Structured markup is a system of HTML code conventions used to highlight specific pieces of data on a website, making it easier for search engines to know what that website is about.
For example, if you search for movie schedules on Google, you’ll likely be given a list of showtimes directly in the search results, without having to click through to a specific website. This information is aggregated by the use of structured markup.
Structured markup doesn’t stop with movie times. Product attributes, local business information, event information, and product/service reviews are but a small handful of the many types of data that structured markup can highlight for search engines.
Why use Structured Markup?
From an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective, structured markup satisfies one of the basic tenants of website functionality: make it easy for search engines to understand your website.
The easier it is for search engines to crawl your website, the better chance your site has for appearing in front of users when they search for your product or service.
Imagine this simple use case: I want to know the name of the pizza restaurant on 105th street in Overland Park, KS. I search pizza on 105th in overland park. One of the first results is www.dbronxkc.com. Why? Well, there are many reasons (Google claims to use over 200 ranking factors in its search algorithm), but one of the contributing factors for this specific search term is certainly that use of structured markup properly indicates the address on the website.
Here’s what the user sees:
Here’s part of what Google sees (I’m using the Google structured markup testing tool to easily show this information):
Structured Markup hasn’t always been so straightforward
One of the problems with structured markup is that historically no single type of markup has been universally accepted by all major search engines. The main forms of markup are microdata, microformats, and RDFa.
Well, for the most part the confusion about which form of structured markup to use was no more as of the introduction of Schema.org in June of 2011.
Website geeks like myself get way too excited when new types of HTML coding become widely accepted, and nothing qualifies as more widely accepted than when all of the top search engines—Google, Yahoo!, and Bing—are involved. This universal acceptance of Schema.org markup makes the time and resource investment of incorporating structured markup into a website much, much easier to swallow.
If you own a customer-facing retail business, I highly recommend you head over the Google structured markup testing tool and see for yourself if your site contains Schema.org code. If not, give Go Local Interactive a call. Our SEO and web development expertise are just what you need to put your website in front of potential customers.