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Introduction to Schema.org Markup


In the ever-evolving digital landscape, schema markup has become an increasingly important aspect of SEO, and a useful item in every website’s toolbox to help them remain competitive.

Today, we break down the basics of schema markup, its benefits, and how websites can leverage it to keep their business one step ahead of the game.

What is Schema.org?

Schema.org is an inter-industry collaboration between Google, Bing, and Yahoo to create a universal vocabulary used to “mark-up” structured data. The collaborative mission is to “create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet,” including web pages, email messages, and beyond.

How Does Schema Markup Work?

Schema markup—also known as structured data, structured data markup, or simply schema.org— is a type of structured data that helps Google to better understand a website’s content, and therefore provide more relevant search results to users, increases the chance of that website’s content being used as feature snippets.

But doesn’t search already decode page content? Yes, it does, but it’s important to keep in mind that search engines don’t think like people do. When search engines like Google decode the contents of a page, they do so in a very specific way. For example, when crawling a website, Google reads the HTML to determine what a page is about. Even though search algorithms are getting very skilled at decoding and retrieving relevant information, there is still room for improvement.

To elaborate, Schema.Org uses the movie Avatar as an example. When the search algorithm decodes the HTML for <h1>Avatar</h1>, without further information, they risk mistaking which Avatar is being referred to. Is it the successful 3D movie Avatar, the famous animated television series, or is it referring to a type of profile picture? When this kind of confusion occurs, it can make it more difficult for search engines to provide relevant results for a user and can decrease useful leads to a site.

Implementing structured data—such as schema markup—helps because it allows you to tell Google specifically what the page is about, and thus allows Google to deliver additional context and better results.

Why is Schema Markup Important for SEO?

UX (user experience) is everything to Google, and schema markup directly improves how your webpages look on the search engine results page (SERP). Using schema.org markup, you can add information to the metadata of your webpages and create rich snippets, giving you the option to display aggregate ratings, upcoming events, and more.

 

Structured data can not only be used to improve search results for traditional searches but can provide more relevant results for voice searches as well. Within Schema.org’s list of intangible properties, there is a speakable property that specifies which content is particularly ‘speakable’, and this content becomes ‘highlighted’ as being especially appropriate for text-to-speech conversion.

 

Having all these details at a glance can greatly improve your click-through rates (CTR), and reports show that by implementing schema properly, you could get as much as a 43% increase in CTR. This, in turn, improves your site’s ability to rank.

Will Schema Markup Improve my Rankings?

The short answer is that there is no evidence that support-microdata such as schema markup has a direct effect on organic search rankings, but the long answer is that it can be more complicated than this.

This is our take: Anything you can do to help a search engine better understand your content is worth doing. As part of a wider strategy, schema markup can be instrumental to improving your overall rankings and making it easier for Google to push you up in their system.

Not to mention, even if rich snippets don’t necessarily push you up the SERPs by themselves, they make your webpages stand out and your content more appealing. If you’re already on page one and your results are clearly written and informative, a user may well skip down and click on you, instead of clicking on the more generic-looking results.

 

How do I implement Schema Markup?

Luckily, you don’t need to learn any new coding skills to use schema.org structured data. All web pages with markup use HTML, so all you or your web developer needs to do is add the schema.org vocabulary to your HTML microdata before you can use it. Beyond that, there are some basic steps you should take to get started:

1. Look for commonly used schema types 

Schema.org provides a list of the most common types of schema markup, such as Event, Organization, Person, Place, or Product. Choosing the best ones for your business is the first step toward getting the perfect rich snippet.

For example, if you run an e-commerce site, a search box will allow your customers to search your site directly on the SERPs. Search engines are increasingly making use of ‘Action-based’ schema.org in search results, starting with the Sitelinks search box.

To implement this structured data, all you need to do is copy-paste the code. Below is the JSON-LD (JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data) implementation type:

<script type=”application/ld+json”>
{
  “@context”: “http://schema.org”,
  “@type”: “WebSite”,
  “url”: “[website url]”,
  “potentialAction”: {
    “@type”: “SearchAction”,
    “target”: “[website search url]={search_term}”,
    “query-input”: “required name=search_term”
  }
}
</script>

2. More is better, except for hidden page elements

When you’re searching for markup to apply, applying as many as possible to given elements is usually a good idea. The more information you can give a search engine about your site, the better. However, the opposite is true when dealing with hidden text. If the text isn’t visible to a user, it’s less important to mark it up.

It’s worth visiting Schema.org’s documentation centre itself for the full lowdown on how to get started; they provide a comprehensive step-by-step guide to using structured data.

Learn the true potential of Schema markup

Though easy to implement, not all businesses are taking advantage of schema.org’s great potential. In fact, according to usage statistics of structured data formats recorded by W3Techs, approximately two-thirds of all websites monitored leverage structured data in some format.

Implementing Schema markup is a great opportunity for websites wanting to stay ahead of the game, as any single ranking factor could be the make-or-break moment for your website’s position.

If you’re looking for digital marketing experts to help boost your SEO with Schema markup, get in touch with the team at Pure SEO!

Sam Mannell

Sam Mannell has been a writer for the Pure SEO content team since August '18. He quickly found his place in the company as resident Dungeon Master and coffee expert. Sam holds a BA from University of Auckland, where he double-majored in Linguistics and English.

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