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What Is Structured Data, and Why Should You Care?

Friday, Sep 1st, 2017.

Image search is a growing part of the internet ecosystem.

Pinterest has added “visual discovery features,” which have caused its monthly visual searches to increase nearly 60 percent over last year. Google recently announced that its image search function on mobile devices now supports badges that show when an image is associated with content.

How do these visual discovery features and badges work? Through the magic of structured data.

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex founded Schema.org in order to provide a shared vocabulary for structured, contextual data about web pages and images. More than 10 million sites use Schema.org to mark up their web pages in order to help search engines provide more relevant and accurate results.

What is structured data?

Schema markup for website
If you don’t use structured data markup for your website… it may be time to give it a try.
Image: Shutterstock

It’s a piece of code you add to pages on your website that can generate what’s known as “rich snippets”—extra information which can be read by search engine crawlers. By showing structured data, the listing for your business will help viewers to understand that the results are relevant to them.

Some of the types of information included in structured data described by Schema include creative work, image, organization, person, place, product, and event. There’s a full list of Schema item markup types here.

How does structured data work?

Structured data is added directly to a web page’s HTML source code. It tells search engines detailed information about a page on your website in a way that those search engines can understand.  It changes the way your snippet (search result) will appear and make it more likely for a potential customer to know that your site is relevant to their interests.

Why should you care?

Keywords, backlinks, and other search engine optimization techniques are becoming less effective as the internet continues to grow. If you want to ensure that your business or website appears in search results, structured data can be a huge help.

There is still debate in the SEO community about whether Schema.org structured data will cause your site to rank higher in search results. What it does do is increase clarity. That is, if Google better understands the content of your page, it’s more likely that users will click on it. More clicks on your link will, however, ultimately lead to better search engine rankings.

How do you incorporate structured data into your site?

Although you don’t necessarily need a web developer to manage your structured data, you do need to know some HTML to be able to add it to your website’s source code. Third-party services like schema.org, and Google’s Structured Data Helper can help you to generate the proper code to add to your website.

If you don’t have much back-end web experience or time to fiddle with the code, experts like the team at Agile Impact can help. After all, isn’t your time better spent trying to grow your business?