Google is getting more and more serious about quality content. Recently it quietly introduced a new feature in Webmaster Tool– the Structured Data report – which has implications for all web content producers and site owners.

Google announced the new report last Friday on its blog.

 

What is Structured Data

Structured data gets technical, but basically it is a way of marking up the content on your website in a way that search engines and all sorts of other services and devices can use it in better and more useful ways.

(Find out more about it here http://schema.org/)

SEO and structured data

It tells the search engine or device that this is the author this is a product description, this is an article this is a rating review etc.

Basically it makes it easier for the search engines to categorize, use and display content and results.

This has particular ramifications for busienss owners running online shops or simply listing product catalogues. Marking up your products correctly can deliver all sorts of benefits.

Below is another example:

 

Structured-data

 

Why Does it Matter to My Business?

Google seems to have been working overtime over the past few years to improve the quality of its results, and this is just another of the improvements it has been making.

The “author” and “publisher” tags associated with your G+ account are others.

While no-one is saying it actually improves a site’s search engine performance, the simple fact that Google has made it part of Webmaster Tools is telling.

It is a clear signpost of the direction Google is moving in.

The other factor to consider is that it makes your results in the search engines more useful as it allows the search engines to display more relevant information about your pages.

And that should at least lead to more clickthrus.

I first wrote about the benefits of semantic markup over four years ago, and in hindsight it's surprising how prophetic the people I qouted in that oringal article have turned out to be. The article makes for interesting reading four years on.

At least now we have practical examples of how it can be used.

 

A Practical Application for Social Media Marketing

As I said, it gets technical, and inevitably means more work for your search engine optimisation team or consultant. However this is one task that should produce all sorts of benefits for a long time to come.

Dana Lookadoo over at SEOMoz did a great piece on how to use it to enhance your social media marketing efforts.

More Examples, Tips and Resources

This excellent presentation from Matthew Brown at AudinceWise is packed full of information on the benefits, technical instruction, examples of how to use it and other resources.

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