What is Structured Data and Why is it Important?

What is Structured Data and Why is it Important?

Structured Data

With the emergence of schema.org in 2011, the world of SEO and SERPs underwent a monumental facelift.

However, the rate of adoption for the said structured data markup has not been as satisfactory as one would have hoped for.

Even though contemporary SEO practices have moved further away from their keyword-stuffing days, there is still a wide scope for improvement.

Including the integration of structured data, there are a lot of under-the-hood changes that SEO experts can make to win the rank race.

So, if solutions are already out there, what restricts several website owners and their chosen SEO analysts from pursuing them?

Most commonly, the biggest impediment to SEO success is a lack of technical know-how. For instance, some people are still perplexed over what structured data means.

We’re here to hopefully change that!

What exactly is structured data

In layman terms, structured data is nothing but a snippet of code written in a specific format. It is designed in a way to make immediate sense to search engines.

So, by integrating structured data into the code of your website, you’re merely telling search engines what your website is all about.

Consequently, when your webpage pops up on a search, it is displayed in a descriptive format rich in the information provided by the structured data.

Hence, the top results in a typical Google search are often manifested in the form of ‘Rich Snippets’.

Now, if you’re wondering why should you even bother with persuading Google to display your webpage as a ‘Rich Snippet’, here’s an interesting figure.

Studies have indicated that by the virtue of a rich snippet, click-through-rates for a product can soar as high as 677%. Take a moment to digest the magnitude of this number.

When viewed from a different lens, this phenomenon also translates into a 20-40% increase in traffic.

Let’s revisit our definition of structured data with this new information.

We can say that structured data is a format-specific snippet of code that allows search engines to index your webpage in a detailed manner. This improved communication between the webpage and the search engine thereby leads to favourable outcomes.

But, just knowing what structured data means doesn’t have many practical applications. To reap the traffic-increase and CTO-surge reported above, you must acquire the technical skills needed to implement structured data.

In other words, you need to familiarise yourself with the ins-and-outs of a few technical tools.

Structured Data: A technical perspective

The speediest solution to implementing structured data is to use the Schema WordPress plugin.

But, even if you wish to go the plugin route, you still need to know how to use the WordPress console.

Once you set the plugin up, you’ll be able to add structured data using various schema types and publication categories.

However, even though plugins are easy-to-implement, they don’t give you the ground-level control that manually entering schema markup does.

So, if you’re ready to get your hands dirty, it is time to fire up Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to do next:-

  • Choose the website tab, select your preferred data type, and enter the URL of the target website.
  • Click on the ‘Start Tagging’ Button.
  • Now, based on the data type of your choice, the tool will display data items on the right side of the screen. Simultaneously, your webpage will occupy the left side of the screen.
  • Pick and choose different components from the left portion of the screen to fill up data items on the right. You can also add custom data tags by clicking the ‘Add missing tags’ button.
  • Once you’re done tagging the elements of your choice, move to the top right area of the screen and click the ‘Create HTML’ button.
  • The script thus created will be in the JSON-LD semantic annotation. Since this is the annotation preferred by Google, you don’t need to tamper with it.
  • Thereafter, add the markup to your website’s code. (You have the option to download the script as an HTML file).
  • Lastly, click the ‘Finish’ button and wait for the tool to prompt you further.

You can also identify issues with your structured data using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

Structured Data: The Impact

At a time when voice search is among the key technologies that are at the epicentre of future SEO developments, structured data is bound to be a significant concern for SEO experts all around.

Firstly, optimising content for featured snippets also ensures that it gets picked up by voice search. In fact, 40.7% of voice search answers come from featured snippets.

Secondly, properly implementing structured data and following Google’s general structured data guidelines helps with the said optimisation.

By inference, focusing on structured data will increase the voice search traffic that your website gets.

Furthermore, enterprise customers of the schema app reported that the mere addition of schema markup led to a myriad of business-centric results including 35% more conversions, 26% more clicks, 20% higher CTR, and more.

Structured data also helps with enhancing the usability of AMPs or accelerated mobile pages.

Given how 63% of Google’s search engine visits in the US are mobile searches, joining in on the multiple benefits of AMPs only makes sense.

All in all, structured data has SEO-centric practical applications that not only deliver results in the present but are also going to stay relevant for a sizeable time period.

The Take-Away

Even though structured data is not a ranking factor in itself, it influences many aspects of your website that real ranking factors are concerned with.

Moreover, earning the top positions in organic search is getting more and more intricate with each passing day.

In such a landscape, you can’t neglect essential practices and hope to stay ahead of the curve!

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