A recent article from Search Engine Roundtable let us know that Google’s use of structured data is going to grow, meaning SEOs are going to have to work harder. But how can you take advantage of this powerful multi-tool?
What is structured data?
Structured data is code which can be put on a web page to help search engines and bots process information and show it in new and interesting ways.
Bots are intelligent, but they aren’t so intelligent that they can pick out the definitive meaning of content. Structured data means you can tell your search engine specific, pre-defined content like:
- Phone numbers and postal addresses
- Your Twitter handle and Facebook page
- The ingredients in a recipe
- The answer to a question
- The time and date of an event
Search engines then process this in their own way. Google, for example, offers multiple different kinds of ‘rich cards’, which pull information from structured data.
Google Search results for ‘Cheese pasta recipe’ – showing recipe rich cards from different web pages.
Different kinds of structured data
Schema.org documents a comprehensive list of different types of structured data. However, not all different types of structured data get turned into rich cards. For example, there is Schema for “houses for sale”, but as of January 2020, Google does not offer rich cards for houses for sale in your area.
There are other structured data languages floating around out there, so you might shop around. However, be aware that Google does not recognise all of those languages – and has even deprecated some languages in the past.
Google’s documentation for developers gives more information about what structured data can be used to inform rich cards. This is probably the best starting place for learning about which types of structured data are applicable to your site.
Structured data appears in the source HTML of your web page. Search engines see it, but users don’t!
Is it worth adding structured data that doesn’t have a purpose in search?
Google is unable to develop new kinds of rich cards if people don’t implement the structured data, but marketers don’t implement the structured data if Google doesn’t make it into rich cards. We’ve talked about this before, when we watched the DeepCrawl & Google in conversation webinar.
Structured data helps Googlebot understand your content, your business and your webpages. Just because you have implemented structured data, there is no guarantee that Google will display a rich card.
The main stipulation is that the content has to exist: you can’t mark up an event you aren’t promoting, you can’t mark up a recipe you haven’t written, you can’t mark up a question you haven’t answered.
What can I do right now?
Step 1 – Check your Google Search Console account for what Google is discovering and using in search results.
Step 2 – Check your web pages for existing structured data, and get your developers, or your SEOs, to fix errors.
Step 3 – Look for rich card opportunities that are relevant to your website on Google’s list. Get your developers or SEOs to write up the mark up and add it to your website.
Step 4 – Using Schema.org, find some new opportunities and begin adding them into your content.
Step 5 – Monitor your structured data routinely, ensuring all details are up to date. We recommend every two to three months.