Appearing in most SEO strategies for 2017, structured data, or schema, is nothing new. In fact, it’s been around since 2011 when Google, Bing and Yahoo! banded together to “create and support a common set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages”. Below we’ll show you how to add structured data to your website, but first let’s examine why structured data is so important.
Why you need structured data
Structured data is essentially a way for search engines to understand what your webpage is about so they can show the important parts to people searching for relevant queries. For example, if you search on Google for “chocolate sponge cake” you get the following at the top of the page:
Google has understood your searching intent and has returned a ‘featured snippet’ containing your recipe – or at least some of it. It has returned this information because the recipe has been marked up with the structured data for a recipe: http://schema.org/Recipe
What’s important to note is that the page only ranks third, but because it’s been marked up correctly, it’s appearing above the first placed organic result, aka “position zero”.
With this in mind, it’s safe to say that if you can mark up your pages correctly, then even if you don’t rank in the top three for a specific keyword term, but are on page one, you could potentially outrank higher placed results if your page is chosen as the featured snippet.
Note: Google has a limited array of featured and rich snippets – however, we’ve seen these steadily increase over the years, and with the growing levels of voice search, helping search engines understand the information on your website, so they can quickly and easily parse and return information to the user, is more important than ever.
How to add structured data for dummies: the types
There are two ways to implement structured data: JSON-LD or Microdata.
Microdata is by far the most challenging way to implement schema, and I would advise you only use it if you have a basic grip on coding. It requires you to add code into the HTML that already exists on your page, around the information that you want to highlight to Google.
This is the type of situation where it becomes very useful to have a web developer who knows how to add structured data on your team, or even someone on your marketing team that knows their HTML.
The mark-up adds quite a bit to the HTML and needs to be formatted correctly around the information on the page.
JSON-LD is by far the simplest way of adding structured data to your page, all it requires is for you to add code into the header of the page – relatively straightforward if you have Google Tag Manager on your website. It doesn’t require you to mark up the text on your page at all, so if the information that you want to provide to Google isn’t on your page, you can actually use JSON-LD to add it.
How to add structured data for dummies: the tools
Google is fantastic when it comes to providing support for structured data – it has two main tools that show you how to add structured data to your website:
Don’t know how to code? Confused about what needs to go where? The Structured Data Markup Helper has got your back and will show you how to add structured data in a matter of minutes. This tool works in two ways:
You can select the bits you want to mark up on your website by highlighting them on the web page and tagging them appropriately
You can enter the details manually yourself
After you’ve added all the details you can, you select either Microdata or JSON-LD. If you select Microdata, it will show you where you need to add the code into your page’s source code, whereas if you select JSON-LD, it will give you the code to add into the header of the page.
This tool will change your life. Well, maybe not your life, but definitely your website. It allows you to input code, or even a URL, and it will check that code or page for structured data. It will then display what structured data is present, whether you need more information, and it will also highlight any errors in the code.
It also has a new function that shows you how Google will use the information from the structured data you’ve provided.
If, after reading this blog, you’re still confused about how to add structured data to your website, or if you’re interested in us doing it for you, get in touch!