This is a sponsored post provided by Paid Traffic.

Structured data makes it possible for search engines to better understand the content on a page.

For example, let’s say you run a website on movie reviews. Wrapping the title “Avatar” tells the browser to display that text in a header format. But the HTML tag doesn’t provide any additional information about what the text actually means. It could refer to the hugely popular movie or a profile picture on a social network.

What structured data does then is that it adds additional information to your website. These markups enable search engines to display enhanced and informative results depending on the search query. Chances are you have seen search results with rich snippets in them.

Here is an example from a site that has schema markup for one of its recipes:

The markup shows an overall rating of the recipe based on 726 votes, the time it takes to prepare, and even how many calories it has. It also has an appetizing picture that is sure to lure visitors in. That kind of information is incredibly helpful for end users.

Now look at the following Google search result:

The differences are immediately apparent. Visitors looking for recipes would be find the first result far more appealing and useful.

Web pages can be marked up with microdata from, a collaborative effort among major search engines for schema markup. The site houses a vast library that webmasters can use to markup their web pages. There are hundreds of data types but these are some of the more common applications:

  • Articles
  • Restaurants
  • Reviews
  • Movies
  • Events
  • Products
  • Local

The big question you’re probably asking is how structured data affects SEO.

How Structured Data Can Boost Your SEO

Despite Google’s claims that structured data isn’t a ranking factor, there is data to suggest a correlation. A study from Searchmetrics analysing the top 50 results for its keyword set found that websites with schema markup rank on average four positions higher than websites without any markup.

The results indicate there is some correlation between schema markup and higher rankings. But the report is quick to note that it could be due to other factors:

“It may not be the case that pages are actually preferred by Google just because they provide schema integrations, and maybe the higher rankings can be explained by the fact that webmasters who use integrations are one step ahead of the competition due to other factors that affect their rankings in a positive way.”

Regardless, using schema markup offers several distinct advantages.

Using structured data makes it easier for search engines to identify the type of content on your site. For example, video results are typically shown with a thumbnail while product reviews are shown with star ratings. These rich snippets help to boost the visibility of those pages in the search results. And better visibility can lead to higher click through rates which have a positive impact on rankings.

Surprisingly though, Searchmetrics found that only 0.3% of the 50 million domains analysed had schema markup. This means there are millions of sites that are missing out on SEO potential, something that you can use to your advantage.

Here we look at how to implement structured data on your site and control how it appears in the search results.

  1. Use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper provides detailed documentation on adding different types of markup to your site. But marking up your pages requires some knowledge of HTML as you will need to edit the code on your site.

Google offers a more simplified solution of adding structured data to your pages with its Structured Data Markup Helper tool:

Note that the tool lets you add structured data to an HTML email. But for now, we’ll be looking at how to add it to webpages.

  1. Select a Data Type

Next, you’ll need to select a data type which is simply data that can be categorized. Here are the data types available to choose from:

  • Articles
  • Book Reviews
  • Events
  • Local Businesses
  • Movies
  • Products
  • Restaurants
  • Software Applications
  • TV Episodes
  • TV Episodes with Ratings

The list is certainly not exhaustive as there are hundreds of data types from Choose a data type that is relevant to the page you want to markup. If you are a local business, then you’ll want to choose “Local Businesses”. For this example, we’ll use Articles as it’s one of the more common data types.

  1. Paste in a Page URL to Markup

After selecting a data type, enter in the URL you wish to markup.

If you have an existing web page that is already live, then pasting in the URL is the simplest way to go as you can quickly highlight the different on-page elements to markup. Even if you want to markup a page that isn’t live yet, you can simply paste the page’s HTML into the tool.

Here we’ll insert a URL from a blog post on our Paid Traffic site:

Then click the Start Tagging button to get started.

  1. Highlight and Select the Data Type to Mark Up

If you were expecting the tool to automatically mark up the page, you’re about to be disappointed. You’ll need to highlight and identify the elements on your page to mark up. Google makes this a relatively straightforward process by displaying your web page on the left pane and data items on the right pane.

Earlier we selected the Article data type so the list will show data items for articles. What you see will depend on the data type that you select.

The first data item is “Name” so we’ll start with highlighting the name of the article. After you highlight an element on the page, a tooltip will automatically display.

Selecting “Name” from the list will add it to the data item on the right pane:

Next, you’ll want to tag other data types that are relevant to your article such as Author, Date Published, URL, etc. For certain elements that don’t appear on the page (e.g. URL), click the Add Missing Tags button on the right pane.

From here you’ll be able to manually enter tags that can’t be highlighted.

Try to mark up as many tags as you can. Don’t worry if you can’t add everything but do try to add the more important data items.

  1. Create and Add the Schema Markup Code

Once you finish tagging the page, click the Create HTML button at the top of the page.

Then the right pane will display the HTML of your web page with the relevant microdata added.

The highlighted snippets are the schema markup code that you’ll need to add to your site’s code. You can find these from the yellow markers on the scrollbar. Then copy the code (or download it) and paste directly into your CMS. When Google crawls your page again, the indexing algorithms will process the markup and make it eligible to display rich snippets.

Note that the tool allows you to switch to the JSON-LD format with the toggle at the top of the right pane. This format is actually recommended by Google but you can still use the microdata format.

  1. Use the Structured Data Testing Tool

Finally, you’ll want to use yet another tool from Google to test the code. The Structured Data Testing Tool checks and verifies that your markup is accurate.

Even if your page is not yet live, you can insert code from the Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

Paste in the code and click the “Run Test” button. The tool will take a few moments to validate the code and will also return any errors if there are any. Be sure to keep the markup helper tool open as you may need to go back. Then click the Preview button to see how the page will look in the search results.

Final Thoughts

Schema markup enables search engines to better understand your site’s content. Examples include ratings for products reviews, links to upcoming events, thumbnails for articles, and even prep times for recipes. These kinds of rich snippets provide better and more informative results to users. There is also data to suggest a correlation between using schema markup and better rankings.
Yet despite the clear advantages, few businesses actually markup their pages. Taking the time to implement schema markup can give your site an SEO boost and make it more appealing in the search results. Follow the steps laid out here to start marking up your pages.