What is structured data, Schema.org and Rich Snippets

Structured data is becoming more necessary every day. Not only do they help search engines understand your content and refine your results.

When you combine them with Schema.org, they enhance your pages with rich Snippets, triggering the possibilities of receiving clicks.

What exactly are the structured data? And most importantly, how to use them on your website?

In this guide I explain everything to you and I give you the tools you need to generate and validate them.

 

What is structured data?

Structured data is information for machines and consists of a series of labels or annotations that describe the content of your web pages . Users can not see them, but robots do, which use them to understand what they are going to index.

By providing search engines with information about your content, you greatly facilitate their function. Instead of facing complex user questions with just keywords , they now have an arsenal of concepts and meanings.

The structured data has given way to what is known as semantic search  and which has its bases in the knowledge graph ; a network of interconnected places, things, people and events to provide more accurate and relevant results.

The only thing structured data needs to work is a vocabulary that all robots understand, and this is where Schema.org comes in .

What is Schema.org?

Schema.org is a universal dictionary for the semantic marking of web data. In other words, it is a collection of words that anyone can use to describe their contents.

It emerged in 2011 as a result of collaboration between the main search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo !, Yandex) and is one of the most widespread initiatives of the semantic movement .

Its success lies in having managed to standardize and simplify the process of marking web content, while providing benefits for it, such as rich snippet.

What are the Rich Snippets?

The rich snippets are the highlighted information that appears under the search results, such as the price of a product, the stars of valuation and the opinions of customers .

It is a type of additional information that makes the result more prominent in searches, which helps to capture the attention of users and receive more clicks .

Google displays rich snippets for products , recipes , reviews , events , apps , videos and articles . To opt for them, the search engine needs to understand the content of the page, something that is achieved thanks to the combined use of structured data and Schema.org .

Do the rankings improve with structured data / Schema.org?

It’s a topic that has been talked about a lot. The logical thing is to think that the search engines will understand your pages better and, therefore, they will decide to show them more often.

Google analyst John Mueller has spoken of this saying that the future is likely to use structured data in its classifications. However, it is not what is happening right now.

Structured data does not affect the rankings and you should not assume that they will position you better. If once implemented increases the traffic to your site, it will be because of the improvement in the click rate (CTR), but not by appearing above.

Methods to implement structured data

To show off rich snippets you need to implement structured data on your site. It is what is known as marking or semantic labeling and which consists of describing the web content.

There are two ways to carry it out:

  1. Collating descriptions in the content ( Micro data and RDFa )
  2. Adding a block of code with all the descriptions ( JSON-LD )

Below I explain each of these methods:

Method 1: Microdata and RDFa

Both the Microdata and RDFa are a series of HTML tags (not to be confused with meta tags ) that associate the content of the page with the vocabulary of Schema.org.

To give you an idea of ​​how it works, here is an example of marking with Microdata. It is a page that shows the name of a person, their photo and website:

<div itemscope itemtype = "http://schema.org/Person"> 
 Name: <span itemprop = "name"> Preety </ span> 
 Photo: <img src = "http://www.linuxedge.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/pretty.png" itemprop ="image "alt ="pretty.png"/> 
 Web: <a href ="http://www.linuxedge.org" itemprop = "Url">http://www.linuxedge.org</a> 
 </ div>

Notice how the bold labels describe the known characteristics of the person by attributes:

  • Itemscope – Indicates that you are going to talk about something (an item ) within the <div> block .
  • Itemtype – Indicates that something is a person .
  • Itemprop – Indicates the known characteristics of the person ( name , image and URL ).

Method 2: JSON-LD

Instead of collating HTML tags between the content, JSON-LD embeds the description in a separate code fragment ( script ). In this way the implementation is easier, since the code can be placed in block on any part of the page.

Continuing with the example of the person , marking with JSON-LD would be done like this:

<script type = "application / ld + json">
 {
 " @context ": "http://schema.org",
 " @type ": "Person",
 " name ": "Pretty",
 " image ":pretty.png "  ",
 " url ":" http://deteresa.com "
 }
 </ script>

As you can see, the simplest method to implement and it is clearer what the labels describe ( name, image, url ).

The biggest drawback of JSON-LD is that it forces you to repeat all the content that is going to be marked. This implies that if there is a lot of data to be marked, the page will grow and the loading speed could suffer.

On the other hand, Google does not yet support the JSON-LD markup for all types of data , hence it recommends using Microdata and RDFa as the first option.

Other methods: Microformatos and Open Graph

In addition to the indicated methods, other two often enter the scene, creating more confusion, if possible:

  • Microformats – They work in a similar way to Microdata and RDFa, with the difference that they contribute their own vocabulary. That is, they do not use Schema.org.
  • Open Graph – It is a markup format created by Facebook to indicate the data that should be used when sharing a page (eg title, description, image, etc.). It is good to use OG as a complement to Schema.org, but not to replace it.

In short, neither the Microformatos nor Open Graph do not use the Schema.org vocabulary. Therefore, it is not a good idea to use them exclusively to mark content.

How to make the structured data markup

Now that you know how structured data works, it’s time to mark the data  on your website. You have several options:

1. By manual

Dialing data by manual means taking the outline of what you want to describe (either in Microdata or JSON-LD format), fill in the known data and paste it into the HTML code of the page. It is a simple method, but also tedious and impractical for dynamic pages.

You can get the schemas in these sites:

2. With tools

A somewhat more immediate method than the previous one, is to fill in a form with the known data to obtain a code that you can copy and paste. It’s easier than by hand, but again I recommend it only for static pages.

Here are the most popular generators:

  • Google Structured Data Marking Assistant – Enables the generation of HTML markup in an interactive way, selecting the elements to be marked on the same page.
  • Raven Schema Creator – Generates the most common structured data schema with Schema.org and microdata. Its operation is as simple as filling in the fields and copying the scheme on the website.
  • Micro Data Generator – Similar to the previous tool; you enter the basic information and convert it into the tagging structure of Schema.org with microdata.
  • Joe Hall JSON-LD Schema Generator – Generates structured data in JSON-LD format from the data entered in the form.
  • Sistrix Video Schema Markup Generator – Exclusive for the tagging of Youtube and Vimeo videos, this tool generates the necessary code to mark videos on your website.

3. With plugins

It is the ideal alternative for content managers (CMS). Depending on the type of data to be marked, they add a form to the editing window of the page, or they do the marking automatically.

Word Press

  • Schema Creator by Raven – The same functionality of the Raven online tool integrated in WordPress. It allows adding Schema.org and microdata to entries and pages.
  • All in One Schema Rich Snippets – Insert the necessary structured data to opt for the main types of rich snippets in search engines, in addition to adding the Facebook Open Graph metadata.
  • Yoast SEO – Adds Schema.org to various elements, specifically, the RDFa markup to the breadcrumbs and JSON + LD to the internal search engine. It also inserts the social metadata of Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The payment plugins Video SEO, Local SEO and WooCommerce SEO incorporate additional marking.
  • WordLift – It allows to organize contents by means of concepts or entities following the specifications of Schema.org.

Joomla

  • J4Schema – Incorporates a visual attribute editor for Schema.org. After selecting a text, you can add the appropriate attributes. Integrates with Virtuemart and K2.

Drupal

  • Schema.org – Allows associating content to different Schema.org schemas, as well as specifying the corresponding attributes.

Magento

  • MSemantic  – Add the Schema.org markup to the product pages.

4. With Data Highlighter

It is a virtual alternative to the marking of web data. It consists of tagging the data on the page itself through a search engine tool.

It is the ideal option when you do not have the resources or the time to implement the webmaster markup. The only downside is that it only works for the search engine that provides the tool.

Currently, Google is the only one that offers a data marker , and it does so within Search Console.

Structured data validators

After checking the data on your website it is good to make sure that you have done it correctly. The complex syntax of structured data, together with the wide variety of available classes, make them prone to errors like few things.

Here is a complete list of testers from a collection of Aaron Bradley :

General purpose validators

They are tools to check the marking in multiple formats. They are oriented to web search, mainly.

  • Google structured data test tool – Allows you to validate HTML pages marked with microdata, RDFa, RDFa Lite and JSON-LD, either by entering the code directly or through a URL. It includes examples of all kinds, from logos to search boxes in site links, through events, actions and various rich snippets, among others.
  • Bing mark validator – To access the tool it is necessary to be logged in Bing Webmaster Tools . It only accepts validation by URL, but it can be used to validate the URLs of any domain, not just those of your account.
  • Structure data validator of Yandex – Allows to validate microdata, Schema.org, microformatos, Open Graph and RDF. Accepts validation via URLs and HTML code snippets.
  • Structure data Linter – Validation and visualization of marking with microdata, JSON-LD and RDFa. It also allows to check vocabulary schemes Schema.org, FOAF, SIOC, SKOS and Dublin Core (DCMI).

Specific validators

Useful to check the marking in specific formats, such as Microdata, RDFa, JSON-LD, and even Open Graph and Gmail.

Converters

They allow to translate the syntax of one format to another.

  • RDF Translator – A multiformat translator for structured data. Convert from and to RDFa, Microdata, JSON-LD, RDF / XML, RDF / JSON, among others. It allows to translate from a URL or a text and it has API for developers.
  • Convert RDFa to JSON-LD – Markers for the translation of RDFa to JSON-LD, and from Microdata to RDFa.
  • Convert Wikipedia URL to DBpedia URL – Bookmark for the translation of a Wikipedia page to its equivalent in DBpedia .

Chrome extensions

Useful to check the marking of data on the flight.

  • Microdata.reveal – Analyzes the page loaded in the browser and displays a green icon when it finds microdata embedded in the code. Clicking on the icon displays a popup window with the data view (HTML or JSON).
  • Microdata / JSON-LD sniffer – Similar to the previous one, it shows an icon in the navigation bar when it finds Microdata or JSON-LD on the page. By clicking on the icon, it allows you to explore the data.
  • Semantic Inspector – Another extension that shows an icon if the page contains Microdata and that presents it in a schematic way.
  • META SEO Inspector – Useful to inspect structured data. It differs from the previous extensions in that it clearly indicates the missing data or if there are errors. It also shows the Open Graph and Twitter cards annotations.
  • Green Turtle RDFa – RDFa 1.1 viewer with similar operation to previous extensions. When you find data on the page, it shows an icon in the browser bar; when clicking on it, a triple chart is generated.

Caution notes (guidelines)

To finish, keep in mind that before using structured data you must know the rules of the game in the search engines. Any attempt to manipulate by invisible, irrelevant or deceptive content may result in a penalty .

Below you have the guidelines of the main search engines:

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