Structured Content

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What Is Structured Content?

Structured content is content that is organized and separated into its individual component parts. For example, a blog post’s headline, byline, publishing date, snippet, and keyword tags are all separate structured content fields within a CMS (content management system.) like Adobe Experience Manager.

When you break content down into component elements (sometimes called fields or chunks) and separate the content itself from a specific presentation format (say, a web page), you ensure that systems will be able to identify each element—and then assemble, repurpose, or personalize them for different users or platforms. For example, the same core piece of content can be used to populate a section of a web page, in-product help, social media posts, and even chat interactions.

Conversely, these actions are not possible when content is unstructured, meaning that all its elements are entered as part of a single presentation-dependent content entry and cannot be easily parsed or reused. Structuring not only makes it easier to reuse content, but it speeds the distribution of content across multiple channels and platforms. It automates the mixing and matching of content, making it easy to pull different content objects into different channels—from your website to mobile apps to search engine results pages (SERPs).

A Few Examples

Structured content has revolutionized SEO and how search results are displayed. To see it in action on Google, just type in a product to see reviews and a description snippet (all structured data elements). Or ask a question and get served rich results like an FAQ or a how-to with a carousel of images.

Then enter a company name like “The Home Depot.” In this results page (see example image), Google is pulling structured data from various sources to assemble a knowledge panel on the left, with information such as the company and phone numbers, Wikipedia description, stock price, and social channels. On the left, you can see that Home Depot is correctly using structured data on its website to display sitelinks and a search bar for users.

In this example, structured content dramatically improves the user experience to help people get better, faster answers to their queries.

Example of structured content in Google search results

5 Benefits to Using Structured Content

  1. Reusability. It can be repurposed for different uses, deliverables, and languages.
  2. Discoverability. It is tagged with metadata that allows users to easily find and navigate your content.
  3. Savings. Make automatic content updates with ease, saving time and money.
  4. Productivity. Content strategists can organize, arrange, and deploy structured content quickly and efficiently.
  5. Personalization. It provides a framework to personalize content for a variety of audiences.

Why It Matters for B2B Marketing

For today’s content marketers and content strategists, correctly deploying structured content is often critical to achieving scale and efficiency. The primary use case for structured content is the ability to create content once, then use it wherever appropriate across a multi-channel experience. With structured content, you can use fewer resources to manage large amounts of dynamic content for large enterprises. This saves time and minimizes the chance of errors induced by re-keying.

Used correctly, structured content can also significantly improve a company’s search rankings. The competition is fierce to win Page 1 rankings or to have your content displayed as a snippet or FAQ on Google.

Finally, the rise of personalization in marketing and advertising has also made structured content indispensable, since it allows websites to serve up personalized content components with ease, based on persona, user behavior, geolocation, and more.

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