Writing Structured Data: An SEO Expert’s Opinion

We all have seen SEO evolving each year, with millions of pages being included, Google is making sure that content we upload possess a certain level of standard quality, and creating new guidelines and tactics almost every day. The SEO community has been talking about structured data for years now. It’s in the year 2011, that Google, Bing and Yandex got together and standardized a list of attributes which we later came to know as schema.org.

With structured data markup being hailed as important by all the three major search engines, there is still a lot of ignorance regarding this topic. Still, the majority of the digital marketing world retracts from using data markup and many even ignore the importance.

This blog post gives you a brief understanding of structured data from an SEO expert’s perspective.      

So let’s begin…

What is Structured Data?

Structured data is a code written in a specific format and order in such a way that it becomes easier for search engines to understand what your content is really about. Search engines use this piece of information to provide rich results to the end user. You can easily put this structured code on your website.

In SEO Context, structured data help you provide additional information around your content. This code improves the search engine understanding of your content and enhances a site’s chances to appear top in the search engine. Click To Tweet

The recipe cards, definitions, knowledge boxes, carousels are all results of well-structured data markup. To better understand the information, search engines constantly need to look out for information. To make the process easier, search engines have devised a specific format and classification of concepts to be used.

What is schema.org?

Schema.org is a collaborative organization between the three biggest search engines of the world – Google, Bing and Yandex. It was started with a mission of creating a uniformly structured markup throughout the internet. SEO experts use structured data formats to talk to search engines to make them understand the nuances of their content.

Types of Structured Data

Search engines typically support three types of structured data format – JSON-LD, Microdata and Microformats. The two common vocabularies which can be used with these syntaxes are schema.org and microformat.org. Schema is used with both JSON-LD and microdata while microformat is paired with microdata.

Among these structured data, JSON-LD is the most important one.

What is JSON-LD?                   

JSON-LD stands for JavaScript object notion for linked data, consisting of various arrays. On simple terms, it is just a way of writing code.

JSON-LD is considered to be the simplest of all the available structured data and is also preferred by Google (Although we cannot say the same about Bing and Yandex). It involves pasting the markup within the HTML code instead of wrapping up the entire HTML code around markup.

How Does Structured Data Help SEO?

Google, Bing and Yandex recommend webmasters to use structured data to provide accurate and user-friendly results. This, in turn, helps the SEO efforts of your website. Click To Tweet

Some of the benefits include:

Rich Search Results: Includes definitions, styling, images, videos.

Knowledge Graph: Information about a brand or a topic

Recommendation Panel: Suggests similar questions people asked pertaining to your query.

Carousels: A result in the form of carousels (Example: Recipes)

These rich results will place your website content on position #0 and help you increase click-through rate and drive additional traffic. Implementing structured data is a way to get ready for the future since Google is moving towards hyper-personalized content and wants consumers to find most information right on the search engine without a single click.     

Using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper 

You need to sign into your Google account to use the tool

Step 1: Go to the URL: https://www.google.com/webmasters/markup-helper/u/0/

This is how it looks…

Step 2: You can choose to either add data markup to your website or email

You can structure data markup to both email and website. For explanation purposes, let’s use the website tab. Make sure you have selected the website tab before you move further.

Step 3: Select a Data Type

Data refer to anything on your page which help you categorize the information on your website

  • Your name is a data point
  • Your business address is a data point
  • Your movie review is a data point
  • Your product listing is a data point

As mentioned earlier, Google wants to personalize the information and provide accurate search results. In order to make Google understand, markup helper will categorize the information and provide data options to markup your page in a particular category.

There are various data options provided by Google. Including:

  1. Articles
  2. Events
  3. Movies
  4. Restaurants
  5. Book Reviews
  6. Job Posting
  7. Products
  8. Software Applications
  9. Datasets
  10. Local Businesses
  11. Question and Answer Page
  12. TV episodes

Step 4: Paste the URL or HTML tag

If you already have a published page, pasting URL is the easiest and the recommended option. Google will access your indexed site and deliver the markup helper.

If your site is incomplete or in the construction stage, you can post the HTML code of your website. But it is always better to have a completed page since the markup serves better when complete information is present.

For explanation purposes, I am going to use the URL feature on one of the blog posts by Radon MediaHow to Identify and Decrease Bounce Rate Using Google Analytics?  

Once you post the blog URL, click “Tagging”, you will be prompted to another page

Step 5: Selecting data and its data type

So how do you know which elements of your blog post you should markup?

To aid you with that, mark up helper provides a recommended box on the right-hand side, since you selected “Article” as a data type in step 3, the helper list will recommend common data types for an article.  

‘Name’ is the only bit of information mandatory, the rest are optional but recommended.

Drag the cursor on the information you want to markup and leave the cursor.

Since you selected the name of the article, choose name as the data type. Immediately this data type is added on the name tab on the right-hand side of the website. 

 Next, you can select the author name, date of publication and additional information.

Step 6: Create an HTML

 Click “Create HTML” on the upper right-hand corner.

Once you click the button, the markup helper converts to an HTML display window

Step 7: Download the HTML file

You can now download the HTML file with the helper. If your CMS allows manual editing then you can download the file and copy paste the code in the website. 

Conclusion

Whether you are already an expert or still performing on training wheels, it is important to begin implementing the structured data markup, whenever and wherever you can.

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Janvi Arora

Content Writer at Radon Media
Janvi Arora is working as a Web Analyst & Conversion Rate Expert at Radon Media. She loves to write on Web Analytics & Digital Marketing to help people improve their digital knowledge and stay updated. She specializes in implementing and executing inbound marketing which is based on a principle of the law of attraction. Janvi has trained many professionals and teams to execute Digital Marketing projects in various industries.

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