Help Google Help You with Structured Data – A Simple
Four-step Process

Google works hard to try to understand the content on your website, and it’s getting good at it, but you can provide Google with explicit instructions on how to interpret and display that content by adding structured data markup to your website. Structured data markup are snippets of code on a website that tell search engines what type of content is on that website, as well as the properties of that content. For example, on a recipe page, the structured data markup will inform Google that the content type is a recipe, and additionally tell Google that the content properties include the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on. By adding structured data markup to your site, you’re enabling Google to display more of your site’s functional and visual elements directly in search results. These enhanced search results are called rich results, and they have many advantages over standard search results including more styling, more images, and in some cases, being listed higher than other organic search results.

For more information on structured data types and structured data properties, visit Schema.org.

In this blog post, you’ll get a step-by-step guide on how to create, test and add structured data into your web pages.

Step 1: Creating Structured Data

Google has several tools that make it easy for even the most novice web coder to create structured data. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper allows you to build a code snippet by highlighting and classifying important parts of the page’s content, like the title, date, price, or location. For example, on an event page, you might highlight the event description and then label the highlighted content “description” so that Google will now classify the highlighted content as the event’s description.

When you have highlighted and added all the available properties into the code snippet, you are then able to download the code in JSON-LD or Microdata format. JSON-LD (JavaScript) is Google’s recommended format for markup because it does not need to be interleaved with your page’s HTML and it can be dynamically inserted into the page’s content as JavaScript code or through a widget. Microdata format (HTML) is used to nest structured data within HTML content, meaning that it must wrap around the existing HTML on the page. Using Microdata format requires access to edit the page HTML, while using JSON-LD only requires access to edit the page content.

Google’s Data Highlighter inside Google Search Console is another tool that allows you to manually highlight content properties on your website, but it does not allow you to download the code for manual insertion in your site.

Step 2: Testing Structured Data

Once you’ve created your structured data code snippet, you can test for any errors or omissions using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. The testing tool can test a code snippet or a page URL and find additional recommended and required properties to add to the structured data that the markup helper tool was unable to highlight. Required properties must be present in the structured data in order for Google to enable rich results, but recommended properties do not.

Additionally, Google will not enable rich results if you have properties in your structured data without the corresponding content on your page. For example, if you list the cooking time for a recipe in your structured data markup, but the cooking time is not listed on your page, Google will not use the structured data to enable rich results. It is incredibly important to make sure that your structured data markup matches your site content, that it is not misleading, and that it does not refer to any content hidden from the user. Violation of these guidelines could result in less favorable SEO rankings or being marked as ineligible for rich results. If you have structured data markup on your website that is in violation of Google’s guidelines, you will see a message on your Manual Actions page in Google Search Console.

Step 3: Adding Structured Data to Website

Depending on your type of website and content management system, there may be multiple ways to add structured data markup into your site. WordPress users can add markup to their site through the Schema Plugin, the code editor, or directly onto web pages as JSON-LD (JavaScript). After you add the markup to your page, you can go back to the structured data testing tool and test the page URL to ensure the markup was added correctly. You can use the structured data testing tool or Google’s Rich Results Test to see a preview of the rich results generated by your structured data.

Step 4: Check Google Search Console for Results

After adding structured data markup to your pages, check your website on Google Search Console to see if Google has crawled it and discovered the structured data markup. It can take weeks for Google to crawl and index your website, so using the Fetch as Googlebot tool in Google Search Console can help get your structured data markup indexed faster. The Structured Data tab will list the different types of markup on your website, as well as any errors that may be associated with that markup. The Rich Cards tab will show how many rich cards are being generated by the structured data markup, as well as how many cards could be improved by fixing errors or omissions in the markup.

In conclusion, while terms like “JSON-LD” and “code markup” surely don’t evoke a feeling of ease, creating structured data code markup could not be easier. As the number of online searches continues to rise, the need for your search results to stand out from your competitors continues to rise as well. While most people will look at structured data markup as too complicated or unnecessary, taking the time to add the code snippets to your website is a small price to pay to help improve your brand’s SEO and visibility in search.

Steven Jacobs

- Author -

Steven Jacobs

Digital Coordinator