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Have you heard of structured data,, rich snippets or rich results? Or does all of this sound like gibberish to you? Don’t worry. Whether you’ve heard these terms flying around somewhere or not, I’ll explain why you should familiarize yourself with the concept. In today’s SEO landscape, structured data is essential for any website that’s serious about ranking high in the search results.

What is structured data?

In the context we’re talking about today, structured data is something you can add to your website to describe what can be found there. Contrary to most of what you do, you don’t add this to your website for your site visitors. Structured data is meant to help search engines understand your pages better.

To make this possible, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex founded in 2011. is the website of the project, but schema is a vocabulary that you can use to define entities and relationships on your website in a way that search engines will understand. Are you still with us? Let’s make this a bit easier to grasp by giving an example that you can also find on the Recipe schema page.

An example of structured data

Let’s say, for example, you have a website with lots of recipes on there. One of the recipes on your website is for banana bread, which you’ve named Mom’s World Famous Banana Bread. You will probably have a page on your website dedicated to this recipe where people can find one (or more) photo(s), the ingredients, instructions and other relevant information they will need to bake this amazing-tasting banana bread themselves.

You will want people to find this recipe when they search for things like ‘banana bread’ or ‘banana bread recipe’. But for your website to show up in people’s search results, Google has to understand that you have a recipe for banana bread on your website. Adding the correct recipe structured data to your website helps Google understand this faster, increasing your chances of being picked up correctly. offers different schemas, depending on the type of content you’re producing. In this case, where we’re talking about a recipe website, the Recipe type is the best choice as it comes with all the properties you will need to describe your recipe page. The Recipe schema helps you categorize all the information neatly and offer it to search engines on a silver platter. Here is how all that information would be presented to the search engines, where all the relevant information on your recipe page sort of gets a tag to describe what kind of information it is.

example of structured data for online recipe banana bread

So, for example, this script tells search engines that this is a Recipe (type), that the author of the page is John Smith (author), and what the ingredients are (recipeIngredient). For us, as people, all this information might seem logical at first glance. However, search engines have a harder time sorting that information without context or categorization. That’s where structured data comes in. It gives search engines the context to understand what our content is about.

Is structured data important for every website?

The example we looked at just now is that of a recipe website. But honestly, structured data is relevant for any website. Including yours. It can describe and categorize any content out there. Making it easier for Google and other search engines to understand what your website (and content) is about. 

For Google to show your page in the search results, it needs to know what’s on it. Structured data helps you tell Google precisely in a language that it understands. Doing so will benefit your rankings and improve your chances of getting one of those shiny rich results. 

Structured data gets you rich results

If you’re not familiar with the term yet, rich results are those first search results that look slightly different than the usual ‘blue links’ you normally see on the search results page. It’s often much more elaborate and comes with images and other information. Google highlights one specific search result they feel fits your query. Here’s an example of a rich result when I search for ‘okonomiyaki recipe’: 

Screenshot of the Google search results for okonomiyaki recipe. It shows a link and then rich results with images and ratings.

Of course, these rich results look different per content type. Do a few online searches, and you’ll probably get different rich results. 

Structured data powers these rich results. So, to increase your chances of getting them yourself, it’s crucial to implement them correctly. Not only are these snippets great for branding, but they also increase the likelihood that someone will click through to your website!

Another benefit: the knowledge graph panel

When you do an online search on Google, you sometimes get a box with detailed information on the right side. This is the knowledge panel, which provides you with a summary of important information about the search you just did. For example, when I do an online search for ‘Mindy Kaling’ I get a list of normal search results on the left and this knowledge panel on the right:

Knowledge graph panel Mindy Kaling

One of the things Google uses to fill this panel is structured data from pages. You want to have this when people search for your company or brand name. It can show your name, logo, social media profiles, and other relevant information. But it also positively impacts your branding and credibility, as you’re shown prominently in Google’s search results. Just have a look at the knowledge graph panel you get when online searching for ‘Bluehost’. This might seem like a nice-to-have, but these knowledge panels show the growing importance of structured data in how search engines make sense of online content and how everything is related to each other. 

How can you add structured data to your website? 

Example of knowledge graph panel Bluehost

You might be wondering how on earth to get structured data onto your website. Don’t fret, I will help you on your way!

JSON-LD is the preferred method of adding structured data to your pages. Thanks to JSON-LD, it becomes pretty easy to do this since it forms a block of code and no longer embedded in the HTML of your page. This makes it more understandable for search engines (and humans), and makes writing and maintaining structured data easier. If you have some experience with JSON-LD and HTML and want to implement structured data yourself, you can simply follow the steps on Google’s Codelabs

Help! Coding is not my strong suit

If you have no idea what JSON-LD is or how to use it, don’t worry. You can also add structured data to your website without touching any code! By using plugins. Just have a browse through all the structured data plugins available for WordPress.

One of the plugins in that list is our plugin, Yoast SEO. This plugin automatically adds structured data to your pages. You can determine per page or article what content type it is by simply selecting the type in a drop-down menu. There is no need for development skills or schemas that must be added to your page; Yoast SEO does that for you. Read more about adding structured data to your website with Yoast SEO.

Let’s get started

Online content is growing by the second, and search engines are trying their hardest to understand it all. Make sure they can easily access and understand your content by using structured data. It’s not going anywhere, so make sure to take the time to set it up properly. I hope this blog post gave you some insight into what structured data is and how you can make it work for you. If you want to learn more about this topic and really dive into it, we also offer a free course on structured data for beginners at Yoast. Good luck, and I’ll see you out there!

  • Camille Cunningham

    Camille works as a content specialist at Yoast, the company behind the well-known Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. She writes content that helps you work on your site and master SEO!

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