Structured Data: What Is It & Why Does It Matter For SEO?
Search engines are less concerned with what your website says and more interested in what your content means. This is why structured data is so important for modern SEO.
Believe it or not, even search engines need a little help to understand the information on your website. Sure, Google is a pro at scanning and crawling any site, but when it comes to deciphering your content, a little bit of extra assistance can go a long way, especially if you want to rank higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Structured data, or schema markup, is a specific type of code which helps search engines better understand what the content on your website means, not just what it says. Search engines read this code and use it to improve and beef up your business’ search results listing.
Take your NAP (name, address, phone number), for example. Structured data makes it easier for search engines to quickly identify this type of information, along with more complex material such as events and products.
Why use structured data?
The information that search engines obtain from a website containing structured data can generally be found in a rich snippet, which is a coveted, pie-in-the-sky position for any business. As the name suggests, a rich snippet is a type of search result that displays much richer information than the others. Rich snippets appear at the top of the search engine results page, just before the organic listings.
Take a website with a lot of recipes, for example. If you add structured data to a page that includes a recipe, you increase your chances of landing in a rich snippet. In addition to a title, URL, and meta description, your search result could also include things like cooking time, ingredients, calorie counts, and reviews, all at a glance.
It’s important to note, however, that although structured data is necessary to land in a rich snippet, it does not guarantee that placement.
In addition, structured data also increases your chances of search engines correctly matching your content to voice queries.
What are the benefits of structured data and featured snippets?
- Improved visibility and click-through rates. Although there is no evidence showing a correlation between organic search rankings and structured data, rich snippets have a large impact on your website’s visibility in the SERPs. This sought-after position has been proven to improve click-through rates (CTR’s).
- Higher conversions. Rich snippets can also boost your conversion rates because they are one of the first things that users see in their search results. That level of visibility greatly increases your credibility, and therefore also the odds that people will buy from you.
- Voice search readiness. All voice search results are derived from featured snippets, and there is generally only one listing provided for voice queries. This means your business could be presented as the sole option, which also drastically improves your chances of conversion.
How do I add structured data to my website?
The good news is, if you already know HTML, you don’t need to learn any new coding skills.
Thanks to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, one of the most useful free tools to help you get a jump start with structured data, and schema.org, you don’t have to be an aficionado or rely on a webmaster to add structured data to your website.
Schema.org helps you find all of the structured data markup needed for particular web pages, and all of the code is supported by the major search engines.
There are wonderful step-by-step tutorials, but if you have limited backend web experience, it may be helpful to reach out to a developer for assistance.
Currently, only one-third of Google’s search results incorporate rich snippets, which means there are millions of websites missing out on a whole bunch of SEO potential. Why does this matter? Because using structured data will automatically give you a giant competitive advantage on the vast majority of your competition.
No matter what, structured data is the future of SEO, so it’s important to understand and incorporate the fundamentals now. Does your site have all the elements that Google searches for? Contact us for a free site audit to find out.