Jun 05

A Detailed Guide On Schema Markup

Schema markup is now critical with Google’s latest race to identify physical businesses in the most recent algorithm changes and search engine optimization. With voice search becoming more popular, sites are more influential when they have fully coded their website to speak to visitors, whether it’s a search engine crawler or potential customer. Digital marketing or online marketing companies have all embraced schema as a must do for their client’s websites.Schema tells crawlers various things about your business and helps them crawl and index them in a way that it can be displayed differently in search engines.

Searching for something on the Internet is not merely about keywords. With social signals, pages are shared on any platform, and without schema markup, your site may not display the way you want to when it’s linked. Sharing of pages is more widespread now, and that is why SEO will tell you that it’s so essential to curate top quality content with keywords and optimise your schema within your site’s code.

The good news is that adding schema does not mean overhauling your website. However, you may need a developer to help you add the markup code to your site. This guide goes through every step of the process as well as what is most important.

What is Schema Markup?

You may be familiar with on-page and off-page optimisation strategies, as well as HTML tagging and meta descriptions, but the schema is a little different. Schema is a mechanism to structure your data that can then be crawled by search engines and displayed in a structured manner in SERPS.

Here is what it looks like:

Schema MarkupFounded by Schema.org, schema markup is what SEOs like to call “microdata.” Once you add this microdata to your website, it creates an enhanced view of your content that can be shared across multiple channels by your visitors.

An example of such Schema recognised by Google is

Melbourne Mobile SchemaHowever, one main advantage is the effect for search engine crawlers, which see your microdata as valuable information that can be used to measure relevance, authority, social signals, and so forth.Google will use microdata to create snippet views, allowing your site to display contact information, social links, affiliate links, and other schema markup as part of your snippet view.

While Google is a major search engine that uses schema markup, it’s also important for Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. All of the search engines actually contribute and add to Schema.org, so that’s yet another reason why it’s so important to add this microdata.

As search engines and virtual assistants like Siri get smarter over time, the necessity for context is essential for search engines to rank queries with your page as a top result. By outlining your microdata with schema, you give the search engines context into what your content is about and how it will help someone find something you’re looking for.

Why Use Schema Markup?

The simplest answer is that it helps you create rich snippets and may improve your search engine rankings. However, there is no definitive proof as search engines do not like to reveal the exact formula for higher rankings. Schema also tends to increase your CTR especially the product and ecommerce schema. Our Ecommerce SEO helps integrate schema into your online store.

Schema examples maternity bras Google SearchAt most, we can tell that schema makes it easier for search engine crawlers to read your content and build the perfect snippet to feature on a query results page if it’s done correctly.

Rich snippets are important to getting noticed on SERPs. For one, Google builds dynamic snippets that include images, links, social shares, relative news articles, Wikipedia links, and much more. All of this leads to higher click-through ratios on your webpage.

In a study done by acmque, nearly one-third of search results from Google included a rich snippet that was due to schema markup. This means that not many webmasters are taking advantage of schema and providing the information to build these incredibly visual and click-baiting snippets.

That’s an incredible opportunity for any competitor to take advantage of in a certain market. Many things do not move as quickly as they used to in SEO, but schema is one thing that can push the needle forward.

Does Schema improve SEO?

Absolutely! You can use schema to basically outline your website in code for a search engine crawler. Instead of guessing what the crawler is deeming as “rankable,” you spell out the images, events, links, social pages, and so forth that paint a sharp picture for the bot.

Schema allows you to categorize your content as well using different tags. For example, if you sell tech items, you can use http://schema.org/tech to highlight areas of your website that are tech-related. Now if a search comes up looking for tech, your site is in prime position to rank because you have told the crawler that your content is an authority in tech.

While it’s inconclusive whether schema markup automatically improves rankings, the snippets shown on SERPs reveal that these webpages added schema years ago. It would behoove any website trying to outrank their competitors to at least get on the same playing field and beat out any other competing websites that do not use schema. You can add schema to your website using our schema markup tool here.

Schema MarkupIt also helps you rank for all types of content and website categories. However, these benefit the most from schema markup and SEO:

  • Local businesses
  • Articles
  • Restaurants
  • TV Episodes, Reviews & Ratings
  • Movies
  • Book Reviews
  • Movies
  • Software
  • Events
  • Products

In addition, there are tons of different content markup types from retail stores to medical dosage schedules. If you have any type of data on your website, you can categorize it using Schema.org with itemscope and itemtype.

These are modifiers in the tags of your content that help search engine crawlers connect the content to the database on SChema.org. Websites using schema markup are able to rank better on certain SERPs just because they have these identifiers helping crawlers categorize and rank their site more intuitively.

Another study found that websites with schema markup strategies allowed the site to rank up to four positions higher than competitors. While it’s not exactly clear if it was the markup alone that contributed to these rankings, it’s pretty evident that without schema markup, the rankings may not have moved at all.

However, there are millions of websites out there that need to start taking the initiative and building their schema markup strategies around content. It will not only help them identify better SEO strategies, but it will also give their websites a better view in search engines.

Benefits Of Schema Markup

When you search for information in a search engine, you often get listings for the closest businesses to where you are located, especially if you are on WiFi and connected through your mobile phone ( Check our Mobile SEO Guide ). How do these shops get into the top listings on SERPs over competitors? In most cases, it’s because they have listed their contact information in Google and also added schema markup to their website.

In addition to providing address details for nearby stores, schema markup lets you add contact information. That means if a customer searches for your phone number, Google can automatically pull it up at the top of the SERPs because you’ve outlined it in schema markup. It also displays your website icon and a rich snippet view of your business. However, none of this is possible unless you have built your schema markup to include contact information, your logo, description, sites, and other relevant details.

At a Google IO conference, a session titled “How to Stand Out in Search with Structured Data” revealed that in several case studies, the sites showed up first because of their schema data implementation. In fact, the numbers are as follows:

  • 25 percent higher CTR on pages with markup.
  • 35 percent increase in visits for recipes with markup.
  • 1.5 percent increase in more time spent on pages and 3.6x higher interaction rates.
  • 82 percent increase in CTR for rich snippet results.
  • 20 percent increase in clicks for pages with schema markup.

In addition, case studies from Schema App show that there is an additional increase in the quality of traffic, as well as a decrease in bounce rate and an overall higher chance to improve lead generation or customer purchases.

Businesses stand to gain a great deal by incorporating schema markup into their product pages because they can easily show off ratings, pictures, prices, and so much more in SERPs.

Voice Search & Schema Markup

Did you know that nearly 30 million smart home speaker devices were sold last year between Google and Amazon Alexa? It’s clear that people love using devices to search for their favorite games, products, questions, reminders, medical advice, and anything else they can think of! That’s why it’s so important to incorporate voice search optimization into your website. Commscore believes that over 50% of searches will be conducted by virtual assistants in the near future.

If you are not optimizing for virtual assistants and voice search already, then you are falling behind, especially for local SEO. As search gains more control over how to display results and keep traffic on the search engine pages, instead of going to the website, it’s more important that webmasters build pages to be more intuitive, content-specific, and entertaining so that people want to click on the page no matter what.

You can take back control from search engines using schema markup as well. If you decide to add schema markup to your pages, Google automatically will note that the markup information is searchable to assistants, therefore resulting in customers being able to search for content through voice. This is powered through Answer Boxes.

In this way, you can make your site “voice-ready” even if you don’t have a skills app installed on Alexa or Google. Google Assistant supports actions like this for recipes, podcasts, and news, but there are many more being added every month.

Do you know how your business looks in the new voice search world?

You should start by creating content that you think will be relevant to the questions asked by your customers. You can hold a roundtable with different departments like customer service, sales, technical support, and social teams to get a better idea of what customers and fans are asking about your products. Once you know what they’re interested in, you can start adding schema markup to the most important ones.

You might think that sounds silly, but there is a schema markup for every content type including “public toilets.”

Types of Schema

In parts of this article, you have already heard one of the types mentioned. It’s called microdata. However, there are actually three types of schema markup in total, and one of them was stated as the preferred method in 2015 by Google. These include the following:

  • JSON-LD
  • Microdata
  • RDFa

A couple of years ago, Google mentioned that JSON-LD was the preferred method for schema markup. This was a pretty interesting announcement as Google does not often give away any details in how competitors can outrank each other.

Going back to our example above, you can see how schema tags the content in an itemized way for search engines to read and compute using inline markup:

In this example, the schema markup for movie is used to detail the name of the movie, director, birthdate, genre, link to the movie’s profile, and trailer. You essentially get everything you need to know in one block of code.

If you were a business, you probably would want to include your physical storefront address. Here is an example of how do that with inline markup:

Address MarkupThe address on the webpage would display just as you would like it to:

701 Smaug Way, Lonely Mountain, ID, 83701

It’s only in the code, in the background of the page, where the schema markup can be seen. If you are not familiar with this type of inline programming, then you definitely want to work with a developer who us. You should also be careful as it can be limiting to the design of a web page if you use inline markup.

This is why JSON-LD is the preferred method.

JSON-LD Schema Markup

JSON-LD stands for JavaScript Objective Notation for Linked Data. It is a schema markup format that helps you add code to your website without limiting its functionality or design. It is supposed by all of the major search engines, and it’s recommended by Google.

One of the main advantages of using this markup is that you don’t have to place it within the body tag of your webpage. You can just embed it with a script tag and place anywhere on the page to add the markup. You don’t have to change any HTML elements like you do with inline markup.

Here is an example of how JSON-LD works for schema markup:

JsonLD MarkupIn the same case as above, the address will display exactly as you wish, but the markup is now hidden in a way that won’t interfere with any of your HTML. You can simple add it to the post or text block area.

What is Microdata?

This article has mentioned it before, and sometimes it is used interchangeably with structured data and schema markup. However, microdata refers to the type of tags that you use to mark up the web page. These tags are then added to the HTML directly.

Tags have a few different components including itemprops, itemscope, and itemtype. The itemscope tag is used to call out what item is being referenced. Itemscope is followed by an itemtype tag. The itemtype then identifies the type of item that the microdata is calling out. For example, it could be a movie or a recipe.

You can use itemprop to markup each property on the site. Here is an example of microdata being used to markup a local business in the same example.

Microdata GeneratorIn this example, we start out with the schema markup type for a local business. This identifies the type of schema to the crawler. Everything between the first div and last div is related to this local business.

If you are not familiar with coding, this can look a little complicated, but it’s really just about marking up the text on the page with information specific for bots. There are a variety of tutorials on different schema types and how to use thema as well.

What is RDFA?

RDFa is Resource Description Framework in Attributes, and it is a form of HTML5 that is used to set up metadata within a web page. RDFa is very similar in the way that it looks like microdata. However, RDFA uses tags inline with existing HTML.

Here is the way that RDFa would look like as compared to the other examples:

RDFA MarkupRDFa has different tags than the other two, including typeof, vocab, and property. You can see in this example that we establish the vocab first, then define the typeof schema and what the page is about, which is “LocalBusiness.” After that, the information for the street address is added with property tags.

What Type of Structured Data Should You Use?

Truthfully, you should go with what Google recommends, which would be JSON-LD. It’s easier to implement on the page, and you don’t have to change any of your website design in order to get it done. You can also see that it’s supported on most of the major search engines, which means that the future of this programming language is here to stay.

A lot of sites still use inline microdata as well. It is more popular than RDFa, and you can see it’s implementation on sites like eBay.

You need HTML experience to markup data with RDFa or Microdata, however. This means you might need to hire a developer to help with your markup.

You also will need to edit your website files for RDFa and Microdata, as just updating it within the page’s content using JSON-LD. In addition, JSON-LD is never visibly on the page. You don’t have to change your HTML, and no one has access to your website files still.

What Schema Markup Tags You Need?

While this tutorial gives you an overview of what schema is and the different types, you should define what content is on your site first and what you want to rank for. The best way to do this is to look at sites that are similar in your industry or even competitor websites, and view the source code.

By viewing the source code on a website, you can see the schema markup that they are using and the different tags that they are assigning to similar content. If you just want to see the structure of schema content, you can go to any major website in search and find schema markup is typically under the body tag.

However, if the webmaster is using JSON-LD, then you should look at the content elements to see how they are breaking down schema markup and tags.

Schema Cheat Sheet & Schema Checklist

SEO is all about getting in before competitors do on a certain strategy. Many sites already have schema markup, so you have to think about your schema is going to help your website and what you can do to ensure that it helps your site rank. This cheat sheet goes through some of the tips that are worth noting before you start to implement structured data.

Check your pages for structured data using this tool from Google.

Structured Data Testing Tool

Choose Specific Property Types : Clarity goes a long way for search engine crawlers. In certain property types, you will have a lot of options. For example, you wouldn’t just use the Reservations property if you could use “ReservationPackage” or “EventReservation.” There are all sorts of reservation types that you can specify, and it’s best to choose the one that best suits your business.

Always Markup Contact Information : If you want to just get started with a certain type of structured data, then you should start with your contact information including address and phone number. You can also include other important fields like hours of operation, ratings, and payment accepted.

Speaking of Customer Reviews : You should also implement the schema markup that shows a product rating. Customers are five times more likely to click on a link that has a rating.

Mark Promotions with Schema : You can easily markup pages on the fly for promotions and special offers. These shouldn’t be ignored, especially since they are valued by Google and Bing.

Recipes are Everywhere : Did you know that some sites are using schema data and recipes even if they don’t have a restaurant or food blog? People seem to love looking at recipes and food. Even if you have a tech website, you could still have a recipe or two that might help bring in traffic.

Highlight Your Staff and Business : You can clearly highlight yourself and the staff, particularly for local search. It’s important for people to see who you are and connect with your brand.

Markup All of Your Product Pages : Don’t you want your products to get searched and seen in Google? If you want to make sure that your webpages are making it into Google, then it’s important to use schema markup especially if you are selling online.

Set Up Schema for Open Graph : The Open Graph protocol is especially important for social signals. It is used by Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other websites to help you display visuals and descriptions in a way that is appealing.

Use the Structured Data by Google Tool : This helpful tool can save your life and make sure that your structured data is working properly.

Stick to One Type of Structured Markup : Even though there are multiple types of structured data, you should never mix the two. This would be like mixing hard liquor with wine. It just won’t work, and ultimately, you could screw up your site and the way it displays to visitors.

Offer HTML 5 Support : You can use schema markup if your website supports HTML5 only. For sites that don’t support HTML5, schema markup may not be the choice for you. However, you really should think about updating your website.

Use Social Graph Protocols : Facebook uses RDFa for Open Graph, while Twitter sticks to the Twitter Card. Both must be on your webpage if you want people to share your products or services. Using the graph protocols will make your site much smarter.

Make Sure Schema Reflects Your Page’s Content : You want to make sure that you are relevant between the name of the business and description, and this content should match what’s on the page. If there are any issues with congruence, you could get a hit against your website’s ranking.

Hours of Operation in Business Markup : These operating hours are essential to getting traffic and business online from customers. If you are always closed or never open during normal business hours, it’s likely that customers won’t think your location actually exists.

Time Sensitive Content : If you have content or a promotion that is going to drop soon, then you can’t get rich snippets for these based on Google’s guidelines.

Highlight the Service Element : You can add a ton of values to your services section by using the service tags in scheme markup, including all of the types of services that you offer. You can add ServiceType, category, hoursAvailable, Offers, and so much more. This ensures that your business gets seen and ranked for services that you offer, including keywords that could be used to search for this webpage.

Conclusion

Schema integrations have been known to help domains rise up in search. SEO services that do not include schema markup usually fail to achieve the desired results for a website. This is evident by the way that Google prizes it as much as it does. There are a lot of opportunities for websites to capitalize on schema markup if they haven’t utilized its power already. Obviously, it’s one of the ways that Google uses to measure and rate websites.

If you are ready to start building your site with schema, then you should first look at the content on your site and check out any products that you want to sell more than others. You can wrap your strategy around these products and your brand.

Hopefully you can use schema markup to improve your rankings and ensure that search engines know that you are an authority on your content.

About The Author

Ajay Chavda is the co-founder of Weboptimizers, an SEO agency in Melbourne and has been involved with SEO for over 15 years. Between the digital properties and security forums he has managed, his articles have been read by approximately 50 million unique visitors.

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