Structured Data and SEO

by Jim February 6, 2013

I had the honour last night of meeting and listening to, Sir Tim Berners Lee. What a great Knight! One of the things he is passionate about is the Semantic Web. Google loves it too that’s why they publish rich snippets in the SERPs now. Special thanks to @joshrowe and @piawaugh

We implement structured data on every client’s site we work on now. Ideally it is something your web developer should do when they build the site but as you create more content there are always more opportunities to add structured data so Google can understand the context of the content and how it relates to other content on the web.

What is Structured Data?

Simply put it is the process of putting tags in the code of a web page around some of the text or other objects so when a machine “reads” the the page it has an understanding of the context of various elements. For a human all we really need is punctuation and an understanding of the concepts the page is conveying. A machine needs more information though so it can relate it to other data it may have in its databases.

You and I understand that punctuation can save lives. Take this example. “Let’s cook Jim!” vs “Let’s cook, Jim”. In the second example I help prepare dinner rather than becoming it. For a machine we can take this a step further and explain to Google that “Jim” is indeed an actual human and that he has a job as a cook.
“Let’s <span itemprop=”jobTitle”>cook</span><span itemprop=”name”>Jim</span>” This is indeed a silly example but hopefully you get the idea.

Identify the SEO opportunities.

Depending on what sort of site you have there are many ways you can make use of structured data. Events, People, Places, Products, Videos, Movies, Restaurants and many other elements on your site can be better defined by using this process. Check out for the vast amount of resources on the subject and examples on how to use them. For most sites, the most important ones you should implement are address, phone numbers and general place information. If you run events or publish reviews or recipes there are other opportunities. If you are an ecommerce site there are many more opportunities. Also check out this article from Sir Tim Berners Lee on Linked Open Data.

Are you using structured data? Has it improved your ranking or traffic? We’d love to know.

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