Empower Your Content With Linked Data

Bobby Jack
The Startup
Published in
5 min readOct 14, 2020

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Using JSON-LD for better SEO and other benefits

Photo by Kenny Luo on Unsplash

What is JSON-LD?

JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) is a highly-structured yet flexible data format that can be used to describe web pages, people, and all sorts of types of data available online.

One high-profile usage is Google’s ‘review snippets’ — small pieces of additional information appearing alongside normal search results. For example, if you search for “interstellar”, you should see something similar to this:

In addition to the standard title and description, this snippet includes details such as the director and the film’s aggregate rating, ultimately chosen from votes on IMDB’s website. If you delve into the source of the original IMDB page, you might be able to find a JSON structure that looks like the following (many details removed for this example; try searching for “@type” in the page source):

{
"@context": "http://schema.org",
"@type": "Movie",
"director": {
"@type": "Person",
"url": "/name/nm0634240/",
"name": "Christopher Nolan"
},
"aggregateRating": {
"@type": "AggregateRating",
"ratingCount": 1465630,
"bestRating": "10.0",
"worstRating": "1.0",
"ratingValue": "8.6"
}
}

This metadata, in JSON-LD format, allows Google, other search engines, and any system that chooses to process it, to discover more about the information the page represents.

Many dynamic content delivery systems (such as WordPress) add JSON-LD (often via a ‘plugin’), but static site owners don’t have that option. Either way, it’s useful to know how the data is structured, and what you can do with it.

What can JSON-LD represent?

Almost anything. In theory, you can use any vocabulary you want, whether it’s one that’s already available, or a custom one all of your own. In practice, you’ll want to at least begin by using a very common vocabulary, one that’s already recognised by the popular search engines.

Google’s snippets use a format described by schema.org, a collection of general-purpose vocabularies. The WebPage type is a generic means of referring to a page on a website, but there are many other types of…

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Bobby Jack
The Startup

Technologist & writer, Bobby is an Editor at consumer tech site makeuseof.com and ex-Editor-in-Chief of Switch Player Magazine. Read lots more at bobbyjack.me.