A decade ago, structured data was the stuff of fancy-shmancy businesses and esoteric tech pros. But these days, the power of structured data has been unleashed—available to all who are willing to tap into its potential. This post will empower you to understand structured data and its importance, explore why it matters, and give you the know-how to use it to its full advantage.

So get ready to get geeky: think of structured data as an organised data set that can be easily stored and manipulated in an application. In the online space, structured data can be used to create digital experiences that are both engaging and efficient. To put it simply, it’s the digital equivalent of effectively managing an organised filing system for your business. Whether you’re aiming to provide your customers with personalised content, optimise search engine visibility, or enhance the overall user experience on your website, structured data is the key to unlocking all of these capabilities, and more.

But before you can use structured data, you’ll need to understand and embrace its power. Read on as we delve deeper into what structured data is, why it matters, and how you can use it to your advantage, and unlock the power of structured data.

Quick Response

Structured data is a way of formatting information in HTML so it can be easily understood by search engine algorithms. It allows web developers to add additional details about their pages that can help search engine rankings and improve user experience.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data is information that has been organised in a specific format, usually with the purpose of making analysis or other computations easier to carry out. Examples of structured data include spreadsheets and databases which are composed of columns and rows of data. Structured data can also be found in XML documents and JSON files, which are “self-describing” formats that don’t require as much manual labour for cleaning and preparation as standard text files do.

The arguments for using structured data often have to do with accuracy and speed. Because it’s formatted in an orderly manner, structured data allows machines to quickly parse the information without any prior knowledge of the dataset. This makes it easier to search for specific values, aggregate the data in meaningful ways, and make predictions about future trends. All of this makes structured data essential for deep learning applications, predictive analytics, and other complex tasks where understanding large volumes of data quickly is necessary.

On the other hand, some may argue that structured data doesn’t allow for enough flexibility when working with datasets that contain irregular or unexpected values. That argument is valid to an extent; however, as long as organisations stay mindful of the limitations of structured datasets and use them appropriately, they can realise great value from making use of this powerful tool.

Now that you understand what structured data is and the pros and cons associated with it, let’s take a look at its structure in the following section.

Structure of Data

Structured data is important for any organisation seeking to extract insight from their data set. It involves organising data systematically into a particular format, such as a spreadsheet or an online database, so that it can be queried and output quickly and easily. Structured data offers the potential to scale up the capacity of an organisation’s information systems, streamlining processes and data management. At its core, structured data consists of tabular data with columns, rows and fields that are arranged according to specific rules.

The advantages of structured data are apparent — working with this type of dataset eliminates much of the manual effort previously needed to process and analyse raw datasets. With a properly structured dataset, analytics programmes can quickly identify patterns in the data, making meaningful correlations between variables in ways that would not be possible using unstructured data sets. Additionally, structured data allows for quick access to large datasets without the need for human intervention.

On the other hand, there are several challenges associated with structured data that organisations must be aware of before they choose this route. For example, collecting structured data often requires significant upfront capital investment and resources in order to ensure accuracy. Additionally, the rigid column and row structure may not capture the nuances found in unstructured datasets that might yield more predictive analytics down the line.

Ultimately, understanding the structure of your data is essential when you want to effectively unlock its potential for insights. The benefits associated with using structured data sets should be carefully weighed against the potential challenges to determine if this option will work best for your organisation. With this knowledge in hand, we can now move on to exploring how structured data can bring tangible benefits to your business operations.

  • A 2018 study found that 90% of webpages make use of some type of structured data.
  • Structured data has been found to help improve SEO visibility for websites, as it allows search engines to read the content on a webpage more easily and accurately.
  • According to the same 2018 study, the most commonly used structured data format is JSON-LD, with 87.2% of websites using it.

Benefits of Structured Data

Structured data is incredibly powerful. Its organised set of facts, attributes and properties can be used to enhance search engine results and make important decisions. Beyond SEO benefits, there are numerous ways that structured data can provide value to businesses and organisations, both large and small.

Organisations can use structured data to identify correlations between different datasets, closely monitor trends in customer behaviour, accurately forecast demand for products or services and improve customer segmentation. Structured data can be used to collect more reliable customer feedback by providing better analytics leading to customer insights, personalization and improved decision making. Brands are able to gain a better understanding of their customers’ shopping behaviours and preferences, tailor their offerings accordingly and drive more traffic to their online stores. Structured data also allows organisations to hone in on precise customer targets based on complex criteria like demographics, job position or location. This can help brands create more effective messaging strategies for marketing campaigns as well as direct target leads with more accuracy and precision.

On the flip side of the coin however, it should be noted that accessing this information is not always straightforward or cost-effective. Organisations may need additional manpower or specialist software solutions in order extract insights from structured data which increases costs; this may lead some companies to turn away from utilising the technology when budget constraints become a factor.

In addition, caution should be taken with ensuring the accuracy of results when using structured data – it is always important that any inputted data is valid and up-to-date; if not, the outcomes may not always be true reflections of the actual state of affairs in an organisation or industry as a whole.

By taking into account these potential drawbacks however, organisations can safely leverage the immense power behind well-structured data – uncovering valuable insights which can inform business strategies, guide product development cycles and support ambitious growth plans.

Now that we understand the many benefits offered by structured data let’s explore what types are available in our next section…

Essential Points

Structured data is incredibly powerful and provides numerous benefits for businesses and organisations of all sizes. It can help identify correlations between different datasets, closely monitor customer trends and behaviour, personalise customer experience and make marketing campaigns more effective. However, utilising the technology may be costly and caution should be taken to ensure the accuracy of results. In spite of its potential drawbacks, data remains an invaluable tool in extracting insights which support growth plans.

Types of Structured Data

When it comes to understanding structured data, it is important to know the different types of data formats. Structured data can generally be classified into three different types; semi-structured, structured and unstructured. It is also important to understand how these different kinds of structured data can be used for various purposes.

Semi-structured data is information that does not fit neatly into a traditional database format. Examples of semi-structured data include logs, social media postings, emails, invoices and spreadsheets. This type of structured data has become more popular in recent years as it allows companies to store information without knowing the underlying structure beforehand.

Structured data, on the other hand, organises information into records and fields, which are already predefined by the system or user. This type of data is easy to query and manipulate because each piece of information is stored according to certain rules or standards. An example of this would be customer databases in which customer records have a set number of fields such as name, address, telephone number, etc.

Finally, unstructured data refers to information that is not organised into any defined structure or format. Examples of this could include images, videos and music files. Unstructured data usually requires a lot more manual processing before it becomes useful since it cannot just be plugged directly into a database or queried by a user without meaningfully organising it first.

As such, businesses must decide the best kind of structured data they need for their applications in order to make the most use out of their information. While there are pros and cons associated with each type of structured data format, assessing which kind would bring most value for one’s business goals should remain a priority when making such decisions.

To put this understanding into practise and further enhance its usage potentials, it is also important to be aware of the various markup languages that help define and communicate presented information through development guidelines or standards – for instance HTML or XML -as will be discussed in the next section.

Markup Languages

Markup languages are a key tool for organising and maintaining structured data. These languages, such as XML and HTML, use tags to demarcate the structure of a document or set of data. By doing this, they enable the data to be organised in a consistent, predictable way that can be easily read by machines. Markup languages make it easy for data users to identify information quickly, no matter how deep in the document structure it may be located. This makes it easier for developers to run automated scripts on large datasets, as well as for non-coders to search for specific pieces of information within an otherwise unstructured set of data.

The primary downside of markup languages is the fact that they use a “tag soup” approach that can lead to problems with readability and interoperability if not properly managed over time. The syntax of markup language tags can vary across different implementations and when changes occur, they may render previously written documents obsolete or hard to read. Certain standards exist that help reduce these incompatibilities, but adhering to them requires both expertise and constant vigilance in order to ensure compatibility between systems.

Overall, markup languages provide a powerful way of structuring data in a form that’s both human-readable and machine-parsable. Despite their potential pitfall s—such as increasing complexity as more tags are added—markup languages remain a reliable way to organise structured data in many areas. The next section dives into structured formats, another key component for unlocking the power of structured data.

Structured Formats

Structured formats are the foundation for unlocking the power of structured data and making it accessible to search engines. Structured formats define how data is organised, stored, interpreted and retrieved. These formats make it possible to extract, process and store large amounts of data in an organised way that makes it easier to access and manipulate. Several common structured data formats include JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation – Linked Data), RDF (Resource Description Framework) and Microdata.

JSON-LD is an emerging standard for structuring arbitrary data on web pages and can be used to describe things like events, actions, people, objects and organisations. It allows for more specific descriptions that can be referenced easily by search engines. While JSON-LD does require some coding knowledge, the structured format does make it simpler for web developers to create semantic markup that search engine crawlers can read and understand.



RDF is a popular language for describing resources on the Semantic Web. It has been designed as a general-purpose language for building knowledge graphs by representing information about resources in a graph structure. This allows search engines to better identify relationships between resources and ultimately increases their understanding of the data they index.

Microdata is a way of adding additional information to existing HTML documents using attributes in a tag. For example, when adding structured data with microdata to an HTML page it could add item types such as “person” or “event” as well as properties like name, place or date that help search engines better understand what is being represented on the page. This approach allows search engines to recognise specific information within your web page without having to look through multiple sources or manual annotations.

While structured formats have their benefits, such as providing more detailed context about your content for search engines to index, they can also require a significant amount of time and expertise to add properly into websites. They also come with the risk of added complexity which could result in errors if not implemented correctly. But when done properly, this additional level of detail can vastly improve SEO performance by helping search engines more quickly identify key elements within your website’s content.

To capitalise on this benefit leading into the next section, let’s take a deeper look at how structured data helps both user experience and improves findability by search engines.

How Structured Data Helps Search Engines

The use of structured data offers a powerful tool to help search engines better understand webpages. Structured data provides more context and details that can be easily understood by search engine bots, compared to textual content. It helps them further interpret a website’s content, improving the accuracy and providing more detailed information than could be obtained through natural language processing.

Search engine giants such as Google, Bing and Yahoo all support structured data, which can also help transform everyday webpages into pages that are optimised for discoverability. This means that with the use of certain markup formats, including microdata and RDFa Lite, website owners can provide additional information about the websites they manage—information that search engines may not have previously been able to access. Structured data also has the potential to greatly increase visibility in organic search results by offering enhanced ad targeting capabilities and more detailed SERP descriptions for websites.

There are those who argue against implementation of structured data simply because, from their view point, the effort outweighs the benefit or may even cause issues with existing products or services. Furthermore, some claim that implementing structured data is difficult and often requires assistance from a technical specialist, although there are several freely available resources available that when used wisely can be great starting points to learn.

Ultimately, it cannot be denied that properly implemented structured data on a webpage has plenty of advantages for both users and search engines. It gives search engine bots additional insight into the page’s content which is invaluable in gaining better visibility in organic traffic results and enhancing the overall user experience.

Given these many benefits of using structured data on webpages it is no wonder why so many website owners are becoming increasingly more comfortable with not only understanding it but implementing it effectively as well. In our next section we will discuss in detail how structured data can be used to optimise webpages for search engine visibility.

Structured Data and Webpages

Structured data has become increasingly integral in the way websites are designed and managed. Structured data is information that’s been organised in a specific manner, making it much easier for search engines like Google to understand and process it. By taking advantage of structured data on your website, you can ensure that search engine bots can more easily find and index your webpages, bringing more organic traffic to your site and boosting brand visibility.

There is an ongoing debate about whether investment in structured data for webpages is worthwhile, both in terms of time and resources. On one hand, it requires an upfront investment of effort to include structured data on your website and make sure it is up-to-date; some argue that this isn’t required since search engine bots will still be able to properly index webpages without the implementation of structured data. On the other hand, those who are proponents of leveraging structured data believe strongly that this extra effort will result in better discoverability by search engine bots which leads to optimal website results and longer-term growth benefits.

Regardless of which side of the argument one may take, it’s clear that there can be tangible benefits to implementing structured data on webpages. In the next section we will discuss how structured data can benefit website performance in greater detail.

How Structured Data Benefits Webpages

Structured Data (SD) has the potential to make a huge impact on webpages, increasing their visibility and reach. SD essentially provides guidance and instructions to search engines, describing content to them in a much clearer way than ever before. Using schemas on webpages can ensure that search engines fully understand the scale, scope and quality of the content they are presented with, which ultimately leads to improved organic search rankings. This ensures that relevant information is delivered accurately and quickly to customers and those searching for content related to your website or business.

The advantages of SD over regular HTML-coded websites are clear. Enhanced search engine performance results in increased customer retention as online searchers can easily locate the desired information quickly and efficiently. SD also enhances user experience as it’s designed to provide relevant data quickly and accurately. Moreover, adding structured data helps increase customer engagement as it allows for featured snippets and other forms of media to be displayed within a webpage or search engine result page.

However, some experts contend that SD may not always be beneficial due to current limitations such as incompatibility between markup languages, complex implementation processes and validation problems. Nonetheless, with proper implementation and maintenance, SD remains a powerful tool when used correctly on webpages.

To maximise the benefits of structured data for webpages, it is important to develop best practises around its implementation process. This will ensure that companies reap the full rewards of using this technology while minimising any potential issues that may occur. Therefore, the next section focuses on best practises for implementing structured data into webpages for optimal results.

Best Practises for Structured Data

Structured data plays an increasingly important role within the competitive landscape, and with its ever-growing importance, understanding best practises for effective strategies is a key consideration. The following provides some general recommendations for implementing effective structured data plans.

First and foremost, businesses should strive to make sure their structured data is accurate and properly formatted. Accurately present facts, dates and figures in a consistent format. This helps search engines better understand the content of a webpage, which will ultimately play a large role in the way it’s ranked and displayed in search results. Also, consider formatting structured data into appropriate hierarchies so that related content can be found more easily.

Second, establish standards for how structured data is collected and represented. For example, Setting up standard-based Library documentation can facilitate scalability as you grow. Additionally, having uniform labels across all departments makes it easier to search and analyse structured data functions without fear of inconsistency or errors.

Finally, use schema markup whenever possible to help search engines better understand the context of your website’s content. Properly labelled descriptors within schemas can go a long way towards improving how your content ranks in search results.

Ultimately, having a strategy for structuring data along with specific guidelines on how to format it can help improve the accuracy of the information you provide, as well as boost visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). To conclude this section regarding best practises for structured data, let’s move toward the conclusion of this article about “Unlock the Power of Structured Data: What You Need to Know”.

Conclusion

The power of structured data can provide enterprises with a variety of benefits, from more accurate analytics to a unique edge in the competitive landscape. Structured data enables businesses to understand and analyse technical information quickly, which can lead to better decision-making and an improved customer experience. Finally, offloading the task of organising and managing large scale datasets to automated solutions can save valuable time, resources and money in the long run.

However, as with any new technology, there are some potential risks associated with structured data that need to be taken into consideration before implementation. Organisations must ensure that their security practises protect against unauthorised access to sensitive data, and that their data collection efforts remain compliant with privacy and consumer protection regulations. Additionally, companies need to make sure that their personnel are properly trained to use any tools related to structured data, such as machine learning algorithms or analytics systems.

When used correctly, structured data is a powerful tool for organisational performance improvement and can open up a wealth of opportunities for businesses across all industries. By taking the necessary steps, organisations can successfully leverage the power of structured data to maximise efficiency and gain decisive insights into how customers interact with their products or services.

Common Questions and Their Answers

What are the potential risks of using structured data?

The potential risks of using structured data include the loss or manipulation of data, errors that can arise from incorrect data entry, and security risks due to unauthorised access to structured data.

Data loss or manipulation typically occurs when data stored in structured systems is lost or tampered with. This could be a result of equipment failure, human error, malicious intent, or other factors. Incorrect data entry may also introduce errors into results obtained from structured data. To mitigate this risk, organisations need to ensure strict tests and controls are in place to verify the accuracy of the data and its integrity over time.

Finally, unauthorised access to structured data is a major security concern for many organisations. Structured information often contains sensitive information about customers, employees and finances which can be exploited by those who gain access. Furthermore because many such systems are connected to the internet, they are at even greater risk of attack. To address this threat organisations must implement secure procedures for protecting their structured databases from outside threats.

What are the benefits of using structured data for SEO?

Structured data can be a powerful tool for SEO because it makes it easier for search engines to understand the content of your website. Structured data can help improve the organic visibility of a website by providing an optimised structure for on-page elements, such as titles and headings, as well as making it easier for search engines to understand the meaning behind your website’s content. This can lead to improved rankings, increased traffic, and greater lead generation.

Using structured data allows you to give search engines more contextual information about your webpage than regular HTML. For example, you can add Markup like Schema.org or JSON-LD to provide search engines with additional details about what is featured in each page and how they are related to each other. This helps search engines better understand what your website is about so they can provide relevant results when someone searches queries related to the topics you cover.

Structured data also allows you to create rich snippets that display higher-quality search results, featuring key pieces of information such as thumbnails, ratings, reviews, prices, and more. These features are designed to make URLs stand out among the search engine results so people are more likely to click on them – driving increased traffic and potentially resulting in more sales for your business.

How do I implement structured data on my website?

Implementing structured data on your website can be a great way to improve the search engine optimisation (SEO) of your website and make it easier for users to find relevant information. The process involves adding a piece of code called a “schema” to your website’s HTML, which is then used to communicate information about your web pages and content to search engines.

When implementing structured data on your website, it is important to start by understanding the type of content that you’re trying to provide information about so that you can correctly choose the right schema type. For example, if you had an ecommerce website, you would use the schema “Product” while if you had a blog post or article, you would use the schema “Article”. Once you have chosen the right schema, you can then move onto formatting the markup with all of the relevant information.

Finally, once you have implemented structured data on your website and marked up your webpages correctly with all of their related attributes, it is important to test that everything was done correctly in order for it be read properly by search engine bots. Google offers a specialised tool called the Structured Data Testing Tool which helps verify that your code is error free and ready for crawling by search engines.

Last Updated on February 27, 2023

E-commerce SEO expert, with over 10 years of full-time experience analyzing and fixing online shopping websites. Hands-on experience with Shopify, WordPress, Opencart, Magento, and other CMS.
Need SEO help? Email me for more info, at info@matt-jackson.com