All site owners know that schema.org and open graph tags are useful things. But not everyone implements micro-markup. If you understand how to use schema.org, but do not dare to mark pages up because of the complexity of the process, this article is for you. There is an effective and easy-to-use alternative – the JSON-LD format. Why is this format better than schema.org? The details are below.
What is JSON-LD?
In practice, using the JSON-LD format improves the site’s representation in the SERP. You get expanded snippets, which attract the attention of users and increase link clickability. In particular, by using JSON-LD, you can mark up the data for the knowledge graph, display site search in the SERP and mark up events.
JSON-LD allows the site owner to place information in context, which is determined by specifying objects and describing their properties. In other words, JSON-LD connects data on the Web. You can use schema.org semantics to specify objects, and JSON-LD as a data transfer method. You can use JSON-LD efficiently only if you are already using schema.org micro-markup or have an idea of it.
By the way, in mid-2013 schema.org included JSON-LD in the list of formats recommended for page markup. The recommendation states that JSON-LD positively affects the dissemination of structured data on the Web.
Data marked up with the help of JSON-LD is recognized by the search engines. This makes indexing easier and increases the visibility of the site in search through expanded snippets. JSON-LD is compatible with schema.org, which allows the site owner to use this system’s semantics.
The world’s largest search engine Google has evaluated the capabilities of JSON-LD. In mid-2014, the search engine recommended using this format for marking up data on musical band concert dates. Google includes this information in the knowledge graph. Also, Google recommends using JSON-LD to display the phone numbers of organizations in search results. Finally, Google advises to use JSON-LD to mark up pages that advertise or describe events: conferences, presentations, etc. With the help of the Knowledge Graph markup you get information about the author of publications and the publisher (organization). If schema.org and JSON-LD are compatible, why learn a new format? One thing is clear: JSON-LD is much easier to use, so you can implement it faster.
Why JSON-LD is better than schema.org?
The answer to this question is in the difference between the micro-markup schema.org and the JSON-LD format. The schema.org markup specified in the form of HTML code in the body of the page. For example, it may look like this:
<title>Technical SEO Guide</title>
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article">
<h1 itemprop="name">Technical SEO Checklist</h1>
For using JSON-LD, on the other hand, you do not need to include HTML code in the body of the page. It is enough to insert the script into the head container. In this case, the markup might look like this:
<title>Technical SEO Guide</title>
"name": "Technical SEO Guide"
<h1>Technical SEO Checklist</h1>
Using JSON-LD allows to structure information without interfering with the content displayed to users. The markup of this format is presented in the form of meta-data, packed in the script tag within the head container. This greatly simplifies and speeds up working with micro-markup.
Does JSON-LD have any flaws?
Yes, it does. The main flaw of this format is based on its main advantage. As noted above, the JSON-LD format markup is included in the script tag of the head container. This saves the site owner from having to mark up the HTML document. However, the markup remains visible only to search engines. In theory, this directly contradicts the search engine recommendations that prefer visible content to hidden meta-data.
Theoretically, you can use JSON-LD to trick search engines. For example, in the markup you can indicate that Matt Cutts is the author of your article. Search engines will display it in the top of the results page due to the author’s authority. On the page, however, you can indicate the actual author or not specify authorship at all. Thanks to this, live users will not notice the deception.
However, in practice, the use of JSON-LD does not lead to sanctions. Moreover, Google itself recommends using this format, as noted above.
Can you use JSON-LD if you are afraid of getting into the code?
Yes. For example, if your site is running on CMS WordPress, you can start using JSON-LD in a few clicks. To do this, use the following plugins:
- NextGEN Facebook. With this plugin, you can automatically specify the author of publications (Person) and the publisher (Organization). If your site is included in the knowledge graph, this data can be displayed in the search results.
- WordPress Social Sharing Optimization. This plugin has functionality similar to the previous one.
- Sitelinks Search Box. With this plugin, you can add markup that activates the display of the site search module in the search results. Please note, even if you add this markup, Google does not guarantee the display of the expanded snippet. This preference extends to visited sites with valuable content.
- Structured Data of JSON-LD. This is the most interesting plug-in that allows to simultaneously implement almost all JSON-LD markup types that are interesting from the practical point of view: Article, Person, Website and searchAction.
Who needs JSON-LD?
The JSON-LD format is a method of structuring data that does not involve changing the content within the page body. This tool is suitable for site owners who want to quickly implement micro-markup. Please note that at the moment the search engines display only a few types of JSON-LD markup on the search results page, including information about the author and organization in the knowledge graph, as well as the search form and information about the events in the snippet. Therefore, the practical application of JSON-LD is still limited.
However, this markup format is gaining popularity due to its ease of implementation. Search engines will certainly react to this and increase the number of markup types displayed in the search results. If you implement JSON-LD now, first of all, you will appreciate the benefits of using the format. By the way, if your site is working on the WordPress or Drupal engines, you can mark up the data using plugins.