Let’s say that you’ve done everything right. You’ve created a killer website and even had a few blog posts or articles shared amongst your friends and family. We’ll even say that you’ve been analyzing your website, looking at your traffic and determining what makes your visitors jump in excitement. But, you can’t seem to break through the glass ceiling and into the world where having a website really matters.
This will undeniably leave you staring at your website thinking, “Now what?” Naturally, there is so much more to building a website than simply creating awesome content and getting it shared on social media. In fact, there is an entire world out there that simply revolves around content marketing and different ways to bring that content to new audiences.
Content marketing is a huge part of what makes or breaks a website. Your content has to be geared towards search engines so that it will pop up in search results. It must have keywords that pop out and mesh with what people are actually searching. But, here’s the secret, your website must have all this built into it too.
This is where structured data enters the picture. Structured data is something that can greatly improve the ranking of your website. Unfortunately, it is something that many web designers overlook as an important feature.
What is the Purpose in Structured Data?
When we use our human minds to view a website, we have a certain capability to understand it well. This is because it was written by another human; someone who we can relate to and understand. Computers, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of having a human mind. They are made up of wires and computer code, and don’t understand the way that we think any more than we understand the way that they think.
Because we are so different, computers must do a few different things in order to understand what we are trying to say with our website. Search engines are forced to ‘crawl’ our website looking for particular words that will help the system to make sense of the meaning of the content on the pages.
With these words, the search engine is then able to place our websites in line with others in a search result. The process is actually pretty amazing if you really think about it. Computers have finally found a way to communicate with us. But, because of our differences, they don’t always get it right.
For example, let’s assume that your website is about mustangs. You fill your pages with everything about this breed of horses. Everything from their wild streak to the beautiful colors that make up their coats. While it is extremely obvious to humans that you are talking about horses, a search engine will have a difficult time deciding if you are talking about an animal or a car.
It needs a bit more information to help get your site in the right spot. This is what structured data does for search engines. It gives more information about the words on your page. With this information, search engines will know exactly where to place your site and which type of audience will enjoy it.
How does it Work?
So, now that we understand the concept behind structured data, we need to understand more about how it works. When you perform just about any web search, you are likely to see some examples of structured data.
When the list pops up, you are going to see quite a few things. In some instances, you may receive a direct answer. This occurs when you have asked Google a question. In other instances, you may see a list of links to websites. On these times, you will probably notice that some stand out more than others.
Why is that? Probably because the link is actually more than a link. Either the link also has a small picture attached to it or there is a bit more information than normal. This is an example of structured data. The designers of the website in question have done a little more work in order to make their content pop out. Most of the time, they use microdata to do this work, but microformats and RFDa are also popular options.
What do I do now?
The key to doing this correctly is to give search engines the information that they need in the background. This means that you will need to format the HTML code to explain exactly what your website is about. So, if you have a website about mustangs, your microdata should inform the search engines that you are writing about mustang horses.
The important thing to remember is that you need to be careful about the keywords that you include and make sure that they will be picked up properly by the search engines. Spend some time researching the exact phrases that your target market enters so that you are one of the first ones that they notice.
You will also have the option to add more information when you are working with microdata through the HTML code on your website. Adding this information along with a tag for your content is what makes it so stand out even more from the crowd.