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Looking for ways to improve your ranking in the search engines? You may want to consider adding structured data to your website, which helps your web content stand out among thousands of other similar pages. Learning how to effectively implement this code on your website can drive more traffic to your business.

What Is Structured Data?

Structured data is code that makes it easier for search engines, like Google, to crawl your site and display your content. Also frequently referred to as schema markup, structured data is a way to describe the elements on a webpage to the search engines. There are different kinds of structured data vocabularies, such as Microformats.org or Schema.org, and different syntaxes, including Microdata and JSON-LD.

What Effect Does Structured Data Have on Your Site?

In order for your website to show up in the search results, a bot or spider from a search engine, such as Google, needs to crawl your website, compile all of the information on it, and index it all. The search engines then interpret that information with their own algorithms to determine what users find most relevant when they perform a search.

It isn’t always easy for the algorithm to correctly decipher your site. By providing structured data, you give the search engines accurate, easy-to-follow information about your page. For example, instead of a search engine trying to guess what’s on a webpage, you can tell it if the page includes a how-to guide, pricing information, phone number, or list of frequently asked questions. This allows the search engine to deliver better results to the end user.

Structured data also changes the way that your website appears in the search results. When an end user performs a search, the snippet that appears will contain information that’s specific to their search.

For example, if an end user searches for a pumpkin pie recipe, structured data allows the websites that appear in the results to display user ratings, a list of ingredients, and even nutrition information. This can increase the number of users who click on your website in the search results since they are essentially in position zero. Even if the website actually ranks further down in the search results, it appears above the other results because of its optimized structure.

Additionally, the website becomes an authority on the topic in the mind of the end user because they were able to pre-vet the information before actually clicking through to the actual site. Establishing themselves as an authority on the topic can increase the website’s click-through rate and reduce the number of people who bounce after hitting the site.

In fact, many websites that rank second in the search results that also have a rich snippet at the top have a higher click-through rate than websites in position one that don’t have rich media. In other words, while it’s still important to have your website show up on the first page of the search results, if Google pulls your structured data and you appear in position zero, you will generally see the highest click-through rates.

While we referenced featured snippets specifically, there are actually different kinds of content features that Google places at the top of the search results depending on the search topic, including:

  • Carousels: These appear as images with captions that are related to the search, such as cars, news articles, or actors.
  • Videos: This content feature is similar to carousels, but the content features videos rather than images or other types of listings.
  • Featured snippets: These can be displayed as rich cards, tables, quotes, and jobs. Not only do they display information that’s relevant to the search query, but they also link to that website. These show up in position zero above the 10 organic search results.
  • Knowledge panels: This a separate panel that Google pulls with relevant information. It displays on the right side of a search results page and includes dates, images, and category-specific information.

How Should You Use Structured Data?

In order to use structured data correctly, you need to use the right code, adapt it for your website, and then put it on your site. While adding structured data to your site is one of the more technical steps you likely will find yourself doing, it can have a big impact on your search engine rankings and give you a big SEO boost.

Image via Unsplash by _imkiran

While you don’t need to know how to code to add structured data to your website, previous coding experience will make the process easier. There are two basic approaches you can take for implementing structured data: WordPress plug-ins or Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

WordPress Plug-ins

If you have a WordPress website, then using a WordPress plug-in to add structured data to your site is the simplest solution. You can use a number of plug-ins to add structured data, although one that comes highly recommended is the Schema App Structured Data. The plug-in automatically generates the code for your whole site and even gives you the flexibility to manually edit it yourself.

Structured Data Markup Helper

If you don’t have a WordPress website, Google tries to make it easy for website owners and webmasters to add structured data to their site by giving them access to the Structured Data Markup Helper. Just select one of the 10 different categories that Google provided. When you’ve selected the right category, you’ll click the “Start Tagging” button. To mark something, you only need to highlight it in the left pane and then select the relevant markup tags.

Adding structured data can take a bit of time; however, adding it is worth the effort if Google pulls your content to answer end-user questions and places it above the search results. Also, once you do it, the task is done. You can then enjoy the fruits of that labor for months or years to come.

Knowledge Base: SEO

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