Your Guide to Structured Data & Implementing Schema Markup

Learn How to Organize & Optimize Your Website With Structured Data & Improve SERP Rankings

By
Rick Bucich

With the online search business becoming increasingly sophisticated, search engines can understand the meaning behind the words on a webpage. Structured data is a way of making our website content understandable by machines. 

Understanding this structured data allows search engines and other algorithms to accurately identify the type of content on your page. Implementing structured data with schema markups can give your website an edge over your competitors when it comes to getting found online.

This article will look at all the different ways you can implement structured data markup in your website and some tasks you should complete before implementing it for better results.

Let us dive further into structured data and schema markups and see how they can benefit your business.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data can be defined as data that has a specific format. That is, the data is organized in a specific way. Often, this data has a predictable set of fields or categories that data falls under.

It is invisible to most internet users, concealed among the code that makes up our websites. But search engines like Google and Bing reward webmasters for using structured data standards by displaying some of their content in SERP Features.

Structured data in terms of SEO means that the content of a webpage is organized in a way that search engines can easily understand. For example, if you have an event listing page on your website, you should use structured data markups to indicate the type of event, location, and date of the event.

Rich results on mobile search when ‘event’ structured data has been added
Rich results on mobile search when ‘event’ structured data has been added

Data Types and Differences from Structured Data

Data can be classified into three types.

1. Structured data has a specific format understandable by humans and machines. An example of structured data is the data you publish on your website.

2. Unstructured Data doesn’t have a format. It’s not organized in any way. Thus, it can’t be read by machines. An example of unstructured data is your notes from a meeting.

3. Semi-Structured data has a particular format. However, the data doesn’t follow a standardized format. An example of semi-structured data is your research data.

Unstructured Data v/s Structured Data

Unstructured data is information that is not organized in a specific way. Structured data, on the other hand, is data that is organized in a specific way so that it can be easily accessed and used.

Unstructured data is found all over the internet in the form of text, images, and videos. Structured data, on the other hand, is typically found in databases and can be accessed using specific commands.

There are many ways to make use of unstructured data. Some common methods include text mining, image processing, and video analytics.

Structured data, on the other hand, is typically used for data mining, business intelligence, and decision support systems.

Advantages of Structured Data

1. The main benefit of using structured data is that it can help improve your website’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

By providing search engines with additional information about the content on your pages, you can make it easier for them to understand and index your content and display “rich snippets” in the search results. As a result, consumers may be more likely to click on your search result, which would indirectly lead to higher rankings. 

Rich snippets would be defined as extra data found in searches, such as star ratings, prices, event dates and times, etc. 

2. Structured data can help make a website more accessible by clearly defining elements of a page and thus enabling improved navigation between complementary content. Thus, structured data could help accomplish your ADA accessibility goals. 

3. Structured data improves content management by providing a structure and organizing content into different classes. Structured data helps store information about people, places, and businesses in a way that is understandable by search engines and thus your website users.

Structured Data and SEO

With the growing importance of artificial intelligence in search engine algorithms, there’s been a significant rise in the demand for structured data. Structured data provides search engines with crucial information about your content and site, such as what type of content it is, who created it, when it was published, and where to find it again.  

Structured data helps create a more meaningful relationship between web pages and search engines. 

When search engines come across unstructured data, they have to parse it, translate it, and then try to make sense of it before displaying it to the user. With structured data, on the other hand, they have a pre-built set of instructions to work from, meaning they can simply plug in the data and show it to users almost instantly. 

Structured data is important for SEO because it provides search engines with information about the content on a web page. This information can help search engines better understand the page and rank it accordingly.

Structured data can help you take advantage of rich snippets that appear in search engine results and help your listings stand out and get noticed. Example of how an ecommerce website can leverage structured data to display product ratings, number of reviews and price range on search engine result pages. 

Image of how to utilize structured data. In this case, to show ratings and price range.
Image of how to utilize structured data. In this case, to show ratings and price range.

The Schema.org vocabulary website provides a database of all the schema markups you can use to improve your site. While the list is exhaustive, Google uses only a few to influence what is displayed in search results directly. At the time of writing this article, the list includes: 

1. Article

2. Book

3. Breadcrumb

4. Carousel

5. Course

6. Dataset

7. Education Q&A

8. Employer Aggregate Rating

9. Estimated Salary

10. Event

11. Fact Check

12. FAQ

13. Home Activities

14. How-to

15. Image License

16. Job Posting

17. Learning Video

18. Local Business

19. Logo

20. Math Solvers

21. Movie

22. Podcast

23. Practice Problems

24. Product

25. Q&A

26. Recipe

27. Review

28. Sitelinks Search Box

29. Software App

30. Speakable

31. Subscription & Paywall

32. Video

How does Structured Data Work?

Structured data is a way of organizing information on a web page so that machines can understand it. For example, webmasters can use specific tags to search engines the type of content on a page and its relevance to specific search queries.

When you publish data on your site as structured data, search engines will recognize it using structured data parsing software. The structured data parsing software will break down your data into logical components. 

Once the data has been broken down, it will be added to your website’s data feed, which is a database of information about your site. Once your data feed has been added to your site, it can be accessed by a wide array of services, including Google and Amazon. 

The data feed will contain information about your site’s content and links to images and videos on your site. Any time a new piece of content is added to your site, you’ll need to update the data feed to inform the services about the change. This ensures the data remains up-to-date.

What is Schema Markup?

Schema or Schema.org markup is a type of standardized structured data that can help search engines and other machines understand the content of a webpage. It is an open-source, continually updated collaborative effort between Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, and others created to merge several different standards into a single version. It has largely replaced other standards such as Good Relations and Microformats.

Schema markup can be deployed using several formats, Microdata, RDFa, JSON-LD & Structure. Currently, JSON-LD is the most recommended solution as it is the most flexible and easily updated. 

The example below shows an example of JSON-LD markup for a product page on an eCommerce site:

JSON-LD markup for a product page on an eCommerce site
JSON-LD markup for a product page on an eCommerce site

How to Add Structured Data to Your Website?

You can add structured data to your website by using Schema.org markup. It has a wide variety of structured data to choose from. First, identify the markups suitable for your website. Then, follow these steps:

1. Create and plan the content that you will need. The content should be self-explanatory and easily understandable. 

2. Identify the sections in your website where you’ll be publishing this data. For example, if you’re publishing the details of your products, you’ll need to identify the product title, product description, product image, product price, product availability, etc. Be as detailed as possible and add every block of information you have.

3. Determine which Schema.org format you use: Microdata, RDFa, JSON-LD, or Structure. We recommend JSON-LD in most cases. If you publish markup directly within the HTML, create a table for each section. The table will contain the column headings for the data you’ll be publishing. You’ll need to add the data for each column in the HTML table.

4. Check if the structured data is working. The Rich Results Testing Tool will tell you whether the data is valid and if Google recognizes it. 

5. If the data is not validating, you’ll need to go back and check your code. You may have missed some tags or forgotten to add some of the required information.

6. When your content is validating and displaying as desired in the Rich Results Testing Tool, you can publish it live on your website by adding it to one of your existing pages or creating a new one. 

Once this page is published, search engines will start crawling and indexing its content in their databases to include it in their search results when users search for that particular information. 

Note that structured data helps enable rich snippets but does not guarantee them. If multiple structured data entries have been added, it is common for only one to be displayed in the search.

Optimize Structured Data for Existing Pages with Quattr

While the current tools allow you to test if your web page has a structured data markup, none of the tools suggest what improvements you can make to your structured data entries.

Quattr, the only growth platform built like a search engine, analyzes your website just like a search engine and finds optimization recommendations. These recommendations come at scale - meaning you don’t have to test and fix one page at a time. Plus, you can optimize your content with a side-by-side view of the top competing page on SERP for your target search intent.

Optimize your web pages for structured data with Quattr
Optimize your web pages for structured data with Quattr

Quattr’s keyword recommendation view provides you with a sandbox environment where you can test changes to your structured data entries or add more schema markups based on what competing pages have. In addition, you can test how these changes impact your overall relevance score and deploy changes confidently.

Summary

Search engines like Google are constantly improving their algorithms and refining how they display content in their results pages based on user behavior and user feedback.

The challenge for website owners is ensuring that search engine bots are crawling their sites and that the data is being recognized and displayed on the results pages. Adding structured data aids this process. 

Structured data using Schema markup provides search engines context about your page's contents. This context helps them crawl, index, and display your content to users for multiple search queries.

Structured data is also crucial to getting multiple SERP listings by ranking and appearing in different SERP features like rich snippets or image carousels. Thus to earn extra real estate on SERPs, it is essential to have the correct structured data in place for your web pages and their content. 

Existing tools only allow you to check whether your pages have structured data entries added, but with Quattr, you can test and deploy schema markups at scale. Then, compare them with top competing pages and deploy with confidence that these optimization efforts will positively impact your rankings and traffic.

About The Author

Rick Bucich

Rick is the Customer Success Manager at Quattr and got involved in SEO by accident 20 years ago while working at a small startup. At Quattr, Rick brings his years of experience in SEO and translates it into actionable recommendations that ensure sustained organic growth for our customers. Rick writes about how to optimize and enhance websites for search engines.

About Quattr

Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.

Scale your Structured Data Optimization with Quattr today!

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