Javascript Object Notation (JSON)

Javascript Object Notation (JSON)

What is JSON?

Javascript Object Notation (JSON) is a text-based format for expressing structured data consisting of attribute-value pairs, arrays, or other serializable values. 

Originally based on the Javascript programming language, JSON is language-independent but follows some of the same conventions as widely known languages like C, C++, Javascript, Java, Python, and others. Not only is JSON easy for humans to read and write, but code for parsing and generating JSON currently exists in many programming languages. These properties have made JSON the world’s most popular data exchange language over the past decade.

The JSON format was created by Douglas Crockford in the early 2000s, with the first JSON message sent over the Internet in April 2001. Since then, billions of messages have been written, generated, and transmitted in JSON format.

 

How Does JSON Work?

JSON is built on two main data structures: objects and arrays.

An array is simply an ordered list of values, while an object is a collection of attribute/value pairs.

Example 1: Simple Data in JSON

Here’s a simple example of how we can represent some data in JSON format. The following table gives information about three employees that work at ACME Company:

employee.name employee.number employee.email
Scott Landry 01 scott.landry@acme.com
Kim Peters 02 kim.peters@acme.com
Fred Maxwell 03 fred.maxwell@acme.com

Here’s how this data would look in JSON format:

 

example of JSON code snippet

 

This basic example reveals some of the core features of the JSON data format. 

JSON objects live inside curly brackets and consist of attribute/value pairs. Attributes and values in a pair are separated by a colon and separated from other attribute/value pairs by a comma. 

JSON arrays are contained within square brackets and the values in an array are separated by a comma.

How is JSON Used in SEO?

SaaS SEO agencies use a modified version of JSON known as JSON-LD to implement schema mark-up, also known as structured data, on the websites of their clients.

JSON-LD means Javascript Object Notation (JSON) for Linked Data. JSON-LD is the most user-friendly, and therefore the most popular implementation format for schema mark-up/structured data, as it allows SEOs to simply generate the mark-up and paste it into the <head> or <body> section of the HTML document for their web page.

Implementing schema mark-up with JSON-LD offers two confirmed benefits for SEOs:

  1. It helps Google understand the structure and contents of your website, resulting in more accurate indexing and more relevant web traffic.
  2. It allows Google to construct Rich Snippets, enriched search results featuring additional data that Google retrieves from your schema mark-up. Rich Snippets are more eye-catching and get more real estate in the SERPs, resulting in more clicks and engagement.

 

 

Caption: This JSON-LD example originally published by Google uses schema mark-up to describe the contents of a web page featuring a recipe for Party Coffee Cake. The schema includes information about the title of the recipe, the name of the author, the publication date, and more.

Why is JSON-LD Important in SEO?

Search engines use web robots known as crawlers to discover and index content on the web. Only indexed content can appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

When Google’s crawlers find a new web page, Google’s internal systems analyze the contents of the page to determine its subject matter, how it should be indexed, which keywords it should rank for, and how the page should be presented to users in the SERPs.

Google’s objective is to connect searchers to relevant content that matches the intent of their search, but even Google can be confused when your page contains ambiguous terms. 

For example, the header tag <h1>How to Use Drift</h1>, tells Google that this text string is the title of the page, but it doesn’t reveal whether this article is about:

  • Using Drift, the SaaS conversational marketing platform,
  • Using Drift, the Fortnite character,
  • Using Drift to win at Mario Kart, or
  • Using Drift in your Subaru Impreza.

The problem here is a lack of context, which makes it more difficult for search engines like Google to connect searchers with relevant and meaningful results that match their search intent. 

To address this need for additional context, top search engines (including Google, Bing, and Yahoo) got together in 2011 and began work on Schema.org, a project that would establish a shared vocabulary for SEOs to start adding structured data to their pages in the form of schema mark-up. 

With a working knowledge of JSON-LD and the shared vocabulary provided by Schema.org, SEO professionals can add schema mark-up to their pages and provide search engines with the additional context they need to accurately interpret the contents of a page and accurately index it for inclusion in the relevant SERPs.

Driving Organic Search Results with JSON

Implementing schema mark-up with JSON-LD helps search engines understand the structure and contents of your website, resulting in more accurate indexing and more relevant traffic to your website. 

It also encourages Google to display search results for your website as Rich Snippets, which often drive more traffic as they appear more click-worthy to searchers.

At Directive, we strategically implement schema mark-up in JSON-LD to improve the accuracy of organic indexing and target rich snippets for our B2B SaaS clients as part of our Customer Generation methodology.

Want to learn more?

Book an intro call with a member of our Directive Consulting team, or Join Society and gain access to exclusive insights, free content, and thoughtful advice from our expert community of SaaS marketing superstars. Hope to see you there!

 

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