What is Structured Data
Structured data is code in a specific format – in this case Schema.org -, in such a way that search engines understand it. Search engines read the code and use it to display search results in a specific and more rich way. You can easily put this code on your website
This article has been written to introduce the schema to both non-technical and technical staff.
- Section 1 explains the basics of biological search, search indexing and ‘bots’.
- Section 2 outlines what is in the information schema, how it interacts with search bots, and is used by Google to populate rich snippets and select snippets.
- Section 3 introduces three methods of coding schema and explains why JSON-LD is the preferred method. It provides resources to help you create and test schemas. Finally, it talks about creating code for a single page and there are instances in which you should automate schema generation.
- Section 4 provides some suggestions for coders.
1.A Web Search Basics
Humans however are not just readers of websites. Search engines like Google and Bing spid their own. We also read websites through bots. Bots are simply programs that search the Internet to find websites, identify all their pages and read their content. They do this to find out what a webpage is and how good it is. Bots record this information in a large index. When someone searches on a search engine like Google, this index is compared to this search term and the best-matched web pages are returned in the search results.
1. B bots are not very bright
2.A schema for rescue
Structured data markup and code search bots can be added to a webpage to tell what the subject and content of the page is. Human readers did not see the code, it is exclusively and only for search engine bots. First of all the bots can easily identify the code so that none of those information is missing. Secondly, it means that the bots do not have to guess what a particular piece of text is because you are telling them unevenly.
The schema code will begin by defining what a web page is about, for example, a local business, company, person, place, thing, article, or product. The schema will then go on to list the relevant properties, some of which are required. So a local business requires a URL, address, and name, but in addition, you can choose to include things like opening hours, phone numbers, and GPS coordinates. You cannot create only schemas and types of related assets. There is an agreed list you should use. You can see all the available types and their properties on schema.org.
You can have several different blocks of schemas on one page. If you are listing multiple products on one page, then each product can have its own schema. If your page covers many topics, you can have a schema for each.
Note: that you should not attempt to use the schema to manipulate search results incorrectly. It is likely that the search bot will penalize websites that use these tips.
If you implement the schema properly then it can provide opportunities for your website and content to appear in rich results of goggles and featured snippets. For this reason, it makes sense to ensure that the schema type Google uses for its rich results is applied to your website where relevant; Local Business, Article, Review, Video, TV and Movie, Music and Recipe. Appearing in rich and featured snippets has a large positive effect on click-through rate (CTR). For this reason, this schema is one of the primary drivers for implementation.
2.B Rich snippet
Rich snippets are organic search results that Google has enhanced by adding additional information to it. You have seen a search box appear below some websites in the search results, see below, or yellow stars that indicate review ratings. These are examples of rich snippets Google has found onsite search or review ratings and have determined that it is useful information for web users and therefore has been added directly to search results.
2.C Featured Snippets
A featured snippet is distinct to organic search results and appears above them. This is Googles attempt to answer your query on the search results page. Also, the snippet displayed for the first time is larger than the search results and is highlighted by a range. See below for an example.
3. How do you schema code
There are three ways to add schema code to a webpage; Via microdata, RDFa or JSON-LD snippet.
Microdata and RDFA work by adding additional markup to html elements the way CSS classes are coded.
So if this is the original html on our webpage then how would we code the schema?
Note that microdata and RDFA can be inserted into existing HTML tags in the same way as a CSS class or ID. JSON-LD is different. It is completely independent of basic HTML so it has to be coded from scratch and added to the page in addition to the root block of HTML.
Although it may seem that JSON-LD is more complex, it is actually easier to generate automatically and because it is built separately for the rest of the webpage, it is really easy to manage the schema implementation across the entire website. Since Google recommends implementation via JSON-LD, you should try to use in preference to other methods.
Please note: HTML code contains some structured data on its own. The codes that HTML lists are bulleted or numbered, structured as used for HTML code tables. Search engine bots are clearly able to recognize and read this html the same way they read the schema. Content can appear in the resulting tables and tags, even if there is no microdata, RDefa or JSN-LD on the webpage. If you’ve tabulated weather reports, size conversion charts, or similar data, it’s worth checking that your html is optimal – have you differentiated the headers and added additional markup to make the tabular data accessible? The higher the quality of this markup, the better your chances of winning the featured snippet.
3.A Building and testing your code
Here are some useful links that will help you to write and test valid code.
- JSON-LD Schema Code Generator. it is very useful. It generates code for the following types; Local Business, Person, Product, Event, Organization, Website. You select the type from a drop down and then the tool presents you with a series of boxes that you can fill with related properties. Once you are finished, click a button and a valid code appears. You can just copy and paste it into your webpage.
- These generators are great for one-offs such as organization or website schemas that will only appear on your homepage. However, if you want to apply the schema to every article on a large e-commerce site or on a news website, it would not be practical to manually generate the code for each product or page. In these cases, you need to write a program that will automatically generate schema code from existing product or article content. There are many ways to do this. If you use a well-known CMS like WordPress then there are plugins you can try. Alternatively, you can write your own code.
- Once you have generated your code and added it to your webpage, you should do a final check to make sure that the bots can read it correctly. Google has a schema testing tool – just enter your webpage url and click on a button. Google reads the page and returns all schema codes found with no errors or warnings.
4. Notes for Techniques
The nuts and bolts of implementing a schema depends on how your site is built and exactly which schema you want to use.
- Although the JSON-LD recommended method is Microdata and RDFa which can be very quick to implement globally through templates so that they can be useful as an interim measure. For example, if you already have a page template with areas for titles and specific slots for specific product features, it can be very easy to just add markup to the correct HTML tag. Having said that you should be able to use the same template to generate a block of JSON-LD once to learn the basic syntax. If in doubt just use the JSON-LD code generator (see section 3.1 for a link) as a template.
- When adding JSON-LD you can place the code anywhere in the page head or body.
- You can use Google Tag Manager to add schema markup.
- WordPress has many plugins that automatically add schema code to your page. The available schema types are quite restricted and in our experience, the results are not always reliable. However, this is an area that is developing quickly so we would expect the number and quality of schema plugins to increase rapidly. The Yoasts SEO plugin has some schema handling and is a plugin for Woocommerce installations. Sadly, the Advanced Custom Field Plugin (ACF) has not yet built in any handling of the schema.
What is JSON-LD?
JSON-LD is one of the markups of schema.org. This is a way of writing code. On Schema.org, you will also find other markups like Microdata or RDFa. At Yoast, we will always recommend you to use JSON-LD, as it does not break your site as easily as other markups do. Also, this is the format that Google prefers. Yoast SEO automatically adds a lot of structured data JSON-LD to your site. This is not possible with other markups.
Why is Structured Data Important for SEO?
Structured data is important for SEO because it will make Google easier to understand about your pages and your website. Google needs to find out what a page is about to show in search results. Using structured data is like talking to Google, telling Google what your site is about. That will help your ranking.
On top of that, structured data will change the way you snippet (your search results). This will show your customer more information. More specific information. And this will increase the likelihood that the customer will click on your results. More clicks will eventually lead to higher rankings! We conduct rich results looking at more and more structured data, so it is important to monitor this.