For the last few weeks, you’ve been going to the same ol’ bar by your office, so you decide it’s time to try something new. What do you do? Step outside and walk around until you find a new spot. No, you hop on Google and let it conduct the search for you.
Your ideal post-work pub is nearby, open right after work, and offers a few gluten-free options so your entire team can partake. You plug these criteria into Google, and you’ve got three viable options at your fingertips — in a handy map format to boot.
No one knows exactly how Google’s algorithm works — but, there are a few ways to organize and optimize your website content so Google knows what content to feature on the SERPs for the various searches people conduct to find you.
This is where structured data comes in. Structured data can make your organization more visible to potential customers and increase your click-through rate by up to 30%.
What is structured data?
Web pages have a number of tough jobs to do all at once. They have to serve both human readers and robot spiders. More importantly, they need to tell stories and entertain as well as inform and communicate specific information. Some of this specific information can be represented in the form of structured data. What is structured data? Well, structured data is information that can be represented in a predictable format, such as hours of operation (if you’re a small business), reviews (ditto), authorship information, and the like. Structured data significantly helps search engines (good for SEO), which means it can help the owners of websites as well.
How to Use Structured Data in Your SEO
So now that we know what structure data is, how it works, and why you should use it, how do you go about doing it?
To start adding structured data to your website, you must first choose a format and a vocabulary. While Schema.org and microformats are both valid vocabularies and RDFa, JSON-LD, and microdata are all valid formats, it’s recommended you use JSON-LD to add Schema.org markup to your pages.
There are a couple of advantages this choice presents over the other options:
- Schema.org was created by search engines, so you can be relatively sure it will be Google-friendly (or Bing or Yandex-friendly). Microformats are built off of pre-existing HTML tags, which Google can someday stop recognizing.
- JSON-LD can be added via Google Tag Manager. Using GTM doesn’t get you any sort of “in” with Google, but it can reduce the overall amount of code on a page, which can make it lighter and faster. Both of these are good for SEO and users.
Why does structured data matter?
With free-form text, even a well-constructed paragraph contains some ambiguity in what it’s attempting to convey. (Not to mention the cases where things are really confusing such as “buffalo buffalo buffalo.”) Structured data is created with specific types of HTML markup and removes that ambiguity. Adhere Creative has this to say about structured data and its relationship to SEO.
Adding structured data on a website
As brilliant as Google is, it’s unable to understand many things by itself. With the use of the proper markup, you’ll help make your content much more apparent to the search engine, potentially elevating your online property’s visibility and click-through rate. With that said, here’s how to add structured data through the Structured Data Mark-up Tool.
1. Open the tool.
The first step is to open the Structured Data Mark-up Tool of Google. It would be best if you made sure that the software’s website tab remains open. Select the data type to which you want your HTML markup to be added. Plug in the URL of the webpage and click on the option to start tagging.
2. Highlight the page elements.
Once the tool completes loading, there should be a web page that appears to the left while the data items are on the right side. Highlight various components of the webpage so you can assign specific data tags like the date published, author, and name. Once you’ve completed assigning and tagging items, click on create HTML in the upper-right corner.
3. Add a schema markup.
When the next screen loads up, the markup for the structured data should appear. While the tool will automatically produce the script as a JSON-LD markup, it’s possible to change it via the drop-down menu. Copy the HTML markup to the web page’s source code or CMS if you want to publish it.
4. Test it.
Open the testing tool Google and enter the URL of the site you’re looking to test. The tool can be used to fix and diagnose issues. Once it does, all that’s left to do is to wait. Google may take a while to recrawl the new HTML, but so long as you maintain the proper standards of data structure, your website will benefit from it.
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