WHAT IS STRUCTURED DATA?
Structured data simply means assigning tags to uncategorized data so that search engines can identify it easier. Google, Bing, Yandex and Yahoo collaborated on a common markup format called Schema to help you. There is a specific schema for lots of different information types, such as recipes, books, songs, TV series, movies and more.
When we talk about structured data that is relevant to producers, the most important Schema is TV series and film. The schema for both items is listed on Schema.org, — this is helpful if you want to do the process manually. Thankfully there’s a much easier way using free tools that do the heavy lifting for you. We’ll get to that a little later.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT STRUCTURED DATA?
Implementing schema allows you to feature in rich results that appear on search engine pages like Google above, or outside of the list of ten blue links.
You may already be going through the standard practice of trying to win the knowledge graph for your project: Having a dedicated website, setting up an IMDB page and Wikipedia page and so on. That gives huge discoverability value. The structured data we’re talking about takes this one step further again.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
For the sake of clarity here’s a quick visualisation of what we’re talking about.
Here is some text that lives on a Grey’s Anatomy web page. There’s nothing special here, just some text offering basic information.
A human reading this would be well informed about who the actor is, who the director is and the dates each season launched.
It’s very bare, but it might rank somewhere on the search page results a bit far down.
Now let’s see the schema that would be added to the HTML.
All the information we just saw on the previous slide is still there, but now it’s presented to the search engines in a way that is easy to decode.
Now the search engines can offer rich results or ‘rich snippets’ to users regarding your content. Using the same example, here is what happens when someone searches ‘TV series created by Shonda Rhimes’ once structured data is implemented.
HOW DO YOU ADD IT?
Most people think that implementing structured data is a highly technical process, when actually it’s almost as straightforward as making tweaks to standard HTML. So if you have a reliable web developer, or are savvy in these matters yourself, implementing structured data wouldn’t be much of a challenge at all.
The next step is to open the Google Structured Markup Helper.
If you have a webpage that’s live with video content embedded and has some basic info like cast and crew details you can convert this information to schema without requiring a knowledge of code.
In this process you are converting a page that already informs human viewers very well about your show and making it easier for the search engines to read.
Once you’ve finished press the Export HTML button and you can copy and paste the code you need into the head section of your webpage.
Repeat the process accordingly for other pages that have your shows content embedded.
Not sure if your efforts have worked? Thankfully there’s another free Google tool to help ensure you’ve implemented your schema the correct way. IT’s called…you’ve guessed it…the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.
This handy checker can verify if structured data is working on your page and also validate snippets of code.
WIDER APPLICATIONS OF STRUCTURED DATA
The content above is an overview of how structured data is relevant to the TV and film producers of online screen media. Structured data is relevant to the future of search, as the popularity of voice searches continues to rise and people ask search engines to find them specific entities and not just a list of results or suggestions.
If you have used Google assistant before for the purposes of playing a song or choosing a film to stream to a Chromechast, you are asking for a specific entity.
Even with a search query as vague as "OK GOOGLE tell me the news" the news that is presented to you is based on your chosen sources you selected when setting up your smart speak or assistant. Those providers need to use a special schema to mark their content called ‘speakable’ that help Google know this is genuine news content. These providers already have to register with Google to feature on the google news section of the browser.
If you’re still not convinced about the importance of structured data going forward, think of the millions of people searching without typing, even searching without screens and expecting to find your content. As technology advances and voice search improves, the idea of putting an effort into finding your content will disappear.