Post written by guest blogger Ben Robertson, Menadena.
If you’re a professional who has tried to manage your own website’s SEO, you may have noticed the terms “schema” and “structured data markup” and wondered what they were. If you didn’t quite understand the terms, don’t worry — they can be confusing, even for some SEO professionals!
That’s why we’ve decided to give you this (hopefully) simplified overview of what structured data is and how incorporating it can help boost your search rankings.
What is Structured Data?
When you do a web search, you’re typically looking for people, products, or services, each of which will be listed on a business’ website. Search engines must understand the deeper context of a business in order to offer you the right information. They do this by scanning all through the World Wide Web in matter of microseconds.
Structured data is a general reference to the information contained on a website that is written in a language that search engines can understand as they search. It’s a subset of information that’s a part of the html markup, which helps search engines to understand the context of web pages by, for instance, classifying the page content based on the contained information.
The benefit for website owners is that the clearer an understanding search engines have of a given web page, the better chance the page has of being found in search engine results.
What is a Schema Markup?
Schema is a reference to the general language that tells search engines exactly what a website is about via the structured data. A schema markup (or structured data markup) is a term for the code (you can think of it as vocabulary) used to communicate to search engines. It’s what makes your website highly readable to search engines like Google.
Since less than half of all businesses use this, it’s one tool that can seriously strengthen your search ranking and lead to more organic traffic and conversions.
You can test structured data and check on the health of your web pages on Google with the Search Console Structured Data report.
Structured Data Can Help with Local Searches
Search engines show their found information at the top of search results, complete with details that viewers can see as a list (the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.) This allows users to scan the SERP results and obtain more accurate results about each business. The information we see on the SERP is schema. By giving them a quick glimpse of the relevant data about a product or service, they are more able to make a quick decision about which business they will choose to use.
An example of this is local searches for, let’s say, a location-dependent business such as a dentist’s office. If your schema contains specific information such as the name, address, and phone number (NAP) as well as other important information like business hours and neighborhood, it will give users relevant information that can help them understand and access your product or service quickly.
Structured Data Offers Richer Search Results
Structured data helps search engines understand words that may have different meanings. Take the word ‘Turkey’ for instance – when you do a search, search engines need to figure out whether you mean the country or the bird. In its capacity to clarify information across the board for search engines and users, it can lead to richer (more detailed) search results.
So, structured data tells engines more about their website, which in turn allows them to give users more relevant information. And when a site is deemed high quality because it is easily understood and accessed, it will move higher up the search rankings.
The Bottom Line
By offering a clearer context or definition of a site, structured data removes the “guesswork” from search engines. It is a tool which businesses (websites) can use to communicate at a higher level with search engines, which then communicate to users what you’re all about.
Integrating this information into your website makes it easier for search engines to “grab” information as they sort through all of the data on the web. It’s not only a powerful way to bring traffic, it helps to define your business, communicate to the world and give customers better access to your unique services.
Structured data is only one of many things that can help keep your website in tip top performance. Want to learn more about optimizing your website for better ROI? Our Local Foundation Package and Total Online Presence Audit can help.