Some people use the terms rich snippets and structured data interchangeably, but, while the two terms connect, they’re different things.
Rich snippets, also called rich results, are the visible enhancements that people see when your site appears in Google’s search results.
I already mentioned one example — those star results that appear in Google.
There are a ton of different rich results types, though. You can see the full collection in the Google Search Gallery.
That’s the takeaway – rich snippets are what humans see in Google’s search results.
Structured data is the behind-the-scenes code that you add to your WordPress website to help Google and other search engines generate those rich snippets.
Structured data adds context to your website’s content.
For example, it tells Google that one number on your page is your review rating out of five, while the other number is the price of the product that you’re reviewing.
“You can help us by providing 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, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.”
Adding structured data to your content does not guarantee that Google will give you rich snippets, but it does provide Google with the information that it needs to give you rich snippets if Google thinks your site deserves them.
You’ll also see structured data called schema markup. Schema markup is really just one type of structured data…but for the purposes of this post, it’s totally fine to think of structured data and schema markup as the same thing.
There are different “schema types” which you can browse at schema.org. These types define the type of structured data that you’re adding.
Some examples of popular schema types are:
- Job posting
Each schema type has its own set of structured data options based on the information that’s relevant to that schema type. For example:
- Recipe – details on cook time, calories, etc.
- Job posting – details on the position name, salary, etc.