How Does Structured Data Work?

Structured data works on the premise of providing more information about your content on search engines, in a way that the search engine can understand. This benefits both your website and the users because instead of seeing a standard text based search result, they’ll be provided with much more detail such as images or video. 

Creating structured data requires the generation of metadata that can be added to the code of the page to describe its content. Using schema, you can easily find a list of values that are relevant to any given niche. Known as rich text results, the engaging display structured data creates is far more likely to grab users attention than a standard blue link. 

For example, a hotel could create structured content to show its amenities, check out time, star rating and whether pets are allowed. The exact values can be chosen at the website owner’s discretion, making sure only the most valuable information is displayed to users.  

Examples Of Structured Data

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Reviews
  • Ecommerce items
  • Author names
  • Rating
  • Price
  • Opening times
  • Ingredients list

Structured data examples cover anything that can be found on Schema and implemented into search engine results. It includes an incredibly broad range of industries and features, due to the complex nature of internet content as a whole. 

It was actually the need to structure different content in a way search engines could understand that first brought about structured data. As schema has been created by four different search engines, you can be sure that the structured data values you select will work when implemented, so long as it meets the necessary requirements. 

For the user, structured data will appear as images, videos or further text based information that adds more detail to the link. So instead of it appearing as a URL and snippet, the result will be rectangular shaped and will usually appear at the top, before the regular results. 

Structured Data: Points To Note

Even when structured data is used, there’s no guarantee that Google will display it on a results page. Ultimately, it comes down to whether the algorithm deems it as a helpful result or spam. In some cases, it may even deem that a plain blue link is best for what the user is searching for. After all, the entire results page is unlikely to consist of one search result type. 

You can help ensure your structured data will work by only using it where relevant. If the content is seen as misleading or doesn’t meet Google’s webmaster guidelines then it may be hidden.

Structured Data Examples SEO

Structured data as a whole is hugely beneficial to any SEO efforts you undertake. Let’s take advertising a film as an example. Schema allows you to include aspects such as the director and actors as part of the structured data. So, if a user were to Google ‘Tom Hanks Forrest Gump’ all of the relevant results relating to the actor and that particular movie show up. 

It is yet another example of how SEO hinges on giving search engines as many clues as possible about your content, so it can link it with the right users. Think of the main keyword as the anchor, with all the pieces of information adding more visibility on search engines. 

Is JSON Considered Structured data? 

Not exactly. JSON sits in between structured and unstructured data and is therefore classed as semi-structured data. 

An easy way to explain semi-structured data is to imagine the difference between a structured workday and a non structured workday. When everything is structured, this makes everything easy to organise and predict – yet doesn’t give much room for flexibility. But if the day is completely unstructured, you might not get a lot done at all because you have a complete lack of a routine.

Semi-structured is a hybrid of these two extremes. In essence, semi-structured data gives you a level of consistency but with the option to add other elements which may be needed. 

As well as JSON, XML, HTML and email are all examples of semi-structured data. 

Is CSV Considered Structured Data?

Structured data consists of anything that can be arranged in tabular form. As CSV is used for spreadsheets, then this format would indeed be classed as structured data. In fact, CSV is considered the oldest and most popular forms of structured data.

The benefits are that CSV files can easily be read by both computers and humans. This includes the likes of Excel, Google Docs, Open Office and most programming languages.

As an example, it’s possible to download your social media stats via a CSV file. The user can then open this and quickly interpret the data or use it for other means. The data within the file is straightforward to view, export and change because it has a clear structure in a tabular format. 

What Is The Best Example Of Unstructured Data?    

As the name suggests, unstructured data doesn’t have a structure, therefore won’t fit into a spreadsheet with rows and columns. When it comes to the best example of unstructured data, this can be narrowed down to finding the right type of content for your purpose.

Examples include:

  • Social media comments
  • Survey responses
  • Email responses
  • Business documents

While unstructured data cannot be stored in a database, it can be used to make better business decisions. For example, survey results or social media comments can be reviewed for training. There’s also no reason why the data cannot be pasted into a word document for future use, even if it’s not as straightforward to arrange as structured data. 

Given 80% of data on the internet is classed as unstructured data, it’s important to know how you can work with this particular data type. This is especially the case when it contains customer feedback or other aspects related to your business or website. 

Conclusion

The benefits of structured data is that it makes it easier for search engines to crawl and display your content. It works by using a schema markup, which allows you to use coding terms to provide more information about your content. 

Although the emphasis is on making websites more search engine friendly, the purpose is actually to appeal to the human users. By displaying things such as opening times of a business or a rating of a film, it allows them to select a more helpful result. All in a way that’s far more engaging than scrolling through reams of blue text.

08.02.2021