Structured Data Could Soon Affect SEO in Google
Posted by drew on Sept. 14, 2015, 3:06 p.m.
Structured data is front end code, used to help explain to search engines what your website is about. Without structured data, a search engine can read the content of your page, but it may not understand it. For instance, it can see that you may have a web page about Hondas, but doesn’t understand that a Honda is a type of car, or how the word “Honda” is related to the words “Accord” or “Civic,” other than the fact that they frequently appear next to each other.
Structured data would help the search engine understand what the words on the page mean and how they are related to each other. Currently, some search engines (including Google) use structured data to help display “rich snippets,” which are listings on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) that include more than the usual title, URL, and description. Rich snippets can show information on products, events, recipes, and more, but they are still limited to a relatively small group of types, while structured data can be used to describe all kinds of website content, beyond recipes and events.
Google has stated before that while structured data is used to create rich snippets, it does not affect the ranking of a page. However, this could change in the future. Google’s John Mueller announced in a Google Hangout that “over time, I think [structured data] is something that might go into rankings as well.” He went on to explain some situations where he thought it would be useful to use structured data as a ranking factor in Google.
Implementing structured data can be an investment, and previously, webmasters may not have thought it worth the trouble. If their website didn’t have any of the categories that would make them eligible for rich snippets, there wasn’t’ much incentive to add structured data to the site. However, with this signal that structured data may eventually affect search rankings, more sites may begin to use this technology.
Structured data implementation has always been a suggested SEO activity (at least here at Fusionbox) for several reasons. The first reason is that the inclusion of structured data can sometimes lead to rich snippets in Google, which improves the click through rate (CTR) of a snippet. Higher CTR signals to Google that your site is more relevant to searchers, which can improve your ranking. Another reason we've suggested structured data in the past is simply because we operate around an SEO philosophy that includes being as transparent to search engines as possible. This means not hiding content from them, and doing what we can to make content easily understandable for the web spiders.
When Google updates their search algorithm, they sometimes announce the changes after the fact. When they do this, they make a point of saying that changes made after the announcement won’t affect ranking; these changes have to wait until the following time Google refreshes their algorithm.
With that being said, it is a good idea to be proactive about changes to your site that could potentially affect rankings. If you are interested in implementing structured data on your site, or in any other SEO services, please contact Fusionbox.