What is Structured Data? Unlocking SEO’s Best-Kept Secret

Brody Hall
Dec 8, 2023
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If you’re anything like us, you’re constantly trying to up your online game. And trust us—structured data is just what you’ve been searching for.

So, what is structured data, and is it worth spending my valuable time understanding it?

To answer the second question, a-huh. Don’t skimp on structured data. It’ll come back to bite you (seriously!).

To answer the first question and much more, in this helpful guide, we’ll tackle

  1. the mysteries of structured data,
  2. explore its importance (particularly pertaining to SEO),
  3. and reveal how it can catapult your online presence to stratospheric heights.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data is all about organizing and formatting information in a way that makes it a breeze for computer systems and web-based tools, like search engines, to understand. Picture it as lingo that helps your website and Google understand one another.

What does this look like in practice?

Structured data follows a predetermined set of rules, in particular, specific formats and vocabularies to chat with search engines. Why? The use of tables, records, or files, which structured data is all about, makes it super easy for search engines to crawl, examine, and fetch any of your website’s content.

The advantage of this?

Simple, well-organized, optimized content is a ranking factor, meaning better search visibility, rich search results, and a higher likelihood of attracting those precious clicks from potential customers.

Structured Data vs. Unstructured Data

In the name of comprehension and so you walk away from this guide with a solid grasp of the topic, we’d be remiss if we didn’t compare structured and unstructured data. So, let’s see what sets both contenders apart.

In the blue corner, we have structured data—our methodical, systematic data-weight champ. As we’ve already discussed, structured data follows a specific format and vocabulary, making it easy for search engines to digest and make sense of. As a result, you’ll typically find it hanging out in databases, tables, and spreadsheets, living its best, orderly life.

Now, in the red corner, we have the wild child of the data world—unstructured data. This rule-breaking rebel doesn’t adhere to any predefined format or structure. Instead, it roams around in the form of email subject lines, social media posts, and plain ol’ text documents.

Talk about a free spirit.

But before you pass judgment, understand that structured and unstructured data have vital roles to play.

Without structured data, there’d be no clear way for search engines to understand and organize information on websites, making it nearly impossible for them to serve up relevant, helpful search results. On the other hand, unstructured data brings a sense of depth and variety to the content landscape, reflecting the diverse ways we create and consume information in our digital world.

Together, structured and unstructured data perfectly balance order and creativity.

Learn more: How to add schema markup to a website.

Why is Structured Data Important?

Put simply, structured data is essential to modern SEO strategies. How so? It provides search engines with the requisite information to determine the most relevant results for a given search query.

Let’s further break down the three most noteworthy benefits of structured data and see why it is your website’s new best friend:

  1. SEO Superpowers. Search engines are hungry beasts, always on the lookout for clear and concise information. That is precisely why feeding them structured data helps satisfy their appetites and boosts your chances of climbing your website up the search results ladder.
  2. Rich Results and Snippets. Structured data is what search engines need to create fancy, eye-catching search results like rich snippets. Rich snippets include additional information like images, ratings, and recipe instructions. These attention-grabbing tidbits often help websites receive higher click-through rates and more traffic.
  3. Improving User Experience. When you serve structured data to search engines, you’re not just offering an entre and main; you’re also pulling through with dessert. This extra serving of information helps users find what they’re after in a snap, thanks to the added context in search results. The result? A smoother, more enjoyable experience for the user, a pat on the back from Google, and perhaps even a paying customer.

Learn more: SEO glossary 250+ terms explained.

How to Implement Structured Data

If you want to leverage structured data, it’s high time you got acquainted with two essential building blocks—our data knights in shining armor—schema.org, RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD:

  • Schema.org. This is the go-to hub for all things structured data. It’s a collaborative effort by the big search engine players (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Yandex) to create a shared vocabulary for structured data. Here, you’ll find a treasure trove of schemas (predefined structures) that you can use to describe your content in a way that search engines can understand.
  • RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD. Armed with your schema.org vocabulary, you’ll now need a method to apply it to your website. That’s where RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD step in. These encodings, which cover entities, relationships, and actions, make reading and writing a breeze for people and machines. Google’s top choice is JSON-LD, which allows you to incorporate your structured data into your site’s HTML seamlessly.

Here’s a quick rundown of the steps to implement structured data on your site:

  1. Head to schema.org and pick the right schema(s) that best describe your content.
  2. Use your chosen schema to create a JSON-LD script containing your structured data.
  3. Place the JSON-LD script in the head section of the relevant pages on your website.
  4. Use Google’s Rich Results Test tool to ensure your structured data is correctly implemented and error-free.

Learn more: what is schema?

The Future of Structured Data and Potential Impact on SEO

As the digital world continues to evolve, there’s very little doubt that structured data is bound to play an even bigger role in shaping the future of SEO and beyond. Let’s take a quick sneak peek at some possible developments and trends that might revolutionize how we use structured data:

  • Voice search and virtual assistants. As more folks embrace Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, structured data becomes crucial for helping AI-powered helpers deliver spot-on results. Optimize your content with structured data, and you’ll be ready to ride the voice search wave.
  • Advanced search features. As search engines become more sophisticated, expect more advanced features relying on structured data, like better image recognition, video indexing, and interactive results. Keep up with structured data best practices, and your content will dazzle on the next generation of search engine result pages (SERPs).
  • Data privacy and security focus. With data privacy and security being top concerns, we’ll see a greater emphasis on responsible data handling. Structured data helps establish ethical and transparent data usage, allowing businesses to comply with privacy regulations while still reaping the rewards of data-driven insights.

Learn more: local SEO trends.

Conclusion

The future of structured data is looking extremely bright, and its impact on SEO and the digital landscape will continue to grow. This presents you with a serious level of opportunity. By embracing structured data, you’re not just staying ahead of the curve and investing in your website’s future search performance but also setting yourself up for success in the rapidly evolving digital marketing world.

Don’t stop at structured data, though—Loganix has got your back with a killer suite of services.

We’re talking expertly-crafted content, top-of-the-line SEO strategies, and much more. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t let another second slip away—get in touch with the Loganix team now, and let’s unleash the full power of structured data and beyond for your business.

Written by Brody Hall on December 8, 2023

Content Marketer and Writer at Loganix. Deeply passionate about creating and curating content that truly resonates with our audience. Always striving to deliver powerful insights that both empower and educate. Flying the Loganix flag high from Down Under on the Sunshine Coast, Australia.