Once you familiarize yourself with what structured data markup is and why it’s important for SEO success, your brain should quickly shift into action-mode. How can you leverage structured data markup to in order to help the search engines help you? Well, the key is to avoid getting overwhelmed. When viewed as one massive entity, structured data is confusing and perplexing. The good news is that you don’t need to know everything about it. All you need to know is how structured data can help your company or business succeed.
Structured Data Primer
“Structured data is on-page markup that enables search engines to better understand the information currently on your business’s web page, and then use this information to improve your business’s search results listing,” Nathan Yerian of Adhere Creative reminds us. “Structured data allows search engines to not only crawl your site, but to truly understand it.
The best – and most clever – example of why structured data matters involves the search term “Seal.” When a user enters this term into Google, the search engine has trouble determining what’s being searched for. Is it the musician, the animal, or a stamp of approval? Well, structured data gives web pages the power to help search engines understand on-site content and display it in a relevant and useful manner.
5 Forms of Structured Data
But really, you just need to understand structured data in the context of your business. Depending on whether you’re a restaurant, physical products business, software developer, or anything in between, there are different forms you’ll want to use. Let’s take a look at these to give you an idea of how structured data can be practically applied in your situation.
Let’s start with products – as this is the focus of many businesses. Using Google’s Data Highlighter, you can tag different data so that it appears in rich snippets. This data includes the name of the product, an image of the product, the offer price, availability, condition, product ID, average rating, a single review, and more. You’re essentially pulling the most important data from an existing product listing and telling the search engines that this is what you want users to see in the results.
“We support reviews and ratings for a wide range of schema.org types, including businesses, products, and different creative works such as books or movies,” Google’s developer team explains. “When Google finds valid reviews or ratings markup, we may show a rich snippet that includes stars and other summary info from reviews or ratings.”
There are many different types of rich snippet reviews, but Google reminds businesses that they have to follow some specific guidelines if they want to be eligible. First off, the review has to clearly refer to a specific product or service. There can’t be any confusion about what the review is related to. Second, if you’re going to use reviews and ratings in your rich snippets, these reviews or ratings must be “readily available to users from the marked-up page.”
Third, review snippets cannot be used to provide reviews for a category or list of items – only a specific product or service. Fourth, rich snippet reviews are not allowed for adult-related content. And finally, if the markup contains one review, the author’s name has to be a valid name.
- Job Listings
Unbeknownst to many, you can actually create rich snippets for job listings. This is an underutilized technique, simply because most people don’t know it exists. In order to create a rich snippet for job listings, you must provide the job title, hiring organization, and job location. Other recommended data includes industry, base salary, employment type, date posted, and salary currency.
“You can use Data Highlighter to tag data about events, such as a concert or an art festival,” Google’s support team explains. “Then Google can present your data more attractively – and in new ways – in search results and in other products such as the Google Knowledge Graph.” You’re required to provide a summary of the event, the start date, the event’s main URL, and the location. You should also consider including data about the performer, door time, and duration.
The tricky part about event rich snippets is that there is some specific protocol. The event name has to be the actual event name and cannot consist of promotional language. Take Taylor Swift’s current tour for example. The title of the event would have to be “The 1989 World Tour.” It couldn’t be “The 1989 World Tour – 50% Off.”
Restaurants may benefit from rich snippets more than any other industry, since people frequently search for nearby places to eat using Google or another leading search engine. For restaurants, it’s important to include as much information as possible – and reviews/ratings are crucial. Required information includes name, price range, review count, and rating value. Optional data includes URL, address, and telephone number.
Putting it All Together
There are plenty more forms of structured data, but these are a few of the most common. While it may seem like a lot of work to implement structured data markup for all of your pages, products, and services, it’s becoming increasingly necessary. While it was once a way to stand out, it’s now simply a way to remain competitive. Run a search for something related to your niche and you’ll see rich snippets. You can’t avoid them any longer – now’s the time to get onboard!
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