A little over a month ago, Google introduced a new report into Webmaster Tools: Structured Data. This new report allows website owners to access the types and amount of structured data that Google finds on the website.
Why would Google create this report? What is its benefit to webmasters? As Google continues to encourage site owners to incorporate schema.org through structured data, this tool now allows website owners a clear view into what structured data Google is seeing on a website. It’s a great way to keep an eye on things and ensure your structured markup plan is being rolled out and indexed as expected.
Why Structured Markup, Anyway?
Many sites, however, still have not implemented any structured markup language. Why? Well for many, the job can be quite daunting, especially for larger, content-based websites. But Google (and Bing to some degree) have clearly indicated a focus on structured markup through rich snippets. Rich snippets (such as recipes, video, and more) essentially reward sites using structured markup with additional content on these SERPs, essentially providing greater visibility for those listings and possibly a greater click-through rate. Google has often released new rich snippet formats over time, so there may be even more rich snippets available in the future – it’s always good to be ready!
What Should Your Structured Markup Plan Be?
Ideally, if you’re planning a site redesign in the near future, be sure to incorporate structured markup into that redesign. Since you’re reworking the site code anyway, it’s an ideal time to begin incorporating the new code needed for structured markup. If you’re evaluating a new content management system, check to see if the CMS includes any automated structured markup, which can be very helpful.
When implementing structured data on a site, here’s my general guide to follow:
1. Map out your types of
What type of content do you host on your site? Videos? Images? Events? Whatever the type of content, there’s likely structured content to match it. Visit Schema.org to see the categories and options available.
2. When preparing to mark up content and pages, prioritize
the content that generates rich snippets first.
This is very important to remember. While Google has highly encouraged the use of structured markup for all types of content, only certain content currently generates rich snippets. The current list of available rich snippet types is located here. Remember that rich snippets can actually have an effect on your site traffic immediately, so those content types are the ones to prioritize first!
For instance, while I have marked up my careers page with Job Posting structured data (and Google identifies this in the Structured Data report in Webmaster Tools), the Job Posting content type does not currently have a rich snippet, so no extra information will appear with that SERP at this time.
3. Apply the structured markup code.
Finally, apply the code to the appropriate content on your site. Use the Rich Snippets testing tool to test your structured data. Even if the content type doesn’t have an associated rich snippet yet, the tool will identify errors in the structured data for you. Additionally, you can copy and paste your code directly into the tool, even if you Web page isn’t live on the Internet yet.
Use the Report!
And now we come full circle – back to the report. After your new pages are live with structured data, use the report to keep track of which pages are being indexed, if they appropriate structured data type is being recognized, and to see what the rich snippet (if applicable) would look like.