You might be hearing the terms “structured data” or “Schema markup” a lot lately. Structured data isn’t anything new, but how search engines are using it has changed, which impacts the way your content appears in the search engine results pages, or SERPs.
The goal of any search engine is to provide the most relevant information to searchers in the fastest way possible. Now, more than 50% of Google searches end right on the SERP, without a single click. Search engines are increasing the number of zero-click searches with voice and visual search, as well as featured results, rich snippets and knowledge graphs. Adding structured data to your website can help you compete for one of these highly visible positions!
What is Structured Data, Exactly?
Structured data, also known as Schema markup, is code presented in a specific format that helps search engines like Google understand what your website content is all about. Adding structured data to your website pages opens a direct conversation with search engine crawlers, describing what each piece of content actually means, rather than just what it says. Google can interpret these pieces of code as company logos, business contact information, reviews, job listings, article publish dates and more.
Structured data assists search engines in delivering more accurate and relevant content to search queries with explicit clues about the meaning of a page’s content. Once search engines read and absorb your structured data, they can display your content in a more eye-catching or detailed way that captures the attention of users looking for fast results.
Advantages of Using Structured Data
Rich Search Results
While structured data does not affect your ranking in the SERPs, it’s used to make your content more visible to readers in the organic search results. When you add structured data to your pages, search engines read the code and use it to display enhanced search results that instantly provide searchers additional information without having to click. That’s where featured results, rich snippets, carousels and knowledge graphs come into play.
Take a look at this Google search for “chocolate zucchini muffins.” You’ll notice that the first result contains more than the usual title, URL, and short search result description. Using structured data, Google shows searchers a photo of the dessert along with the recipe’s rating, baking time and even its calorie count right on the SERP! Below the first result, Google displays a carousel to engage with recipe browsers in a different way.
Voice and Visual Search
If you want to provide answers to voice or visual search queries, adding speakable structured data to your product or service pages and blog posts is essential. Structured data will help search engines fully grasp your content and understand its context to connect with potential customers searching for your products or services. Some important structured data elements that your brand may want to focus on for sensory searches are logos, images, social media profiles, prices, product images and business information.
When you use markup to describe specific elements on your pages, you’re establishing entities and entity associations, giving your website more opportunities to rank for relevant search queries. For example, when you add local structured data tags, such as your business address, search engines can associate your website with a certain location to help you connect with local queries. You can also add organization, author and person markup to link certain properties mentioned on your website to outside profiles, such as social media accounts or other websites.