Structured Data: What is it and Why is it Important?

Why is structured data important

Businesses that use structured data properly can improve their search engine marketing performance and stand out among competitors.

Structured data helps your web content integrate more efficiently with online platforms. These platforms include search engines, social media, and even web browsers. Having seamless integration and more accurate data on these platforms in turn makes the experience better for your audience.

In other words: structured data can earn you more clicks on search engines, improving your lead generation and your search ranking in the process.

But what exactly is structured data? And how is it able to benefit your business by doing what it does?

To help you break the subject down, we’ll use our experience as an Atlanta SEO company along with some helpful online resources. Get introduced to structured data and take your first step to mastering it by reading our quick guide below.

Exactly What Is Structured Data?

The term “structured data” refers to digital information that has been given markup and descriptors that make it easier to read. In the context we’re referring to now, structured data consists of bits of code you add to your website HTML in order to make the code easily readable by computer programs, such as search engine crawler “bots”.

This markup reduces the time it takes for the bot to skim the code and pick out the information it intends to use. It also limits the risk for mistakes since the information is set aside in a highly visible way.

Think about it like this: you’re a teacher asking a grad assistant to create a one-page study guide from ten pages in a rather dense college textbook. If you wanted them to make the guide quickly, you wouldn’t expect them to wade through every sentence. That would take too long, and they may misinterpret what you consider as the most important information.

So what do you do? You get out a highlighter and some sticky flags and begin marking up the pages. You highlight important information in different colors. You use the flags to point the grad assistant’s eyes to specific parts of the text. In the end, they come up with almost all of the information you wanted them to include.

That’s the power of structured data in a nutshell!

How Do Search Engines Use Structured Data?

Structured data works the same way as the study guide example above, but instead of a grad assistant, you’re working with ultra-powerful search engines and other platforms.

How do these platforms use structured data? A few different ways. Some of the most important include:

  • Displaying a business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) right in the search engine results, reducing the need to click on the website to find that information
  • Creating titles (title tags) and descriptions (meta descriptions) for pages that appear in search engine results
  • Adding “rich snippets” to search engine results, such as a thumbnail image, product rating, retail item price, event dates or author name
  • Turning your results into rich search results, including featured answer boxes or carousels

You can read Google’s intro to structured data to learn more, but the gist is that structured data helps you highlight important information or graphics so that they can appear in search engine results.

What Do I Need to Do to Start Using Structured Data?

Luckily, you don’t have to be a programming genius to take advantage of structured data. Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines came together with the programming community to develop a simplified set of structured data tags (microdata), and they are all listed on one website: Schema.org.

Schema.org markup — often called “Schema markup” for short — is easy to use. It often requires just a few extra bits of code lines when building a new website page.

As an example, take a look at Schema.org’s LocalBusiness page. You can use the tags listed to indicate your business hours, email address, street address, or business phone number. You can also get more technical, listing the currencies you accept, any awards you’ve won, your founding date, any famous employees, and much more.

Lynda.com even offers a quick intro class to structured data if you want to become more well-versed.

Make sure that when you use structured data, you follow Google’s structured data general guidelines. That way, you ensure that your use of structured data doesn’t run afoul of their standards. Also, you can use Google’s structured data markup helper to see if your structured markup is readable by search engine “bot” programs.

Use Structured Data to Boost Your Marketing Goals With Help From an Atlanta SEO Company

You can harness the power of structured data to improve your search visibility and generate more leads with the help of Power Local. We can quickly build and test a marked up version of your web pages to ensure that your search results give the information your customers and leads want.

Improve your search visibility, boost SEO performance and get a leg up on competitors by getting a FREE marketing strategy today! Or contact us by calling (706) 804-0539.

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