Frequently Asked Questions about Structured Data and Rich Results
Nowadays, almost every SEO professional or blog recommends using structured data on your website. But it can be complicated to understand what structured data is, if it helps with search engine rankings, and what all the different terminologies even mean.
To help you, we have answered most of the questions you may have by compiling all the important information into a bite-sized Q&A list.
Here are seven frequently asked questions about structured data and their answers
1. What is structured data?
Well, the most basic, common, and important question that local business owners often ask is, “what is structured data?”
Think of structured data as a snippet of code that allows Google to better understand and comprehend your web page and its different contents. Structured data makes it easier for search engines to understand what a web page is about.
Let’s see how Google defines structured data. According to Google, structured is “a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content.”
2. Are structured data and Schema the same?
Along with structured data, you must also have heard the term Schema quite a bit. These two terms are often used interchangeably. However, that is not completely correct. Schema and structured data are two different things.
As we just learned, structured data is a standardized format — a snippet of code — that allows search engines to better understand the contents of your web page.
Schema, on the other hand, is a collaborative project among different search engine companies: Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. Think of it as a vocabulary of tags (aka microdata) that you can add to your web page’s HTML code.
3. What are rich results?
Rich results is another term that is often mentioned when talking about structured data and Schema.
According to Google, “Rich results are experiences on Google surfaces, such as Search, that go beyond the standard blue link. Rich results can include carousels, images, or other non-textual elements.”
When you correctly use structured data on your web pages, those pages may become eligible for rich results. As a result, they may appear slightly differently — containing even more elements — on Google’s search engine results pages.
Here is an example of a rich search engine result from Yoast.com.
As you can see, the above search result does not just contain the meta title, URL, and meta description. It also contains many other elements, e.g., pricing, stock availability, product specifications, favicon, customer ratings, reviews, etc.
You can use this free tool by Google to quickly check if your web pages support rich results.
4. Can rich results improve the organic click-through rate?
As you can see in the above example, rich results are more distinctive on the SERPs. As a result, they attract more eyeballs and, therefore, clicks.
To answer the above question, yes, rich results can and do usually improve the organic click-through rate.
According to one case study, rich results improved the organic click-through rate by 111%. According to another study, the average organic CTR is around 49.5%. However, the average CTR for rich search engine results can go up to 58%.
5. Is structured data a local search engine ranking factor?
Now, to answer the big question: is structured data a search ranking factor?
Well, structured data is not a direct search engine ranking factor. This has been confirmed by Google’s John Mueller.
6. Can structured data help with local SEO?
If structured data is not a direct search engine ranking factor, why even use it? Does it help local business websites improve in search engine rankings?
Short answer: yes.
Even though structured data is not a direct search engine ranking factor, it can help boost search engine rankings indirectly in two ways:
- A better understanding of web pages. Because structured data can help search engines better understand a web page, it increases the chances of pages ranking higher for relevant keywords and search intent.
- Improved click-through rates. We just learned earlier that structured data could help improve the organic click-through rate. A higher CTR sends positive signals to Google that a lot of search engine users find your content useful and relevant to their search query. That encourages Google to push your web page higher on the SERPs.
In other words, although structure data is not a direct search engine ranking factor, it can indirectly help pages move up in the search engine rankings and get more traffic.
7. Which structured data type should local business websites use?
That depends on what type of local business website you have. Depending on the type of your business and the contents of your web pages, here are a few structure data types that you can use: