On a regular basis, search engines crawl websites all over the world—trying to decipher their content, index their pages, and decide where to place them in the search result pages. For this reason, having SEO-friendly content is a vital aspect of any website design. Great title tags, optimal page architecture, intelligent backlinking, and more help with this endeavor. These factors make it easier for the search engines to crawl sites effectively.
However, even with your best efforts, sometimes it can be difficult for search engine robots (crawlers) to understand your site completely. While some elements might make perfect sense to the human user, they may perplex crawlers, or not give enough information for the crawlers to adequately do justice to the listing in the search result pages. Lo and behold, this is where structured data comes in handy.
Structured data helps search engines crawl, understand, and display your site better. Structured data is implemented directly to the HTML markup of a webpage. This data generates rich snippets (extra pieces of site info that appear along with the rest of your listing in the search result pages).
What You See & What You Get
When you implement structured data into the HTML, it looks one way, but in the search result pages it represents itself very differently. Structured data generates rich snippets—little extra informational callouts below the traditional part of a listing. In the below example, the rating, runtime, writer credits, etc. are all rich snippets.
Rich snippets greatly enhance your listing in the eyes of search engines and users. They provide more intel about your website!
Structured Data vs. Schema
So this can be a little tricky, as schema is often thought of as the element responsible for generating rich snippets. In truth, both schema and structured data play a part. To understand the difference between the two, think of the English language. In this perspective, schema is the vocabulary (the exact words used). Schema presents itself in different coding forms, including RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD. These coding forms would be the syntax of a sentence (the arrangement of the words). Finally, the structured data is the overarching umbrella that organizes the schema and the coding. It is the structure that gives the sentence its grammatically correct final form and thus allows others to properly understand its meaning.
In other words, schema needs structured data for it to make sense and work properly. Structured data provides order. It allows the schema to be arranged in a way that produces the proper rich snippet.
So How Do I Add Structured Data To My Website?
Since structured data relies on HTML code, knowledge of coding can be helpful. However, you do not necessarily need to be a tech wiz to add structured data to your website. Tools like Google’s Structured Data Helper and schema.org allow you to delve into the realm of structured data without reliance on advanced coding skills or a web developer. Google’s Structured Data Helper lets you submit a web page and use your mouse to “tag” different page elements. Once you are done tagging, a sample of HTML code with microdata will be created. You can download this code and add it to your website. Meanwhile, schema.org offers an assortment of HTML tags that can be used to mark up pages for enhanced search engine recognition.
Bearing all this in mind, if you have limited experience dealing with your website’s backend, you may benefit from the assistance of a professional web developer. Then you can focus on your business while someone else deals with the intricacies and complexities of things like coding, microdata, and tags.
As mobile searches increase with each passing season, structured data is continuously impacting search engines to a greater degree. Furthermore, the growing use of localization and personalization factors is contributing to the enhanced importance of structured data in the search results as well.
Certain digital trends suggest that eventually, structured data will surpass the importance and dominance of even keyword usage in SEO.
Overall, structured data is ascending in importance as an integral part of SEO and your standing in the search result pages. So utilize structured data and schema on your site today!