Using Structured Data for Google SEO: Don't Miss Out on the Benefits
Search engines such as Google and Bing parse HTML pages and try to understand the page content and context. Since HTML is unstructured, the pages’ data may not be correctly extracted and indexed by search engines, resulting in poor search results.
For search engines to understand a page, structured data is introduced to provide explicit clues about what is on a page. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. For example, on a product page, this could be the product name, product brand, price, availability, and product reviews.
It should be noted that meta tags are a form of structured data that is consumed by Google Search and social sharing sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Read our blog on driving website traffic using Facebook Open Graph and Twitter Cards.
Structured Data Format
Most search structured data uses schema.org vocabulary. However, Google and Bing have their own set of alterations to the data fields.
There are three structured data formats supported by Google Search: microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD. Microdata and RDFa are mainly markup syntaxes. They rely on adding schema.org information directly to the HTML code already present on a page. This has proven challenging on Drupal dynamically generated markups as the hierarchy markup cannot be easily maintained.
Currently, the cleaner and more recommended implementation is to use JSON-LD, a JSON based Linked Data format. This means it relies on JSON to provide that same schema.org information to data consumers. JSON-LD is an alternative to the HTML markup and can be isolated as an island embedded into the HTML.
The Schema.org Metatag extends the Metatag module and primarily provides Google-supported Schema.org vocabulary. The structured data is displayed as JSON LD in the head of web pages. You can get a good idea of the type of Rich Results you will see on Google Search as a result of structured data on the Google search gallery page. The current supported Schema.org top-level (entity) object types are:
- Schema.org/ItemList (for Views)
Front Page schema.org
Although it is tempting to add all possible structured data on every page, it is not advisable to add structured data about information not visible or not present on the page. Some schema.org structured data is best placed on the front page only and is not needed on every page. These include the Organization, WebSite, and WebPage. For Organization, use the most specific subtype available. Google requires the @id, address, and name of the Organization. Other useful information to include, if available, is:
- Address and URL
- Geographic coordinates (to show on a map)
- Phone number
- Contact information
- Hours of operation
- For food establishments, the URL to the menu
WebPage is not covered by Google, but it will provide identity information, name, and logo. Google supports the Sitelinks search box section of WebSite structured data. Sitelinks search box provides a quick way to search your site on the search results page if your site has search implemented. This is done using the potentialAction property.
"query-input": "required name= seach_term_string"
For your news, blog, and articles page, adding Article structured data can enhance the appearance in Google Search results. Together with Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), the Article structured data can help your page to appear in various rich results such as Top Stories and Carousel.
Required properties are the headline, image, date published, author, and publisher. The headline has a limit of 110 characters due to the presentation of the rich result. Multiple images are supported, including responsive images. The publisher’s logo can be added, but this has a strict requirement; it must fit 60x600px. Exactly 60px high is preferred, or 600px wide.
We recommend adding the mainEntityOfPage to define the canonical URL of the article page.
Adding Product structured markup will attract potential customers since they are displayed on Google Search and Google Images results. A badge will be added to the Google Images result, encouraging users to click through to the content. Users can also see price, review rating, and availability on the result directly.
Name and either review, rating, or pricing are required. As with the added benefit of products showing up on Google Images, the image is highly recommended. For the image, item availability is required.
Q&A, HowTo, and FAQ Pages
A new SEO favorite, and for higher placement of search results, is to provide Google a Q&A format. The answer will show up as part of the question snippet before the normal search results. However, this is only applicable to one question, followed by its answers. The QAPage is primarily for forum use cases or a product support page where users can submit answers. Multiple answers are allowed, and one could specify the acceptedAnswer.
For the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page, use the FAQPage structured markup. This covers a list of questions and answers.
HowTo markup targets the instructional use case by explaining how to archive a result through a sequence of steps. The list of supplies required or the tool used can be added. Video how-to is supported as well.
Events can be made available to Google Search and Google Maps. Google makes the event more interactive, displaying event date, logo, date, location (map and direction), save the event, sharing, ticketing, etc. Both online and offline events are supported, and it’s even possible to have a mixed event. The eventAttendanceMode property determines this. eventStatus helps to set the status of the event; multiple values are possible. For example, if an event is rescheduled and moved online, have eventStatus set to both EventRescheduled and EventMovedOnline.
The required fields are name, start date, and location. Location can be a physical location or a virtual location, a URL, for example.