Content is more than just a blog post or a landing page. First of all, there are many types of it: from product descriptions and tutorials to announcements of upcoming events and job postings. Sometimes it’s not such an easy task for a search engine to identify what kind of content you want to showcase. That’s why including structured data is the principal step to helping web crawlers successfully complete this task.
Structured data is a unified code that describes information on a page. Let’s say, you have a website with product listings. In this case, structured data markup will point search engines to a product description, price, availability of products, user reviews, and ratings. In case of a scheduled event, you can specify the date, venue, program, ticket prices, and other details. Each content type has its own individual elements.
To mark up a page, you have to add special attributes to the HTML code. Unlike the contents of HTML tags , which users can see on their screens, structured data is hidden from the users’ eyes. However, search engines can understand the markup language and easily recognize page elements, correctly interpret the content, and display additional information about the page, product, and company in the SERPs.
Why use structured data
We have already mentioned the main reasons for marking up pages—it helps search engines better understand the content and makes your site stand out in the search results. Let’s take a closer look at all the benefits of using structured data.
- Structured data organizes content for search engines
If the page contains structured data, Google, Bing, and Yahoo! will analyze its content more efficiently and provide a richer browsing experience for users. Your site will appear in search results for very narrow queries, for example, when users look for prices, reviews, and so on.
- Structured data helps adjust the page to voice search
If the page indicates what type of content it contains—for example, tutorial, news, or recipes— Google Assistant will display this content for voice queries, such as “show news”, “answer a question”, “find a recipe”, and others.
- Structured data helps a website stand out in the SERPs
Search results that contain additional information aside from the title and the description are called rich snippets . These extended results, which may include an image, rating, price, etc., are more eye-catching compared to standard results and lead to more clicks. It means that when your page appears as a rich snippet, it will have a higher CTR .
A study shows that implementing structured data on a page increased the click-through rate by 51%.
In addition to rich snippets, a page with valid structured data can appear as a Knowledge Graph as well as display additional information about images and videos.
- Structured data makes the snippet more attractive on social media
Structured data tells what information should be displayed in the post on social networking sites. If you want your post to include a title along with an image, use the Open Graph markup.
How pages with structured data appear in search results
Thanks to structured data, rich results can display a rating, an FAQ section, a search bar, calories (in case of recipes), book author, and many other features. Later on, we will analyze several examples of the most popular types of rich snippets and the corresponding structured data markup. We will also see examples of other specific search result features and enhancements.
Structured data markup increases the chances of getting into the News, Images, Videos, Maps, and other sections.
Let’s take a look at these categories and what type of markup to use in each case.
Aside from the title and description, a snippet can contain an image, a publication date, or the last update. There are also different types of article markups, such as NewsArticle or BlogPosting. On the screenshots below, you will see how pages are displayed in the News section of Google, Bing, and Yahoo! as well as the markup code.
Structured data type and features: With the NewsArticle data type , you can label the article’s headline, the cover image, the datePublished, the dateModified, and the publisher. The same data can be added to a blog article, but the markup type should be BlogPosting .
What the NewsArticle markup can do: A more comprehensive snippet with images will help users decide if they want to click on the link.
Who should use it: News websites, blogs, and websites that have an Article category.
This structured data provides search engines with additional information about images. Such visual content is more likely to appear in the Images section of search results.
In addition to the page URL, the result can include an image title, caption, product description, price, availability, brand, and other information.
Bing and Yahoo! don’t display the same additional information as Google. Yet, adding schema helps them recognize a website’s data faster and thus prioritize these pages in search results.
Structured data type and features: To provide additional information about the image, use ImageObject data type . You can indicate the author and dateCreated, add a thumbnail and an image URL. If you want to see a product description next to the image, use the Product markup, which we will describe later.
What the ImageObject markup can do: It displays additional information about the image or a product in the Images section of the search results.
Who should use it: Websites that want to appear in the Image Search.
Video rich results
In the same way, structured data will provide search engines with additional information about videos, making them eligible to appear in the Videos section of Google SERPs. Such rich snippets will have bonus information that is different from the standard description. It will feature a preview image, the date the video was published, the number of views, etc.
Unlike Google, Bing and Yahoo! don’t display short descriptions. Yahoo! only shows when the video was published, whereas Bing displays the video duration, date of publishing, and the number of views. Bing and Yahoo! have supported video schema markup for many years and recommend using it to provide more information about a page with an embedded video.
Structured data type and features: With VideoObject data type , you can add the video title and description, the publishing date (datePublished), Thumbnail image (thumbnailUrl).
You can also include duration, genre, rating (contentRating), director, cast, the expiration date, the number of views (interactionStatistic), what countries have access to this content (regionsAllowed), and other information.
What the Video markup can do: The video is more likely to appear in the Video Search. Additional information will be displayed under the video link.
Who should use it: Websites with mainly video content, such as streaming services, educational platforms offering video tutorials, sites with video guides. Keep in mind that for the majority of requests, the Videos section will prioritize videos from YouTube.
Rich snippets and other elements in the SERPs
Let’s move on to rich snippets. This feature is offered by every major search engine. Just like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! recognize rich snippets for many content types, such as reviews, recipes, products and offers, people, events, businesses and organizations, and others. Although, instead of calling this feature “rich snippets”, Bing describes it as “visually appealing, information-rich search results.”
When looking for a recipe, you will probably see a lot of results containing images, reviews, cooking time, calories, and others. Such rich results are supported by Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
Structured data type and features: Recipe schema markup requires using two attributes—name and image. You can also add the preparation time (cookTime), the name of the person or company that created the recipe (author), the recipeCategory, the recipeCuisine, and so on.
What the Recipe markup can do: Such a snippet will display additional information about the dish and its preparation details. You can add a step-by-step cooking process or create a carousel with recipes.
Who should use it: Recipe websites.
This snippet will appear when users search for a specific type of product, for example, “AirPods”, a brand, or a particular model, for example, “Apple AirPods headphones”. Following the link, the user gets to the product card or the Product category.
Structured data type and features: Product data type must contain a name and one of the following attributes: reviews, aggregateRating, or offers.
You can also include an image, a manufacturer (brand or organization), a unique number (SKU), etc.
What the Product markup can do: The snippet will contain a price or price range for a product, its availability, rating, delivery terms, and so on.
Who should use it: Online stores and marketplaces.
When searching for a book, you will see the results containing an author, edition, language, book’s rating, its cost, and availability.
Book schema markup is supported by Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.
Structured data type and features: Book markup type is used for books and includes the book title (name), its author, bookEdition, extension (bookFormat), numberOfPages, aggregateRating, and price.
What the Book markup can do: It makes the snippet more visible and immediately provides the user with all the basic information about the book.
Who should use it: Book stores, libraries.
When searching for movies, structured data markup will display its genre, duration, director, actors, budget. Most rich snippets of this type include user ratings.
Structured data type and features: Movie structured data includes the name of the film and its cover. Additional information may include director, movie release date (dateCreated), overall rating (AggregateRating), reviews.
What the Movie markup can do: Right in the SERPs, the users can see additional information about the movie rating and can decide whether to watch it or not.
Who should use it: Streaming platforms, film review websites.
This snippet includes the title and description of a course or a selection of programs from an educational institution. However, this rich snippet can show up only in mobile search results.
What the Course markup can do: It helps attract more students to a course or educational program.
Who should use it: Course providers, companies recruiting potential employees for internships, online directories of educational institutions.
JobPosting markup may contain basic information about the opening: job title, job details, region, address, the expiration date of the job posting.
Structured data type and features: With the JobPosting structured data, you can specify the date of publishing (datePosted), job title, company name (hiringOrganization), working schedule (workHours), estimatedSalary, employmentType, educationRequirements, and experienceRequirements.
What the JobPosting markup can do: It helps your website get into the Job Search on Google and attract more job seekers. Additionally, you will be able to invite more motivated candidates by allowing them to filter results by various criteria, such as job title, salary, or location.
Who should use it: Employers and job search websites.
How-tos are the step-by-step instructions that can answer a user query right on the SERP. You can see such guides if your query begins with words “how to” or similar requests: “how to make a cappuccino” or “how to choose an avocado.”
Structured data type and features: HowTo walks users through steps, required tools (tool), materials (supply), totalTime, etc.
What the HowTo markup can do: It displays important information for the user in the snippet: the list of steps, time to complete a task, featured videos and images, etc.
Who should use it: Pages that describe directions or tips. You can also apply this markup to how-to articles featuring workflows with illustrations.
If your page has a list of multiple questions with answers related to a specific topic, you can mark up your FAQs with structured data. Users will then be able to click on one of the questions and see the answer. These snippets usually take you to an FАQ page.
Structured data type and features: For a question box to appear under the snippet, use the FAQPage data type with Question and Answer elements. Make sure each Question includes the full text of the question and each Answer includes the full text of the answer (acceptedAnswer).
The Answer structured data can include lists, subheadings, and links to other pages.
What the FAQPage markup can do: It can display an extended snippet, provide users with the necessary information in a concise form, and add links to other pages of the website.
Who should use it: The markup can be used in the Support and Help pages. The FAQPage type is used when the information belongs to the resource and is not part of user comments.
SITELINKS SEARCH BOX
This is a convenient and fast way for users to search your website from the SERP. Such snippets are usually displayed for branded queries, for example, “AirFrance flights”, “eBay smartphones”.
Structured data type and features: To make the search bar appear under the snippet, use the Website data type together with the SearchAction markup . The markup specifies the potential action (SearchAction), the query-input type, and adds a link to the site search (target).
What the SearchAction markup can do: Enables you to search for information on the site right from the SERP.
Who should use it: Large websites that have many categories, subcategories, and pages.
Like the Knowledge Graph, the event experience on Google is located on the right side of the SERP window. It helps people find and attend events in a particular region. Such a snippet contains the date, location, the list of participants, description of the event, ticket availability, and other data.
Structured data type and features: To get your event on Google, use Event markup which indicates the name, the date of the event (startDate), and the location. Other attributes may include description, company name, performer, ticket purchase page (offers.url), endDate, etc.
What the Event markup can do: It allows creating an attractive snippet with photos and a logo, be displayed on Maps, inform more people about the event, and attract new participants. By the way, you can feature both offline and online events.
Who should use it: Festivals, conferences, and other events.
Schema.org vocabulary and markup formats
You’ve probably noticed that all our examples of rich snippets and other search results link to schema.org . Following these links, you will see the guidelines and the lists with properties and descriptions for each markup type.
Schema.org vocabulary is one of the main standards for semantic markup in HTML5 that Google, Yahoo!, and Bing use. This unified standard allows adding structured data to web pages and improving their appearance in the results of different search engines.
For each type of structured data, different search engines have their own recommendations and guidelines.
See how to use structured data markup in Google and Bing Webmaster Tools .
There are three ways to use schema.org properties on a web page: with the help of microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD.