Getting Started with Structured Data

* This is intended to be a short intro to give you a basic understanding of structured data, and what it means for your client’s websites. For a more indepth look at citations, NAP and structured data, head to  https://flyte360.com/blog/local-citations-guide/  .
Despite Google’s ability to correct your typos, predict what you’re about to type or give you the weather in a place you’re about to visit it still seems to struggle with addresses. 
To ensure it’s always giving users the most up to date information about your business, it relies on gathering information from various directories and 3rd party sources and unsurprisingly, your own website is a key one. 
Until around 2015, best practice for including details about a business location ( also known as NAP - Name Address Phone number) on a company’s website, was to include a marked up version of the address so it appeared on every page. 
Having the details 'marked up', simply meant wrapping tags or structured data (usually HTML text) around the address details that’s invisible to humans looking at the page, but visible to search engines to help them understand how to structure the data. For example
<span class='street-address'>301 – 399 W 41st Street</span>
This essentially worked, but was often a pain in the ass to implement. It required you to edit the actual text on a web page and for more fragile layouts and older sites, that might have caused design issues.
There are several markup formats still active today ( e.g. Microdata or RDFa), but the current favourite seems to be JSON-LD. The beauty of using JSON-LD to include address data on a site is that you can keep it completely separate from your HTML.
More importantly, it can be injected after the page has loaded, making it easier to add JSON-LD via third party plugins and widgets – in our case, the Universal Plugin.


So, let’s not get too technical but …

JSON-LD is implemented using Schema.org vocabulary; a joint effort by all of the large search engines to create a unified language to read data on web pages.
Here’s an example of how a fictional “Stark Industries” company would look in JSON-LD markup:
<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org",
  "@type": "ProfessionalService",
  "name": "Stark Industries",
  "image": "",
  "@id": "",
  "url": "https://ironman.com",
  "telephone": "(212) 555-5555",
  "address": {
    "@type": "PostalAddress",
    "streetAddress": "301 – 399 W 41st Street",
    "addressLocality": "New York",
    "addressRegion": "NY",
    "postalCode": "10036",
    "addressCountry": "US"
  },
  "geo": {
    "@type": "GeoCoordinates",
    "latitude": 40.7566026,
    "longitude": -73.99029589999998
  },
  "openingHoursSpecification": {
    "@type": "OpeningHoursSpecification",
    "dayOfWeek": [
      "Monday",
      "Tuesday",
      "Wednesday",
      "Thursday",
      "Friday",
      "Saturday",
      "Sunday"
    ],
    "opens": "00:00",
    "closes": "23:59"
  },
  "sameAs": "https://twitter.com/iron_man"
}
</script>
JSON-LD is effectively just attributes that tell the search engines specific information we want them to know about the business.
Unless other formats like Microdata, JSON-LD can technically sit anywhere although it’s best to put it in the <head> tags of a document. It can be inserted statically (literally added to the code of a site as part of the page’s HTML) or inserted dynamically after the page loads via the Universal Plugin

The benefits of Structured Data

Despite our best hopes, adding Structured Data to a website doesn’t mean it will go from page 3 to position 1 for all of its search terms overnight. 
It does however, give site owners the ability to take control of how their information is defined, which, in turn, puts them in control of how search engines, voice search devices and connected applications like In-car guidance understand their brand.
Also, correctly formatted information means search engines are far more likely to feature your website as an answer to a visitor’s search or question which means more impressions. You’ll also see your brand’s information featured in more rich snippets and voice searches which all results in more traffic, calls or store visits. 


Getting started with Structured Data

To add Structured Data to your website you simply need to install the Universal Plugin
We’ll take all the information about your location that you already have, and use this to create the structured data that will be added to your site after it loads.

To see what Google and other search engines can see, check out their Structured Data Testing tool by heading to https://search.google.com/test/rich-results