There is a safe and powerful system for improving your presence online, but most webmasters don’t use it. Structured data is used by big companies and savvy marketers, and as a result their data is equipped with markup that helps search engines display their listings most effectively. When it comes to structured data, the future is here, but not everyone is living in it.
In this short guide we’ll go over the realm of structured data, and see how it can be used to empower Rich Snippets on Google and other search engines. We’ll explain these terms and how they relate together—and why they are important.
The technology to do this is free and open to anyone, so the little guy can compete. The challenge is figuring it all out. The reason more web programmers don’t use “smart” markup is mainly confusion about what the terms mean and how to implement the code. Let’s clear the air.
Structured data is meant to standardize the chaotic information flows of the marketplace. The system is based on using preformed data fields with closely-defined parameters to create a record that can be handled digitally and searched or sorted efficiently. This automates record-keeping and e-commerce by leveraging the speed of computers. Google loves Structured Data and encourages Webmasters to include it on their site. Check out the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.
Structured data uses a predefined, standardized format of markup codes. Search engines can read content marked up with this specification, and are able to then present the listing along with the extra data in a special, specific display. There are different kinds of structured data definitions which can be applied to describe a wide variety of items.
To enhance a search engine result page (SERP), the major search engines recognize three unique specifications: Microdata, Microformats, and RDFa. Microdata is the most highly adopted, and includes the popular standard of Schema.org.
Other more platform-centric specifications are Facebook’s Open Graph tags and Twitter Cards. Rich Snippets doesn’t necessarily replace other forms of markup, but instead can be combined with these specifications to fully optimize your content for different venues.
Schema is an agreed upon definition of standardized data that was developed in collaboration with Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Yandex. The purpose of Schema markup is to provide detailed information about your content in a language that search engines can easily understand.
Adding Schema markup to your content can not only help search engines crawl and index your information, it can improve the presentation of your data. With proper coding, search engines can add Rich Snippets powered with extra data that enhances your listing in search results. Schema is one aspect of search engine optimization that helps to generate additional site traffic by helping a website standout in search results.
Rich Snippets are additional data about online content that can be displayed between the URL and its description in SERPs. This allows web creators an additional level of customization to highlight their content. A Rich Snippet draws attention and provides additional information about the listing.
A Rich Snippet can show images, price ranges, reviews, rating stars, publication dates, and more. While this markup is not mandatory, it does highlight your listing and provide a better information display, which can lead to improved click-through rates.
When starting out, it’s probably best not to look at Schema’s full specification. It is complex and more than any single application will need. It isn’t a death-defying task, but you will need some familiarity with HTML markup to do the job. You could also give the job to a web developer, of course.
The first impression you make online is through a search engine. To get the best results, it is critical that search engines can understand what your content is about and how to display it most effectively. By structuring your data through Schema markup, you can control the presentation of your SERP listings for greater response.
In summary, Schema is a structured data format that can be used by search engines to create Rich Snippets. With Schema markup, you have the key to looking good online and standing out from the competition. Schema is an integral part of an SEO campaign to increase traffic and easily feed search engines correct data.