Stephen Ostermiller's Blog

SEO Myth: Structured data helps search engine rankings

Google has recently given a lot of visibility to structured data. That is, special HTML markup from about various types of data. When implementing several types of structured data, Google will display rich snippets in the search results such as star ratings of reviews. Google added a structured data testing tool to search console.

Because of all this, many webmasters think they need to implement structured data for SEO. That just isn't the case. Google has said that there is no ranking boost for implementing structured data. The only SEO benefit to structured data is getting the rich snippets in the search results. Most types of structured data don't have any rich snippet. Even if a rich snippet is available, Google may or may not choose to show it for your site even with structured data.

That doesn't stop people from asking what type of structured data they should use for their random site. The way to implement structured data is to look at the search gallery and see if there is a rich snippet that you can get. If you have to ask what type of structured data to use, you are asking the wrong question.

Structured data is a fad. Google would love for all websites to implement clean data. It would make understanding the web much easier.

However, it is all meta data. If Google learned anything about markup only meant for search engines and not for users, it is that it gets abused and spammed. That is why Google doesn't even use meta keywords anymore. Already Google has stopped showing some rich snippets because of abuse. For example, Google no longer users authorship markup to show authors in the search results.

Pushing structured data puts Google in the position of having to police it. I doubt that the benefit Google gets from sites with structured data will outweigh the amount of spam it creates for them.

See also: Is structured data (in Microdata, JSON-LD, or RDFa) relevant for SEO?

This article was written as part of a series about SEO myths.

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