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Structured Markup - What is That?

Google Wants Structured Markup

I've been in the Website Design industry from the start. My first website was in 1994. Lots of things have changed since then and more will change. Right now, we're at one particular point of the Information Age and in website design and development. Years from now, we'll look back on 2015 and see all that has changed. For now, we need to do all that we can to help our clients.

There are a lot of little details that go into website design. We frankly could do a better job of explaining to our clients all the we do but it's tough. Some of it is so technical that it's difficult to explain and we know that business owners really don't care. They just want a website that's done right.

Some of the things that are difficult to explain are things that you can't really see. Things like meta tags are in the code and not seen on a web page. When you show the code to a client, they see it as gibberish. They just know that things like that matter - just like how you need oil in your car's engine.

All those little things add up. We've seen prospects bring websites to us that were just done and we easily find 10-20 things that were not done. These are things we do with every project. It seems some other developers don't take the time to get things done and make sure everything's done right. This is probably why we're not the cheapest website design in the area. We charge a little more but you're going to get all these little details done right.

Structured Data

We've been using structured markup (also known as microdata and rich snippets) for a while now. It's one of those little things we do. It can be anything from the company address to other data like product data, movie titles and so on. You can see the entire, official data architecture over at schema.org. I actually hope you click on that link and take a quick look at it. My guess is you'll see it and go "yuck - I don't want to deal with that!" because that's why we're in business - we understand this stuff. You have your business to run and don't need to know what it is.

Google hints that sites not using structured markup could see their rankings fall (wordtracker.com)

Google’s data highlighter makes it easy to add rich snippets and data markup to your web content fairly quickly. You can use this tool to flag up certain types of content to Google for a more enhanced search presence.

Currently, structured markup can be used with the following types of data:

  • Articles
  • Events
  • Local Businesses
  • Restaurants
  • Products
  • Software Applications
  • Movies
  • TV Episodes
  • Books

Basically, it's data you're starting to see in search results.

When I search for "movie times madison wi" I get this:

At the top, Google has taken the structured data that it has gathered and is showing results right there.

This is a bit like the start of artificial intelligence on the Web. It's an aggregation of data from multiple sources, most likely. Because I own a website that shows movie listings in Madison, I kind of hate that Google is showing the data that I have to pay to get. I pay another company to get the movie data and show it on MadisonClick but now Google is showing this data for free, without the ads on my website next to it. Not cool.

You're also seeing structured data when you search for definitions. For example, search for "e90 model years" and you see information before the results - like this:

structured-data-search-results

Here, they're actually saying that the results are from Wikipedia but they're kind of scraping the content from that page and showing it to the searcher without them visiting that website. That's less traffic for that website. I personally don't think that's fair but it might get someone to click on that link since it's a preview of what they'll see if they go to that website.

Structured Data and Your Website

So now that you know what structured data is, how can you effectively use it on your website?

Even though I've been kind of a "Debbie Downer" on the subject so far, there are good uses for it.

Study: Position 1 In Search May Get Fewer Clicks Than Position 2 With Rich Snippets (searchengineland.com)

Rich snippets can provide a 26% lift in clicks on the second search listing, says a Blue Nile Research study.

Rich snippets, often enabled by adding structured markup to your code, can potentially add stars, images, videos and so forth to the search results you see on Google or Bing. The richer user experience often leads to searchers paying more attention to the search results with the rich snippets versus the basic snippets.

Blue Nile Research claims that rich snippets in position 2 will have a 61 percent click capture rate, whereas no rich snippets on position 1 would have a 48 percent click share. This is compared to no rich snippets in position 2, which would result in only a 35 percent click share. So there is a 26-percent increase in the percentage of clicks the second result sees, if that second result has rich snippets.

Items like ratings, images and video are example of structured data that can help your business. Having your address, phone and industry listed is also good information that you should be sharing with Google to help improve where you rank with search results.

Conclusion

If you have a business website (or any website), you should be using structured data. It's that simple. You want to make sure the website design company you choose is covering all the small things like this. If they aren't, then you might find out too late that you've been missing out on higher rankings and more website traffic because your previous designer forgot to do something. Don't take that chance - contact Webstix today.

-Tony

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