What’s the future for search and SEO? While internet search in the early days was all about enabling people to discover information, these days it has progressed to even sorting, filtering, and presenting information to us in highly intelligent and tailored ways.
Of course, all these improvements don’t happen in a vacuum. One recent new big thing in SEO is to make use of structured data to better inform search engines of a website’s content. With these added data, search engines can vastly improve the search experience for users.
What is structured data?
Structured data is a system for pairing objects in your site with values that tell search engines what the objects are. Essentially, it uses standardised semantic vocabulary to better categorise webpages, enhance search features, and determine search ranking.
Sounds too abstract? Let’s break it down.
For example, you could simply have the text ‘Rose’ displayed as a heading on your site. If you want to be more specific, you can tell Google if ‘Rose’ is the name of the author of your new book, or it’s an ingredient in your cupcake recipe or the name of an upcoming music event. With this information, Google will have a better idea of how to display this text in the search engine results page (SERP).
You see structured data at work when you encounter rich snippets on the SERP. In the SERP entries below, the rich snippets are displaying helpful information like the duration of the recipe, review ratings, and amount of calories.
The fascinating thing lies in how Google knows this information. Google is smart – but you need to give it some help.
Structured data is how you would tell Google these pieces of information about what is on your site. Using standardised tags in the form of code, you can insert these schema markups into the code of your webpage. These standardised tags can be found on the website Schema.org, which is curated and used across the most popular search engines and more, including Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
What is Schema.org?
The site is basically a catalogue of the standardised vocabulary used for structured data. Browsing the site can give you an idea of what items you can label, which include but are not limited to:
- Creative work (e.g. Book)
- Event (e.g. TheaterEvent)
- Organization (e.g. LocalBusiness)
- Place (e.g. TouristAttraction)
- Product (e.g. Vehicle)
For each category, there’ll be a list of properties you can also label. For example, your event labelled as a “TheaterEvent” might include relevant details like “eventSchedule”, “location”, “performer”, and “organizer”.
Once you have decided what markups to include in your webpage, you can simply look up the corresponding code from the site, replace it with your info, and put it into your webpage code.
Do note, however, that there are 3 formats in which structured data can come in. Here is what Google has to say about them:
Why is having structured data important?
As you can imagine, having structured data can be immensely beneficial in more ways than one.
Firstly, there’s the aspect of user-friendliness. Structured data means rich snippets, which helps people find information at a glance. Search engines can also use it to display more relevant results, speeding up a user’s search experience.
For you as a business owner or digital marketer, it also offers an opportunity to raise your site’s credibility and relevance. Smart utilisation of schema markups can enhance your site’s visibility on the SERP, and attract more traffic to your site. While there is not yet any solid evidence that structured data has a direct impact on search ranking, there is good reason to believe that it provides a boost in click-through rates.
How do you add structured data to your webpage?
Structured data is added to the in-page markup on the corresponding webpage. In other words, there shouldn’t be a separate page just for structured data, or structured data for anything that’s not displayed on your page.
If you’re new to how structured data works, Google has a really helpful walkthrough called the Structured Data Codelab, which you can try out to get acquainted with the process. Additionally, here are some quick guidelines to give you an idea of how it works:
- Use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper
The kind souls at Google have provided an amazing tool that helps you add structured data to your webpage. You can apply it to an existing URL or unpublished HTML.
Based on the content of the webpage you have, the tool churns out a list of items you can tag. All you have to do is highlight the corresponding text on your page, and fill in the markup list.
Once you’re done with that, the tool produces the code for your structured data, with instructions on how to insert it into your page’s HTML code.
- Test your site with the Rich Results Test tool
When you are more or less satisfied with the markup you’ve added, you can preview what your page will look like in the SERP. Rich Results Test also generates a report of how your site is faring in terms of structured data, so that you can analyse and make any changes as needed.
Of course, this is merely the tip of the iceberg into the vast world of structured data. There are plenty of other tools and tips that can help you maximise the benefits you get from structured data. Some even say that structured data will be a significant part of future-proofing your SEO strategy, even as search features continue to advance.
To implement structured data into your company’s webpage, it is in your best interests to engage a digital marketing agency that is familiar with it. Companies dealing with SEO in Singapore can provide you with the expertise you need to cement your SEO strategy with structured data and other techniques.