What is structured data?
Structured data is code that is added to a page or post to help search engines understand your content. It’s metadata, so it’s seen by search engines and not by people. Schema.org is the entity major search engines use, and it provides a common vocabulary of words and coding to be used for internet structured data.
Why do you want it? You just know I’m going to say it’s good for your SEO, right? Of course I am: it’s part of technical SEO. Structured data can help search engines prioritize your website in search results! Implementing it can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Here, I’ll explain what it is, and tell you how to employ it quickly and easily.
What (and who) is Schema.org?
Schema.org is a markup language developed by four major search engines: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex. It provides website designers and developers with coding standards for how to tell search engines what a page or post’s purpose is. The language is built and steered by collaboration of the four companies that founded it, and individuals and other entities are encouraged to contribute. See Schema.org’s FAQ page here.
Schemas are tailored for specific types of pages and products, and at publication of this post, there are 803 Types, 1465 Properties, 14 Datatypes, 87 Enumerations and 463 Enumeration members of schemas: each with its own specific purpose.
Say you sell ukuleles. You would use a Product Type Schema. But if you were promoting a ukulele concert, you would use an Event Type Schema. If you were selling an album of ukulele tunes, you might use a Creative Work Type Schema. And so on . . . you get the idea.
What are rich results?
First, a quick definition: search engine results are the pages a search engine offers up for your query. Say you search scuba ukuleles. You may get something like what’s in the image above.
Basic search engine results include three things:
- Page or post title
- Snippet aka meta description
Rich results include extra information such as pictures, bylines, in-stock status, and Google ratings. They are more eye-catching and informative, so may get more clicks than results without these additions.
Structured data can make your search results more interesting. It can prompt Google to display a photo, rankings, authors, or other data to make your page stand out among the results.
For an excellent example of rich results, search for Jake Shimabukuro. Here’s what I get:
Unfortunately, you can’t control whether search engines show your content as rich results. But luck favors the prepared, so why not add structured data and hope for the best?
Yoast takes care of schema for you!
Ugh – who wants to futz around with code? I don’t. But I want rich results, so I use Yoast on all of the websites I build. For each site, page and post, I fill in just a few settings and Yoast does everything for me. The Yoast panel has a tab specifically for schema, and as long as I’ve filled in as much of the Yoast panel as I can, it will code it properly for search engines. Once a website has earned enough cred, search engines will use that code to build rich results.
Striving for rich results is a long game that you play every time you add content to your site. Make it a habit to fill in the Yoast and WordPress Page panels as thoroughly as possible and you’ll be on your way to having rich results.
Markup language – code used to tell a computer how to display content, such as fonts and sizes to display headers, paragraphs, and dot lists
Metadata – data that is about data. Used in SEO, it is often code you add to your website to work in the background to help search engines better understand your content.
Rich results – search engine results that include extra information such as pictures, bylines, in-stock status, and star ratings, etc.
Schema.org – “ a collaborative, community activity with a mission to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, on web pages, in email messages, and beyond”
Structured data – code written in a specific language and vocabulary. It has many uses but when added to your website it can help search engines understand your site better and produce rich results.