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Structured Data Strategy Updates for 2020

Structured data strategy is a really easy phrase to throw around, but do we understand what it is and what it does? 

In the ever-changing realm of SEO, even the most experienced SEO expert feels a few steps behind the constant Google algorithm updates. Trendy SEO hacks will come and go, but there are core practices that will always hold useful:

  • Have a fast, healthy website
  • Create consistent and quality content that prioritizes viewers over Google bots
  • Have your data and information organized and easily accessible

Let’s jump on that last point. Much of SEO is a bit grey in how/when/how much/where your website will improve. Structured data strategy is arguably the most black-and-white SEO tactic you can take on: If you correctly add structured data to your site, Google will accurately compartmentalize your information.

However, a structured data strategy is not immune to the continuous Google platform updates. There will always be new opportunities to understand that will set you ahead of your competitors (until they jump on the new updates as well.) Let’s explore a few of the structured data updates that will affect your SEO strategy in 2020.

Let’s first understand a few things about structured data 

What is structured data?

Also known as Schema markup, it’s a strategy for making the information on your website or specific web pages more visible and easily compartmentalized for Google.

Google explains: Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.

Picture a website without any structured data like a huge pile of disorganized information. It can take a while to sort through all the data to find the relevant information if Google finds it at all.

A structured data strategy places all of the info in labeled boxed for search engines to crawl.

What will implementing structured data do for my website? 

Google can search (and rank) your information faster because it doesn’t have to search through pages and pages of information to find relevant data. It can use the compartmentalized information to format your search results in a way that makes it more clickable. This means it can include important info in your search result before anyone even clicks.

What types of structured data should I use?

There are TONS of structured data strategies based on the type of info, page, business, industry… etc. 

Structured data strategy can be as broad as your company name and phone number, or as granular as specific product information.

Helpful Structured data tools:

A Universally Recognized structured data library is a resource created and recognized by the 3 search engine giants: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. This website has all the information and templates you need to create custom structured data. Use to create site-wide structured data like information on your brand or contact information, as well as industry-specific pages. Your structured data can get as granular as industry-specific markups like schema for zoos, or products-specific markup like the color of the product.

A Google-created structured data markup helper

The structured data markup helper will help you plan out your structured data strategy for each section of your site. This tool will give you the templates to add to your site so Google will be able to understand the context of your website’s information.

A Structured Data Testing Tool

If you implemented structured data, but never saw any improvements to your search results, it may be because there is an error in your strategy. The Structured Data Testing Tool is an important step in the schema markup process. Using this tool, you can test the accuracy of your structured data on pages both published and unpublished.

Google Search Console

Indexing your newly structured data on Google Search Console is akin to expediting a package. Indexing your structured data sends a message to Google that you’ve made changes to your website you want them to check out. Your data will be recognized faster, and therefore you will see the benefits of the new strategy quicker.

2020 Structured Data Strategy Updates

FAQ markup strategy on our 'pop-up strategy' blog post.
An example of the rendering of FAQ Schema from our ‘Pop-up Strategy‘ blog

FAQ schema markup

FAQ Schema is a fairly new schema markup that affects the format of your search engine results by adding Question/Answers. By adding this markup, your results become more eye-catching and establish domain authority and expertise over other results options.

This also increases accessibility to your content through Google Assistant and new voice-guided experiences.

How-to Schema Markup

How-to schema markup is similar to FAQ but can have a visual aspect to the steps. This markup guides viewers through step-related tasks with text and image assets. Any blog post that has a title including “How you can…” or “…In 5 simple steps” would benefit from this markup.

rich reviews structured data updates

Update to the ‘Review’ Schema Markup

You may have noticed the ‘star review’ additions in some search results. Those will now be more difficult to attain on irrelevant pages. Pretty late in 2019, Google introduced new rules to the ‘RichReviews’ schema markup that affects all web pages with this strategy implemented. These updates were enacted to increase the value and accuracy of the rating aspect of RichReviews. The major changes are:

  • Rich reviews will only render for webpages that have a review-able topic. Reviewable topics are books, products, recipes, etc.
  • Self-serving reviews are not allowed. This is when a review about entity A is placed on the website of entity A – either directly in their markup or via an embedded third-party widget. RichReviews for LocalBusiness and Organization schema won’t be available, because it is too easy for the reviews to be internally altered or controlled.
  • The property name is now required, which essentially makes it more difficult to add a rich review strategy to non-reviewable pages.

Having a solid structured data strategy will help you out in the long run. Reach out to our team to learn more about organizing your website data!

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