Part 2: Structured Data
What is structured data?
Structured data seems to be the latest evolution in search engine optimization (SEO). Structured data refers to information with a high degree of organizational properties that make it easier to analyze by simple, straightforward search engine algorithms or other search operations.
“When information is highly structured and predictable, search engines can more easily organize and display it in creative ways. Structured data markup is a text-based organization of data that is included in a file and served from the web. It typically uses the schema.org vocabulary—an open community effort to promote standard structured data in a variety of online applications.”
(Introduction to Structured Data: google.com, May 2016)
Which structured data is the best?
There are lots of schemas out there (including JSON-LD, Microdata, Microformats, FOAF, and OpenCyc) for marking up different types of information on web pages.
For us, focusing on Microdata and schema.org (simply called Schema) seems like the most practical decision at this time. Schema.org provides a collection of shared vocabularies you can use to mark up your pages in ways that can be understood by the major search engines: Google, Microsoft, Yandex and Yahoo!
“Your web pages have an underlying meaning that people understand when they read the web pages. But search engines have a limited understanding of what is being discussed on those pages. By adding additional tags to the HTML of your web pages—tags that say, “Hey search engine, this information describes this specific movie, or place, or person, or video”—you can help search engines (…) better understand your content and display it in a useful, relevant way.”
(Getting started with schema.org using Microdata: schema.org, May 2016)
How to use the schema.org vocabulary?
Each set of types is associated with a set of properties. The types are arranged in a hierarchy. The core vocabulary currently consists of 571 Types, 831 Properties, and 114 Enumeration values. (as of 5/20/16)
For instance, structured data makes it easier for web crawlers to determine company basics, such as NAP (name, address, place) data, as well as more complex information such articles, events, products, recipes, etc. on your web site.
Let’s look at a HTML example without and with markup:
<h1>Bon Appétit French Bakery</h1>
Gourmet quality, scrumptious flavor and peak freshness.
352 Highway 1
Gainesville, FL 32601
<div itemscope itemtype=”https://schema.org/LocalBusiness”>
<h1><span itemprop=”name”>Bon Appétit French Bakery </span></h1>
<span itemprop=”description”>Gourmet quality, scrumptious flavor and peak freshness.</span>
<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”https://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>352 Highway 1</span>
Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”>111-222-3333</span>
What do itemscope itemtype, and itemprop mean?
Itemscope specifies that the HTML within the <div>…</div> block is about a specific item. Specifying an item without specifying what kind of item is being discussed is not enough though. You need to use the itemtype attribute immediately after the itemscope to specify the type of item. To label properties of an item, use the itemprop attribute.
Can I test if my markup was implemented correctly?
Yes! Google provides a rich snippets testing tool, which you can use to test your markup and identify any errors. Visit https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool?hl=EN to test your markup!
Structured data is a great way to create more search engine-friendly signals, which can indirectly impact search rankings. We look forward to seeing structured markup continue to grow on the web, powering richer search results and new kinds of applications. To learn more about structured markup visit the documentation available on https://schema.org/docs/documents.html.
This article was enriched by the many helpful websites, including schema.org and google.com. We hope it helped you learn a few things about structured data. Make sure you contact us directly if you have any questions whatsoever.