Make Your Web Content Highly Accessible Through Structured Data

Structured data, also known as linked data, serves to simplify and improve the ability of machines to effectively and consistently translate HTTP coding into a form readable by humans. Linked data relies on connections involving the Resource Description Framework (RDF) which serves as a more uniform code for the HTTP protocol to understand.

Schema.org is a set of structured data that has been developed through a communal effort commonly used in the SEO world due to its clear language, reliability and stability when read by search engines. Structured data supports increases in mobile site speed, provides improved interface options, greater product awareness, and more; results and effectiveness of structured data can be examined through the use of a Google analytics tool that will flag any errors located.

Linked Data Leads to an Increase in Speed

With the use of linked data, companies like Facebook have implemented faster versions of their standard articles that are meant to post quicker and reach a wider audience:

  • 1. Facebook Instant Articles (FIA) provide publishers that use the specific set of required protocols the ability to see their content posted nearly instantaneously. Originally available to only a limited number of larger publishers, organic search results may be improved by utilizing these linked data protocols; this factor may have been involved in Facebook’s decision to open their FIA to the global public as of April 2016, encouraging their use by as many publishers as possible.
  • 2. Apple launched Apple News Articles (ANA) that run on RSS which incorporates aspects of both HTML and Schema in an overall format that is JSON-based.
  • 3. The open format Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) created by Google uses HTML and JavaScript elements, but users are limited to the JavaScript library supplied by AMP. Wordpress, Pinterest, and Twitter are already utilizing AMP, and understandably so; in some tests, mobile speed was reported to increase significantly when checked with the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool as a result of a greater than 70% reduction in overall page size.

Google Rich Cards Provide an Improved Mobile Experience

A further improvement over their “Rich Snippets” which have already increased the functionality of mobile sites through the partial replacement of text with images, “Rich Cards” are currently supported by Google for recipe and movie sites and serve as another example of a highly functional AMP application. Rich Cards produce improved graphics and allow touch navigation from mobile devices while simultaneously improving the speed of the site. With the help of Schema.org, Google is able to improve its ability to combine aspects of different presentation units into one functional interface and is expected to expand their uses to additional mobile data page categories.

Google Tools Provide Great Feedback About Your Structured Data

Leave it to Google to create another fabulous tool that allows you to view the details of any applications and/or pages that utilize structured data. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool is in its early stages but it can already notify you of errors in your structured or linked data. The tool is designed with autocomplete functions for Schema.org and JSON-LD vocabulary for increased ease of use.


JSON-LD Gaining in Popularity

An acronym representing JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data, JSON-LD is a variation of the JSON method of encoding specifically developed for linked data. More users have begun utilizing JSON-LD encodings since October of 2014 when Google announced its support for the simplicity and error free aspects of the system. AMP is the only distributed content platform that currently supports JSON-LD, while FIA and ANA have not yet implemented the upgrade. As we continue to observe an increase in the amount of linked or structured data throughout the web, the use of JSON-LD is expected to steadily increase.


GTIN as Identifiers of Trade Items

The Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) of any product can be used to look up information pertaining to the product in a variety of databases owned by retail companies, manufacturers, and more. The 8, 12, 13 or 14 digit numbers can be entered via a barcode reader to identify each item in a unique way that enables it be be located in numerous databases and is an excellent example of linked data usage that eliminates data silos and streamlines the process of sharing information.


An Underutilized But Growing Opportunity to Utilize Structured Data

Although still relatively underutilized, structured data produces far more consistent, readable content results that web developers truly intend to be seen by site visitors. Over time, more support from various companies will result in increased usage and dependency upon linked data strategies which in turn will motivate more web developers to learn the new encoding language. While Schema.org was once only expected to increase in popularity due to its useful nature in rich snippets and rich cards, the broader realizations of the applications are just beginning to become understood.