One definite thing I have seen constantly evolving and changing throughout my digital marketing career is SEO. There are many new techniques, updates, strategies that people use to have a better SEO ranking.
Schema Markup is one of the latest and most modern additions to SEO. It is a fairly new technique that can be used to make your web’s SEO better.
On the first look, it can look complicated but once you get familiar with what it is and how you can use it to your advantage, you can achieve amazing results when it comes to ranking high on search engines.
Many people choose to leave it out just because they don’t know what it is or what it is used for.
In this article, I will explain schema markup, why it is important, what are the benefits and how you can successfully use it to boost your page’s SEO.
What is Schema Markup?
Before we get into anything deeper, let’s understand what Schema Markup is actually.
Simply put, it is a way to describe to search engines what your content is about in a way that they can understand.
It can give context to a webpage that otherwise seems ambiguous to search engines.
The way in which that is done is by using HTML codes with tags (semantic vocabulary) understandable to the search engines.
These tags can’t be seen by users, and are just for the search engines and their algorithms that are crawling on your pages.
Using Schema markup is advised particularly in the age of RankBrain and Hummingbird.
Schema.org, according to the website is “…a collaborative, community activity with a mission to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, on web pages, in email messages, and beyond…”
It was founded by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Yandex which are some of the top-rated search engines in the world.
It is stated on the website that more than 10 million sites worldwide use Schema.org to markup their pages and email messages.
On the Schema.org website, you can read a lot about this in their blog posts, and you can get started with the process of implementing schema markup on your own website.
On the page, you can use some of the pre-defined templates to create structured data that will fit your own website.
There are a few categories in which the schemas are organized and those are:
- Creative works: CreativeWork, Book, Movie, MusicRecording, Recipe, TVSeries …
- Embedded non-text objects: AudioObject, ImageObject, VideoObject
- Health and medical types: notes on the health and medical types under MedicalEntity.
- Place, LocalBusiness, Restaurant …
- Product, Offer, AggregateOffer
- Review, AggregateRating
Benefits of Schema Markup
There was a reason why Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex created Schema.org.
The main reason is that they believe it will really help with the overall search experience when properly used.
There are quite a few benefits from using Schema Markup and structured data.
1. Better understanding
One of the main benefits of using Schema Markup and structured data is that you are providing a better understanding to the search engines about the content that is published on your website.
Sometimes the content can have double meanings and the search engine algorithms can misunderstand the meaning of the content which can result in worse ranking results.
Let’s take a simple example of one word. Avatar. In content, Avatar can mean an icon or it can mean the movie Avatar.
If you are reading the article you can understand the meaning from context.
But algorithms and machines do not have the same human capabilities and in some cases, they can misunderstand certain information.
This makes the number one benefit of using schema providing a clear sense of what the content on your webpage is about to the search engines.
This way, the people that search for the content will be presented with more relevant results.
Even though Google’s algorithms, for example, are very advanced and know probably what the general theme of your website is, schema tells it much defined details about the content.
When you think about it, this alone is a very good reason why to use schema, but of course, there are other benefits to it as well.
2. Rich Snippets
Another benefit of using schema are rich snippets that are drawing attention to your search results in a sea of others.
There are many types of rich snippets and more are created all the time.
To make this more clear, I will take reviews as an example. If you are searching for a product or service and want to see how satisfied previous customers are, you’re likely interested in seeing the reviews.
If you look at the picture above, you will see that it has several types of structured data.
In the first result, there is a rating, number of reviews, a price, and stock status. That’s basically all of the most important information that a customer would need at first glance.
In the second search result, there is a different type of data “Reviewed by Lewis Leong”.
Another example are recipes. You can have a rating, votes, reviews, and even deeper details like how much time it will take you to prepare the meal and how many calories it will be.
There are different types of displayed data for events, documents, music, videos, etc.
3. Knowledge Graphs
A good way to improve the presence of your brand is by using a knowledge graph that can give you a nice boost.
Everybody knows what knowledge graph is even though you might not know that that’s how it’s called.
When you search something on Google and the result that comes up on the right side of the search engine is the knowledge graph.
For example, if you search the word “omelette” on Google, you will get a very thorough knowledge graph.
First, you will see a definition of what omelette is, then you will see the main ingredients. But the information doesn’t stop there.
Additionally, you can see the nutritional facts about omelette and you can see it in detail.
Once you’re towards the end of the knowledge graph, you can even see what people search for that is related to this.
This is very helpful when we’re talking about businesses too since their knowledge graphs tell all the important details to customers in a single glance.
A business might have their address, email, working hours, reviews, etc presented upfront.
Google can be very careful with displaying these types of information because it wants to be absolutely sure that the data is correct.
That’s where schema comes in. By marking these types of information as structured data on your site you are making it easier for Google to acknowledge your information as correct.
The same applies to Top Stories too.
4. Get more followers
Increasing the number of followers can be achieved by a schema markup too. If you go ahead and mark your social accounts, you can get the icons shown in the Google results.
When clicked, they will lead to the social media platform of your business.
This can be a very good way to increase your following in a very simple and organic way.
5. FAQ Schema
Another form of structured data that was introduced last year and many marketers disliked at the beginning.
For users, it’s quite useful since it gives them information that they might be interested in, and it gives it fast.
If you Google anything, some FAQ Schema will appear with related questions that people ask connected to your search.
It can be very beneficial for your webpage to appear on these questions.
6. Feature Snippets
It’s another type of snippet and it is the first result that you are shown on Google when you ask a certain question.
This snippet has a much higher CTR than normal results and it can be a paragraph, a list, or a table.
These types of snippets are picked by Google as the best rank, but schema implementation is known to help in this case too.
There are many other benefits when it comes to Schema Markup like gaining a CTA in Google search results, positioning your site for voice search, getting more job applicants, receiving more views or plays for your video or song, etc.
Will Schema Markup improve your search rankings?
So far, there is no proof that microdata can directly improve your organic search rankings.
But, the rich snippets will for sure make your web pages more visible in SERPs.
Also, another good point is that users will end up getting more relevant results from the search engines which can mean decrease in bounce rate and an increase in spent time on page for your business.
How to use Schema Markup to improve SEO?
A study found that the pages who have Schema markups on average rank four positions higher than the pages who don’t use this practice.
This is solely because by using schema markup the search engines understand your webpages better and show it to people as highly relevant content.
A webpage with markup would rank higher because you told the search engines what otherwise they will try to piece together.
How to add Schema Markup to your site?
There are many tools that can assist you in adding the individual schema markups to your website.
The first tool that you go to though, should probably be Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
With this tool, you can choose what type of schema to use, and then the tool will generate the code for you.
All that’s left to do for you is just insert it in your HTML.
Once you’re there, you need to choose a type of data markup you want and paste the URL of the website that you need the data for.
In this example, I chose data type as Articles and added a URL from a sports clothing page, and then pressed Start Tagging.
The second step is data tagging. The tool asks you to start tagging data by highlighting text or images.
In this instance, I highlighted the name of the article “History of Alpine Skiing” which will be recorded on the right after I click it.
Then, you should just continue to fill out the table with as much information as you have or can know.
Once you are done with this step, you just press the red button “Create HTML” and the code will appear.
You can either download your code, or decide to go back to tagging it if you think there are some things that you missed the first time.
If you are confused about how to proceed, pressing “Finish” will show you the next steps in the process.
Sometimes you can go on a website that you think ranks much better than yours, maybe some of your competitors and use it to your advantage.
You can easily paste any link in the tool, and it will show you the already existing tags, so it’s not illegal to get a bit inspired by your competitors or some other websites that are more practiced in tagging.
Just copy the link that you think has good markup, paste it into the Google Structured Data Testing Tool and analyze the structured data that is available.
Do this with lots of pages and see what works best so you can implement those practices on your own pages.
If you decided to start with Schema Markup, let me suggest a few best practices:
- A lot is better: there is no such thing as too much information in this day and age. The more information you provide for Google the better for your ranking it will be. Try to add as much schema as you possibly can. It can cost you a lot of time and effort, but in a long way it will pay off.
- Page-Specific Schema: there are tools that create site-wide markups and that is good. But, don’t miss out to do page-specific markups because that is what is necessary if you want to rank better. If you are selling products, you need to go on their pages one by one and let Google know what’s what.
- Do checks: even if you use different tools to add the schemas on the site or separate pages, check them. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool will give you a list of errors or warnings and insight into how Google is perceiving your markup. It is a good thing to add or fix these types of information so you won’t do more damage to your site than good.
To summarize, Schema Markup can be a great way to boost your page’s SEO and to improve your rank.
Sooner or later you will need to start thinking about it, and I would say it’s better to be sooner than later.
Even though it is quite simple to implement it, very little businesses and websites out there feel the need to use it.
That is a reason more why you should invest your time in research and implementation of schema markups and see the improvements from your efforts.
Don’t be afraid to dive into Google’s structured data testing tool and check out other pages’ markups.
If you think that it would be too big of an effort to do it yourself, think about hiring a professional that will likely know how to do this fast and easy.
If you found this article educational and helpful, check out some of my other SEO articles that will make SEO easier for you:
- What are the best SEO tools for 2020 (Free and Paid)
- My Best SEO Guide
- Understanding SEO and how it works [Intro for Beginners]
Drop a comment letting me know what else you are curious about when it comes to SEO practices and tools.