Structured data, also commonly referred to as schema, makes it easier for search engines to present beneficial results to users about local businesses. For example, consumers issuing a voice command like, “Find a restaurant near me,” through Alexa feeds back search engine results for places closest to their current location.
That doesn’t happen by accident, just like it wasn’t an accident that this page came up when you looked up using structured data with local SEO.
What Is Structured Data?
Structured data organizes the information in your web pages into understandable and searchable sections. It is similar in concept to taking a spreadsheet filled with data and adding columns with labels and formatting that makes it easier for a user to understand.
Adding structured data to your webpage performs a similar function. Search engines can quickly locate relevant results that match up to a user’s query and feed them back in to the search engine results pages (SERPs). There are several different sets of rules supported by popular search engines, along with two standard vocabularies. Visit Schema.org and Microformats.org for more information about the syntaxes.
How Structured Data Helps Local SEO
Embedding a business’s web pages with location information allows Google and other popular search engines to quickly scan the page for items that match the user’s query. And it does make a difference. Fifty percent of people who looked up a local business on their phone visited it in person the next day. Overall, mobile users perform 60% of local searches using a mobile device.
The key is making sure all information remains consistent across all aspects of a company’s online digital media. Search engines also reward websites that use structured data with enhanced organic search result placement. These features can come in the form of:
- Stylized search results that include images and other types of visual enhancements
- Knowledge graphs that contain brand information about a business
- A carousel-style collection of results made up of a company’s information
- Accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) that make it easy for users to see relevant details on a business
Applying Structured Data With Local SEO
Schema.org contains many attributes that can be embedded in your HTML to distinguish specific bits of information. For example, adding an H1 tag to the header of a paragraph helps a search engine understand that you’re emphasizing a title or applying importance to a page section. H1s can be particularly beneficial to local SEO when you add phrases like the function of your business (bakery shop) and where it is located (Los Angeles) into the wording.
Common Local SEO Attributes
The following local business attributes from schema.org can be very beneficial in helping your business online. They represent the items most looked for by web searchers. Properly used attributes can attract more local traffic and help search engines enhance your result before presenting it to the user.
- Email — Allows you to leave a contact email.
- Location — Provides your company’s geographical location.
- Telephone — Provides a telephone number to call your business.
- paymentsAccepted — Lets a visitor know what forms of payments your business accepts.
- address — Provides the physical address of your business.
- areaServed — Indicates the area in which your company provides services.
These attributes also assist in voice searches, since voice-only searches are estimated to account for 30 percent of web sessions by 2020.
How much your company benefits from structured data in local SEO depends on the type of business you run. Law firms, medical practices, restaurants, and other organizations that have no problem revealing public information often see the highest returns.
Pulling Everything Together
Take the time to learn more about structured data and the role it can play in enhancing your business’s placement in localized search results. Here is a quick rundown of what you should keep in mind:
- Using structured data makes it easier for search engines to rank and categorize your pages, based on a user’s search criteria.
- Adding special tags around your business information helps enhance visualizations in SERPs.
- Making your information consistent across your digital platform allows users to find you through both web and voice searches.
Leveraging structured data to your advantage helps “future-proof” your content, ensuring local users can find you using any web search technology.
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