If there is one SEO effort you need to focus on in 2020, it should be to scale the implementation of structured data across as much of your content as possible in order to maximize the potential visibility of your content in search engines.
Structured data is a standardized format for providing and classifying information about Web page content. Common examples include schema for videos, reviews, organizations, FAQ, and many more. Implementing schema markup to create structured data that describes your content allows Google to better understand what your content is and in many cases that results in stronger rankings and more efficient and frequent indexing. Structured data can also enable rich search results, which can provide more opportunity for visibility within search results.
You should implement any and all schema markup that is relevant to your content. Obviously, you will want to prioritize based on ease of implementation and potential impact on business results. But in theory, to scale forward as effectively as possible, any structured data that can be implemented cost-effectively at scale should be.
The following page on Google illustrates how the various schema markups for different types of structured data are reflected in search results by Google: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/search-gallery
It should be noted that there are literally hundreds of potential Schema markup opportunities, but Google currently only uses a much smaller subset of those to augment search results. That being said, the list of enhancements continues to grow at a rapid pace and it definitely makes sense to evaluate all schema opportunities and implement any appropriate schema assuming it isn’t cost-prohibitive to scale, regardless if it is currently being used by Google or other engines.
Currently, the most popular variants that should be on your shortlist for immediate implementation are:
These markup opportunities deserve your initial focus as they tend to be the most impactful for most businesses, but you should evaluate all the opportunities that are applicable to your business and content and prioritize based on business objectives.
The good news is that once you do implement these markups, you will be able to leverage Google Search Console to see if you have correctly implemented the Schema and you will also be able to see the performance of the schema markup as well.
The two primary means of constructing schema mark-up are to code it by hand (preferably using JSON-LD) or use the Structured Data Highlighter Tool. Either is a fine choice depending on your proficiency with coding and what you want to mark up.
Keep in mind that it only works on the following data:
If you want to target data beyond that list, which you should, you will need to code it by hand. If you are writing code by hand, Google recommends that you code all of your Schema markup in JSON-LD versus the potential alternatives.
All of the Schema examples listed above link to pages that have example code.
If you are looking for a resource outside of those Google help pages, you should be aware of Schema.org with Microdata.
However, that site can be confusing, especially for those new to Schema Markup. The other Google help pages are probably the easiest resource to learn from.
The Structured Data Testing Tool is a good addition to your QA process before implementation and will help you debug errors.
Here is a summary list of best practices you should use when creating and implementing Schema Markup for Structured Data:
While using structured data enables features to be present, it does not guarantee a rich results feature. Google’s algorithm tailors search results based on what it feels provides the strongest user experience. Device type, search history, and location are among many other factors that play a role in the algorithm. By referencing Google’s structured data guidelines before making your updates, you will have the best chance at guaranteeing a search results feature.
In terms of actual implementation, here is a solid 5 step approach to good results:
The trend towards using and repurposing structured data is clear and it will become increasingly more important as time goes on in terms of opportunity for visibility and competitive positioning. The time to get a well thought out plan for implementing schema markup for all potential structured data on your site is now. Be sure to create a system that periodically reevaluates changes and updates to how search engines and others are using Schema so that you can be proactive in your structured data strategy.
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