What Is Structured Data, and How It Benefits SEO

How to
6Like
Comments
Share
What Is Structured Data, and How It Benefits SEO

In order to improve QDD (Query Deserves Diversity) and attract more traffic to a site, you can use various methods. Probably you have already tried the majority of them, but haven’t achieved the desired result yet. Pay attention to how your competitors’ snippets look in the SERP. Is your page preview anyhow different from their ones? If it isn’t, it’s high time to take into consideration the implementation of structured data (also known as schema markup) on the pages of your website. In this blog post, you’ll learn what it is, and how to do it efficiently.

  • 1. What Is Structured Data?
  • 2. The Advantages of Structured Data
  • 3. What Does Structured Data Consist Of?
  • 4. Structured Data Vocabularies
  • 5. Structured Data Syntax
  • 6. Google Structured Data
  • 7. How to Check Structured Data
  • In a Nutshell

Sign up for Netpeak Software weekly newsletters

1. What Is Structured Data?

The structured data (also known as schema markup) is the markup which helps to furnish search robots and site visitors with more information by deploying additional tags and attributes to HTML.

Moreover, rich snippet looks more catching in the SERPs, which means users are more likely to click on it. This is the reason why structured data contributes to a higher CTR.

1. Read more about rich snippets in the blog post: ‘Rich Snippets Optimization: How to Stand Out in the SERP.

2. And more about CTR in SEO, how to calculate and improve it: 'What Does CTR Mean in SEO?'.

2. The Advantages of Structured Data

Among all main benefits of the structured data, I’m going to highlight the following ones:

  1. Attractive snippet. In search results pages, it will stand out from all other existing competitors.

    Rich snippet compared to other snippets in the SERP

  2. Spotlighted information that should be crawled by search engine robots.
  3. The detection of a page type by web bots. They will be able to understand the difference between contact pages, product descriptions, recipes, events pages, and so forth.

3. What Does Structured Data Consist Of?

It incorporates the set of tags and attributes with specific content. Some of them are crawled by search robots, others are shown to users. With structured data you can supply a snippet with:

  • review
  • image
  • photo
  • rank
  • product in stock
  • contact details
  • breadcrumbs
  • time and date
  • product description
  • recipe and many others

Example of snippet with recipe markup

Let’s imagine that you want to point out contact details on one of the pages. All you need is to add the strings including the names of a dictionary and syntax to the HTML of a page. When a search engine bot visits your site again, they will notice the instructions that you have made for them in advance using the structured data. If it’s implemented properly, search engines will place the relevant information in featured snippets.

Example of snippet with star rating markup

Structured data is valuable for every online shop – you can add data concerning any item. If a user types in ‘iPhone 11’, a search engine will show the snippet containing the description of the selected phone, reviews and other material. At the same time, you choose what data to display in search results pages on your own.

4. Structured Data Vocabularies

The structured data consists of a dictionary and syntax. The dictionary determines the classes and features that should be included while moving content from a page to search results. The syntax also is full of the tags and attributes describing entities. The entities are the code components that have got specific and unique features. The entities differ by condition and operation types that can be carried out on them.

Since the very creation of the structured data, diverse dictionaries, and syntaxes have been established. Let’s have a look at the most popular ones.

4.1. Schema.org

It has been supported since 2011 by such digital giants as Google, Yahoo, Bing. The dictionary is considered to be international and is being constantly developed by people all over the world. Using Schema.org, webmasters build attractive snippets stressing valuable item features.

Example of snippet with the price markup

The description of data types in the dictionary has a tree structure. There are hundreds of classes which are used to describe different objects. Each of them has a separate standard meta tag:

  • itemtype is the type of the object from the dictionary list. Thing is more often used and has its own subtypes: Action, CreativeWork, Person, Product, and others.
  • itemscope is the information about a certain object described in this piece of code.
  • itemprop is additional data concerning an object. For example, a video duration, the time when an event begins.

The piece of code with Schema.org metatags has the following structure:

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Movie"> <h1 itemprop="name">Titanic</h1> <div itemprop="director" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">Director: <span itemprop="name">James Cameron</span> (род. <span itemprop="birthDate">August 16, 1954</span>) </div> <span itemprop="genre">melodrama</span> <a href="../movies/titanik-theatrical-trailer.html" itemprop="trailer">Trailer</a> </div>

4.2. Open Graph

This is one more worth exploring structured data dictionary which is aimed to display Facebook posts correctly. With Open Graph a post will contain a title, an image, and description. Here’s an example:

Example of Facebook Open Graph implementation

If such a kind of markup wasn’t included, it would take rather a dull look.

To create a structured data code, these syntax tags are used:

<head> <meta property="og:title" content="Video title" /> <meta property="og:url" content="http://yoursite.ru/video/" /> <meta property="og:video" content="http://site.com/video/" /> <meta property="og:description" content="Video description” /> <meta property="og:type" content="video.other"/> </head>

4.3. Microformats

The structured data dictionary Microformats.org was designed in 2007. It includes various types of objects and their featured descriptions. The dictionary is used to tell about products, events, companies, recipes, and other entities with a set of unique characteristics. From the whole microformat list, hCard is used more frequently describing the contact details of people and organizations.

With hCard you may show:

  • bday – the date of birth
  • n – name
  • adr – address
  • photo – photo
  • geo – geolocation, and other information

A piece of code with microformats in action takes the following look:

<div class="hcard"> <img class="photo" src="http://site.com/gagarin.jpg" /> <strong class="fn">John Smith</strong> <span class="title">Test pilot</span> в <span class="org">Air Force</span> <a class="url" href=http://site.com/Smith>John Smith’s page</a> <div class="bday"> <span class="value-title" title="1982-12-05">December 5, 1982</span> </div> <span class="note">National hero</span> </div>

5. Structured Data Syntax

Besides the main metadata itemtype, itemscope, itemprope from Schema.org dictionary, some additional components may be used as well:

  1. RDFa and RDF Lite for the descriptions of different objects by using xmlns:v=”http://rdf.data-vocabulary.org/#, property=”v:title”, typeof=”v:Breadcrumb” attributes, and others.
  2. JSON-LD uses related data when describing objects. For the purpose of adapting a schema markup to search engines, the data is placed in the <script> tags. In RDFa and JSON-LD the information is represented in ‘key-meaning’ format. Here’s the example:
<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "http://schema.org", "@type": "TrainReservation", "reservationId": "KBJ59P" } </script>,

where @context key points out schema.org dictionary usage, the @type one stands for a ticket reservation and the reservationld displays the ticket number.

5.1. How to Include Structured Data on Page

  1. Form a markup code. You can type all needed tags and attributes for web crawlers and real users on your own.
  2. Use online tools. For instance, Schema-generator.
  3. Install a plugin or an extension in CMS. Schema Creator by Raven will be suitable for WordPress, and J4Schema for Joomla.

6. Google Structured Data

The main goal of the structured data is to gain a nice reputation in Google. There’s no single standard way to create a successful structured data. However, it’s still necessary to make search engine robots crawl the website information properly, and take it from the piece of code with markup syntax. Currently, search engines support not all types of objects from Schema.org dictionary. Perhaps, the list of supported entities will expand over time.

An example of Google structured data:

An example of Google structured data

7. How to Check Structured Data

To check whether the structured data code is implemented properly, use Google Structured Data Testing Tool – enter URL or a piece of code with schema markup syntax. You can implement this code in a site only in case there are no errors detected by the validator.

In the Netpeak Spider crawler, you can detect what pages have structured data and which ones are missing it, though it should be there. Also, you can check what structured data formats and types the pages contain. To do so:

  1. Paste your website’s URL in the ‘Initial URL’ bar.
  2. In the ‘Content’ group parameters, select ‘Structured Data: Markup Types.’

    In Netpeak Spider, select ‘Structured Data: Markup Types’ parameter to detect structured data on the page

  3. Start crawling.
  4. When the crawling is completed, you can see the results:
    • In the inner table.

      In the Netpeak Spider inner table, you can see URL, format, type, the number of structured data types

    • In the 'Contain structured data' item of the 'Overview' tab in a sidebar.

      In the ‘Overview’ tab of Netpeak Spider, you can see TRUE/FALSE values that indicate whether the page contains structured data or not

To validate structured data, click on the 'Google Structured Data Testing Tool' item in the 'Open URL in service' section of the main table context menu.

To validate structured data, click on the 'Google Structured Data Testing Tool' item in the 'Open URL in service' section in Netpeak Spider

You can also use the scraping feature in Netpeak Spider to detect structured data. To do so:

  1. Open the tab with ‘Scraping’ settings.
  2. Enter [itemprop] selector to find the elements of structured data.
  3. Select 'Data extraction' → 'Entire HTML element'.

    How to check structured data with scraping feature in Netpeak Spider

  4. Enter the website URL into the ‘Initial URL’ tab.
  5. Tick the ‘Scraping’ checkbox in the parameters sidebar.
  6. Start crawling.
  7. When complete, go to the ‘Reports’ tab → ‘Scraping,’ and approach the results. To view pages with or without structured data, click on ‘Found’ or ‘Not found’ respectively.

Analyze scraping results in Netpeak Spider

We’ve covered more cases about scraping in this blog post: ‘Comprehensive Guide: ‘How to Scrape Data from Online Stores With a Crawler.’

In a Nutshell

The structured data of a website is used to improve indexing and proper content defining on these pages. Also, the syntax markup creates a rich snippet serving valuable information to website visitors even before they click on the result. More frequently, the structured data markup can help Google display your website with interesting appearance elements such as breadcrumbs, prices, ranks, and images. Due to this, the snippets are more grasping in search results pages which is one of the factors that increase CTR.

The structured data consists of dictionary and syntax. To build a code, Schema.org dictionary is mostly used. It contains a standard set of metatags and classes. Also, one can take advantage of extra data inside syntax like RDFa, JSON-LD, and so on. With Google Structured Data testing Tool engine, you can make sure that the final syntax schema markup code is implemented properly. And with Netpeak Spider you can check whether there was implemented schema markup on the page, or not.