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What is Structured Data? Why Does It Matter in SEO?

Structured data is a vital element in any search engine optimisation strategy. In this article we discuss what structured data is and why it’s so relevant from an SEO perspective.


Structured data is any data that is organised and sorted in a logical manner. For example you have a large number of customer contact details in a notebook, you then go ahead and input the records into a spreadsheet with labeled rows and columns for each type of information, this is structuring data.

Structured data has many different uses, but what we’re interested in right now is how it’s used in the context of search engine optimisation.


Rich search results

Major search engines such as Google in particular encourage website owners to use structured data as they will in turn provide benefits to their website in the form of what is known as rich search results; in other words search results which provide Google key information it can easily crawl which subsequently provides more relevant results for the end user.


One such result is a “rich snippet” which displays additional information between the URL and the description. The example below is a regular snipper for a banana smoothie recipe:


banana smoothie

And this example is a rich snippet from the same search result:


banana smoothie

In this snippet, an image is present, there is a rating of the recipe, the time it takes to prepare and the number of calories it contains. It contains much more information than the normal snippet does, hence why we call it a rich snippet.


Other examples include:


  1. Rich cards: these are similar to rich snippets but designed specifically for mobile users
  2. The Google Knowledge Graph: this is essentially a database that collects data about keywords people frequently search for and the intent behind those keywords. It will display data from search results that it deems most relevant in the form of a panel to the right hand side of a results page, like the example below:

  3. banana smoothie

  4. Google carousels: These are built from the Knowledge Graph and are a collection of multiple rich results in a carousel style that can be scrolled through, an example is shown below when the term “hollywood actors” is searched for:

  5. banana smoothie


Conclusion

Using structured data in the correct way can help search engines understand clearly what your content is about, this in turn can generate more relevance which affects how high a website will appear in the search results for a given search term. Rich search results can also improve click-through rates and drive additional traffic to your website due to their eye catching nature and the additional information provided to searchers. For more information on structured data and how this can be improved for your website, please feel free to get in touch with us.

 

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