What is Structured Data?

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| Posted on | Just The Tip, SEO

Last week Sam & Meaghan talked about Meta Descriptions and how they’re a great way to help prospective car-buyers and service customers find the content they’re looking for on your site. Meta descriptions are an essential place to start, but if you really want to get exposure, you’re going to need Schema Data, or as it’s more commonly referred to by Google, Structured Data.

The structured data on your dealership’s website needs to be correct and used properly. Without it, you could be losing potential customers and their business.

So what is Structured Data? Simply put, it provides contextual information about your dealership’s site and the content of your various pages. Like Meta Descriptions, they’re not visible to users, but they are visible to Google, and trust me they really appreciate it! So much that they even have special displays for pages with structured data that will help you get noticed.

When you perform a Google search, maybe you’ve noticed Questions and Answers included in your search results. That was likely generated with structured data. You might be thinking, sure that’s a nice feature but, how that’s going to help me sell more cars? Well structured data isn’t just limited to FAQs. You can include additional information about nearly anything regarding your dealership! From your address, departmental contact information and hours, how to’s, articles, navigation, reviews and ratings, promotional offers, right down to product details about each of the vehicles in your inventory! All this can help users quickly find the car they’re looking for on your lot and potentially increase your conversion rates. Now we’re talking!

But, just because you have structured data on your site, doesn’t necessarily mean that Google’s going to accept it. It needs to have the right information, and each of the data types need to be properly formatted. So how do you figure out if you even have structured data, and if that data is correct? Well, luckily I’ve got a couple tools for ya.

The first is Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool . It’s only slightly antiquated, but all you have to do is copy and paste the URL you want to test into the URL field, and click “Run Test”. On the left hand side of the results, you’ll have the page’s HTML, and on the right you’ll get a readable output of each of the data types present on the page with test results for each of them. Some of these results will be suggestions in the form of warnings, which are acceptable within Schema standards. However, you may get some errors, these you’ll definitely want to get with your website provider to correct, along with any incorrect information.

Another Google tool which operates the same way is the Rich Results Test. I’m mentioning this one second because even though it’s Google’s replacement for the structured data testing tool they haven’t fully committed to using it and it’s still a little buggy at times. But it will validate your schema data more accurately.

So how do you get structured data on your site if you’re missing it? Well, there are several ways, but the easiest is to contact your website provider. Most website providers have some means of adding structured data to your pages, and if they don’t, it might be time to look for one that does. If you’re stuck you can always add it into the content itself. There are plenty of schema data generators available online that are free to use.

So just to recap, we covered (i) what schema and structured data is, (ii) how it can help boost your search appearance and conversions, (iii) why it’s important to ensure its implemented correctly, and (iv) steps you can take to get it on your site.

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