Structured data is one of the latest trends that search engine optimization (SEO) experts follow these days. Developed by major search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Yandex, it is a dominant but least enforced SEO strategy. Structured data, also referred to as a schema SEO mark-up, is a kind of code that helps in getting your content crawled, organized, and displayed by major search engines. Without it, search engines can only determine what your data is all about, but they need to exert more effort to understand its purpose. Using structured data on your website will allow it to have a better chance to obtain a featured snippet in the search engine results page.
Aside from analyzing the page content of a website, Google takes advantage of structured data by collecting information about the web and everything about it as a whole. For example, the structured data of your food-themed website placed a label on all the individual elements of a recipe. The users will have a chance to search for it by typing its recipe, preparation time, calorie count, and other factors.
Is Structured Data Markup Ranking Factor?
A web publisher asked Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller in a 2019 interview about the possible benefits that the website can get when using structured data. The publisher wanted to know if using schema SEO mark-ups can provide more advantages aside from having rich results and the featured snippets. According to Mueller, structured data usage will have no generic ranking impact on the website. It can help search engines to get a grasp about its purpose and analyze its content. As a result, it will make the search engines determine its relevance.
The analyst also explained why structured data does not necessarily work as a ranking factor. According to Mueller, exerting more efforts technically on the website to create structured data does not make it a better page compared to those that are not using it. The search engine will only try to use the data in more significant search results that may attract more users to your site.
What Mueller tried to say is that even if using structured data can help relay information better, but the content of the site is more important. It means that no matter how technically superior your website is, it will not make up for the content that features irrelevant information.
Mueller also claimed that the role of structured data as a ranking factor would not change anytime soon. He compared it to the previous notion of SEO experts about the role of HTML as a ranking factor. According to the analyst, web developers might be able to come up with solid technical features on their pages. But it will not mean that the page will have more favorable search engine results.
The Google executive mentioned in the interview that the web publishers can decide if they still want to spend a lot of time and effort in including structured data in their sites, even though it will not give them immediate benefits. It means that he wants people to avoid setting high expectations.
Why Structured Data Markup is Useful in Search Results?
Mueller also mentioned that Google utilizes the information from structured data to have a further understanding of the entities contained on a webpage. These entities work like proper nouns. If your website talks about a restaurant, for example, its structured data will pass on the information about the restaurant’s name, the head chef, and the popular dishes served in the establishment. This feature is relevant to the primary purpose of SEO, which is to make it easier for search engines to crawl and absorb the content of the website.
Other reports also claimed that the popularity of structured data use continues to be on the rise. As of 2018, websites featuring structured data accounts for one-third of the most regularly crawled pages during that time. Those websites structured their data through schema.org. It allows them to enjoy plenty of search benefits such as reusing the data to boost their analytics or their onsite search. Because of this, major businesses like Amazon claimed that they use schema SEO to distinguish the local business intent.
How Structured Data helps Ranking for Voice Search
Since mobile devices managed to change the search behavior of web users, the popularity of voice search is on a steady rise. According to a prediction from a recent Comscore report, as much as 50 percent of all searches will use voice in 2020. A Microsoft report also mentioned that more than half of all consumers would start using digital assistants when making purchases in the next five years.
Since schema SEO came out during the last decade and was developed to serve as a “universal language” that continues to evolve, web publishers who can do speakable schema mark-up can take advantage of the ongoing trend in voice search. By definition, speakable schema can determine which portions within a webpage content the publishers can use for audio playback with the use of text-to-speech (TTS) software.
There are several ways to optimize content for featured snippets and voice search. First, publishers need to look for relevant keywords that belong to the top 10 of the search engine rankings. They can also find related queries with the help of answerthepublic.com. Another effective way to optimize website content is to restructure it in a question-and-answer pattern. They may also revise their content to relay vital and timely information that will benefit the readers. As much as possible, they need to keep the tone of the content conversational and organic sounding when web visitors read it out loud. For easier crawling, they need to incorporate structured data to allow the search engines to relate to the content and spot the highlighted information.
Using structured data on your website requires you to go through a tedious process of coding and other technical factors in web development. But you do not have to get discouraged with all these tasks as it does not provide an immediate and conclusive effect in your site’s ranking. Yet SEO can become more effective as part of a long-term strategy and help if you incorporate it in your website mark-up to reap the rewards in the future.