Structured data is now an essential part of the SEO strategy for any website. Structured data helps search engines find and categorize information about businesses, products, and services with ease, displaying them in the SERPs in an enhanced, logical, and easy to understand format that helps the search engine users find answers to their queries quickly and straightforwardly.
Google uses structured data to display rich results, including listings in the knowledge graph, rich snippets, interactive mobile results, and so on.
Structured data is based on the Schema.org vocabularies founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Yandex, and can be used with different encodings like RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD.
Microdata, which works with HTML5 templated pages, is supported by all search engines, while Google and Bing support JSON-LD too. The main advantage of using JSON-LD is that it is easier to copy-paste on the page. This is one of the main reasons why JSON-LD is the preferred method of adding structured data to a site.
Adding Structured Data with Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager is the ideal tool to add structured data to a site if you do not have coding experience. All you have to do is follow the steps in Google Tag Manager to generate tags, triggers, and variables on your website or mobile app. Google offers excellent help pages to assist you to get started and manage your data with Google Tag Manager. Moreover, here’s how it works:
- tags enable Google Analytics to track your website
- triggers tell Google Tag Manager under which condition a tag must be fired
- variables aid triggers to fire or not to fire, but also provides Google Tag Manager with variable information (Google Tag Manager comes with many built-in variables for common needs, such as gathering URLs, click IDs)
Adding Structured Data with the JSON-LD Markup
You can use any schema.org schema in JSON-LD. After you create your code, you can validate it using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Here’s an example of structured data with JSON-LD:
The main reason to use JSON-LD? Google recommends it:
Adding Structured Data with RDFa and Microdata
Although Schema.org supports RDFa and Microdata, you should use JSON-LD because writing and maintaining it via RDFa or Microdata is a time consuming, cumbersome process. Microdata is a set of tags designed for annotating HTML elements, but you have to manually mark every item of your webpage if you choose this method to structure your data. This is an example of structured data with microdata:
Schema.org Structured Data Enhances Your Website’s Presence in the SERPs
Whatever encoding format you choose, using Schema.org structured data can enhance your business listing in the SERPs. Google recommends you to enhance your website’s attributes with structured data to:
- prominently display customer service phone numbers in Google Knowledge Graph cards
- specify which image Google should use as your organization's logo in search results and the Knowledge Graph
- add your social profile information to Google Knowledge Graph cards in some searches
- enable breadcrumb trails in SERPs
- display events so that users can discover them through Google Search results and other Google products like Google Maps
- mark up your videos (although Google also recognizes mRSS feeds, Open Graph Protocol, and RDFa markup)
- make your site eligible for inclusion in rich results (formerly known as rich snippets)
Structured Data Is Not an SEO Hack
Using Schema.org structured data should be a strategy to help search engines categorize your content better and not an SEO hack. Structured data improves your listings with pertinent details and information useful to your potential visitors.
However, because Google uses structured data to display rich results in search results, implementing schema.org may help boost your click-through rates (CTR) by improving the look of your listing in SERPs. Moreover, since CTR is a Google ranking factor, you may observe higher placement for your website in SERPs too. If you are not sure that your website supports rich results, you can test it with this tool, then optimize with structured data to make your site a better search result.
Structured data is, for many, an on-site technical SEO strategy with proven results. Neil Patel swears that he increased his search traffic by over 300% after he implemented structured data.
Structured data is an excellent long-term SEO strategy: Google appreciates content that answers user questions bringing added value to the traditional listings.