Structured Data for Content Managment Systems

Information publishers and Web-ready service providers can benefit from structured data in two important ways - an enhanced presentation in general on the search results, and if they're digital presence is really good (authoritative), a website listed as an Answer within the Knowledge Graph.

Websites taking advantage of structured data markup can feature rich snippets, breadcrumbs, or a Sitelinks Search box directly inside the search results for their listing - a powerful differentiator on an evolving Google search results page. The best part is that using structured data is actually pretty straightforward.

Using structured data on a website essentially just requires adding in elements to the HTML tags that enclose information about the item that we want to display differently on the search results. That can be somewhat tricky depending on the software platform that is currently being used, but on the whole, it's a relatively straightforward process for designers and developers that entails 1) figuring out what to make available in a structured form, and 2) modifying the HTML according to standards.

Unless there is a need to use structured data on thousands of people, events, locations, reviews, etc., then taking advantage of a tool like Raven's is an excellent place to start. The free service enables users to very quickly and easily generate the code required for structured data based on the information provided in a single instance. In the case of a person, for example, potential tags include address, related URL, job title, etc.

For those looking to support for a far more extensive digital presence, it's likely that some plugin, extension or module is available to help facilitate the integration of microdata. WordPress, the Web's most popular CMS for example, offers numerous plugins that make structured data integration simple and can prepare Web enterprises for management of these initiatives very effectively.

WordPress is far from the only CMS to recognize the important of support for and structured data. Vendors including Adobe, Episerver, DNN, Sitecore, Sitefinity and others (check out Website Magazine's Top 50 Web Content Management solutions) have also long provided guidance on the topic or some solution to simplify integration.

The best advice you can get about presenting data in a structured way for the benefit of search engine users (and your own enterprise) is to first check with the software system currently in place. Most will have some existing process or solution, or in the least will have some documentation available for immediate guidance.