Year after year, the implementation of “structured data” at the core of a website has become a more and more important part of improving SEO. This data gives further details on Google user search results, all while facilitating the understanding of your content on search engines.
A brief overview.
Since the arrival in 2013 of Google’s “Hummingbird” algorithm, the SEO world has adapted to the arrival of the Semantic Web. With this development, it becomes important to accurately respond to users’ queries by offering increasingly specific content. The best way to do this is through the use of structured data.
But what does this really represent? How does the use of this data better enable communication with search engines? Well, all this is simple, structured data represent specific information on the content of your pages, structured so that Google (or any search engine) is able to decrypt them.
Until 2011 several structured data standards existed (microformats, RDFa, micro-data, etc.), however, to understand all the information contained in this data, search engines require that they be formatted under the unified standard. Thus, since 2011, the three major search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) have worked together to unify this micro-data, and created a new standard: schema.org.
Structured data, still not clear?
Let’s take an example of a website that gives relevant, high quality blog articles to give you all the information about the Internet, i.e., My Little Big Web!
In our blog section you will find a bunch of articles classified into different categories (SEO, web design, etc.) where we list the title of the article, the author, or the date of publication. If in our articles, we use only traditional HTML tags such as H1, H2, H3, etc., the Google robots that analyze our items cannot understand all the details that we provided. For example, the name of the author will not be understood by Google, which will simply see a series of additional characters in our article. It will not determine the creation date of the article, even if it is mentioned at the bottom of the post. And this is where structured data becomes a significant advantage, because it provides specific information about a particular subject.
Through structured data, we can tell Google information on articles, products, applications, addresses, reviews, videos, etc. so they are no longer simply a piece of text, but crucial data for understanding our content.
Schema.org to structure your data
To implement this micro-data, there are three possibilities: the first, which is the most complex (as it requires some programming skills) involves implanting tags using various data within the HTML code itself.
The second solution is to use the structured data markup helper tool kindly offered by Google, which allows you to automatically generate the tags you need by following step-by-step instructions.
The third possibility is to use the Google Search Console data marker tool, which allows you to locate the data and verify its correct implementation. There is also a test tool to verify the proper implementation of structured data in the code of your site.
Where is schema.org in it all
Well, schema.org lets you specify the type of data that Google must interpret through the markup that you will put in place. It will supply three kinds of information:
- Itemscope: identifies semantic fields you want to target
- Itemtype: identifies the item type (events, address, author, etc.)
- Itemprop: indicates the various properties of the element (the place of the event, what is the address, etc.)
They will allow you to recover the information necessary for creating tags. On the Schema.org site, there are all the diagrams for good writing of your structured data based on the type of information you want to show Google.
Why include structured data in my SEO strategy?
As we know, the web is constantly changing. In recent years the direction taken by Google is to give more credit to relevant content that responds quickly and clearly to users’ searches. To date, Google has not yet indicated that implementing structured data provides added value in the positioning of your website, however in the future it could become a major factor for all SEO aficionados.
By structuring your data today, you are sure to have one foot already firmly rooted in future improvements.
If these arguments are not enough, remember that micro-data may already have an indirect impact on your positioning. If we assume that the SEO is to give greater importance of our pages to Internet users, that the number of visits to our pages is decisive, or that offer quality content affects SEO, then setting up structured data can play a role in improving our positioning.
Another important point that we discover more and more in search results is the presence of additional information (commonly called Rich Snippets) can greatly increase the CTR of your pages.
In conclusion, it therefore seems important to consider the establishment of structured data. We should keep in mind that this is an attractive way to showcase your content, be it for search engines, or especially for Internet users.