SEO | Technical

Why you should learn how to use JSON-LD

by on 4th June 2015

For years and years, web developers and web standards people have been teachning us to separate presentation from structure. Your HTML (the Markup) should be separate from your CSS (the presentation) and so on.

That’s why I’m an advocate of placing your data in a JSON-LD payload; rather than including data inside the HTML Mark-up.

I’d argue this is a really important point for marketers to understand but I’m not sure everyone’s quite convinced yet. So, I thought I’d share 6 compelling points to support my argument.

Trend 1: App Only Content Consumption

iOS developer Nicholas Allegra jailbroke his Apple Watch to run a browser.

Look how horrible this is to use:

There’s a reason Apple Watch doesn’t come with a browser.

All of the UX conventions we’re used to on desktop, tablet, even smartphone are completely irrelevant. So, device manufacturers who are diversifying the UI and screen size need to serve content to users via means other than HTML.

Trend 2: Associating the “Standard Web” with an Ageing Paradigm

If you take a look at the homepage of Facebook’s Instant Articles site, you see this:


Right there in the website copy:

“..articles load instantly, as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web.”

I think that’s an extremely deliberate statement of intent. “The web, as you know it, is slow. Consume content from publishers you trust via the latest, fast technology instead.”

For Facebook, this is a brilliant way to monetise publisher content, and so the other guys will be forced to follow. Especially on mobile.

Trend 3: Search Engines Supplying Content in Their Own Presentation Layer via Apps

Lots of us love Google Now.

I believe Now will be the canonical starting point for all Android mobile search, in fact. Google’s doing a terrific job of re-imagining the search experience for mobile, and it’s all happening in this app. They’re bringing Now integration deeper into the Android experience with Google Now on Tap, too.


If you think about what’s happening here, the need for you to supply your content via some form of “structured data” becomes clear.

We’re seeing a trend of search engine companies and social networks re-purposing our content (be it; images, video, text) in their own presentation layer.

By creating new points of entry for app developers and content marketers to insert their data, Google are creating an interesting opportunity to generate (ad) revenue.

Trend 4: Classic Organic Opportunities Reducing, Answer Box, KG + In-Depth Opportunities Increasing

Classic SEO opportunities are still everywhere, and there’s plenty of growth in desktop and mobile search. So that’s a good thing. Something that we all have to concentrate on, however, is the diversification of our organic traffic sources:


You’ve got Knowledge Graph, Answer boxes, In-Depth articles – many new features to embrace and many of them driven by the need to have relevant, semantic structured data implemented. Those features are becoming more prevalent:

Source: mozcast

Trend 5 – The Connected Home, The Connected Car and Wearables


Src: BI Intelligence.

Things in your home, connected. Google, through their acquisition of Nest have Brillo and have an interoperable standard for connected devices called Weave. Apple has Homekit which is already on the market and supported by a number of products. The internet of things is here, and this will, in the medium term, bring a fundamentally new form of advertising and content. It might not be easy to spot how that will work now, but I think it’s important we know it’s there.

More immediately, connected TVs are in use everywhere. Wearables are spreading. Cars are available with Android Auto baked in. Each of these ideas represent an ever increasing diversity of platforms to master as a search marketer.

Trend 6 – Actions are Coming

Actions for Gmail allow brands to encourage their email recipients to take action directly from the inbox. Implementation is relatively simple using JSON-LD, although you do need a whitelisted, approved domain to actually benefit. A little known feature for Chrome called Android Intents allows you to launch apps directly from a webpage. There’s a “buy now” button coming for mobile paid ads.

More actions are coming, and if they ever appear in Organic search, you can guarantee they’ll be enabled by JSON-LD.

How We Discover, Consume and Respond to Content is Changing.

This is true because search engines are diversifying the ways in which they deliver content to their users. They’re simply coming up with better ways to do what they do. At the same time, we’re witnessing an explosion in device diversity. The number of things that can serve content of some sort is exploding.

As I said in my last post:

With all the new search result formats and devices, “search” for us may soon be about staying on top of new interfaces that require our content to be re-purposed in an alternative presentation layer. Think about that: Apple Watch doesn’t have a browser.

On that note, our own sites become end points that need an accessible data payload to be useful to search engines, apps and the multitude of devices capable of accessing the web.

I think we should get into the habit, now, of understanding how to describe our data for the web and I think we should stop assuming HTML will be the only choice available to communicate with our audience.


  1. This is a great read. I have been obsessed with the idea of using JSON-LD in every possible way in order to be ready for some new implementation that relies heavily on the retrieval of data in this manner.

    It makes too much sense. The more you can do the entity declaring for Google, the more they should be inclined to use it and reward you, in my opinion.

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