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2.7 Checking for Structured Data

If you want your site to have rich results displayed in search engines and when links are shared online, you’ll want to ensure your theme uses something called “structured data”. Find out how to check in this lesson.

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2.7 Checking for Structured Data

Hey, welcome back to WordPress Theme, things to check before you buy. In this lesson, we're gonna take a look at structured data. So what is structured data? Well basically it's a kind of code that developers can optionally include in their themes and it helps search engines like Google to understand the content of a website. And that, in turn, allows that search engine to better index the content, and also potentially, to show off a kind of rich snippet inside the search results themselves. There's a couple of different ways this coding can be done. You don't really need to worry too much about that technical side of things, but just to give you a quick look. So you have this type of codes here that highlights the most essential portions of the search content. Now, to give you an idea of the kind of thing that you might get as a result of having a theme, the user structure data, you can have a look at this gallery of rich search results on Google's site. I'll give you a link so that you can have a look at this yourself. But you'll notice here that we have things like a breadcrumb trail appearing in search results, contact details appearing in search results, a carousel, logos showing up for company websites. There's all kinds of different things that Google can show inside its search results if the data is presented to it in the right way. Now obviously nobody wants to go trawling through the code of the theme that they're considering buying. So how do you figure out if a theme is using good structured data or not? Well handily, Google provides a structured data testing tool. So all you'll need to do is get a URL for a demo of the theme that you're considering buying and just plug it in here. And you can see the way that Google is evaluating the data that's on the side. So let's take a look at a couple of examples of themes that are using structured data and see what Google is able to extract from those theme demos. So first up, we've got this news theme. So I'm just gonna grab the URL and paste it in here and hit Run Test. All right, so you can see down on the right side here we've got a whole bunch of information that has been extracted via the structured data. And each one of these is a category of information that has been found in this site. So for example here, you can see it says 73 items, so that means that it's been able to identify that there are 73 blog postings here. Here against Website, it's identified one item which is perfect, because it's only one website. And if we expand this then you could see that we've got a bunch of information that's specific to this website. So it gives that concentrated essential information, but if we go back and expand this instead, now you could see there a whole bunch of individual blog postings nested inside this category. And here, again we've got the real essential information for each item. So we can see the headline, we can see the date of the publishing, it's showing the address of an image to represent the article. And this is all things that can go into creating those rich search snippets that we looked at before. So this is a really good example. If you can plug the URL for a theme demo into this, and you can get a whole bunch of boiled down information like that, that's exactly what you're looking for. Let's have a look at another example. So this theme is called Optimize. And we'll plug this in. New test. All right so now this one, this is good too, but not as good as the last one. So you can see here that everything is kind of mushed in together under this WebPage item. So we just have this one single item. And this is still good because we still have a whole bunch of information that Google has been able to access. If you can see it here then Google can see it. But it's not as well organized as that last site that we looked at, where everything was neatly nested into individual items that Google was able to see. And let's take a quick look at one more example. And this is another really good example. So once again, we've got these discrete entities, these discrete items that have been identified. We've got a single item for the web page, and in here, we just have information that is related to this website itself. You can see here that we've also got information on the organization that's running this theme. That's the kind of theme that allows, like we saw in the gallery page, say, a logo to appear in the search results for a website. And then you can see it's identified two blog posts, it's identified services, so there's a whole bunch of different stuff that a theme can make really clear to Google if it's using its structured data really well. Now, sometimes you might find a demo, when you plug it in here, shows absolutely no results on the right column here. As I mentioned, using structured data is a type of coding that is optionally added to a website. So a theme developer may elect not to use it at all. And that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a bad theme if you find that there's nothing showing up on the right here. Like we talked about earlier, no theme is perfect. So if you do find a theme that's great in every other way but it has no structure data, then you're gonna have to weigh up how important the possibility of having such results like this is to your project versus having strengths in the other areas that theme performs really well. But that's it as far as how you can check on that, it's as simple as coming to this data testing tool, and just running the demo through, and seeing what Google's able to extract. So in the next lesson, we're gonna take a look at some considerations that you need to make in terms of plug-in compatibility. In a lot of cases it's just fine to sort of figure out what plug-ins you're going to need after your site is already set up. But there are some plug-ins where you really need to have a theme that's designed with that plug-in in mind. Some plug-ins require themes to be coded in a way specific to them. And with some plug-ins, you just get the best experience from that plug-in if you have a theme that's designed to work with that, even if it's not absolutely essential. Now we're gonna run over some key areas, key types of plug-ins, that you really should consider upfront. So we're gonna take a look at some different sort of categories of plug-ins that you can have a think-about, whether those types of plugins are gonna be something you'll need. And we'll look up some example themes that work well with those plugins, so you can evaluate if those types of themed features are something that you need as part of your project. So we're gonna check all of that out in the next lesson. I'll see you there.

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