Improve SEO With Structured Data

Improve SEO with Schema structured data and start to increase traffic, leads, customer, and revenue. Real workings examples of how to add Schema.org to any website.

How to Improve SEO 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 improving SEO using 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.

Related: How to display reviews on Google search results


What is Schema Structured Data?

Schema Structured Data is a data vocabulary that defines objects, items, and relationships on the Internet. This vocabulary allows search engines to understand the meanings behind your content and display it on search results for a better user experience.

Google and other search engines use structured data they find on the web to understand the contents of web pages.

In simple words, structured data are pieces of code strategically added to webpages so that search engine crawlers understand what your website content is about. For example, on an online product page, what is the price of the product, availability, rating, quantity of reviews, and so on.

Schema gets right down to the basics where it will tell the search engines what your data means and not just what it says.

Schema Format Types

There are three ways or formats to implement schema on your website, Microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD.

Microdata

Microdata is nothing more than an HTML code that uses name-value pairs (known as items) to assign values to its properties. Microdata is a machine-readable definition of the existing content on a web page.

For example, in the following Microdata structured data snippet, we are instructing search engines that there is a structured data item property (itemprop) with a value of “telephone.”


                  <span itemprop="telephone">(312) 771-9111</span>
                

As a result, the business phone number is readily displayed on search results, as shown in the following image.

Search result for a local company phone number
Google local company phone number search result.

RDFa

RDFa (Resource Description Framework in Attributes) is a W3C specification that adds structured data to web pages using properties.

Similar to Microdata, RDFa embeds individual items (metadata) into HTML documents to provide more information about the contents on a web page.

Both Microdata and RDFa use slightly similar methods to wrap individual item properties in web pages, as shown in the following RDFa example.


                 <span property="telephone">(312) 771-9111</span>
                

JSON-LD

JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) is a format for encoding data of a list of attributes specified by multidimensional arrays with name-value pairs. It is much simpler to implement than Microdata and RDFa because there is no need to wrap it around HTML markup.

JSON-LD is wrapped around <script> tags, therefore is not visible to the end-user. By Google guidelines, you should not create blank or empty pages that just contain structured data. Also, the JSON-LD structured data you add must match visible content within the web page.

Schema for Small Business Using JSON-LD

Here is a basic JSON-LD structured data snippet example for our local small business agency.

                
                 <script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org",
  "@type": "Organization",
  "name": "Inova Web Design",
  "address": {
    "@type": "PostalAddress",
    "addressLocality": "Chicago",
    "addressRegion": "IL",
    "postalCode": "60603",
    "streetAddress": "100 S State St"
  },
  "aggregateRating": {
    "@type": "AggregateRating",
    "ratingValue": "5",
    "reviewCount": "4"
  },
  "telephone": "(312) 771-9111",
  "url": "https://www.inovawebdesign.com"
}
 </script>
 
              

One of the most basic examples of structured data is the LocalBusiness Schema. It represents a local business or organization with various data attributes like name, address, telephone, offerings, services, and many more.

Examples of LocalBusiness Schema include restaurants, service providers, retail stores, dentists, banks, nightclubs, etc.

The following basic example illustrates how to implement structured data for a small business using MicroData.

Schema for Small Business Using MicroData

         
            <div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/LocalBusiness">
            <h1><span itemprop="name">Inova Web Design</span></h1>
            <span itemprop="description">A creative web agency providing design, development, marketing and SEO services.</span>
                <div itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress">
                    <span itemprop="streetAddress">100 S State St</span>
                    <span itemprop="addressLocality">Chicago</span>,
                    <span itemprop="addressRegion">IL</span>
                </div>
            <span itemprop="telephone">312-771-9111</span>
        </div>   
         
         

What is the recommended Schema format?

JSON-LD is the recommended Schema structured data format. It’s easier to implement, read, and test. As stated on their website, Google recommends JSON-LD for implementing structured data whenever possible.

Google recommends JSON-LD as the structured data format
Google recommends JSON-LD as the structured data format.

Benefits of Using Structured Data

Schema structured data allows search engine crawlers to get a better understanding of the content in your web pages so that they can deliver relevant information more accurately to users.

Structured data improves web page rankings

Schema structured data allows search engine crawlers to get a better understanding of the content in your web pages so that they can deliver relevant information more accurately to users.

Even though Google has said very little about the impact of structured data as a ranking factor, we encourage every site owner to implement it because of the overall SEO and page ranking benefits it provides, as stated in the following benefit items.

Improves conversions and user experience through rich snippets

A rich snippet is a result that contains extra information displayed in the search results like review stars, product prices, events, links, photos, and menu items, to name a few.

Rich snippet example
Rich snippet example.

Structured data assists search engines by providing extra information, which facilitates the displaying of rich snippets in search results.

Showing all this extra information before the user visits the website not only helps in improving user experience, it also improves conversions and CTR.

The following image shows the main navigation links in search results as rich snippets, which can lead to higher clicks and conversions.

Main navigation showing in rich snippets
Site navigation displayed on search results snippets.

It assists search engines in delivering relevant content

Imagine you are looking for a food menu from a local restaurant. The first thing to do is to Google the name of the restaurant and check if they have a website. If you are lucky enough to find the site, then you have to browse it and locate the specific food menu. All of this takes time and may stress users.

Schema Menu Sections solve this problem by helping search engines locate and display the menu sections or items right in search results, which delivers precisely what the user is looking for.

Restaurant menu as rich snippet in search results
Rich snippets displaying food menu for restaurant.

Facilitates information to be used in rich cards

Rich cards are sections in search results that display previews of web page contents like articles, news, events, movies, recipes, and other types of content. Rich cards are a great way to boost visibility and generate new opportunities to attract more users and promote engagement.

Rich cards example
Search results rich card examples.

Rich cards are a new search result format, and just like rich snippets, they also use schema.org structured data to display content more visually appealing and engaging.

Contributes to Knowledge Graph information

Knowledge Graph is a collection of data gathered from different sources to enhance the search results with popular topics and interests. The information in the Knowledge Graph is displayed at the top of the search results in an information box.

Knowledge Graph example
Knowledge Graph example.

Knowledge Graph includes millions of entries, and most of its sources use schema.org structured data. The information in the Open Graph is categorized as entities like places, people, businesses, websites, and things.

Common types of entities include; books, events, movies, music, places, people, sports teams, TV series, video games, and websites. Visit schema.org for a full list of entities.

Assists direct spoken questions in voice assistants

With the increase of voice-assisted online searches, Schema and Google came out with a property called Speakable. Webpages with this property can use smart voice-assisted devices like Google Home to retrieve and read-aloud sections within an article on a webpage.

Speakable attributes the source of information and can send the full article to the user’s mobile device. Webpages with Speakable structured data can distribute content in new channels and reach a new user base.

This technology is still in Beta, and we should expect further development of this technology.


How to add Schema structured data to a website

There are general guidelines that must be followed to implement structured data into your website correctly. Visit the official Google Search Structured Data Documentation for a full list of guidelines and best practices.

In this article, we will cover proper guidelines and techniques using the most suited methodologies. Let’s get started!

The first step is to choose the most suited structured data format. As stated earlier in this article, there are three supported formats; JSON-LD (recommended), Microdata, and RDFa.

JSON-LD can be added in the head or body section of your HTML code. Microdata and RDFa are inserted between the opening and closing body tags.


Structured Data Examples

Display product review stars, price, and availability

Most popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Bigcommerce already include structured data for products in their HTML templates. The following example illustrates how to display the rating, price, and product availability in search results using the Product Schema.

 
<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>


The previous code should render a search results like the following image.

Location of structured data in a webpage
Product displaying review stars, price and availability in search results.

Structured data example for small local business

Being able to display the reviews for your small business in search results is a great way not only to increase traffic but show a sense of trust if your reviews are positive.

LocalBusiness is one of the most powerful schemas for small business owners. It allows you to add the most important information about your business, like address, phone number, website URL, price range, areas served, logo, among others.

The following example shows the structured data implementation for a small business such as Inova using JSON-LD.

Here’s an example of schema implementation for reviews

schema markup example 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”.

schema markup example for an event

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.
Related: How to optimize a local business website

Here’s a markup example of a webpage with information about an event in Chicago:

The result on Google search looks like this:

Schema event example snippet

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


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.

Most used Schemas
Structured data for local small businesses
Structured data for online products
Structured data for restaurants
Review structured data

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.

Schema full list types

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.

In Conclusion

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.

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