Lesson 1: What is Structured Data?

Hey and welcome back. Nice to have you in the first lesson of module 1 of my Structured Data Training Course. In this lesson I want to answer the question, what Structured Data is and why it is important for SEO.

Transcript

I’m Florian, the developer of SNIP, the Rich Snippets and Structured Data Plugin for WordPress. If you want to use the plugin, please feel free to do so.

As you may already know, getting high rankings is hard work. It isn’t as easy as just writing a blog post and wait to rank high. Nowadays SEO consists of:

  • finding the right title,
  • the right keywords,
  • the right amount of words,
  • the usage of images,
  • but also the usage of Social Media,
  • the design of a web page,
  • page speed,
  • security,
  • and a lot more.

I like the saying that „search engines try to think like a human being“. What is your goal when you enter a search term in a search engine like Google? Of course you want to get the best result.

What is the best result? Of course, the one that delivers the best content. But not only that.

You want that the search result appears within seconds. You don’t want to wait 30 seconds until you see something on the screen, right?

Of course, you want the site to be structured and good-looking. At the latest since the iPod and the iPhone we all know that design counts, too. So, you want to stand out.

If you get this you suddenly understand that your website needs to be top-notch in every aspect.

So to some it all up: In order to get good rankings and to keep your rankings well you should be awesome whenever possible.

Everything that I’ve explained now is very user-centric. That means you do everything to attract a user that visits your website and to achieve a goal.

Maybe that he or she buys something, clicks an affiliate link or whatever.

But there is more. And this is where Structured Data kicks in. It’s definitely not that much user-centric. And this brings us to the next question:

Why do I need Structured Data if it’s not user-centric?

Structured Data is part of technical SEO because – well – it’s technical. It will NOT influence the experience of the user on your website but it does in your search results as I describe later.

In the first place it’s more a help for Google and other search engines to give them a better understanding what is on your website. I will discuss this more in the next lesson.

For now it’s important to understand that Structured data is metadata. Here is an example:

If you own a new smartphone that can take pictures and has built in GPS the photo-app will probably save the current location in the metadata of your image. This metadata is not visible on the picture but readable by other apps like the Pictures App on the iPhone.

It can show you on a map where the picture was taken. So it’s almost the same with Structured Data on websites.

The cool thing is that some of the Structured Data will produce a so called Rich Snippet on search results.

Your normal snippet consist of the 

  • title
  • the URL
  • and a little description of what is on that page.

A Rich Snippet on the other hand is enriched with additional information. For a product snippet you would see a

  • user rating,
  • a price
  • and the availability of the item.

If you are on the podcast right now, you may remember a search result where you saw exactly this.

As you can imagine: this definitely attracts more users. Because you stand out!

So let’s sum everything up once again:

  • Search engines try to mimic human beings. They want to find the best search results for a search query.
  • Normally SEO consist of a great users experience, great content, Social Media and much more.
  • But technical SEO is also very important. Things like page speed matter as well
  • Structured data is meta data. Data that is hidden to the user but readable by search engines.
  • Structured data will not influence the experience on your website but on search engines because they sometimes create enriched search results. These results are then called „Rich Snippets“.

Cool? Cool. In the next lesson I will answer the question how the invisible stuff that we now call Structured Data works exactly.