Structured data is becoming more prominent. As search engines work harder and harder to understand information on websites, structured markup helps search engines to understand the content of a website by providing clues about the information on a page.

For example, <h1>Apple</h1> this HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what this means. It could refer to the fruit, or it could be the iconic brand, therefore it’s pretty difficult for search engines to make sure they display the relevant content to a user.

However, by marking up a page with relevant tags, this information can be better understood by the major search engines.

Structured data has different vocabularies that are essential to construct markup. Schema.org is the most common and recommended syntax across the internet that has a wide selection of entities and is recognised by the main search engines including Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex.

What are the SEO benefits of using Schema?

Enhanced results

If the Schema markup is implemented correctly, Google might reward the site by showing richer results. For example, recipes rich data includes information such as rating, number of votes, cooking time and calories:

French onion soup

Increased organic click-through rate and quality traffic:

Richer organic result snippets make you stand out from other results which may increase the click-through rate. Showing additional information helps users to decide if your site is what they’re searching for, meaning you’ll get more qualified traffic.

Helping search engines to identify content to read aloud on voice devices:

This brand new (Google just implemented this in BETA) markup is essential for marking content that’s important for voice search commands. Essentially, Google uses this structured data to answer queries on speaker devices. As the use of these devices continues to grow, this markup will become more important. Unfortunately, currently it’s available only for users in the US, but Google is planning to launch in other countries. You can find updates on this schema markup here.

Increase rankings?

It’s unclear if the markup has any impact on the rankings, however anything that helps the search engines to understand your content better is a bonus! And as Gary Illyes from Google said: “If a team at Google recommends it, you probably should make use of it, as schema helps us understand the content on the page, and it is used in certain search features (but not in rankings algorithms).”

The 3 main types of structured data format

JSON-LD

Or ‘JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data’ (recommended by Google) uses JavaScript in your HTML page to define data. The advantage of using JSON-LD is that it’s easier to implement, because it confines most of the code to the page header. It keeps extra tags out of the main body, making the code cleaner and easier to read.

Microdata

This is a set of tags within HTML content. It is easy to use however you need to markup each item within the page as opposed to a JSON-LD, where you can put most of the code in the header.

RDFa

Or ‘Recourse Description Framework in Attributes’ is an extension to HTML5 designed to markup structured data. It can be used to combine multiple structured data vocabularies. RDFa is very similar to microdata, the tags integrate with the HTML in the body of your content.

When should you use structured markup?

Structured markup can be used to define all kinds of items from breadcrumbs to local businesses. You can find a full list of Schema.org items here.

Some common markup includes:

  • Breadcrumbs: This markup is applicable for any site that uses breadcrumbs:

    Spain hotels
  • Sitelinks search box: This markup is applicable for any sites that have internal search engines. This search box helps users to search the site immediately:

    Ebay
  • Local businesses, restaurants, places: This markup is applicable for any local businesses:

    Pizza express
  • Products, offers, reviews: This markup is essential for ecommerce sites. It displays richer results on Google Search and Image Search, such as price, offers, stock, ratings:

    Apple
  • Organisation: This Schema markup helps search engines to understand more about the brands and that can enhance the knowledge graph by displaying more information: Nike

You can use Google’s structured data codelab which is step-by-step guide to create your own structured data, find more information here.