Structured data, structured markup and rich snippets have always been about helping Google and search engines understand your content and potentially lead to Google making your search result snippet richer, with the goal of increasing your click-through rate from the organic results to your page.
Google has said, time and time again, that these are not used in the ranking algorithm to make a Web page rank better. They have said that adding structured markup to your pages won’t directly lead to your page ranking better in the Google search results.
Well, that may change in the future.
Google’s John Mueller said in a Google Hangout this morning (at the 21:40 minute mark) that “over time, I think it [structured markup] is something that might go into the rankings as well.”
He said Google currently doesn’t use this for ranking purposes, but that over time, Google may indeed start using it. He went on to explain his rationale:
If we can recognize someone is looking for a car, we can say oh well, we have these pages that are marked up with structured data for a car, so probably they are pretty useful in that regard. We don’t have to guess if this page is about a car.
So I think in the long run, it definitely makes sense to use structured data where you see that as being reasonable on the Web site. But I wouldn’t assume that using structured data markup with make your site jump up in rankings automatically. So we try to distinguish between a site that is done technically well and a site that actually has good content.
Just because it is done technically well, it doesn’t mean it is as relevant to the users as content that is not done as technically well.
Here is the video embed where he mentions using it in ranking, but you can scroll back in the video to listen to the question and answer in long form: