now.

And it all started in 2011, Google, Bing, Yandex and Yahoo all got together and created a list of entities and attributes they all support. Today, we know this as Schema.org.

But it’s all still very confusing for most, even marketers. And this is likely why only 17% of digital marketing experts are using Schema.org structured data markup.

So to clear things up a bit, we put together this simple guide.

What Is Structured Data For SEO?

Structured Data for SEO

This is a very important question since it will help clarify the importance of structured data for SEO. In a nutshell, structured data is the general term used for organized data.

You can think of it like a day planner, where you have names, times and dates for upcoming meetings. Everything sits neatly in labeled columns and rows.

Now, there are different ways you can use structured data. For instance, you can use Open Graph markup to identify descriptions and titles on Facebook. Or you can query a relational database using SQL.

But what does any of this have to do with structured data for SEO? When it comes to SEO, structured data has to do with adding details to a page’s content, using markup language.

What’s The Purpose Of Structured Data For SEO?

Well, for starters, the markup language implemented into website pages help search engines understand what the content is about. This makes it easier for the search engine bots to rank the pages based on relevancy.

But it goes a little further than this – it also helps enhance search engine page results (SERPs). And it does so by collecting data from your page to place in rich snippets, carousels, knowledge boxes and rich cards.

Now, creating this type of markup language requires specific formats/syntaxes and vocabularies. In other words, relationships, classifications and terms. This is to ensure its understandable by both search engines and humans.

There are certain syntax’s that search engines recognize, such as micro-formats, JSON-LD and Micro-data.

The most commonly used vocabularies combined with these syntax’s include Microformats.org and Schema.org.

You can choose to use Schema.org with Micro-data and JSON-LD syntax’s. Then micro-formats syntax pairs with vocabulary.

When you hear the term structured data for SEO, this refers to Schema.org vocabulary. This is the most commonly used structured data markup. Yet, it’s not the only one.

For instance, some use Microformats.org vocabulary for product reviews and defining physical locations.

Overview Of How Structured Data Is Implemented

How Structured Data Implemented

Let’s move on to how you can use structured data in your website. Now, there are various ways you can add syntax’s to your markup language.

For instance, with Schema.org vocabulary, the top way to do so is using the Micro-data format or JSON-LD. If you decide to use Micro-data, then you implement the structured data into the page’s main HTML.

Then if you decide to use JSON-LD, the structured data should only be in the head of the page. Most developers find this easier and cleaner.

When it comes to SEO, Micro-data is normally recommended. However, JSON-LD support has improved on Google. So now, this is the preferred approach. Just keep in mind that JSON-LD isn’t supported by Bing.

How Does Structured Data Help With SEO?

All search engines recommend webmasters to use some form of structured data for SEO. And in turn, search engines offer benefits to websites that do so.

Besides improving your search results, there are other benefits, such as content-specific features.

Let’s review some of the features structured data for SEO provides:

• Rich search results, which include visual enhancements, photos and styling

• Rich cards: Includes rich snippets and other rich search results aimed at mobile

• Devices

• Knowledge graph: Includes data about your brand

• Enriched search results: Uses interactive features

• Carousels: Combines a mix of rich results displayed in a carousel format

• Breadcrumbs: This shows in your search results

• Rich results for AMP: If you have accelerated mobile pages, it displays in carousels and rich results

Surely, you’ve seen some of these features on Google when doing research. And likely, you’ve clicked on your fair share of them. The click-through rate (CTR) improves when you use structured data for SEO.

And by increasing your CTR, you’re boosting your ranking and traffic. It’s also a great way to prepare for the future of search. As we all know, it’s always evolving.

The way things are looking, search engines will one day become hyper-personalized, solve problems and answer questions.

So the key is to ensure the data it’s showing derives from your website, so you get more of the clicks.

How Structured Data Is Used Today

We already mentioned some of the content features search engines offer to sites using structured data for SEO. So we’ll go into more detail to showcase how you can use them for your own benefit.

Knowledge Graphs

Now, this is something you want to target whether you have a personal or business brand. This shows up on the right hand side of the search results.

For instance, if you type in Tom Cruise, you’ll see a knowledge graph pop up with a snippet of his bio, birthday, career, past and present spouses and names of children and siblings.

As a personal brand, similar information would display. However, for brands, it includes the date founded, location of headquarters, founders and industry.

Rich Snippets And Rich Cards

What’s great about these is that you can include additional context from your recipes, articles, videos, product reviews and products.

So by including structured data for SEO in your markup language, certain details will display. For example, say you have a website about essential oils. When a user asks Google about rosemary, a snippet from your article about rosemary will show up.

The rich snippets are more than just text – they include photos pulled from your article and any ratings relating to the product.

Then if your site has multiple items that match the user’s query, then it displays a carousel, so the user can search through it. For example, if the user typed in a general search about essential oils. A carousel shows the various oils you discuss in your article.

Right now, Google is experimenting with what’s called action markup. This allows users to take action directly from the search results. For example, setting an appointment or watching a movie.

What About Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)?

Now, if you’re using AMP, you too can implement structured data for SEO purposes. You can place this on your regular and AMP pages.

And by doing so, it will allow your AMP content to display in rich results, including host carousels and Top Stories carousels.

Social Cards And Social Media Marketing

Hopefully, social media marketing is already a part of your SEO strategy. If so, you can make use of social cards.

It’s important to note that Twitter cards, Open Graph ,and various other social-specific markup doesn’t really improve your SEO. However, search engines still see it and Bing states that their search engine understands Open Graph page-level annotations.

But right now, Bing only uses the information to enhance visuals for certain publishers. So for right now, you can use social markup to improve how your content looks in search engine results.

Here’s the markup you have to use based on the platform:

• Facebook uses Validation Tool and Open Graph

• Twitter uses Validation Tool and Cards

• LinkedIn uses Open Graph

• Instagram uses Open Graph

• Pinterest uses Validation Tool and Rich Pins

Enhance Your AdWords Ads

It seems structured data extends beyond your website markup. However, using it for your AdWords ads can help drive traffic to your website.

So if you can make your ads more appealing to users, then your CTR will increase. But in this case, you have to implement structured snippet extensions.

Add Structured Data To Email Campaigns

Structure Data Email CampaignThis is another area you can enhance to grow your inbound traffic. But this will only work if you’re using Gmail (no surprise, since this is Google-owned).

The way this works is using JSON-LD or Micro-data markup in your emails. And by implementing one, you can show users snippets of important information.

For instance, if you’re an airliner, you can show the flight departure and arrival time and flight number in your order confirmation email.

Busting Myths Surrounding Structured Data For SEO

There are certain rumors circulating about structured data that we must burst. Let’s review the top three most common myths.

 You’re guaranteed rich snippets when you use structured data for SEO

That’s just like saying you’re guaranteed the number one spot on Google just by using SEO methods. And in the same light, using structured data will increase your chances of getting rich snippets and rich cards.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is pulling your leg or trying to steal your money. Truth is, it sometimes shows and sometimes not at all. So just because it doesn’t show doesn’t mean you did something wrong.

 Structured data is a ranking signal

Implementing structured data markup language itself doesn’t boost your search ranking. However, it helps search engines to better understand your content, so that it can rank it.

So it does play a role in getting your pages ranked, but doesn’t boost it directly. So if your content is on point with the markup language, then you may witness an increase in your position in the SERPs.

 You don’t really need structured data for SEO

Google is getting very smart. And because of this, some marketers feel you don’t have to go the extra mile using structured data.

While it’s true search engines are becoming more advanced, they’re not quite there yet. So they still need help understanding content they crawl.

Although search engines can understand some of the stuff on their own, you can enhance important areas to ensure they get proper attention.

Plus, you won’t get any of the rich features without using structured data. So, if you want a chance of getting rich cards and the like, then this is the only way.

Quality Guidelines To Follow

As always with Google and search engines, quality is a big factor. So you want to ensure the structured data you use meets the quality standards they require.

You want to ensure your Schema markups are always updated. For instance, blogs and news sites normally include a publication date in their structured data to ensure it displays to users.

In other words, the data you target should be useful to the end user. So no creating click-bait. You’ll only annoy visitors and eventually upset Google and have your site penalized.

Also, it’s against the rules to use structured data to promote sexual violence, pedophilia, violent and cruel acts, and targeted hate speech.

Improve Your SEO With Structured Data

Now, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. There’s a lot more to structured data, but this is a great start. You can begin making plans to add structured data to everything, including photos, product pages, articles, blogs and user reviews.

But if you need help putting together your strategy and properly implementing Schema markup, then you need an SEO expert.

At Five Channels, we have a team of professionals who can assist you with enhancing your search engine optimization. Our services include building content marketing strategies, developing websites, and mobile marketing.

Contact us today to learn more and to see how we can build more traffic to your website.

Owner and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry. With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason's team will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.

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About the author...

Located in the heart of the Emerald Coast - Destin, FL, founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Jason Hall, and his team specialize in creating brand awareness / traffic and lead generation / marketing funnel and conversion optimization / and PR campaigns, while utilizing the appropriate marketing channels available within your industry.

With diverse clients throughout the world, Jason's team is well connected within many industries to assist with your marketing strategies. With no long term contracts and various levels of service, Jason's team will increase the quality of your online traffic, leads, and sales.

Jason Hall 5Channels.com

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