This is a topic mostly for web designers and developers. When you’re building a website should you use JSON-LD or Microdata for your schema markup? It’s an important question to ask if you’re incorporating any kind of template. Let’s dismantle the technical jargon and make this easy to read for everyone.
Customized code that gives search engines information. It’s important because sometimes search engines need a little help finding, interpreting, and trusting information.
You’ve Got Options
Just like everything else online, change happens. Originally when schema markup became a thing, Google only supported something called “Microdata” (more on that in minute). Then JSON-LD came along, offered some unique advantages over Microdata, and eventually Google supported both. There are a few other options out there, but these are the most common two by a long shot. But a lot of web design companies in Kansas City aren’t sure which they should use. Is one better than the other? Should you use both? Is that even possible?
The grandpa of schema markup. It looks a lot like html. That’s no surprise, because it works along with it. Search engines loved this method because from the beginning they were very involved with understanding html. Here’s an example of “Person” schema markup in microdata format.
<span itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">
<meta itemprop="name" content=""/>
<link itemprop="url" href=""/>
<img itemprop="image" src=""/>
Because it works along with html, microdata is often used where content is seen by humans. It usually wouldn’t make sense to write html, and then intentionally hide it. That’s probably why Google has said in the past “In general, Google won’t display any content in rich snippets that is not visible to human users. Google will ignore content that isn’t visible to human users, so you should mark up the text that visitors will see on your webpages.”
Of course, there are a couple caveats to that statement. Sometimes information isn’t immediately relevant to all web users, but should be communicated to search engines. And there are other times when a developer would like to communicate the same information to search engines, but without using html. That’s when JSON-LD comes into play.
Instead of using html, JSON-LD uses inline script tags that are injected into the head section of your website. That might sound advanced, but just think of it like adding any other type of script or tag to your site. Pretty straightforward. No need to work with and customize html, which a lot of web designers appreciate. It also tends to load faster in browsers. Here’s an example.
There are some really big benefits to using JSON-LD over microdata.
For starters it loads faster and you don’t have do deal with html. And then there are times when you may want to tell a search engine information, but it may not be relevant to every website visitor. You can use JSON-LD and still have the same information visible to users on the front end. As long as your markup matches what’s on your page, you’re good to go.
What Should I Use?
Everything has been moving towards using JSON-LD. It’s Google’s officially preferred option. Try using that first. But if you can’t figure out how to make it work, or if you just want to add a one-off in your html then use microdata as a second option.