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Getting your structured data right is key to successful SEO

Categories: SEO

Earlier this year, we published our marketer’s 2019 SEO checklist and structured data was high on our list of recommendations for this year. Results pages are no longer simple lists of 10; Google is increasingly featuring rich results and other SERP features throughout the page.

Structured data is your way of giving Google the information it needs about your content to get it featured in these rich snippets.

Getting your content seen in a more competitive search

Google has had to change the way it sorts and presents content on its results pages, largely thanks to the rise of mobile search. Less screen space has forced the tech giant to rethink its formatting, but there are other factors the search engine and marketers both have to consider:

  • More content is being published than ever – 1.8 million new pages per day.
  • More types of content are being published than ever – articles, reviews, videos, live streams, FAQs etc.
  • Google is integrating new technologies into search – voice, featured snippets, AMP etc.
  • Device, location and previous searches impact the results shown to each individual user.

How does structured data help?

Structured data essentially does two things here. First, it provides Google with more information about your pages so it can deliver them for the most relevant queries and get your pages seen by the most relevant audience.

Google home images using structured data to show product info in search results

How product pages appear in Google Search & Google Image Search with structured data

It also allows Google to present your listings as rich results, giving users more information about your content so they can see it delivers what they’re looking for. As things stand, there are 28 rich results formats including article (AMP and non-AMP), carousel, livestream, product, recipe, review snippets, video and more.

Chicken recipes shown in carousel using structured data

Carousels allow you to rank multiple pages relevant to the same query – for example, the best chicken recipes from Food.com

You can see the full list here. It’s worth getting familiar with them to understand which formats are relevant to the kind of pages and content you’re creating – or even to spot new opportunities.

We’re seeing some incredible results with structured data

As Google continues to introduce new rich feature formats and ways to mark up your pages, we’re constantly testing them out to see what kind of impact they can have. One of the latest structured data additions is Q&APage schema.

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Google confirmed it was testing new verticals for Q&A pages, FAQs and How-to content last year. The markup for all three of these formats is already available at Schema.org but the only one currently supported by Google is Q&A pages, which we’ve been testing out for our clients.

Q&A example with answers showing in a carousel

As the name suggests, the Q&A page format is designed for pages where a single question is answered by more than one respondent. Here’s how Google words this explanation:

“Q&A Pages are web pages that contain data in a question and answer format, which is one question followed by its answers.”

This format is not designed for pages featuring multiple questions (e.g. FAQs) and it’s important you understand the distinction between different structured data formats. Marking your pages up with the wrong structured data is only going to cause problems so make sure you follow Google’s guidelines and refer to Schema.org documentation if necessary.

Getting back to our own tests with Q&A pages, after applying the relevant structured data to suitable pages, we’ve seen content that didn’t previously rank at all (outside the top 100 results) suddenly jump up into first page positions (top 1-10 results).

Example of how structured data can result in a featured snippet

Featured snippet success

We’ve also seen these pages appear in featured snippets – right at the top of SERPs – for industry-related questions, which is incredible for content that wasn’t even ranking before we applied the Q&A pages structured data.

Graph showing increase in impressions following implementation of structured data

You can see where the uptake in impressions occurred and that the impact was almost immediate (the red arrow indicates where we implemented structured data for this page). This means we’ve been able to turn relatively dead content into front page Google Search results and a viable lead generation tool by applying the Q&A page structured data to relevant content.

This gives you an idea of what can be done with structured data, but this isn’t the only format that can make this kind of impact. Create the kind of content your target audiences are looking for and give Google the data it needs to deliver it for you most effectively – this is what structured data is all about.

Review QAPage mark up in Google Search Console

Google has also made it easier to check the implementation of QAPage schema by including it in Google Search Console, under the Enhancements tab.

QAPage scheme mark up

If you want to read up on the more technical side of applying structured data to your pages, this guide from Google is a good place to start. You’ll also want to get familiar with Schema.org markup and read up on Google’s documentation for how to add structured data to your pages.

As always, if you have any questions, reach out to us on social media or pick up the phone to speak with our SEO team.

George journey to becoming an SEO Specialist started as he became fascinated by trying to understand how people think in a digital capacity. His career in Digital Marketing started working in-house at various companies, studying different markets and working on all aspects including SEO, Social Media, PPC and strategy development.

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