How to Boost Your Search Rankings with Structured Data Markup

Apr 23, 2015

Structured data markup is one of the most effective yet least-used methods of optimizing your web pages for improved ranking in the search results. Search engines use structured data to better understand your content. The better and more fully your content is understood, the more likely your pages will receive better ranking position for related search queries.

structured markup increases ranking

Most websites are little more than stored databases that provide the information to literally create the website on demand whenever the site’s URL is typed into a browser bar. The problem is that the raw HTML code used to generate the site is inherently difficult for the search engine to accurately understand. When structured data code (most commonly in the form of schema markup) is employed on your web pages, the search engine robots can more easily and effectively interpret your website’s content.

Getting Started with Structured Data Markup
The Structured Data Markup Helper is a free tool provided by Google that can help you get started incorporating structured data on your web pages. By using structured data, you’ll enhance the ability of Google to understand your content and increase the likelihood that your web pages will rank higher in the search results. As an added bonus, your content may be incorporated into Google’s Knowledge Graphs or Google Now cards, expanding your businesses’ share of the “online real estate” on the search results page.

Google, as well as many of the major search engines, supports the vocabulary for incorporating structured data onto your web pages. Schemas currently available include Persons, Events, Reviews, and Products.

The basic procedure is to submit one of your web pages to the Data Markup Helper tool, using your mouse to tag the page elements that you wish to optimize. When you are finished tagging the page, the Helper will generate the HTML code with microdata marked up. Simply download the code and embed it on your web page. When you’re done, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to test the accuracy of your page’s markup – just be sure to correct any errors found before you deploy your marked up page.

Do Keywords Still Matter?
The short answer is that keywords still matter, although their importance is slowly beginning to fade. As Google and other major search engines refine semantic search factors, more emphasis is placed on the implicit intent behind the search query rather than on the actual keywords used. These factors include such elements as who you are, where you’re launching your search query from, and what topics you’ve searched for in the past.

The emphasis on localization and personalization in search is increasing the importance of semantic SEO tactics and structured data. The continued growth of mobile search, which relies heavily on structured data, is expected to further erode the once dominant position of keywords. While keywords will probably never die off entirely, their time as the dominant factor in search engine optimization has clearly come to an end.

Will I Need to Hire a Coding Expert to Manage Structured Data for Me?
While structured data continues to use HTML code, you don’t need to be a coding expert to be able to incorporate structured data into your site. With the help of Google’s Structured Data Helper tool, even a relative novice can mark up web pages for semantic optimization. As long as you can access your website’s back-end admin panel, you should be able to manage your own structured data.