Development

The importance of structured data

We all want to get the best possible results from our Google rankings, and this can often feel like a bit of a minefield.

You may remember we recently wrote a blog post on how we can define important content on websites to help ensure good ranking for relevance in search engines. In that article we discussed how Google reads data on websites to rank it’s relevance, compared to the way you or I read the data.

Well, Google has recently updated their guidance on how to structure data, including advice on the importance of “hidden” micro data / tags. These tags help to define how search engines interpret the different types of information on a web page (from addresses to events, and other structured forms of data).

The full, somewhat technical guidance can be seen here https://developers.google.com/structured-data/. However, here’s our rather more human-readable version…

We are all familiar with the concept of meta tags and keyword rich web copy in order to improve search engine listings, but the emphasis on micro data takes the art of defining important content to a whole new level.

When we search for information we can scan a page of text and make a quick judgement on whether it has any relevance to us. For example, if you are reading a restaurant reviews section on a website, the restaurant opening hours and location are usually fairly obvious to the human eye. However, the technology that powers search engines has only a limited understanding of the text. They simply don’t understand the nuances or meanings of the written text. This is where structured data and schematics come in.


What changes we need to make

During the coding / html stage of a website, we can mark up web pages with schematic coding and add micro data within the underlying html code. This coding is not visible to the viewer of the web page as it is embedded within the code itself, but it is essential in communicating the relevance of the information to search engines.

A structured series of schematics within the page, that are easily understood by search engines, is an essential tool in the battle to win those coveted ‘First Page’ listings, and to really push the website up the relevance rankings.

These schematics could define:

Events
Organisations
People
Places, Local Business, Restaurants etc...
Products or Offers
Reviews
CreativeWorks (Books, Music, Audio Recordings)

Embedded non-text objects including:
Audio clips
Images
Videos

Full details of what structured data can be used is available at http://schema.org and the specifications are currently being upgraded.

Micro data and google breadcrumbs

Google also use some of their own definitions to display more friendly breadcrumbs instead of long URL’s in the mobile results index.

For example the full URL of this page has been turned into breadcrumbs as this screen shot shows.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/06/tim-minchin-poem-storm-the-animated-movie-youtube

If you would like some more information on any of the recent mobile updates please get in touch!

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