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What's New with Structured Data and Markup?

What's New with Structured Data and Markup?

by Aaron Bradley on June 27, 2016

in Search Engines, Semantic Web, SEO

What's New with Structured Data and Markup?

I'm just back from Seattle, where I had the pleasure of speaking at yet another sold out SMX Advanced.

The topic of my talk was "What's New with Markup and Structured Data", where I reviewed recent search engine-facing changes relevant to structured data, structured data markup, knowledge bases and other aspects of semantic search. When I say "recent" I mean the past year or so, with an emphasis on developments in the last few months (and in particular Google's May 2016 update, which I covered in some detail in the post preceding this one).

The presentation deck embedded at the bottom of this post is (hopefully) self-explanatory, so I won't go into detail about what you can read there, but here are the major topic areas I covered.

  • Just what is structured data?
  • Why schema.org plays such a large role in structured data markup for search engines
  • Structured data used by distributed content systems (Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP))
  • The introduction of Google rich results and rich cards
  • Rich card previews and other changes to the Google Structured Data Testing Tool
  • The rise of JSON-LD as Google's preferred syntax for schema.org
  • Structured data for ecommerce, including the GS1 Web Vocabulary
  • schema.org extensions
  • The changing knowledge base landscape (Freebase, Wikidata, Wikipedia, the Google Knowledge Graph, and the Knowledge Graph Search API)

Aside from this, I'll note that in preparation for this presentation I created a publically-accessible Google Sheet that, for each of the items I discussed, provides the feature announcement and effective dates, the announcement URL, reference URLs and discussion URLs.

This is a table I intend to keep updated, so please let me know if you spot any omissions or errors.

1 Denver Prophit Jr June 28, 2016 at 6:07 am

On slide #12, you talked about social media and structured data. We have just about completed a twitter module for PrestaShop to show summary with large image and found the twitter:alt:image to be useful for accessibility reasons!

2 Sunidhi Suganthi August 29, 2016 at 1:47 am

I am a big fan of Structured Data, I myself always practise and teach our SEO learners about how to use it properly using Microdata format. But recently, I have seen many blogs, reputed marketers and search engine specialists are suggesting to use JSON-LD over Microdata format. I used JSON-LD on some projects and Microdata on some other but I didn’t see any differences. My question is that is there any difference in these two types of structured data formats and final results (rich snippet, if any).

3 Aaron Bradley September 20, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for your question Sunidhi. And for Google you’re right: when it comes to the generation of rich snippets – or just Google’s understanding of your content – both microdata and JSON-LD (as well as RDFa) are equally effective.

Where one might want to consider microdata over JSON-LD, however, is if Bing or Yandex are in play, as these engines don’t yet explicitly support JSON-LD, but can handle microdata.

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