What if you were ignoring one of the easiest ways to help your business grow?
As you know by now, solid SEO is the backbone of a successful business. The more people learn about your business from their internet searches, the more likely they are to eventually become customers.
If you want to take your SEO game to the next level, though, you need to take advantage of structured data. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t know much about this at all, much less about how structured data in SEO even works.
That’s where we come in. This complete guide will tell you everything you need to know about structured data and search engine optimization so you can really hit the ground running!
What Is Structured Data?
This guide will be focusing on structured data in SEO. Before we can get into that, though, we need to answer a fundamental question: what is structured data, exactly?
“Structured data” is a way to communicate more information about your website to Google and other search engines. In other words, it lets you more directly control what users are likely to see when they perform certain online searches.
Here’s a basic example: let’s say that you want customers to know about your competitive pricing. With the right structured data, you can basically tell search engines that your webpage contains pricing information. Structured data means that Google and other search engines are likely to display such information during searches.
The right information in the right place encourages potential customers to click on your site. At the same time, structured data done right can work wonders for your SEO.
Understanding Structured Data In SEO
Now you know a bit more about what structured data is. Now, we move to the bigger question: what is structured data in SEO all about?
On the most basic level, structured data enhances your SEO. That’s because the extra information isn’t just helping your customers: it’s also helping Google!
As complex and ever-changing as they are, the algorithms powering Google and other assorted search engines have a simple goal. When users perform a search, these search engines try to provide the most accurate and pertinent sites related to the search.
The less information a site provides about its content, the more “guessing” the algorithms have to do about what is on the site. Consequently, those search results do not rank very high.
By using structured data, you can tell the search engines much more about the content of your site (such as the fact that you offer recipes to certain tasty dishes). This helps your site leapfrog over the competition that doesn’t use structured data thanks to things like featured snippets.
Of course, this is a basic example of how structured data can boost your search engine optimization. Below, we’re going to take a closer look at a few more benefits structured data can offer to your site.
Maximize Search Visibility
Ideally, structured data will help you see a jump in SERP rankings early on. But even if the going is slow, structured data offers another big advantage: helping you to maximize your search result visibility.
This mostly comes in the form of snippets. These snippets are extremely important to your SEO because they can be featured above the actual search results.
Keep in mind that most users searching for certain things online are basically looking for a solution to a problem they have (even if the “problem” is the fact they are hungry and they want to track down a tasty recipe). Because users really trust Google, they are far likelier to click on the featured snippet for a quick solution rather than scroll down and explore many other results.
If your site is part of the featured snippet, you literally jump over all of the other results and become the first thing that users see. But if you don’t use structured data, you severely limit the chances of your content being featured in a snippet.
A More Optimal User Experience
As we detailed above, the featured snippets are a great way to get additional clicks. And while that is great for your business, it is also great for consumers. That is because structured data and these snippets help to provide a more optimal user experience.
That is because the information you provide via structured data doesn’t just drive clicks; it also tells customers more about your site to help inform their experience. For example, if your site has gotten very positive user reviews, you can use structured data to feature user ratings.
The average internet user is very interested in social proof about different products and services. It’s why the first thing most Amazon customers do before making a purchase is to scope out the user reviews. By featuring ratings, you can reassure someone about the quality of your business, prompting them to click.
Most of the information you convey to users via structured data will enhance their experience. As we noted before, structured data allows you to share things like recipes that may appear on your site. Users love this because without having this information ahead of time, they are forced to just keep clicking on different sites until they find the recipe they are trying to hunt down.
From Snippets To Carousels
So far, we have focused on the idea of using structured data to mark one specific thing that users should know about. This includes ratings your website has received and things like recipes that users can access. But what if you have more than one thing you’d like to mark for user attention?
The good news is that you can mark up many different things as you want. Different user searches, then, may end up getting different featured snippets based on what they are looking for.
In some cases, you might have multiple items that you have marked that fit a particular user search. In this case, Google will actually present a carousel of different relevant items based on your structured data.
For example, maybe your website features numerous great recipes for baked ziti. When a user searches for a certain phrase, Google may feature a carousel of images, each one with an image of a different ziti recipe.
Just like that, users can instantly see if these recipes are the kinds of things they are looking for. And this information still appears above the other search results, giving you a powerful SEO boost.
Take Advantage of the Knowledge Graph
As useful as snippets are, they are relatively well-known. However, most businesses don’t know much about the knowledge graph that Google provides and how they can turn this graph to their advantage.
The knowledge graph is something that Google displays on the right side of search results when users search for information about a person or a company. Most of the time, this information comes from Wikipedia because this is the quickest and easiest way for Google to provide the information.
However, structured data helps you take control of the information that Google provides via the knowledge graph. Instead of getting basic Wikipedia-style information about your company, you can use structured data to provide your own detailed description. This lets you put your best foot forward on search results even before users have clicked on your site!
Structured Data and Google Ads
We have obviously been focusing on Google quite a bit because it is the world’s most popular search engine. Because of this, chances are that you use Google Ads as a cornerstone of your digital marketing. And if you’re already doing that, you should know that it is possible to integrate these ads with your structured data.
How does this work? Simply put, you can provide certain information in the copy of your Google Ads in the form of structured data. When users perform certain searches, this results in them getting even more relevant information about the different products and services you have to offer.
As you can imagine, this can seriously boost the clickthrough rate of your ads. Not only does this bring more visitors to your website, but it ensures you are getting the maximum possible value for your different Google Ads.
Social Media Marketing
Chances are that you use social media as part of your digital marketing (and if you don’t, now is the perfect day to start). Interestingly, structured data can also enhance your social media marketing as well!
That is because structured data includes special “social” tags. This allows your social media posts to be featured as snippets on user searches.
We love this because it’s a “win/win” for your business. By extending the reach of your social media posts, you are doubling their effectiveness and their potential to reach new audiences. At the same time, featuring your posts on Google searches helps drive more users to follow you on social media, enhancing your social media marketing.
Optimize For Mobile
In recent years, responsive design has become more popular than ever before. That is because more users now browse the internet via mobile devices than desktop computers. With responsive design, you can make sure that your website looks great on desktop and mobile alike, which is infinitely better than optimizing it for desktop and leaving mobile users with a terrible-looking website.
To further make life easier for mobile users, many businesses use Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP helps sites load more quickly for mobile users, which is a great way to reduce your bounce rate. And if you use AMP, structured data can help you make the most of it.
That is because you can include structured data for regular pages and AMP pages alike. This increases the chances that one of your AMP pages will be featured as a snippet, helping you reach more mobile audiences.
Schema.org: Your New Best Friend
So far, we have focused on what structured data is and the different ways that you can take advantage of it to optimize your business SEO. But how do you actually get started?
The good news is that Google provides some general guidelines for beginners using structured data. The bad news is that to get the most out of it, you’ll need to master a few complex concepts such as Resource Description Framework in Attributes, JSON-LD, and Microdata.
Fortunately, there is one more bit of good news: most of the basic info you need to hit the ground running can be found on schema.org.
This website includes all of the different markups that are supported by Google as well as other search engines. And you can get started by simply copying codes directly from schema.org to your own site’s code. You’ll still need to tweak a few things to optimize your structured data, but this site can help even complete newcomers get started with structured data.
You Don’t Have To Do It Alone
As we outlined above, getting started with structured data is as simple as copying markup codes to your own site’s code. In that sense, structured data in SEO is very easy to learn. However, it is very difficult to master, especially as you navigate complex things like JSON-LD.
Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate this strange new world on your own. By working with the right digital marketing agency, you can begin immediately enjoying the benefits of structured data while avoiding headaches.
Here at DesignLoud, we are experts in site design, digital marketing, and so much more. Whatever your dreams are for your business, we’re here to make those dreams into a reality.
To see how we can help you use structured data for maximum SEO results, all you have to do is contact us today!
Download our free ebook for a complete walk-through on how to research and format your content so it ranks and improves your SEO.