Two SEO Reasons To Use Structured Markup

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If you're not using structured markup on your website, you risk losing out on potential clicks and possibly even a rankings boost. It's time to take this seriously if you haven't been already.

Do you use rich snippets? Do you intend to? Let us know in the comments.

There a couple of interesting pieces of news to surface over the past week or so that provide reasons to use structured markup.

Last week, Google implied that it may start using structured markup as a ranking signal in the future. That's not to say it is now, or that it will next week, but it's always been a little odd to me that it wasn't already a signal, and the fact that they are hinting that this might change is probably reason enough to go ahead and utilize it.

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller said in a Google+ hangout (via Search Engine Roundtable) said, "If we can recognize someone is looking for a car, we can say oh well, we have these pages that are marked up with structured data for a car, so probably they are pretty useful in that regard,” he said. “We don’t have to guess if this page is about a car.”

He said it “definitely” makes sense to use structured data, adding, “So I think in the long run, it definitely makes sense to use structured data where you see that as being reasonable on the web site. But I would’t assume that using structured data markup will make your site jump up in rankings automatically. So we try to distinguish between a site that is done technically well and a site that actually has good content. Just because it is done technically well, it doesn’t mean it is as relevant to the users as content that is not done as technically well.”

In other words, it would be just another signal (obviously).

The other piece of news is a study from Blue Nile Research (via Search Engine Land), which found that search results with rich snippets can get more clicks at the number 2 position than the number 1 result without them.

Structured marykp can of course enable Google to display rich snippets.

As Google explains:

Including structured data markup in web content helps Google algorithms better index and understand the content. Some data can also be used to create and display Rich Snippets within the search results. For example, the Rich Snippet at the right (above here) shows search results for a movie, including review stars, an aggregate rating value, and vote count — very useful to anyone searching for information about this movie.

To make your pages eligible for Rich Snippets in search results, add structured data of the appropriate type to your content. Make sure to comply with any policies that each type has regarding Rich Snippet display.

Google supports rich snippets for products (price, availability, review ratings), recipes, reviews, events, and software applications (URL, review ratings, and price).

Blue Nile, which looked at three different scenarios, says, "When we look at the overall click results across all three scenarios, we see that the rich-media‒ enhanced result in position 2 captures an average of 61% of clicks, versus 48% when the same unenhanced result is in position 1, a lift of 13%. The same unenhanced result in position 2 receives 35% of clicks, a lift of 26%."

You can find the full study here.

You can take all of this with a grain of salt if you like as there's nothing here to say that by adding structured markup is going to automatically make you notice a jump in rankings and clicks, but at the same time, there aren't really any drawbacks beyond the time and effort spent adding the markup. It's only going to be in your best interest.

Google has a YouTube playlist of instructional videos on rich snippets and structured data, which I have embedded in full below.

Here's Google's resource on structured data, which includes information about how it pertains to rich snippets, breadcrumbs, and sitelinks. The rich snippets-specific section is here.

Do you see any reason not to add the markup? Do you think it's helping your own search results? Discuss.

Images via Google, Blue Nile

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.