David Deering Interview: All About Structured Data for Local SEO

So Structured Data and Schema used to be pretty confusing to me. To some degree, it still is since it requires some basic ability to code. However, if you are able to find some good templates, you can use just reuse them and tweak them to your needs.

If you don’t already know David Deering is a Structured Data guru. He’s very knowledgeable and willing to help. If you need some Structured Data or Schema consulting, I’d reach out to him.

I had the pleasure of interviewing David Deering of Touch Point Digital. He was able to share a lot of great information. I formatted the information that he shared in italic and included a few of my own comments so keep this in mind when you read the article. Take a read below.

What is structured data?

Structured data gives more meaning to content on web pages. This allows search engines like Google to “understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results.”

Excerpt directly from Google: “Google Search works hard to understand the content of a page. However, you can provide explicit clues about the meaning of a page to Google by including structured data on the page. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, if is it a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.

Google uses structured data that it finds on the web to understand the content of the page, as well as to gather information about the web and the world in general.”
Reference: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/intro-structured-data

Popular types of structured data are Schema.org, Facebook Open Graph protocol and Twitter cards. Google says, “Most Search structured data uses schema.org syntax”.

What is Schema?

Schema.org is one way to express structured data. Schema is the vocabulary.

Can you only markup Schema in JSON-LD and Microdata formats?

Schema can use multiple syntax. Your options are JSON-LD, Microdata, Data-Vocabulary, RDFa, etc. RDFa is an option but most people aren’t familiar with that. Data-Vocab is the older way of doing it. Today, the two most popular ways are to use JSON-LD and Microdata. Officially, “Google recommends using JSON-LD for structured data whenever possible.”

What’s the hierarchy of Structured Data, Schema, Microdata, Data Vocab, RDFa and JSON-LD, etc.? How do they all relate?

Schema is a type of Structured Data. Schema is the vocabulary. Microdata, JSON-LD, Data-Vocab, RDFa are the syntax used to express Schema.

  • Structured Data
    • Vocabulary – Schema
      • Syntax – JSON-LD, Microdata, RDFa, Data-Vocab

How does Schema work? What’s a type, prop, scope, etc.? Use an illustration if possible.

The item scope property tells search engines where that entity begins and where it ends within the markup. The item type usually goes together with the item scope. The particular entity itself is a thing or place like a restaurant or a local business. The item prop are just properties of that entity. Some properties point to another entity like to a local business that has reviews. The review property will point to the review entity.

Can you use Microdata, Data-Vocab and JSON-LD all on the same page?

Ideally, you should not use multiple Schema syntax on your site. You should choose one syntax to use and stick with it.

Can you mark up the same item in different formats? For example, can you mark up NAP in Microdata and JSON-LD on the same page?

Jennifer Slegg “asked Gary Illyes from Google about these types of situations and he confirmed there is no risk of a spammy structured data markup manual action by marking up the same content with two different schema formats.”

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Google says: “Google says it shouldn’t be an issue, assuming the actual output is the same on both ends.” The keyword here is “shouldn’t”. That doesn’t seem very comforting.

David said “But I say why do it at all? Just go with one markup for each page and avoid any conflicts or problems.” This makes total sense.

Even Alan Bleiss said: “Just make sure the two are consistent. I’ve seen conflicting content there.”

You don’t want to mark up the same entities with different syntax. It’s not horrible if different pages use different syntax, just don’t do that on same page. Google told us this. It can be confusing to Google.

How can you get new Schema types added on Github?

You don’t need coding skills. The people that are in charge of Schema.org and it’s development are very active on Github so if you want to reach them that’s the place to be. You need a good reason to suggest a new Schema type. Don’t just go suggesting new Schema types without doing some research first. Questions to ask yourself: 1) Does this Schema type already exist? 2) Is there an already existing Schema type that can just be altered? 3) Is there a real need for this Schema type?

Only suggest very specific types and have a really great reason for it. Make sure that there’s a big need / market for it. Also, include some examples of where the need is. You can suggest new a new Scheme type, go to the issues tab on Github.

Are there any Schema items you should not markup sitewide? Should you mark up a review in a sidebar / footer that will show on multiple pages?

Google doesn’t really like that. This would create that same review markup on several pages, which in turn might get you penalized because that would go against Google’s guidelines. Ideally, you would want the reviews to be specific to a product or service. Or create a page just for reviews. If you want to have some reviews in a sidebar or in another area that would create that same review on many pages, just don’t mark it up in Schema.

Can I markup reviews on home page but also on reviews page?

I can’t remember last time Google showed rating rich snippet on the home page. It’s best to select a page for reviews and link to original reviews. Even better to implement your own review system.

Is there concrete evidence that Schema helps rankings or provides ROI?

I can only tell you what I’ve seen. Others that do it well, it has helped. Structured data helps search engines better understand your content. If they understand your content better they will display it in a better way for relevant search queries. Simply adding Schema (just NAP) won’t do much. Should markup as much as possible. Google’s even hinted at using structured data in its ranking algorithm some day. Although, they do not currently do that.

I found this great resource that shares a bunch of stats related to Structured Data such as: At the very least, your competitors will be implementing Schema if they haven’t already.

Update: This article includes more examples of Schema success stories.

I will be posting some Schema templates for local businesses soon. Stay tuned!

About Dani Owens

Dani Owens, the owner of Pigzilla, has been in the digital marketing field since 2011. Her resources have been mentioned and shared by local SEO experts such as Eric Ward, Darren Shaw, Phil Rozek, Marie Haynes, David Mihm and Local U. From small, independent Mom-and-Pop shops, to enterprises with thousands of locations, Dani Owens has years of experience strategizing and implementing reliable local SEO tactics that lead to increased organic traffic and conversions.