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Structured Data in Google: What is it and how does it improve SEO?

Structured Data are standardized tags or markups that add extra information to the content of a website to make it easier for search engines to find, interpret, organize and display that information in the best way.

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Published 28 Aug, 2020 6 minutes of reading

If we take a moment to read the definition of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), we can be sure that whatever the source, it will talk about improving the visibility of a website in the organic results of search engines. From here on, we're going to detail different ways of working with a site or digital channel, both on-page and off-page, in order to reach the first position in the first page of major search engines. 

But, this article also includes something not so intuitive. We are also going to explain how, despite not appearing in the first position on certain search results, you can still have more clicks than other results in higher positions. We can achieve this by showing our page in a more attractive way. How, you may ask? With the Structured Data.

What is Structured Data? -

Structured Data is a set of standardized tags or markup that add(s) extra information to the content of a website to make it easier for search engines to find, interpret, organize and display that information in the best way, building what are called rich snippets.

Search engines will appreciate you helping them understand this content more accurately to display it in a more attractive way, so they are more likely to show it as a more prominent result, which will increase traffic to your site, and eventually improve its ranking in search engine results. Some examples of snippets built using Structured Data:

Top stories in the google search results  Top answers in the google search results

Recipes results on a google searchRecipe results for an apple pie on a google search

The syntax that is most often used to structure data is established by, a collaborative community "with a mission to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet", formed by people who currently work or formerly worked at Google, Microsoft, Yahoo or Yandex, as well as other independent agents who collaborate in the Schema Github or in their mailing lists. homepage

Why is Structured Data important for SEO?

As said earlier, showing the information of our site or product in a more attractive way (with images in a news item, step-by-step instructions in a recipe, extra information if we want to show a branch location, etc.), will make users more inclined to click on them. 

It is worth mentioning that as with everything else when we talk about SEO, Structured Data tags will not magically and automatically make your site appear on first page results. But, structured data should be one of the points of your strategy along with generating relevant and quality content for your users in addition to many other steps that should be followed, which will improve overall organic positioning.

Although the term Structured Data is not exclusive to SEO (it also frequently appears when discussing Big Data), it is a key point to positioning your channels and content. Let's not forget that search algorithms are still robots that relate concepts, but do not understand their meaning. We must explain these "meanings" to them through a language that they understand, and this is where the vocabulary and schema syntax comes in, which promotes a more "intelligent" web.

Structured data formats

There are different types of Structured Data, but those most recommended by Google are in JSON-LD format (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data), and this is the format we use in Modyo. We find that this format is the easiest and fastest to implement. In addition, this format allows you, through several testing tools, to validate the code and preview the rich snippet generated from your content. Thus, marking data using JSON-LD only requires adding a <script> tag containing the structured data to the page.

However, in this table provided by Google, you can see two additional formats so you can differentiate them:

Format, description and placement of JSON-LD, microdata, and RDFa     

Perhaps at this point some semantic clarification is needed...

- Structured Data is a format that provides extra information to search engines.

- Schema is a vocabulary that enhances that format.

- Data tagging is the way to integrate structured data into a website.

The most common types of Structured Data and how to implement them

Although at there are more than 600 types and 900 properties of rich snippets that you can generate with structured data, not every data markup is going to serve you to generate a rich snippet in Google, as it typically only display some specific combinations, which you can find in the so-called "search gallery".

google search gallery for structured data formats

If you explore this gallery a little, you will notice that most types of data that your site contains are here. Below are some that are usually used in the majority of sites. If you want to know specific details about the code of each type and its implementation, you can follow the corresponding link:

Article: A news, sports or blog article that appears in the Featured News carousel and with enriched results functions, such as images larger than the thumbnails and headline text.

Article Example

Frequently Asked Questions: An FAQ page contains a list of questions and answers related to a specific topic.

FAQ Example

Local Company: When users search for businesses on Google Search or Maps, Search results may display a prominent Knowledge Graph card with details about a business that matched the query.

Local Company Example

Product: This is information about a product, such as price, availability and review ratings.

Product Example

Video: Corresponds to video information in the search results, with the option to play, and specifies video segments relevant to the query.

Video Example

Structured Data Tools and Validators

There are free tools and validators that serve both to generate the code for the implementation of your structured data, and to validate whether or not the implementation is correct. Here we cite the most interesting ones.  

Wizard for marking Structured Data in Google: this tool allows you to obtain the marking code after defining content elements, all in an intuitive way.

Google Structured Data Test Tool: allows you to test the structured data of a JSON-LD tag as well as detect structured data in an already published URL.

Extension to test the Structured Data of a specific url: this Chrome extension saves time by not having to copy and paste URLs we want to test. 

How do we implement these at Modyo?

We implement structured data in several products to improve the visibility of their contents.

In Modyo we generate code snippets for each type of content we want to mark (articles, local companies, FAQs, etc.) that will correspond to a type of content on the platform. Once we establish the desired elements to build the enriched snippets, the platform uses the structures dynamically to inject a variety of content, eliminating the need to generate that code again each time a new content is generated.

This way we liberate those in charge of managing the content schema of a site or digital channel from needing to implement these data structures manually.

Example of the code for an Article-type content in Modyo:

Schema for article type in Modyo Content

Example of the code for a Frequently Asked Questions-type content in Modyo:

Schema for FAQ type in Modyo Content

For more details you can contact us and request a demo.

Cover photo by Alvaro Pinot from Unsplash

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