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Just How Important Is Structured Data in SEO?

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Just How Important Is Structured Data in SEO?

Structured data helps Google understand your content better. It is an important signal if you want your site to be visible within search features.

But should all brands use structured data? Is it worth it?

The short answer is a resounding yes.

But before we get into why, let’s clear up a misconception: that structured data is only an SEO strategy.

The fact is, it’s much more than that:

Structured data a foundation for machines to understand your content.

It’s just like a client-vendor relationship — the more information you have about your client’s SEO issues, the better you can address them because you know what problems they previously had, which can help create a strategy for success.

Brands hope machines like Google, Alexa, and Siri are reading and understanding their content efficiently and effectively.

Using schema markup, however, gives them the ability to take control of how their information is defined, which, in turn, puts them in control of how the machine understands their brand.

The Many Uses of Structured Data

Structured data has been around for years.

A few years ago, it was more limited, but now you can find it for just about anything, including recipes, jobs, and restaurants, to name a few — with much more to come.

In fact, Richard Wallis, a consultant working on Schema.org project support at Google, summarizes what structured data is in this great post.

The key takeaway: Structured data use is increasing and is in approximately one-third of the commonly crawled web now.

That’s because big brands tested the waters with their dev time and resources and were able to tie results back to business value, like improving traffic or generating conversions.

Structuring your data with schema.org not only gives you great search benefits — like reusing the information to enhance analytics or onsite search — it also yields voice benefits, like informing chatbots.

By structuring the data, you are helping to define the content to increase the machines’ chances of correctly matching your content to relevant voice queries. In fact, Amazon says it uses schema to determine local business intent.

The Impact

We recently ran a test for one of our luxury hospitality clients to see the impact of structured data.

We implemented local listings schema and breadcrumbs on the homepage.

As a result, mobile CTR improved slightly from 2.7 percent in Q1 to 2.8 percent in Q2.

This is a short test so far, but we expect to see a 5 to 10 percent increase in click-through rates over the next nine months.

In addition:

  • Clicks increased by 43 percent.
  • Impressions are up by almost 1 percent.
  • Average position also increased by 12 percent.

Now I know that some of you may be wondering if we did anything else to the page because there are many reasons why organic performance can improve — like building new content or getting new links.

But, nope: This is solely the result of implementing structured data.

structured data results

The value of structured data used to be only to get the rich result from Google.

Now the value extends further to the quality of traffic measures.

Google has posted some case studies that go over some examples of using schema for some large brands.

The Top 5 Reasons Many Brands Don’t Use Schema

Working at an agency, there are some common reasons that we have come across as to why some clients don’t have structured data:

  • They don’t have the resources.
  • They are not technical and don’t understand the code and how to mark items up.
  • It’s not supported by their CMS.
  • They don’t see nor understand the benefits.
  • They are behind the times and stuck in the past.

Luckily there are some great solutions on the market like Schema APP, which allow you to mark up at scale and easily create, manage and measure structured data.

The Top Benefits of Using Schema

There are many benefits of using schema, especially for ecommerce brands.

Here are a few top benefits.

Higher CTR

  • Having rich snippets show up for your products in the SERPs is a great way to increase click-through rates and draw more attention to your listings, especially if you have great product reviews.

More Conversions

  • Having rich snippets can also increase your conversion rates because if more people see your listings and the listings are positive, the likelihood that they will buy from you will increase.
  • For employment sites, since Google launched Google Jobs and companies like ZipRecruiter have implemented structured job data, their jobs are getting more exposure and conversion in Google jobs by showing up for relevant queries

Get Features Snippets & Be the Winner for Voice Search Queries

  • Getting featured snippets is the Holy Grail for SEO. Your site will appear at the top of the search engine result page, before the organic listings. Having structured data isn’t a necessity, but it could sometimes help you earn a featured snippet. This can improve your click-through rates and drive more traffic.
  • Voice search results are pulled from featured snippets. This means you can be the only result for a voice query because Google uses those results for verbal answers.

Structured Data Tips

Unfortunately, with SEO, some things are often abused.

Don’t become spammy when using your structured data. Only use structured data that is relevant to your content.

If you don’t follow this rule, you may receive a spammy structured data manual action from Google, which would result in your structured data not being shown in the SERPs until you have cleaned up your site and the manual action has been lifted.

Manual Action

Also, make sure you have updated structured data. Things change all the time and new things are constantly coming out from a structured data perspective.

Job postings are a good example of this. You must set an expiration date for the posting.

Because this is sort of new, sites that don’t have this will get an error message in Google search console, so make sure you stay on top of this.

Summary

Don’t ignore structured data. Organic search is getting increasingly competitive. Any additional information you can give to search engines can help:

  • Increase your click-through rates.
  • Improve your search engine visibility.
  • Show up in the Knowledge Graph, featured snippets, and voice searches by helping machines solve for user intent.

More Structured Data Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, June 2018

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Winston Burton

VP, SEO at Acronym

Winston Burton is an SEO and digital marketing expert with over 12 years of experience. Winston is currently the VP, ... [Read full bio]

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