How Does the Semantic Web and Structured Data Impact SEO?

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With the semantic web quickly evolving, adopting semantic markup and integrating structured data into your SEO strategy is imperative and should be scoped into your project plan in 2014. If the search engines comprehend the markup on your pages, the engine can use this information to make a rich snippet.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data is an on-page markup language, integrated into the HTML, which enhances the search engines understanding of the information on a web page.   With the information that is marketed up, the search engines will be able to improve your businesses listing in the SERPs.  The search engines can use structured data to understand your company’s basics such as name, address, articles, events, products, etc… On your website.

There are multiple formats that can be used to mark up a web page.  We are finding that microdata such as schema and RDFa are the most widely used.  However, microformats are another option.

Why should SEOs care about Structured Data?

As an SEO, we are trained to think along the lines of achieving higher rankings to get the best results.  As a marketer, we don’t define value and performance by rankings, we define it by the quality of the traffic, conversions and other KPI metrics.

What if we can achieve higher quality traffic and conversions from a #2 position, over a #1 position?  What if we can make our listings stand out on a page and draw the searchers eye to our listing?  What if we can create a better brand experience?  That is the beauty of the semantic search.  SEOs should quit thinking along the lines of top rankings and think more on the brand experience and how you can enhance your listings in the SERPs.

For Example:  Which of these are more enticing to a searcher?  As you can see below, the listing with structured data provides a much more pleasurable user experience.

Without Structured Data:

semantic-web-img-1

 

With Structured Data:

semantic-web-img-2

 

So back to the question on why it is important for SEO?

  1. Having structured data will enhance your brands experience to the users.  Ultimately, increasing your listings click-through-rate.   This can have a positive impact on rankings.
  2. Also, we are finding it helps with the vertical search listings.  Meaning, the searcher conducting searches on Google Video, News, etc…

To summarize, by adding structured data to your website, you are helping the search engines understand the content on your webpage and enhancing your brands experience in the SERPs.  More importantly, you are creating a foundation so your site maintains credibility with the search engines as this algorithm gets more sophisticated.

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