Comparison of Various Schemas and Benefits of Json-LD Over These Old Formats

  • Nov 25, 2018

  • by Rakhi Chowdhary

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Comparison of Various Schemas and Benefits of Json-LD Over These Old Formats

I am sure most of us know what structured data is. I would still like to give a brief overview for the sake of those who are not aware of this term but must be aware, if they are in the digital marketing field. Structured data, schema, rich snippet, Json-LD are used interchangeably but there are fine line differences between these.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data is an accepted format by top search engines Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex for classifying the web page content in order to provide information about that page. For example, on a product page, what  the name of the product is, the product description, product colour, product images, product brand, product availability, SKU unit and so on.

In short, structured data lets Google and other the search engines know about your page.  

Today, all of us would like to get the structured data:

  • included on our webpages
  • try to make all changes to see structured data getting indexed in search engines and see these appearing in search results.

Why is Structured Data Important?

  • By using these structured data formats we simplify the content and make it more understandable for the search engines.
  • By using headings and sub-headings, we convey what is important and adding schema helps to identify what it is all about. When the context of the content is understandable both to the user and the search engines, it is picked easily in SERPs.    
  • Structured data is a standard and globally accepted format for providing information about a page, describing it and classifying the page content; for example, a contact us page of an organisation would describe/mention its contact information that includes Business Name, Physical Address (corporate, sales and more), Phone numbers, Google Map, email id, contact form.
  • Gather information about the web
  • Understand the content of the page
  • Enhance your site attributes by marking up your content items using structured data.
  • Enable special search result features and enhancements (example - rich cards for recipes page with structured data, google carousel shown for better user experience and improving local search results)  

What are the Benefits of Structured Data?

  • Improved SERPs
  • Increased conversions
  • Better ROI
  • Your website appears in rich results and site link search boxes

We will cover all the above benefits in detail in this article.

Google search supports structured data in the following listed formats:

Format
Description and Placement
JSON-LD* (Recommended)
It is a JavaScript annotation embedded in a <script> tag in the page head or body. This markup is not placed inline with the HTML code of the user-visible text. The nested data are easily expressed. Structured data injected via JSON-LD in the body dynamically into the page's contents using JavaScript code or embedded widgets in your CMS is easily readable by Google.
Microdata
It is an open-community HTML specification interleaved to implement structured data within HTML content. As RDFa, it uses HTML tag attributes (itemtype-itemprop) to explain search engines, and the type and properties of the data to be highlighted as structured data. Generally, it is used in the page body, but can be used in the head.
RDFa
RDFa is an HTML5 extension that supports linked data by introducing HTML tag attributes that is directly related to the user-visible content that you want to highlight and describe for structuring for search engines. In any HTML page, RDFa’s  can be used both in the head and body sections.


Format that you should know:

JSON-LD: @id
Microdata: itemid
RDFa: resource / about
<!-- JSON-LD -->
<script type="application/ld+json">
  {
    "@context": "http://schema.org",
    "@type": "Person",
    "@id": "#i",
    "name": "Rakhi"
  }
</script>

<!-- Microdata -->
<p itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person" itemid="#i">
  <span itemprop="name">Rakhi</span>
</p>
<!-- RDFa -->
<p typeof="schema:Person" resource="#i">
  <span property="schema:name">Rakhi</span>
</p>

Structured Data Guidelines

Make sure you follow these structured data guidelines for best results and for Google and other search engines to pick up your page snippet and show the rich snippets in SERPs.

Important: There is no guarantee that Google will show your structured data results in SERP (search results) even if it is marked up correctly as per the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Here are some common reasons why:

  • If you add structured data you request Google to show a feature in search results but it completely depends on search engine to display it. The Google algorithm picks best fit web pages and web page content to show up in search results for best user search experience. This depends on many factors like user’s search history, your search location, and device type. Search algorithm determines the best feature to show over several other features described, using structured data type. You will find Google showing plain blue link many times.
  • Your web page structured data might not show in SERP if the web page content is misleading.
  • The structured data is not correct, but the tool was not able to pick up.
  • Different content is referred by the structured data, but the data is not shown to the user.
  • The page does not meet structured data guidelines; these may be type specific guidelines or webmaster guidelines.

Technical Guidelines for Structured Data Implementation

Do not block the web page content from Google bots using any access control methods. Also, you need to use Google supported structured data formats: JSON-LD (recommended), Microdata and RDFa.

Quality Guidelines for Structured Data Implementation

Content Guidelines for Structured Data Implementation

Follow the Google webmasters quality guidelines

Do not mark content that is not visible to users

Do not mark content not relevant to the page theme

Content should not promote any prohibited content

Only relevant content should be marked. If your page is about a product, do not markup travel content.

Completeness is recommended, the more properties you markup, higher the chances of appearing in search results

For duplicate pages with canonical, structured data should also be implemented

Don't mark up a page that lists multiple items with links to individual pages. Example: Don't mark up a page that lists all accountant jobs in Uxbridge, London, with links to individual job pages.

Try to use the most specific applicable type and property names

All image URLs must be crawlable and indexable

When specifying an image as a structured data property, make sure that the image actually belongs to the type it is mapped to.

Unless this is a carousel page, the marked items should not link out to separate details pages

Multiple structured data objects can be included on a single page

Multiple elements on a page should be marked up unless it is a carousel

What are Rich Snippets?

Rich snippets are augmented search results displayed by search engines on their results page. As opposed to general organic results, they have stronger visual appeal. They are described using structured data that are implemented on a website by the site webmaster/owner. As these are highlighted, they come with enriched organic results.

Here are a few of the most popular rich snippets:

  • Sponsored features
  • Local business features
  • Knowledge features
  • Media features
  • Vertical enhancement of organic results (rich results)
  • Search query features
  • Rich snippet/ Interactive infographic

Steps for Creating JSON-LD Schema Code and Implementing it:

  • Choose the right structured data type paged on your page content/ theme and follow the structured guidelines based on your page and feature type
  • Validate your code in structured data testing tool
  • Use fetch as Google to see how Google sees your page. Make sure your page is accessible to Google and search engines. Use Search console tool to request to index the page
  • Make sure you check structured data status report/ rich cards results’ report to see if your page structured data is recognized by google. Fix the errors highlighted.

In case, you are facing issue or find any errors, check this list with common structured data errors and how-to fix it .

Further, in this article we will discuss JSON-LD as this is the recommended format by Google.

What is JSON-LD?

JSON-LD stands for JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data. Its building blocks are attribute-value pairs that form multi-dimensional arrays. JSON-LD is a term formed by combing JSON and LD. It is easy for both, humans and machines to read and write and parse and generate respectively due to its data interchange feature. LD stands for Linked Data, this means to use the internet to connect related data.

JSON-LD method helps encoding linked data using JSON. Like Microdata and RDFs formats, the traditional methods of structuring data, JSON-LD format also helps use schema vocabulary in the best possible way. Schema.org is data vocabulary of web, a unified vocabulary created by Google, Bing and Yandex for structuring data using formats such as RDFs, Microformats, Microdata, JSON, JSON-LD. These help search engines deliver/ show search result with rich snippets. These structured data formats organize the data online to provide a meaning and connect related data together for creating a better, easy to understand web.

What are the features of JSON-LD?

  • JSON-LD uses JSON notation
  • Uses structured data or linked data vocabularies for communication information to search engines
  • It is light-weight and data interchange format makes it easily acceptable
  • It is WC3 standard website method of structured markup implementation
  • It uses name-value (attribute-value) pairs
  • Simple compared to other methods, easiest of all methods to add website meta data
  • Less prone to human errors as is added to head of HTML, does not entangle with HTML codes
  • JSON-LD can also be added in the <body> content as Google can read the dynamically generated tags in DOM
  • JSON-LD provides a standard way (generalized solutions) to add semantic context to the existing JSON data structure for the purpose of upgrading the interoperability between APIs -  Example of successful implementation : MyGene.info, MyVariant.info and MyChem.info

Schema is a vocabulary for implementing structured data using JSON-LD, Microdata or RDFs. This should answer the question Is JSON-LD and Schema same? JSON-LD Vs Schema?

List JSON-LD Best Practices

  • JSON-LD opens with and <script> tag; close every tag that opens
  • The script tag with a type attribute that says/ “Hey browser, I’m calling the JavaScript that contains JSON-LD”.
  • JSON-LD must be within curly braces so that it can be parsed (the script can curl it up), analyze it into logical syntactic components. 
  • Square brackets exist for situations where there are multiple values for an item property. A common use is leveraging the same as item property [square brackets] for listing multiple social media platforms.

Instance of that type

  • <script type="application/ld+json"> {
  • "@context": "http://schema.org",
  • In the above line, @context refers to schema vocabulary.
  • Commas mean “There’s more. Don’t stop parsing the data.”
  • "@Type": "…", @type specifies the item type being marked up.
  • @type for nesting: Attribute-value pairs
  • annotate information about the item type
  • straight quotation marks different from non-straight quotation marks

Conclusion: The key takeaway is to upgrade your websites with structured content on all the pages, making it easier for the search engines and social media web sites to index them.

About author

Rakhi Chowdhary
  • Rakhi Chowdhary

Currently, an SEO manager at Envigo Marketing Pvt. Ltd., Rakhi Chowdhary with over 12 years of SEO experience in an array of industry verticals, is focused on leveraging her expertise across industries for different service areas. She has successfully created and managed campaigns for various promotional strategies. 

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