Structured data is an important signal for measuring user-intent and this includes non-recommended structured data as well. Google recently revealed these insights in their Search Off Record episode. Google also added how Google might use structured data that goes beyond the recommendations of Google’s developer pages.
Structured data is one of the key signals Google uses to figure out what your website is about, and how to rank it accordingly. In order to improve the quality of search results, Google wants websites to use structured data for things like places and recipes, and video games (to name a few). Google provides its recommendations for the best-structured data formats that are already in place on its Developer's website. In this Search Off record podcast episode from July 29, 2018, Martin Splitt briefly discusses a few cases where more structured data than what could fit into Google’s limited space on the Developer’s webpage might be useful. He ends by asking if it’s a good or bad thing that Google recommends so little.
Since Google structured data recommendations only use a fraction of all the available structured data that’s documented at Schema.org, reach out to professionals that can do the extra work of using all available structured data and relationships to boost your SEO in areas beyond what Google is recommending.
The Schema.org website is the go-to resource for schema best practices and what types of markup Google recommends that you add to your pages. The site’s structured data cookbook, which provides easy-to-follow explanations and examples of structured data, is not only helpful for small businesses and marketers that are trying to figure out how to use Schema.org markup on their website, but it’s also helpful for people who are trying to better understand the intricacies of structured data. It is to be noted that Schema.org has been jointly created by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex with major contributions coming from Drupal and many others in the greater web community.
Schema.org contains an extensive vocabulary of data types, which means that it's possible to mark up a greater amount of useful information than the basic data types that Google recommends. Earlier, Google used to recommend adding just a few bits of structured data, like the article, author, and date information. Today Schema.org is used across the web for thousands of different types of content, with new ones being added all the time. For example, Pinterest uses it for recipes, real estate listings, and electronic payments are described in more detail through Schema.org.
Google's Rich product markup helps Google better understand the content on your site, which can help showcase your rich results in more useful ways to your users. Recommendations from Google suggest rich markup for products, recipes, and local business data. Google is known for using its search data to improve its results. Here are a few examples of how they might use structured data in your pages' markup.
Structured data is a powerful way to tell Google what your website is about so that our algorithms can better understand the topics covered on the page.
Search engines sometimes make mistakes such as marking pages as a different topic than they are. Structured data can help search engines understand the content on your page better, and that may in turn improve the ranking of your site for particular queries.
Ryan Levering in the podcast eloquently elaborated on how Google can potentially use non-recommended structured data:
“We can potentially use that for some things at Google.
…I never advise people to not put structured data on their web page if it makes semantic sense.
…We also have some things that we do to generally understand the topic of the page. And sometimes the data you put on that can go into that.
Now that’s a very ML sort of process, where we look at all of the text on the page and we look at other things that have to do with the page.
So structured data is just one signal in that overall calculation.
But it can help us with certain disambiguations in terms of what the actual page is about. So it is useful but just in a more implicit sense right now.”
Lizzi Sassman of Google said that the additional structured data can be useful in situations where having a stronger signal helps. Ryan Levering of Google reiterated that having the correct structured data is good, but there might be situations where it isn’t clear if a web page is about a certain topic without having additional structured data to provide extra information.
Google's Product Ranking algorithm can use additional structured data that is in the content on the page, such as if you have the out-of-stock structured data, Lizzi Sassman said.
Sometimes the web can be hard to read. Sometimes it can be hard to understand things from the words alone. And, there are no pictures. That is where structured data comes in. It may not always help, but it can help Google in some cases better understand what a web page is about. Ryan suggested that in some cases with nothing else to go on, you would use this additional data as a signal and Lizzi agreed with him.
Google can figure out what a web page is about without any structured data. But they said that sometimes they may not be able to do so using just the unstructured data. In these cases, additional structured data could be helpful. The additional structured data could help Google better understand what a web page is about.
Google’s Amit Singhal has said that Google may start using extra structured data found on a page to help determine what the page is about. Presumably, if this happens, most pages will need to have their structured data filled to the brim with new stuff in order to compete for higher rankings.
You should also avoid putting any offers that don’t work in the structured data. You may feel tempted to include a special deal in the markup if you are using the same offer for both paid search and organic listings. DO NOT DO IT! Google will view that as spammy or Penguin-bait.
You can include additional content in your schema.org structured data, or you can use it as a means to validate the presence of items that are already on your web page. In many cases, Google’s intent is to go after spam sites and pages by making sure they have spammy structured data. We’re glad that Google allows us to find out if our extra text and content really matches what’s on the screen. Our new guidelines help us avoid the pitfalls that come with trying to stuff too much text onto a web page.
If you want to be successful with structured data, you must understand what’s in it and what isn’t. Perhaps your product description is great, but the reviews are out of date or poorly done. This is where microdata comes in. A single item in HTML doesn’t tell Google all the information that it needs to properly establish context. Taking a full product page with microdata marks, as an example, will add product description, price, ratings, and reviews to the content. If you don't have these elements on your site, then your site has no value for SEO.
You need to clear the big picture behind what's possible with structured data. This isn’t meant to be an SEO endeavor only, but rather consideration for how you can use structured data to get more data on your page.
Google has placed specific guidelines on how to use structured data. These guidelines are necessary for telling Google what exactly we're trying to tell it with that code. There are many ways in which we can ignore the guidelines and go about the business of SEO in a less than optimal way. Many old-school SEOs aren't using structured data. This is often because they don't know it exists and they don't understand how to benefit from it.
You need to format your product pages navigation, meta descriptions, and page titles using both recommended and non-recommended structured data to improve your search engine ranking. You need to work out what your content will look like in the visible portion of the webpage. This could be "Who We Are", a list of products, service descriptions, or information about your restaurant.
You may be wondering if there is a certain way to structure data with Schema.org markup, or if you have to put certain types of content in certain portions of the markups, but the answer is no. There are no definitive rules for structuring data with Schema.org markup. The truth is that Google gives you the freedom to structure your Schema markup in any way that makes sense to your site users or business.