We often hear on keywords and meta tags whenever SEO is mentioned but very little is talked about Schema (also known as Schema Markup). Unknown to many, Schema is a revolutionary tool that if used well, it will have drastic effects on how your website pages are displayed in the SERPs (Search engine results pages), increase CTR, and improve your overall website rankings and organic SEO traffic.
What is Schema Markup?
Schema is a coding markup language that enables your website to communicate with search engines further than just keywords and numbers. Once you use this semantic vocabulary on your website, it will be able to communicate with search engines telling them exactly what to show on search engines results pages.
Schema markup is recognized by search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. However, it does more than just telling search engines about your page, it goes ahead and even explains to them what the content is about.
Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you go to your search engine and search for “Timberlake.” The search engine will send out its web crawlers and they will pick up on pages that have the word “Timberlake” then show these pages as search engine results. However, if you have added a Schema code around the word “Timberlake”, then your site will go ahead and explain that Timberlake is an artist. This means that search engines will not only be providing mentions of the word but also useful information related to it.
Schema .org goes ahead to explain that most webmasters only use HTML tags on their sites. But HTML tags only tell search engines how certain words should appear on search engine results pages. For example, Avatar tells search engines to bring up all site pages that have the word “Avatar” in headline 1. But Avatar could have so many meanings like a profile image or the movie Avatar, this means that the user will be hit by so much irrelevant information that might take some time to sort through.
Read more from Schema.org
What about its difficulty level?
There’s no need for alarm, you don’t have to go spend hours learning from a coding guru. See, Schema markup uses a unique semantic vocabulary in microdata format. All you have to do is simply go to schema.org and add some of their vocabularies to your HTML 5 Microdata coding knowledge.
Here’s something interesting:
See, Schema.org which acts as the website and resource place for Schema was built by Yahoo, Bing, and Google. Who would have thought that these competitive big dogs would be able to work together? Do you know why they did it? So that users can have a smoother experience when navigating their search results.
Schema was made to benefit users not search engines.
If you use schema on your website, it means that users will be able to easily access information on your business. Like where you are located, the services you offer, and even your working hours. Some enthusiasts have even labeled Schema as the new virtual business card.
Still wondering why Schema is such a big deal?
Schema provides us with more than the good old web text, you can actually use it to show snippets on a lot of things. For example, books and movie descriptions. There are so many schema markups you can use to make your site content easily accessible to users. In case you didn’t know, schema is behind those snippet images and appearances you see on search engines. These snippets are also known as Search engine results page features (SERP features).
So what is a SERP feature? This is simply any result you see on search engine result pages apart from the good old web text. These features include images, appearances, search bars, and many others.
Examples of schema and their SERP features
1. Company markup
If you head over to google and search for any well-known company or organization, chances are you’ll see the company’s logo, a little intro, social media accounts, contact details, and location. This schema markup provides users with all this information right from the results page without them clicking on any link or result.
2. Personal schema markup
This is very similar to the company markup but specifically meant for famous individuals like celebrities and political leaders. The information listed here is usually a bit personal such as the individual’s name, birth date, marital status, career, education, colleagues, and relatives. Again, all this information is thrown at your face giving you the privilege of accessing everything from one place without having to navigate several pages.
3. Local business schema markup.
This one is likewise very similar to the company markup but with one major feature, the map. This schema markup is mostly used by local businesses so that their customers can easily search and locate them. Apart from the map, you also have access to other information such as operating hours, contact details, and the business address.
4. Product schema markup.
This means that customers will now have access to product racks without necessarily visiting online stores and sites. Not only does it give a short product description, but it also shows the product’s ratings and price. If you use this schema code and your competition is not yet up to date, then you’ll automatically stand out and chances of customers visiting your site or online store are high.
5. Breadcrumbs schema markup.
This is a simple one that works as a tracker that shows the link where a page is situated. It makes it easier for visitors to navigate your website thus reducing your bounce rates.
6. Video schema markup.
Use this when you have an awesome onsite video you’d love your audience to see but are disadvantaged since Google and other search engines prefer YouTube videos. Video schema markup gives Google’s web crawlers a good time and betters your chances of your video being listed alongside the great YouTube videos.
7. Event schema markup.
This schema markup is used by event websites to show a brief snippet of scheduled events such as concerts and webinars. The information listed includes the date of the event, venue, and ticket prices. This information quickly gives users an idea of what the site is offering.
8. Recipe schema markup.
As expected, this schema type is meant for cooking sites. Apart from the delicious picture, some snippets also include small meal descriptions and even cooking steps. This allows users to make a quick assessment of the cooking page and decide whether or not it’s worth visiting.
9. Article schema markup.
This markup is popular with publishing sites. It gives a sneak peek on a news article or blog post. The information showed there includes the featured image, title, date of publishing, a brief intro or at times bullet points users can easily go through without clicking on the page. Take note that there are different types of article schema markups for different news and blog posts.
10. Website schema markup.
Not only does this schema markup make your website look cool with a search bar, but it also makes it easier for users to navigate your site with ease.
How Does Schema Markup Help SEO?
Schema markups sound cool and all but do they have something to do with your website SEO ranking? The answer is Yes. Website pages that use markups will definitely stand a chance at high rankings on search engines. Why? Because search engines are built with the user’s experience at heart, the easier a website is for users to access its information, the higher its ranking.
While it is not clear whether or not schema markups have everything to do with search engines rankings, you can’t deny the fact that there is some hidden SEO potential here. Studies have shown that less than a third of websites are using scheme markups for rich snippets. A slight tweak on your website and you might find yourself in the first position.
How to Use Schema Markup for Local SEO
Even though things are a little vague when it comes to search engines results ranking, it’s proven that schema markups do wonders for local SEO.
What is local SEO? This is all about how you optimize your local business for higher ranking in local business listing. This makes it easy for your local audience and customer to access your business page or website.
Remember when we talked about local business schema markup? This is where it does its magic. By providing accessible on page information about your business, schema markup communicates to Google that your website has users’ interests in mind. Google goes ahead and ranks your website at the top. This means that you’ll be the first business to appear in your area when an industry-related question is asked.
Here’s how you can use schema markups on your website.
Now that you’ve seen how important schema markup is, it’s only fair to use it on your website. You will be surprised, it might be the missing puzzle that will boost your website up the search engine rankings.
1. Start by going to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
2. Fill in what type of data you intend to mark up.
Now there’s a list from which you are supposed to choose what you intend on marking up.
3. Fill in your URL in the space below.
Simply go to the page with data you want to markup and copy the URL then come back and paste it there. If it so happens that you are yet to publish your website, then you can just copy paste the HTML code and click on “start tagging”.
Once the markup tool loads, a workspace will appear where you’ll see your webpage to your left and data items to the right. This is also known as the “tag data” stage.
4. Highlight specific elements on the page you’d like to markup.
If let’s say you had chosen an article, then you are going to highlight the title then click on ‘name’ in order to mark it. Once you are done highlighting and selecting, the highlighted data will be filled in the ‘name’ space at the top right of the page.
5. Continue adding markup items.
Just use the list of data items as your guide and go on highlighting and selecting the specific data you want to mark up until all spaces are filled. Don’t be hard on yourself when you fill the list and still feel there’s more you could have highlighted, just fill in what you can and feel is important.
6. Create the HTML.
Click on ‘CREATE HTML’ and proceed.
Look for the HTML code in the page that follows. You’ll find that all the microdata you felt was important is fitted in the code.
7. Adding schema markup to your web page.
Head back to your CMS or source code and add the highlighted snippets in the right positions. To find the schema code, just click on the yellow markings on the scroll bar.
You can choose the easier path and automatically download the HTML code form markup tool then just copy-paste it into your CMS or source code.
8. Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to test your schema markup.
See here: https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/u/0/ – This will let you see how your web page will look like with the schema markup code. Just paste the HTML code and press preview. It also allows you to check on all schema markups you have added.
Tips on schema markup
Go to schema.org and check on commonly used schema markups, it is advisable to use as many schema markups as possible. The full list is found on Type Hierarchy.
Schema markups might be the next big thing for SEO but a lot of website owners are still in the dark about it. Now is the time to utilize this new found tool before it is soon crowded since people are always on the lookout for ways they can get higher rankings on search engines.