:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::
No doubt you've seen rich snippets appearing on Google's search engine result pages (SERPs), including review stars, product pricing information, inventory status, events and other attributes to call attention to a company's products or services and stand out on the crowded SERPs.
Google generates these rich snippets with a type of information encoding known as structured data and Web professionals would be wise to know what it is, how it works and how to implement it today.
What's Structured Data and How Does It Work?
Structured data is a type of Meta data held by your website's pages describing what is on that page - such as product information, pricing, review count, ratings and so on. To create structured data on your Web pages, you'll need to take advantage of Schema, a structured data markup language that helps search engines understand exactly what your page is about. As a reward for your efforts, search engines like Google will give your search listings extra attention and detail through the inclusion of review stars, additional pricing text and more.
Using JSON-LD to Create Schema Markup
That probably looks a little confusing if you've never seen it before. But, you can probably get the general gist of it. This code identifies specific information about the page; in this case, the information being defined is a Person profile and data such as address, job title, name and website URL. You might expect to see this kind of JSON-LD on a college graduate researcher profile page.
A More Concrete Example: JSON-LD for Product Pages
Let's take a look at something more concrete and real-world. On a typical e-commerce site, you would expect to see two primary types of pages: PLPs - product listing pages - and PDPs - product description pages. At present, there are no defined standards for PLPs, so we're going to look at a JSON-LD example for a PDP of a product called "OrangeBook Pro" (original, I know):
Let's break this Schema JSON-LD example down line by line so that you can better understand what is going on here. First, we define the @type attribute as Product, meaning that we are describing a product page. Next, we add an AggregateRating property with a ratingValue of 4.5 and reviewCount of 11. This data comes from your Web application's database or from the content management system. It's a summary of the actual reviews on this product's page. Then, we define the description, name, availability, price and currency.
With all of these variables defined, here is a screenshot of what you would expect to see on Google:
As you can see, our JSON-LD implementation has resulted in the creation of a rich snippet for this product page. When people search, they are often drawn to listings with rich snippets, increasing your click through rate and sending more qualified traffic to your website.
How You Can Persuade Google to Show Rich Snippets for Your Search Listings
To convince Google and other search engines that your website is worthy of having rich snippets appended to its search listings, you're going to need to accomplish the following two tasks:
1. First, you need to ensure that you actually get the JSON-LD snippets onto the page. If those aren't there, Google won't be able to generate rich snippets for your listings.
2. Your site will need sufficient authority in the eyes of Google and other search engines in order to be afforded these rich snippets. An experienced SEO consultant will help you to build this authority through stellar content, high-authority link development and page load speed optimizations.
If you're able to accomplish these two goals, then the probability for your search engine listings to be endowed with rich snippets skyrockets dramatically. Missing either of these two attributes will not allow those rich snippets to appear.
Testing Your JSON-LD Schema Markup for Syntax Errors
Another issue you can run into when taking advantage of Schema JSON-LD has to do with syntax. A syntax error is just a fancy way of saying that the markup isn't written properly. Fortunately, Google provides a Structured Data Testing Tool (to see what it's all about, click here). With this tool, you can test your JSON-LD markup to make sure that Google can successfully read and parse it. If this program gives you the green light, then you know that your Schema markup is in good shape and will help to generate those coveted rich snippets on the search engine results pages.
The Benefits of Rich Snippets in SEO
By using JSON-LD Schema markup, you'll gain rich snippets. These rich snippets, in turn, can drive higher click-through rates (CTRs). In other words, JSON-LD can help you capture more search engine traffic without necessarily increasing the volume of average monthly searches. You'll be making your SEO program more efficient, thereby leading to the possibility for increased revenue, average order value, and more. Without a doubt, JSON-LD and Schema markup is a powerful tool in your SEO arsenal, and an experienced consultant can help you to wield these tools for maximum effect.
Now that you have a solid grounding in JSON-LD and how it can turbocharge your SEO efforts, it's time to take action. If you are not comfortable tackling JSON-LD on your own, we recommend reaching out to a knowledgeable SEO firm for help with proper implementation.
Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Marion, IL. Travis and his team are equipped to handle any size SEO project and have helped numerous businesses to date build a rock solid online presence. When you are ready for more leads and sales, it is time to get #stellarized. Connect on Facebook or Twitter @theseoproz