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What Is Structured Data and How Can It Improve Website SEO?

Author profile imageLars Salling·May 20, 2023
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The terms structured data, schema markup and rich snippets are common to come by when reading any SEO-related material and with good reason, as using them correctly on your website or blog can have huge benefits when ranking on search engines like Google.

In this article we’ll dive into the whats and whys of schema markup and why structured data and SEO go hand in hand when growing your website on search engines.

What is structured data in SEO?

In SEO, structured data is a way to add information to a webpage that is picked up by search engines in order to show enhanced search results for your website. These enhanced results are often referred to as rich results and are often shown as highlighted and focused results related to specific search queries and can contain visual or interactive elements depending on the data model at hand.

How to use rich snippets

Structured data works by providing a schema type which often refers to an entity such as a recipe, review or an author and is in most cases expressed as a JSON schema hierarchy where types can contain other types - say for example a review entity having an author entity.

Structured data example

In order to better explain structured data and rich snippets, we’ll proceed with an example of providing a rich snippet to a webpage that includes a recipe for BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches. One of the most common ways of providing the structured data snippet to a webpage is by using JSON+LD to express the schema. This is done by adding a HTML script tag with the “type” attribute set to “json+ld”, and inside that script tag is the JSON schema containing the information of your structured data snippet:

<script type="application/ld+json">
      "@context": "",
      "@type": "Recipe",
      "name": "BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches",
      "author": {
        "@type": "Person",
        "name": "Lars Salling"
      "datePublished": "2023-19-06",
      "description": "Tender, slow-cooked pork shoulder, shredded and smothered in tangy BBQ sauce, served on a soft bun.",

Adding this script would inform Google that the current webpage contains a recipe for BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches and makes it possible for our page to be displayed as a featured snippet on search engine results. Our example included a few of the properties that you can include in the Recipe type but can be expanded to also include information such as an image, star ratings and cooking time as shown below.

A rich snippet search result for carrot cake that includes information such as cooking time and reviews

All the different schema types and their properties can be found on’s website, who are the organization in charge of providing and maintaining the structured data specification. It can however vary from search engine to search engine which properties in a type are picked up so it is also a good idea to do your own research on each individual snippet or search engine in order to provide the most essential values for your snippets. Google for example has a list of the types and properties that they support for using structured data to create rich snippets.

Some of the most common rich snippets in SEO are:

  • Recipes which can include additional schema types such as NutrientInformation, HowToStep (for instructions) and AggregateRating (star ratings).
  • Review which can apply to different content types such as books, products or movies.
  • FAQ (frequently asked questions) often used on the FAQ-page of a website or blog and is perfect for providing quick and concise answers to questions related to one’s website or product.

How can structured data improve SEO?

Some people raise the critique against rich snippets and schema SEO that it does not benefit website owners but is rather a way for search engines to extract and use the information in the search engine results directly without users needing to visit a website in order to access the information. This is in part correct, though it has been proven over time that rich snippets should be rather seen as a short resume of what a website has to offer, and it is more likely that a user will enter a website after their attention is caught by a highlighted snippet such as a recipe or book review.

Adding structured data to your website is not a task that takes a lot of time or effort, but it can be a very important factor when ranking on search engines, especially if your website content includes things such as recipes, reviews or events.

How to implement structured data on a website

As previously mentioned, structured data is often added to websites through the JSON+LD format as an HTML script, though Google also supports the formats Microdata and RFDa, which are both ways to add schema markup information to your webpage by adding specific attributes to your HTML tags.

Manually adding structured data

One way of creating rich snippets for your website content is to manually create and add your schemas to your web pages. There are various rich snippet generators on the internet that make it easier to create and configure your schemas. The most straight-forward way of manually adding schema markup to your website is:

  1. Create your rich snippet schema. This can either be done by following the schema specifications on or using a generator such as’s schema markup generator.
  2. Append the script tag to your HTML head. After having created your structured data snippet, it should be added inside of a <script> HTML tag with the “type” set to “json+ld” (important for getting picked up by search engines), like this: <script type=”json+ld”>{ your schema here}</script>.
  3. Validate that your schema is valid. In order to make sure that your rich snippet is valid and readable by search engines, it’s a good idea to use a test tool such as Google’s Rich Result Test tool that will scan your webpage for structured data and inform you if there are invalid fields or other problems with your snippet.

Using a SEO plugin

Manually adding structured data can be tedious and time consuming if you need to create rich snippets for every single web page on your blog or website. Instead a lot of people prefer to use SEO plugins that support automatically adding structured data to their pages. This is the case for people using platforms such as WordPress or Wix which offer a plugin ecosystem for, though it is also possible to create your own implementation using languages like JavaScript or PHP if you are building your own website.

Some platforms and sites also have structured data and rich snippets built-in, which is the case for Wasabee, which will automatically create and append structured data for content such as FAQ, recipes and articles.

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Frequently asked questions

Where to put JSON+LD

When using the JSON+LD format for adding structured data, you should add a <script type="json+ld"> tag to the <head> of your HTML document with the snippet schema inside of it. This makes it possible for search engines like Google to crawl and read your rich snippets in order to be featured in search engine results.

How to activate rich snippets on my website?

If you have added structured data to your website, it should automatically get picked up by search engines in order to be shown as rich snippets in search engine results. It is a good idea to use a tool such as the Schema Markup Testing Tool by Google in order to make sure that your structured data is formatted correctly.

Why are my rich snippets showing up in search results?

There can be multiple reasons that your rich snippets are not showing up on search engine results. One of the most common reasons is that your structured data is malformed or not added to the website at all. Use a tool such as Google's Schema Markup Testing Tool to make sure that your rich snippet is valid.

It also not guaranteed that your pages will show up as rich snippets though providing more data attributes in your schemas may heighten the chances of search engines will pick up and use the snippets on your website.