What is structured data, and why should you care? Structured data is a way to tell search engines about the relationships among elements on a Web page and across Web pages. For example, instead of relying on the search engines to guess yours is a local business, you can tell them explicitly. Even better, you often can tell them exactly which type of local business it is (e.g., restaurant). Removing all doubt about your type of business enables search engines to send you the most relevant visitors. Greater relevance and increased website traffic produce greater revenues for you.

Structured Data Example: Restaurant

To start using structured data, begin by adding or updating the contact information in the page footer. Here is a partial list of the fields to include.

  • Business Name
  • Street Address
  • City, State, Zip Code, Country
  • Business Telephone Number
  • Business Email Address
  • Business Website URL
  • Business Tagline and Year Founded
  • Latitude and Longitude

Here is how the list appears for Delicatus restaurant, where the Seattle SEO Network board frequently met in 2013.

  • Delicatus
  • 103 1st Ave S
  • Seattle WA 98104 USA
  • (206) 623-3780
  • [email protected]
  • http://www.delicatusseattle.com/
  • A Seattle Delicatessen Since 2010
  • Lat: 47.601608, Long: -122.334271

Note that the Restaurant schema supports many more attributes relevant to a restaurant. They include an image of the business, diner reviews, hours of operation, price range, reservations policy, menu and cuisine.

Now, here is how the contact information appears online, after combining the structured data and regular HTML markup.

Delicatus
103 1st Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104 USA

Tel: (206) 623-3780
Email: [email protected]
Online:
A Seattle Delicatessen Since 2010

On the one hand, the contact information appears unchanged to website visitors (i.e., humans). They see the minimal contact information needed to reach Delicatus restaurant in person, by telephone, via Email and online. On the other hand, the contact information now appears structured to search engines.

restaurant(source:MICRODATA)
attribute:
name:Delicatus
telephone:(206) 623-3780
email:[email protected]
url:www.delicatusseattle.com
description:A Seattle Delicatessen Since 2010
foundingdate:2010
postaladdress(source:MICRODATA)
attribute:
streetaddress:103 1st Ave S
addresslocality:Seattle
addressregion:WA
postalcode:98104
addresscountry:USA
geocoordinates(source:MICRODATA)
attribute:
latitude:47.601608
longitude:-122.334271

(Source: Google Structured Data Testing Tool)

Restaurant schema.org Markup Source Code

Restaurant schema.org markup example
Restaurant schema.org Markup Example

You are encouraged to copy and reuse the source code for this example. Begin by left-mouse clicking the page. Next, click the right mouse button and select the View Source option (or similar). Lastly, search and find the identifier contact-info-example.

Adding More Structured Data

Delicatus hosts wine pairing dinners where diners get to meet the wine maker and enjoy a multi-course meal. Each dinner is an event, presented on its own webpage or combined with other events on a collection page. Structured data supports both scenarios, using either a single Event schema per page or a CollectionPage schema referencing multiple Event schemas.

Delicatus also sells wine by the bottle in its wine shop. Wine is a product with an associated Product schema.

Things to Know About Structured Data

Here are a few things to know before you add structured data to your website.

  • There are many flavors of structured data. The Contact Information example above uses schema.org in microdata format.
  • There are many flavors of HTML. The example requires HTML5.
  • Adding structured data to your website requires close cooperation among your web designer, web developer, content creators and SEO professional. Optimizing one area without consideration for the others results in a suboptimal website for both audiences: humans and search engines.

Conclusion

Structured data is an effective way for website owners to describe their businesses, events, products, etc. It replaces guessing by the search engines with clear and concise data they can read. By itself, structured data does not alter the way content appears on your website. It does help search engines to send relevant Web traffic to your website, which helps your business to grow.

Now, please share your comments about this article, structured data and any experiences you have had adding structured data to your website.

Structured Data Resource List

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