Structured data: brief introduction for beginners
Structured data is a piece of code webmasters place on the page to improve its recognition by search engine bots and therefore boost traffic. Adding Google structured data is essentially grouping and tagging different elements on a web page (for example, pictures, blog posts, reviews, prices, comments, etc.), so that the algorithms search engines and other third-party programs use can understand the content on the website better.
Why is that important?
Well, by making your content more accessible and easy-to-understand for search engines, you increase your website’s reputability and promote the traffic growth. In short, structured data gives Google clues about the meaning of content on the page. It also allows search engines to implement specialized search.
Furthermore, if markups are implemented correctly, Google will display an elaborate knowledge graph about your website. Another benefit that derives from the use of structured data is rich snippets. Those are highly informative, enhanced results Google provides as the answers to user’s queries. They look more appealing to the visitors and attract their attention.
Reportedly, some IT specialists noticed up to 30% increase in the click-through rate after optimizing their websites with the help of structured data markups.
Types of structured data Google and other search engines recognize
There are standard structured data formats web developers use. The most widespread form of structured data is the one provided by Schema.org. These markups were developed by search engines and they’re quite efficient. With the help of certain attributes, they translate the meaning of the page content and make sure that the search engine displays it to users just as you want.
Additionally, structured data may be classified into several types/formats: microdata, microformats, RFDa, etc.
Microdata is the most popular format, as it’s suggested by Schema.org. The elements microdata markups include are:
- “itemscope”: is used to provide the info about a certain piece of content featured on the page;
- “itemtype”: tells Google which format of content you used. The full list of such types may be found on Schema’s website;
- “itemprops”: gives an opportunity to contribute additional info about the elements on your website to search engines.
Microformats broaden traditional HTML tags and add semantic information to them. The most used types are “hCard”, “hCalendar” and “hReview”.
It’s not advised to use several formats of structured data at the same time. This practice may confuse search engines and lead to the drop in traffic and CTR. When implementing the markups, you may always use structured data Google testing tools to validate the code. Don’t use markups to hide various pieces of content, as you will create misleading search experience both Google and users don’t appreciate.