As Google continues to evolve how it displays search results, understanding what schema is and how it can help boost your visibility in search results can be a vital tool for your business to possess in it's organic search arsenal. The basis for using schema markup is that it allows your website to rank better for a host of different types of content including local businesses, reviews and events among many others.
Essentially, think of any particular data type displayed on your website, chances are it will have a dedicated itemscope and itemtype.
Adoption of schema markup for your website is likely to result in a welcome boost for where your website ranks within Google's various SERPS.
While uptake of schema markup is still catching on, we'd be willing to bet that implementation will provide a significant competitive advantage over your rivals within organic search results.
In this blog, we'll provide you with a detailed explanation of what Schema is, how your business can use schema markup SEO to boost the ranking of your website, the process of implementing schema, and why Schema markup helps.
What is schema?
So what is schema exactly? Well, essentially, schema is a semantic vocabulary of microdata that you can add to your HTML leading to an improvement in the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs. In layman's terms schema is a means of telling search engines what exactly the data on your web page means, as opposed to simply what it says. This is also sometimes referred to as structured data SEO.
Schema came about as a result of a rare piece of cross-conglomerate collaboration as major search engines sought to create a more user-friendly way for consumers to use their products while gaining the information they're looking for quickly and efficiently. The result was a single set of agreed-upon code markers, telling search engines what they should be doing with the data you present on your website.
The result of this collaboration resulted in a huge number of data markups to help websites achieve a better ranking for a host of different types of content. Some of the most common types of data mark-ups seen by users include:
- Local businesses
- TV episodes and ratings
- Movies and ratings
With such a variety of data markups available for businesses to make use of, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that they can represent what is essentially a digital business card. Furthermore, websites using Schema markup rank better in SERPS than companies without it, one study even goes as far as claiming that companies implementing Schema markup will rank up to four positions higher in SERPs than those without.
"The great thing about Schema is, not only can it give you kick-ass visibility in the SERPs by enabling rich snippets and ultimately increasing SERP presence and click through rates, it also has the added benefit of being a fantastic way to communicate your message to search engines."
Tom Crewe | Head of Organic
How to use schema markup for SEO
Schema markup is astonishingly useful for a variety of content including articles, movies, TV shows, restaurants and events amongst hundreds of others. Now, if we were to demonstrate what every schema markup and why it's effective you'd be here until doomsday. So, instead, we've summarised a few choice examples which demonstrate the power of schema markup SEO.
First, we've chosen to focus on the 'organisation' schema markup. This provides a one-stop-shop for placing your company name, logo, contact information,and social media profiles front and centre of search results.
In the case of Apple, the tech giants' company introduction appears in the top right-hand side of the Google search bar. Within the SERP Apple are represented by their company name and logo (as highlighted in red), contact information in the form of customer service and technical support numbers (as highlighted in green), and social profiles are listed at the bottom of the SERP (as highlighted in blue).
Also included in the tech giants' SERP is a short company description sourced from Wikipedia, stock price, the company's founders as well as subsidiaries.
Secondly, we'll specify 'Person' schema markups. This markup produces a summary of an individual, their career and major life events. The example of this authors lookalike, relative unknown David Beckham, provides a richly detailed example of the power of schema 'person' markups.
In the case of the person markup for Becks, the SERP appears in the upper right-hand corner of the users' search results. We see his name, the profession he is most known for, as well as a link taking to the user to his personal website (highlighted in red). After a short personal description provided by Wikipedia, we see a host of basic information about Beckham, such as his DOB and age, height, spouse and children (highlighted in green).
Further professional information is also presented, for Becks, this includes World Cup statistics for England as well as a list of movies and TV shows he's featured in (highlighted in blue). Finally, links to social media profiles are displayed at the bottom of the SERP (highlighted in black).
Local business schema
Finally, we'll highlight the function of the schema 'local business' markup. This markup produces a comprehensive list of local businesses that match the search query. Initially, these listings will appear beneath paid ads within the search results. However, upon clicking on the 'more places' button below the initial SERP listing Google will take you to a page that looks a bit like this:
This expanded SERP can be broken down into three distinct segments.
First, an expanded list of local businesses that match the users search query, within this segment basic, short-form details such as the business name, address, contact number, opening hours and average rating are displayed alongside links to the businesses website or directions to their address.
Secondly, upon clicking on a business listing, more detailed information about the business will appear, within this section of the SERP, you will see additional information about the business including listing photos, questions and answers as well as individual business reviews.
Finally, the third segment of the local business mark-up simply displays the businesses location within Google Maps alongside the location of other listed businesses.
Other features can display within the local business mark-up depending on what sort of business it is. For example, restaurants may allow users to view their menu or encourage users to complete an action such as reserve a table.
How to implement schema markup
We understand that implementing a schema markup isn't a walk in the park, especially if it's not something you've turned your hand to in the past. Luckily, there are several tools available online to help you craft the perfect Schema markup for your website.
One such tool is Google's Structured Data Markup Helper. This free tool assists you as you markup elements of a web page for your site enabling Google to understand the data on the web page in question.
Upon opening the markup helper you will be prompted to select the data type that you intend to markup, you'll also need to insert the URL for the webpage you are looking to markup, once this is done click 'start tagging' to proceed.
You will be taken to a page representing the next stage of markup, tagging items. At this point, you simply need to work your way through the data items referred to in the right-sided pane of the tagging page. To add the tags, begin highlighting the relevant content on your chosen webpage and select which data item it represents in the drop-down menu. There will be some items that you simply can't add, that's absolutely fine, when you encounter this simply move on to the next data item and add what you can.
Once you've finished adding your data tags, click 'Create HTML.'
In the page that loads after clicking 'Create HTML' you will see the HTML of your page with all the relevant microdata inserted. At this point all you need to do is click the 'Download' button and copy and paste it into your CMS or source code, replacing the original HTML.
If you do want to take a moment to find out what your page will look like, use Google's Structured Data Testing Tool, this will preview what your webpage will now look like in Google's search results while also giving you the opportunity to inspect each and every markup element that you added.
Even if your schema doesn't enable any fancy new rich snippets in the SERPs, implementing the schema is never a waste of time because it helps Search Engines to understand your website better, therefore improving your chances of ranking for relevant terms!
Tom Crewe | Head of Organic
How does schema markup help?
As useful as schema markup will prove to be for any website implementing it, many don't deem it to be a ranking factor in itself. We would argue differently. Ranking factors are made up by SEO's as opposed from being made up by Google, and as schema helps Google to better understand your website better it should be deemed as being a ranking factor.
Search results with more extensive rich snippets, such as the ones you'd be implementing with schema , make the search listings more user-friendly and are therefore more likely to receive a better click-through rate.
Schema markup is a great general practice to adopt on your website, especially with a surprisingly low number of businesses and their websites taking advantage of it. If you're looking to gain an edge over your competition in terms of search visibility, schema markup will be with us for a long time so now is the perfect time to get ahead of the game and start implementing it on your site. If you want to find out more about schema, get in touch with the smartest SEO in the world, Tom Crewe!