Jul 19

How Important is Structured Data in SEO?

Research has already established that more than 90% of the surfers will only visit the top five results of their keyword search. As a website owner, this means that if you want organic traffic, you have to try and at least rank on the top page for your Niche’s keywords. SEO has been around for a while now, and through the time, techniques have been changing. Google has introduced algorithms and measurement tools for better search engine ranks. One of the methods that are gaining traction in search engine optimisation is structured data. Here is what you need to know about the technique, and how it will help you get better ranks.

Understanding Structured Data

In simple term, structured data is a form of on-page markup which makes it easy for search engines to better understand the information contained on your page. When the search engine understands the information, your business search engine listing improves. Examples of structured data include business name, place and address. This is additional information that appears on search engine results. Other complex information which makes part of structured data includes articles such as recipes, events, and products on the website. Other data which can be considered structured by google includes people, events, products, reviews, and maps.

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How To Create Structured Data

An essential tool for the creation of structured data for your pages is Google’s structured data markup helper. The tool helps Google understand the data on your website and uses your mouse to tag the different elements of the page. When you have finished the tagging, the data markup helper generates a sample code in HTML with all the microdata marked up. You can download this and upload onto your website. The only tasks you have to do are tagging, downloading and integration, which makes the tool ideal for people who do not understand coding.

Google structured data helper

Structured Data And HTML Knowledge

It is true that structured data management needs some knowledge of HTML coding. However, this does not mean that you are completely helpless if you do not know how to code. There are third party applications which are great when it comes to the creation of the data such as schema.org and others which simplify your work. On the other hand, if you understand HTML coding well, you will be in a position to handle your own coding easily.

Structured Data’s Impact On Keywords

There was a time that SEO was all about getting the right keywords and optimising them. However, experts suggest that with the advent of structured data, keywords are going to become less important to SERPS. This is because search engines are now relying on information such as where you are, what you have searched in the recent past, and who you are. It is the era of complete localisation and personalisation, which means that semantic search engine optimisation is becoming more useful than the regular keywords. While keywords may not die completely, it is true that their importance is reduced. However, when you use structured data correctly, there is the effect that internet surfers can search you using any part of the structured data you have provided and land on your site. For example, if your structured data is a recipe, they could type in an ingredient and land on your page because it was captured on the structured data.

Why You Need Structured Data

  • When you use structured data, Google will better understand the context for the sake of display in search. As a result, your data gets better distribution to internet users. It is important to note that rich snippets are not important when it comes to page ranking though.
  • The second benefit is that the rich data allows your brand to create an air of authority about a particular subject. If you want to get better click through and bounce rates, you could use this data to create an air of being a thought leader in the stated subject.
  • Another benefit which comes with getting the data is that in most cases before users click on a website, they will want to vet the information which they are likely to find there and the best way to do this is by looking at the snippets of the structured data. This means that if they like what has been displayed, you will be getting more visitors to your site.
  • Snippets may be better for your organic search than ranking number one. There is a research which was conducted by the Ultimate SEO Blog about the clickthrough rates and structured data. The results showed that pages that appeared at the top of the results but did not have enough data ended up getting fewer clicks than those who were in lower ranks but had more sensible structured data snippets; which goes to show that structured data has already overtaken many of the old optimisation techniques.

Structured Data Rich SnippetHow To Structure Data

There are four major ways in which you can structure your data. The first is through the use of JSON_LD. This is the format which is typically recommended by Google. It is ideal because it can present information about a page without the need for visual content in that information. The second format that is popular is RDF. The difference between this tool and JSON-LD is that instead of presenting the information as a single block, it sprinkles it across the webpage. The third way that search engines recommend in structuring data is the use of Microdata; this is an HTML extension syntax which is mostly deprecated. It is good to be familiar with it as it pops up from time to time. The last tool is Microformat; this one is seen as a hAtom or Hentry. It commonly presents itself as an error in the search console. Another tool that may be of a little help is Google’s data highlighter, which should be used with caution because in case the data on your page changes, the highlighter markup breaks and also the highlights are only visible to Google and not to other search engines.

Your optimisation, therefore, benefits from structured data because you get rich snippets which as discussed, boosts your CTR. Your knowledge graph can also get a positive impact from structured data when it is done in the right manner. This means that when @sameAs tags are included, all your social profiles will be included in the results. The other reason to try and structure your data is that you will have an opportunity to feature on AMP and Google news. Google requires that sites which are featured here should have implemented structured data to some extent.

Demystifying Structured Data As A Ranking factor

There are speculations which have been going around on whether the presence of structured data on a website helps with the rankings. The simple answer is no. It is true that structured data will help when it comes to the knowledge graph, which is a form of SERP. However, this does not mean that it improves the quality of the website to Google. You still have to invest in superior quality content and the many other techniques which result in better search engine ranks.

These are some of the essential things which you need to know about structured data and the impact that it will have on your website. For this technique to work well on your site, it must be coupled with others that have been recommended by Google and other search engines. Ensure that your pages have rich content as this will translate into poorly structured content. If you are unable to handle any aspect of creating this type of content, speak to a search engine optimisation professional and get guidance on how it is properly done.

About The Author

Ajay Chavda is the co-founder of Weboptimizers, an SEO agency in Melbourne and has been involved with SEO for over 15 years. Between the digital properties and security forums he has managed, his articles have been read by approximately 50 million unique visitors.

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