Google’s John Mueller answered if there’s a benefit to using structured data that’s outside of what’s recommended by Google’s developer pages. Mueller responded it could, in some cases, benefit a site for SEO.
But he also cautioned against going too far with it.
Can Extra Structured Data Help SEO?
Google’s developer pages recommend a limited amount of structured data for the purpose of helping publishers attain rich results. But Google only recommends a small amount of the available structured data because the developer page content is limited to the use case of rich results.
There is a great deal of structured data that Google’s developer pages do not discuss but is nevertheless available.
Google doesn’t discuss it because there is no rich result associated with it.
For example, below is the structured data to describe two people playing the Angry Birds game:
// John played angry birds with Steve.
“name”: “Angry Birds.”
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The above structured data seems frivolous. But according to John Mueller, Google could still use these kind of non-documented structured data types unders specific circumstances.
Here is the question asked in a Webmaster Hangout:
“…if there is some schema markup on Schema.org website but it’s not listing on the Google Developer Guide, can I benefit in any way in SEO specifically?”
Non-Recommended Structured Data Can Help
Mueller answered that structured data that’s not documented in the developer pages can benefit a site. But only when it helped Google understand the content better.
He begins by affirming that not everything used by Google for ranking is indicated in the search results pages (SERPs).
“I think that’s one of the trickier questions with regards to all of the structured data, in that we have a lot of things that we use to try to understand a page and the content on the page that we don’t necessarily show directly in the search results.”
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Then he notes how the structured data tests are focused only on structured data that are connected to Rich Results.
“So, in the rich results tests, we focus on the things that actually have direct visible effects or can have direct visible effects.”
Here is where Mueller gives an idea of how much more Google uses to understand a web page:
“But a lot of things help us to better understand the content and the context of a particular page.
And those are things within kind of like a general Schema.org markup which you can do various things.
And that’s kind of I’d say, almost a shame that we don’t highlight that in the rich results test.”
So he says that it’s possible to use structured data that’s not specifically recommended in the developer pages to help Google understand a web page.
Mueller follows up with a cautionary statement:
“But it’s also something where it’s very easy to go overboard because there are just so many different things you can mark up with Schema.org.
And you can spend a lot of time marking up all of those individual elements and there’s absolutely zero effect on your search results, even if we were to process that.
So, if there are things where you feel we desperately need to understand the relationships of the items on your page a little bit better then go ahead and add that markup to the page.
But if it’s just like… there are five different types of schema.org that could apply to this page, therefore I’ll mark it up, that’s probably not providing any value.
So the really common use case is to mark up a page as a web page. Like, we do that on the Google.com home page as well.
So it’s not like us making fun of everyone else, but it’s something where as a search engine you look at that web page and it’s like… it’s a web page and it says it’s a web page, what else could it be? It doesn’t give us any extra value.
So finding things that are really high level important for your pages and adding the markup for that, even if it’s not visible, I think that’s perfectly fine.
Going overboard and just adding all types of markup that you can find… it’s not going to harm your site but it’s kind of a waste of time.”
Should You Use Extra Structured Data?
Adding additional structured data that goes beyond what’s described in Google’s developer pages might be useful under the right circumstances. Ideally, your content should be clear enough that it shouldn’t ordinarily need supplementary markup to help Google understand the page.
But there could be use cases where supplementary structured data could be useful.
Mueller said it wouldn’t hurt beyond the downside of wasting ones time on structured data that has no effect on rankings.
Perhaps it might be useful to ask oneself if the additional markup would be helpful to a user.
If so, then it might be reasonable to go ahead and add it.
Watch Google’s Mueller Discuss Structured Data:[embedded content]