April 08 2020

Understanding Structured Data and Why Is It Important for SEO

Structured data is a technical SEO tactic that is rapidly driving competition on search engine results pages (SERPs). This strategy uses Schema.org code to help search engines better understand the content on pages of a website through rich snippets.

You have likely seen search results using schema code without noticing it – when you search for a brand name, a recipe and even upcoming events. Schema code pinpoints crucial information about your brand and products that could be searched through search engines - whether that be your brand assets, location, mission and values, contact information, highlighted products, events and much more. Integrating structured data, as part of a robust SEO strategy, is highly customizable based on your business and website goals. Let us take you through an overview of how you can get started with structured data on your website, and what you can expect.

Types of Schema

There are many different types of Schema.org code, some of which may overlap. Having different types of schema code across your site will only help in identifying rich snippets from your website and displaying that information on search engines. Below are types of schema that should always be considered for your website and are a good way to get your foot in the structured data door.

  • Organization: This type of schema creates brand signals (logo, URL, phone number, social links etc.) that enhance the information on the knowledge graph, populated on the right hand side of a Google search. This schema code also enhances the website snippets within the organic search results. The benefits of adding this type of structured data to your site is an increase in the accuracy of key business information online, when information from a company could instead come up through third party review sites or mentions of the business elsewhere online.

apple organizational schema

  • Local Business: This type of schema will enhance your local listings and is optimal for websites that have brick and mortar offices, branches, locations etc. The schema code includes the physical address, hours, contact information and URL for that specific location page on your site. To help enhance this type of structured data and SEO strategy overall, it is a best practice to have a separate page for each location. The benefits of adding schema to each location page can be increased traffic to your locations pages and trust built through the search engine and user that your website information is accurate.

apple location schema example

  • Breadcrumbs List: This type of schema markup gives your site the ability to generate breadcrumb snippets in the SERPs. Having breadcrumbs on your site is a tactic to reveal the architecture of your site which helps both search engines understand your website as well as users grasp the hierarchy of services you offer. The major benefit of adding breadcrumb schema is an increased click-through rate.

apple breadcrumb schema example

  • Service: This type of schema is a more specific class that defines the service(s) offered by a business. This schema code should be placed on all service detail pages. The schema markup should include the type of service, description (from the business) of the service provided, and the geographical area of service (if applicable). The benefits of Service markup can include increased credibility within the search engine and an increase in the quality of traffic driving to the services pages of your website.

  • Articles/Blog posts: For websites with news posts, articles or blog posts, marking up the headline, image and publish date with schema code can help content appear in Google News and in-depth article search suggestions.

  • Events: If you’re a business or organization that is promoting a large event, having schema markup can help to highlight the event’s location, time, and importance to your brand. It is recommended to place this code within a third party event widget or directly on a page dedicated to the event. The benefit of this type of structured data is awareness and increase in traffic on that event topic.

  • Reviews or Rating: There are several types of reviews and ratings schema markup. This type of structured data performs best with ecommerce product ratings. A great example of this is Amazon and Walmart products which use ratings schema to populate the shopping area of a SERP. If reviews are being imported from a third party vendor, we do not recommend including this type of markup simply because of control over what is being pulled into the site.

Example of Review Schema code on a search engine

Schema Markup for Financial Institutions

Paired with Organization and Local Schema, Service Schema is a great way for financial institutions to showcase their products through rich snippets while highlighting key information for search engines. With this markup you can identify the service, disclose fees, commissions and other terms applied to a class of financial products as well as classify whether this is a service provided by a bank or a credit union. The benefit of this schema markup is that you build trust within the search engine and have peace of mind knowing that the information about your service is accurate.

If you are interested in adding schema mark up to service pages, a best practice is to add structured data to each category page (e.g., Mortgages) giving general service and institution information. If you have individual pages for each product within that service, which is also an SEO best practice, then more specific service schema code can be added to those pages, as well to create a well rounded source of rich snippets for search engines. These advanced structured data tactics along with other SEO best practices can help give you an edge in a very competitive organic search market.

Benefits of Schema for SEO

Companies and institutions who have implemented structured data have seen measurable increases in the number of organic visits to sites and landing pages, decreased bounce rate, increased click-through rate and an increase in the number of impressions of a site on a SERP.

There are a variety of options when it comes to adding structured data to a website. It’s important for marketers to return to the goal of their website to determine which type of schema markup will best represent that goal. We highly suggest beginning with more general brand or organization and location (if applicable) schema markup before implementing more specific schema types like products, services and events. And, unlike other SEO tactics, once schema is implemented there is very little, if any, maintenance involved.

To see how another ZAG client saw results from schema implementation, explore this ZAG  case study. Let’s talk about your website and how you could benefit from adding structured data to your SEO efforts.

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ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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