Structured Data for SEO Gains!

Structured Data provides a powerful way to create meaningful content for Search Engines and data aggregators.  With just a little code – you’re able to associate citations and NAP sources, along with social sources directly with your site and content.

Learn a little about why you need to be creating Structured Data elements for your site…

Transcript follows

This week’s tip: Structured Data

Happy Tuesday!  Greg, here, from Mtek Digital.  Today we’re going to talk about structured data.

Now, structured data.  What does that mean?  Structured data is the application of semantic data to your webpages to provide more information to search engines and crawlers that come to visit your page.  There are plugins for most of the popular CMSs or it can be hard-coded right into your HTML, but the purpose of this semantic data is to add value to the content you already have.  Let’s say, for example, you have a site featuring recipes.  You can create a user-readable recipe with photographs and ingredients, but the semantic data allows you to code very specific information that will be picked up by other systems.  You can code into that structured data the name of the recipe, the ingredients, the volumes of the ingredients, the preparation time, the cooking time, a photograph of the recipe, and what will happen is that systems that can take advantage of that will actually use that information to describe the page.

For example, a recipe page as a blog entry will certainly be found for the keywords and what not that are in that particular page, but the semantic data will also allow that recipe to be perhaps displayed in the search results with a photograph, and with the basic cooking instructions, and then a link to the site.  So it enhances… Through Google’s knowledge graph on their pages, it enhances the data that’s available to a visitor or a search for that page. 

So how does this structured data work for a business?  By adding the structured data or 'microdata' (there’s a number of names for it), or schema data, it allows you to encode into the page, “This is this company’s twitter page, Facebook, Google+, Yelp page.”  By doing so, you can create associations between the property that your visitors are sitting on and the other sites that are relevant to the business. 

Now why is this important?  Well, it’s important for two reasons:  Number One, giving people information is a good thing.  That’s it.  Just, full stop.  It’s a good thing.  Secondly, you’re giving crawlers like Google, Lycos or Bing - or whoever - it gives them the ability to go and crawl those other pages.  It associates your business information with the business information on those other sites, creating a higher level of trust, creating more authority.  Tools like this show that you pay attention.  They show that you are concerned about making sure your site performs to the best of its ability. 

So, what does structured data look like?  Well, let’s go and take a look at Google and what their definition of structured data is.  So this is the introduction to structured data from Google.  I mean, let’s be honest, it’s nerdy.  It is.  It’s code.  The concept is that Google search uses cues to understand the context of any given page.  The more information you can give Google to do that, the better the result will be.  The script is written in what is effectively sort of a JavaScript format, and you can see the contact; they’re the guys who define the schema.  What type of business?  Oh, it’s an organization.  What’s its URL?  What’s its name?  Give me a contact point.  It means that Google can simply pop up a little piece of data underneath your link that says, “Customer Service Phone: ----.”  By adding this stuff, you allow other systems to better display your content; hopefully, get you more links. 

Let’s take a look really quickly at the microdata for Mtek Digital.  So Mtek Digital Agency, I just loaded the page up in the structured data testing tool: tool (Links will be in the description).  We just loaded up the page and as you can see, we’ve identified structured data, both local business and website.  You can see we’ve stored quite a bit of information into this.  By ensuring that all of this information is there, it allows us to align with what the search engine already knows about us, and what they know about our business.  So this confirms that the map’s address is correct, because we have the same information in both.  This confirms our hours of operation.  This confirms anything online that is associated through the same as feature, right here.  Again, Customer Service phone numbers, mailing addresses, a cost.  If you’re a restaurant, wouldn’t it be great to be able to tell your clients what to expect?  If you know you’re a middle- to high-priced restaurant, put it there.  It doesn’t make people upset to know that.  It makes them glad to know to take their extra credit card, whatever.  The point is, by adding this extra semantic data, you give your users more information about what you are and what you do.

So that’s structured data.  It’s a simple set of code elements that’ll be inserted into your pages that provide additional information to the user, to the visitor, and more importantly, additional information to search systems that can take advantage of it.  Is it going to push you over the top and into the first place on Google?  Not if the other work isn’t done.  Not if the important other details aren’t covered.  If you don’t have your headings and your titles and your keywords and your speed up to snuff, structured data is not going to save you, but structured data is a tool that will let you stand an extra notch up on the ladder if you are already on the front page and you have competition.  Or, indeed, if you’re on any page and you have competition.  Structured data is a simple addition to the site, and it just makes sense.

So that’s this week’s tip:  Get into your structured data.