How to Improve Search Engine Rankings With Structured Data
It’s the same primary goal of every web entrepreneur out there – finding some way to improve rankings without getting a Google penalty. And let’s face it, the Google goal posts keep moving around so you never really know if you are dancing along the edge or if you’re going to get nailed.
But there is something you can do to increase the online visibility of your website, and it is all about structured data. We know, you’ve heard them all by now, but for SEO you need to get up close and personal with something called schema markup. It is a contradiction, really. Schema markup is one of the most potent forms of SEO; however, it also happens to be the least used forms of optimization.
Why is structured data not used enough?
We’re guessing that as soon as you hear the word ‘code’ you may run away screaming like a little girl. It’s okay. With the advent of the painfully simple drag ‘n’ drop system of building websites, it has allowed anyone to develop their own. The problem with that is the internet is now littered with amateurish websites that eat up space and create a bottleneck in the world of SERPs (search engine result pages).
But there is a secret weapon that you can use to blast through all of the crappy drag ‘n’ drops that have minimal SEO to begin with. You can use structured data.
Okay, so that was a fairly long build up so let’s get down to the details.
What the heck is schema markup anyway?
Good question. We warned you because it is code. You put this code on your website and it sort of acts like a magnet to search engines. Actually, it’s more like when you are hunting, and you rub some female hormone on a tree or something to flush out a buck that can’t resist that scent. Search engines respond in the exact same way to code that is directed to them specifically.
What is Schema Structured Data?
Schema (schema.org) is a data vocabulary that defines objects, items, and relationships on the Internet (web apps, websites, web pages, etc.). This vocabulary allows search engines to understand the meanings behind your content and display it on search results for better user experience.
Here’s an example of schema implementation for reviews
Learn more at Schema Reviews.
Here’s another example of an Eventbrite webpage with markup displaying on Google search results for the term “Chicago downtown events”.
Learn more at Schema Events.
The beautiful thing about schema markup is that the data in that code gives the search engines much more information about your website. That additional info bulldozes your website through the drag ‘n’ drops and other sites without such crafty SEO. The end result is that you improve rankings and your website starts to show up in better SERP positions.
What exactly does schema tell search engines in the first place?
Structured data with Schema is a vocabulary for search engines. It tells search engines the information on your web page in a structured way.
Here’s the part where your average website fails miserably. Sure, the kid down the street who dumped a bunch of code into your website got the attention of the major search engines. That’s a good thing. But the code is not all that specific and may be missing critical information about your business or organization that search engines can not understand.
Business name, opening hours, service area, phone number, review quantity, events, services you provided are just some examples of structured data.
Schema gets right down to the basics where it will tell the search engines what your data means and not just what it says.
How to add Schema structured data to a website
You want your website pages to get indexed properly. Here’s a markup example of a webpage with information about an event in Chicago:
<div class="event-wrapper" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Event"> <div itemprop="startDate" content="2019-06-29"> Jun 29 2019 </div> <meta itemprop="endDate" content="2019-06-30" /> Jun 30 2019 <div itemprop="name"> Randolph Street Market Festival </div> <div class="event-venue" itemprop="location" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Place"> <span itemprop="name">Randolph Street Market</span> <div class="address" itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress"> <span itemprop="streetAddress">1340 W Washington Blvd</span><br> <span itemprop="addressLocality">Chicago</span>, <span itemprop="addressRegion">IL</span> <span itemprop="postalCode">60607</span> </div> </div> </div>
The result on Google search looks like this:
Let’s take a look at the schema implementation we did for Elegance USA for all their products. We added the following markup to the products page templates:
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Product"> <span itemprop="name">Extra Strong Protection - Strong Hold Hair Gel</span> <div itemprop="aggregateRating"itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/AggregateRating"> Rating: <span itemprop="ratingValue">5</span> - <span itemprop="reviewCount">11</span> votes </div> <div itemprop="offers" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Offer"> <span itemprop="priceCurrency" content="USD">$</span><span itemprop="price" content="9.99">9.99</span> <link itemprop="availability" href="http://schema.org/InStock" />In stock </div> </div>
If you search for “Elegance medium hold hair gel” you will get a top result displaying the schema structured data:
The point here is that structured data provides well-rounded information about something in your website that may otherwise just be picked up as a random piece of data without schema on your side.
Related article: How to display review stars on Google search results
Are you getting any of this?
Don’t Let The Word ’Code’ Spook You
We sort of kept this part for later. Schema markup makes use of something called a unique semantic vocabulary in a microdata format. Before you reach for a dictionary, what that really means is that you don’t need to learn any complicated code.
You’re still going to be using HTML, but you’ll be including teeny-weenie bits of schema vocabulary to the HTML microdata. It sounds more complicated than it actually is, and that’s the takeaway from this article. You don’t need to be a genius to make use of it.
A Couple More Interesting Facts About Schema
Users invented schema markup. This should tell you that if anyone is going to have a good idea on what should attract search engines, it’ll be the people who are working so hard to do just that.
Oh, and schema markup will improve rankings for all kinds of content. It really is a SEO secret weapon because you can use it to boost your SERPs on articles, book reviews, events, local businesses, movies, products, restaurants, software applications, TV episodes, and ratings and so much more.
In other words, your website can have virtually anything in it, and with schema markup, you’ll be able to scoop those rankings. Before schema, you’d have to be creative and add a blog section to your website for backlinks and all the other complicated tricks.
Tips for using Schema markup
1. Use the most commonly used schemas
Oddly enough, if you use the most common types of schemas, it will help your website.
2. Use all the schema types you need
There is a massive list of what is available. Know it, love it, use it, and use as many as are appropriate for your website.
3. Use as much schema as possible
Heavy keyword density is a no-no, but with schema markup, the more you markup, the better your SERPs. Start learning about Schema.org, and once you implemented on your website, you will likely improve your search engine rankings.
SEO seems to work best when you pull search engines into your website to teach them what’s on your web pages. The standard code is pretty good, but schema markup is better. It’s as simple as that.