If you have a website that you want optimized for Google, you may want to take a look at your structured data. Whether its reviews, menu items, products or events, markups can help you to enhance them so they’ll be picked up in Google searches. There are all kinds of ways to get help with your structured data needs. From external websites and plugins to rich snippets, we’ll explore a few great ways to markup your pages.
This article covers:
- The definition of a rich snippet
- The definition of structured data
- How structured data shows up on the search engines and how to create it
- WordPress plugins to assist with markup efforts
- Microformat and JSON-LD – What’s the difference?
A rich snippet is extra information that will show up in your search results box. While you probably recognize the description that appears in a search if you optimized your Meta description text, rich snippets are everything else in the search result. A search’s result can be altered to enhance the product information and you can do this by marking up your menus, reviews, prices and events.
To help search engines have shared features so they can better understand websites, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing use a collective vocabulary. The vocabulary can help you with properties and tags so you can markup your reviews, products, local business listings, etc., in more detail. The data that you add is considered structured data and the vocabulary can be found in websites like Schema.org. Once you alter your structured data, it’s easier for search engines to pick it up.
When it’s used correctly, the structured data, once applied, can help search engines to better understand the content in your pages. As a result, you may have a better search result that will include rich snippets. Just keep in mind that your changes to your data to structure it may not result in rich listings or a higher ranking, but it can enhance the results.
Structured Data in Search Engine Results
Let’s look at structured data so you can better understand how it will show up in your search engine results. When you use a site like Schema.org, you can markup your events, reviews, menu items and products. The vocabulary that’s used helps to make your site data more comprehensible when search engines are looking for it. That takes a lot of the guess work out of items like product listings because you’re clarifying the items and entries on your site.
Structured data is very important in search engine results and when working with search engine optimization or SEO. While it may not produce better rankings, it can optimize what’s on your site so your search results will be better. By enhancing your listings, you can make it easier for Google, Bing, Yahoo or another search engine to pick your site from a list of other sites and links. All that structured data and those rich snippets will produce valid results for your customers and this in turn, can decrease your bounce rate. Once Google sees this, then they can interpret that low bounce rate as a well-structured site that will give customers the result they are looking for in an online search.
Keep in mind that structured data is still fairly new, so while your competitors may be working on SEO and Meta descriptions, you can get ahead of them with your markups and other ways to optimize your website features. Look at it as a viable chance to get a head start on the competition.
An example of a search with structured data
Let’s take a look at an example: You have a restaurant and you’re in an area with 4 other restaurants. All of the restaurants have 5-star feedback and reviews. When you markup your reviews on a site like Schema.org and use structured data, while Google sees 5 restaurants that it can choose from to give a user in their search results, only one has been optimized because Google is choosing the one with the structured data to then show up in a user’s search results.
The goal with a business or for a marketer is to better understand how a markup can help search engines find your site based on the structured content that was marked up. When you can clearly make your site understandable, search engines interpret the data faster because it uses the same vocabulary.
We’ll next explore the different kinds of plugins that you can use to help with your structured data. Aside from sites like Schema.org, WordPress plugins can be very helpful with markups.
WordPress Plugins for Markups
If you’ve done an online search recently, you probably saw a result that was optimized. It may have had a photo, star ratings in the review, times for an event, prices, etc. These are all examples of rich snippets and the changes you can make with plugins for markups. The eye-catching results are part of markups to data that can include product descriptions, ratings, reviews, photos, videos, events, addresses and more.
When you create an attention-grabbing link, it can give users more confidence in your business and want to click on your site because it stands out from competitors. Search Engine Land states that markups and rich snippets can give you up to 30% more clicks to your site than with a traditional link.
While you can create rich snippets with sites like Schema.org, there is a host of other ways to markup your site contents and you can do this through plugins. Below are 5 examples of free and paid plugin tools that can help with your markups to get Google to recognize your data with HTML markups. Then test your optimized links with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets
One of the most popular plugins is All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets. With a host of great reviews, this plugin focuses on rich snippets and offers easy to use no-frills features.
Aside from rich snippet data and schema for your blog posts, you can change events, reviews, products, videos and so much more. When you start a new post, you can pick from the type of rich snippet that you want, i.e., description, review, etc. Once you add the detailed information, you can review how it will show up in search engines.
Tip: Reviews have noted that customer support is efficient and helpful even with the free service.
A free plugin that can help with adding starred reviews to your site is Rich Reviews. You can find this on WordPress.org and it allows you to add 5-star reviews to your site with easy shortcuts and you can then review them in search results to see the rich snippets that are added.
You can use the ratings for customer reviews and testimonials.
Tip: While you can add your customer’s reviews, you won’t be able to add in your own.
Schema App Structured Data
For a free plugin, check out Schema App Structured Data. This is a helpful way to edit your schema and you don’t need to know special coding either. You can find it in the WordPress.org plugin directory and you’ll find that business owners like it because it’s a simple tool with easy features and wording.
Once installed, it will display default schema on your site that you can then markup. This will allow you to make changes to your posts, website pages, author pages and descriptions. The default schema markup will help you with editing your pages and the schema. It’s an easy way to format your content to optimize it for search results.
Schema App Structured Data uses the Schema App Editor tool designed by Hunch Manifest. You can edit your schema code or use the helpful suggestions to automatically correct your schema code and get it optimized for search engines.
Tip: Try the free version of the plugin. If you need technical support, you can upgrade your features and select the premium version.
Price: Free. Premium is $37/month
Rich Snippets WordPress Plugin
For a schema shortcode generator, try Rich Snippets WordPress Plugin. this can help you to create a new shortcode that can be used in your schema markup. When you create a visible schema markup, the shortcode can be set to display the schema details in your post, i.e., in a customer rating or a product review. If you set them to invisible, customers won’t see the information, but search engines will be able to see the markup.
Tip: Users like Rich Snippets WordPress Plugin because it gives you control over where you want the schema, so it’s not generated automatically site-wide.
WP Rich Snippets
To help you optimize your site for search engines, check out WP Rich Snippets. This is an all-in-one plugin that can help you create rich snippets. You can create and design your own reviews and make them attractive to draw users to your pages when you use custom criteria. You can even manage your user-submitted reviews.
With complete control over your schema data, WP Rich Snippets lets you use a convenient dashboard that shows each of your website pages and the posts on them. You can then change how your rich snippets will be displayed, control what users see on your site and add reviews, ratings and a whole lot more.
When you use this plugin, it includes enhanced features and add-ons that can help you add photos to reviews, show product comparisons, and you can even create customized call-to-action buttons to maximize your conversion results.
Tip: Customer support can help with set-up and features. Look for the WP Rich Snippets plugin on WP Superstars.
Price: Starts at $69/month.
Next, let’s take a look at microdata like microformat and JSON-LD so you can understand the difference in how they affect your markups.
Explain the Differences in the Microformat and JSON-LD
Microdata is a type of semantic markup. An example of this would be a microformat or RDFa. It can help to describe the different elements on a site page such as an event or a review. The markup can be combined with HTML properties to define item types by using associated attributes.
Here’s an example: The word “Person” has the property name, the URL and a title – That means these attributes can be applied to HTML tags that can help to describe each property separately:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://data-vocabulary.org/Person”>
Name: <span itemprop=”name”>John Smith</span>
Website: <a href=”https://archwarebank.com” itemprop=”url”>archwarebank.com</a>
Title: <span itemprop=”title”>Head of Banking</span>
Item Scope: This is an indicator to let you know that the content within this <div> is an item.
Item Type: This describes what the item is, and in this case, it’s “Person”.
Item Prop: This describes the property of a specific item.
Using the JSON format with linked data or LD, we have JSON-LD. This helps webmasters define the context of their data through their use of properties and types. When used with a site like Schema.org, the properties adhere to a standardized markup that is supported by search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. It basically joins microdata & RDFa as types of methods that can be used for integration.
What’s the Difference?
Here’s where they are different. Unlike with microdata and RDFa, when you use JSON-LD, this can give you an easier implementation method with your necessary markups that are contained within the inline <script> tags instead of just wrapping HTML properties. However, as simple and basic as JSON-LD is, there are a few roadblocks.
In some cases, it may not be practical to markup certain content. Additionally, the markup is invisible. This raises the chances of marking up content that isn’t on a visible page, and that can be against usage guidelines for search engines. Google prefers microdata and RDFa when you do markups to your HTML content.
While choosing rich snippet plugins and looking for ways to create structured data may take some time to get used to if you’re new to these tools, they can help optimize your search engine results that can increase your conversion rate. Start with the basic plugin styles and seek out the ones that offer customer support. That way you have the best rich snippets for your site and structured support if you need it.