With structured data, site operators can provide the Google bot with further information that enables the search engine to better classify the websites and thus display them more accurately for specific search queries. We give you tips on how to best use rich snippets, rich cards, featured snippets and the Google Knowledge Graph for your business.
What is structured data and why is it important?
Structured data helps you to label the content of a website with further information. This makes it easier for the Google bot to understand your content, classify the website and finally display it for the right search queries. You can also display your structured data content as rich snippets in Google search results (SERPs), making it stand out from other search results and attract more attention. This in turn leads to a higher click rate and more visitors. In this article we will explain to you which display variants there are with structured data and how you can ensure that your website results appear accordingly.
What are rich snippets?
Rich snippets are the simple expansion of snippets, i.e. the normal text excerpts in the SERPs, with special elements such as rating stars, images, price information or links. The following images show some examples:
How to create rich snippets
As the example above shows, rich snippets catch the eye. But how can these be generated for your own website? The basis for this are so-called ” markups “, i.e. markings in the source code that do not have to have any effect on the display in the browser. These labels always consist of two parts, the type (e.g. “Event”) and the properties (e.g. properties of the type such as the date). Both together are called “schema” or “schemes”. The most common markup types include: Microdata, RDFa and JSON-LD .
While Microdata and RDFa are typically used for attributes that describe existing elements in the HTML body of the page in an extended way, JSON-LD can be attached to the HTML head of the page without complex interventions in existing structures. All formats are tolerated by Google, but JSON-LD is preferred. If snippets are to be displayed as rich snippets, there are four options, depending on IT skills and backend access:
1. Manual implementation:
For the independent implementation in the source code, you should first look for the appropriate coding via schema.org . These are available there for each property type in all three formats, as the following screenshots show using the breadcrumb property “itemListElement” as an example:
The markup is then implemented at the appropriate point in the source code.
2. Implementation via plugins:
For all common content management systems, e.g. B. WordPress, there are extensions and plugins that make it easier for you to implement structured data. So you don’t have to “tinker” with the source code yourself. The most popular plugins include ” Markup (JSON-LD) ” for WordPress and ” Google Structured Data Markup ” for Joomla!.
3. Implementation via Google Tag Manager:
If you want to implement without the IT department, JSON-LD can also be added via Google Tag Manager. First you create the JSON-LD markup and then insert it into the Tag Manager using “Custom Html Tag”. By setting a trigger, the connection to the appropriate subpage type can be established.
4. Implementation via the Data Highlighter:
Probably the most convenient variant is the structuring of data using the Google Data Highlighter . This is particularly useful if there is no access to the backend of the website. Using the example of a page (e.g. a product detail page), you train Google within a few minutes to filter out relevant information such as price, color or material and then to automatically identify this information on pages with the same structure.
Regardless of which type of implementation you choose, it is important to know that you do not have to fill out all the properties available for the markup types. There are mandatory and non-mandatory fields for each markup. In the Google Search Guides you will find the “required properties” for each type.
How to test your structured data
Once the markup has been implemented, it is also important to monitor its success. In this context, you should first use the Structured Data Testing Tool to check if the markup has any errors. The tool is quite intuitive to use and offers both the possibility to control a URL and a code snippet.
What are rich cards?
Based on the rich snippets are the so-called rich cards, which are also understood as an extension of them. Essential features and thus differences to the rich snippets are as follows:
- Rich cards are only used for mobile search. There, users can swipe through the various results using the “picture carousel”.
- Rich cards are currently only available for a few types. These are recipes, movies, courses, and articles. Other types are to be added in the medium term.
- Rich cards are characterized by larger images and less text.
How to create rich cards
Just like the rich snippets, the rich cards are based on markups in Microdata, RDFa or JSON-LD format. So, to mark up the code accordingly, you can use the same four implementation options as described in the previous point. The Structured Data Testing Tool is also used here. In addition, there is a report in the Search Console in which Google gives feedback on the display of rich cards for its own website. In this way, errors and potential for improvement can be clearly identified.
What is the Google Knowledge Graph Panel?
The third variant is the so-called Knowledge Graph Panel. This term means ” compiled search results on specific topics and entities “. Basically, a Knowledge Graph Panel is displayed either for knowledge-related queries (examples: “artificial intelligence” and “Salvador Dali”) or for company-related queries. In the case of the latter, a general subdivision can also be made between general brand results (example: “kicker”) and local results with store opening times (example: “adidas”).
There are two starting points for a website or company to appear in the Knowledge Graph Panel in any way:
- You are mentioned as a source for knowledge-related searches in the Knowledge Graph or:
- Your own company is displayed in a Knowledge Graph Panel for company-related search queries
How to create a Google Knowledge Graph panel
For knowledge-related panels, Google currently uses Wikipedia for the most part. If you would like to be named as a source, then the way to do this is to mark up the data. In contrast to the rich snippets and rich cards, however, schemas such as Person or MedicalEntity are more important for related search queries.
If your own company is to be represented as a Knowledge Graph Panel, the following criteria are helpful:
- A complete Google My Business profile is available.
- The site is an authority, so it’s frequently cited and linked from other sites.
- Overall, the company is rated positively.
- There are active social media profiles. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are particularly important.
- There is a Wikipedia entry for your company.
- There is a Wikidata entry for your company.
- Important information is available via markup. In this case, this includes in particular company data, people, official social media profiles and the logo.
What are featured snippets?
The last type of expression are the featured snippets. This means short, direct answers from Google, which are displayed in the SERPs using an answer box. As the following screenshots show, featured snippets can appear in three forms:
- In continuous text form
- In list form
- In tabular form
How to create featured snippets
If you would like your company to be named as a source in such an answer box, then it is first important to identify interesting keywords. After all, Google does not display these featured snippets for every search term and not every search term is relevant to you from a traffic perspective. Also, you only have a chance to appear in an answer box if you rank in the top ten, preferably even the top three, of search results for a particular keyword. A sensible first step is to use tools such as Sistrix, Searchmetrics or ahrefs to display the keywords with which you rank well and for which a featured snippet is currently being displayed (for the competitors).
If interesting keywords with an appealing search volume are found, then you can take action to “conquer” this featured snippet with appropriate content. Here, too, structure is of particular importance. But unlike the previously mentioned display variants, structured data via markup is only a plus and not a mandatory requirement. It is much more important that you prepare your visible text through stylistic means. The following formulations and lengths must be observed:
- Optimizing for a plain text answer box: When optimizing for a plain text answer box, it’s important to find a short, concise answer to the keyword (often in question form). According to Moz, the optimal length here is 40 to 50 words. It also helps to use important signal words such as “definition” or “under … one understands …”. This makes it clear to Google that this is a (term) explanation.
- Optimization for an answer box in list form: As for the lists, the optimal length is four to five entries with ten words each. However, it is always advisable to provide more points than Google can display. In this case, the probability of a click increases because the user also wants to read the remaining points. Helpful signal words are terms such as “instructions”, “checklist”, “preparation” or “guide”. In addition, follow-up words such as “click”, “find” or “do” should also be used.
- Optimization for an answer box in table form: When optimizing for table boxes, it is of course necessary that the information is also available in table form on your own website. The optimal format is three to four lines and two to three columns. If you have revised your website accordingly, we recommend that you apply for a re-crawl with Google as the last step. The best way to do this is to use the “Retrieve as Google” crawl function in the Search Console.
Attracting more attention to Google through structured data is not as difficult as it first appears. It is important for you as a digital marketer to have confidence in markups, as this allows you to directly influence how your content is displayed in the SERPs. But there are also many options for this that require little or no IT knowledge. If you have mastered this hurdle, you are guaranteed to be rewarded with higher click rates and significantly more page visitors.