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Rules to Follow When Using Structured Data for Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Is your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy delivering lacklustre results? Maybe your website isn’t ranking for some of its target keywords, or perhaps it’s generating little or no traffic from its organic rankings. While you oftentimes solve these SEO performance problems by creating high-quality content, you should consider using structured data as well.

Structured data consists of organized information about a web page. It’s designed to help search engines process and understand the content on web pages. In addition to crawling the content itself, search engines will look at the web page’s structured data. Structured data will define the web page’s content. By using it, search engines may rank your website higher, and they may even rank it for expanded organic listings known as rich results.

Use the JSON-LD Format

While structured data is available in several different formats, you should stick with JSON-LD. It’s the only format recommended by Google. Bing also supports the JSON-LD format for structured data. JSON-LD is a lightweight, JavaScript-based method of encoding data. You can use it to embed structured data in the head or body section of a web page. Just create a structured data snippet using the schema vocabulary and the JSON-LD format, followed by inserting it into one of these two sections.

Along with JSON-LD, other formats in which you can create structured data include RDFa and Microdata. But only JSON-LD is recommended by Google.

Only Mark Up Visibile Content

When using structured data, avoid marking up hidden content. You should only mark up content that visitors can see. Marking up, of course, refers to the use of a structured data snippet to define a piece of content. You can mark up everything from author names and articles to customer reviews, product prices, business addresses and even recipes. If a piece of content is hidden, though, you shouldn’t mark it up.

Mark Up Duplicate Content

If you have two or more web pages with the same content, you may assume marking up just one of the web pages — the original version — will suffice. After all, Google will usually only rank one of them. It may crawl the other web pages, but Google will only rank the web page that published the content first. Nonetheless, you should mark up the content on all of the web pages.

Marking up duplicate content will reaffirm the organized information to Google’s algorithm. If you only mark up the content on one web page and not the others, you may confuse Google’s algorithm. Upon discovering the missing structured data snippet on a duplicate page, Google may remove that information from its database.

Ensure Images Are Crawlable

If you’re using structured to define an image on a web page, such as a thumbnail, you should check to make sure it’s crawlable. Search engines may include marked-up images in rich results listings. They’ll take the image defined with structured data, which they’ll include in the web page’s rich results listing. Search engines won’t include an image in rich results listing, however, if they are unable to crawl it.

Before marking up an image, use the URL Inspection Tool at the top of Google Search Console to ensure it’s crawlable. Entering the URL where the image is located in this tool will reveal whether Google can crawl it. Marking up an uncrawlable image is a waste of time since Google won’t be able to read it.

Create Accurate and Relevant Snippets

You should create accurate and relevant structured data snippets. If a particular structured data snippet doesn’t accurately define the content on a web page, avoid using it. Structured data allows you to specify detailed information about the content. As search engines process the structured data snippets, they’ll use it to rank the web page. Creating false or irrelevant structured data snippets may result in search engines no longer trusting your website, in which case they’ll stop using your site’s structured data.

Choose Snippets Supported By Google

To take advantage of their SEO benefits, you should choose structured data snippets that are supported by Google. Google supports dozens of snippets from the schema vocabulary. With that said, it doesn’t support all of them.

You can learn more about which structured data snippets are supported by Google, including how to implement them with JSON-LD, by visiting developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/structured-data/intro-structured-data. Clicking the “Feature guides” drop-down menu will reveal links to different types of Google-supported structured data snippets. You can create article structured data snippets for articles on web pages, or you can create frequently asked questions (FAQ) structured data snippets for FAQs on web pages. Regardless, choose snippets that are supported by Google.

Use Google’s Rich Results Test

Don’t forget to use Google’s Rich Results Test. Available at search.google.com/test/rich-results, it will reveal which rich results listings for which a web page is eligible to rank based on the page’s structured data. Rich results listings are achieved through the use of structured data. When you create a structured data snippet for a web page, Google may rank the page in rich results listings that include the snippet’s information.

You can use the Rich Results Test to get a better idea of what a web page will look if it ranks in rich results listing. Running the web page’s URL through the tester will force Google to fetch all of its structured data snippets. It will then return a list of detected items, which are structured data snippets used in rich results listings. If you added a structured data snippet to a web page but don’t see it listed here, you should double-check the snippet to ensure it features the correct syntax.

Research conducted by W3Techs shows that over 66 per cent of all websites feature some form of structured data. The most common form is Open Graph, whereas the second-most common form of structured data is JSON-LD. Using the latter, you can create SEO-friendly structured data that helps your website’s rankings.

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Structured Data and SEO

Last Updated in 2022-06-15T08:28:16+00:00 by Lukasz Zelezny