There are plenty of techniques under ‘Search Engine Optimization (SEO)’ to gain higher traffic and ranking on a website. Out of the stash of techniques, Schema Markup or Structured Data is an effectively used technique as it serves the goal to explain what a data means to search engines that drive more relevant and accurate search results.
What is Schema Markup?
Schema Markup essentially feeds data to the search engines so that the results displayed are highly relevant to the searched term. Under the hood, a search engine such as Google uses crawlers to find HTML data and other information on a page, since crawlers can interpret HTML pages only. Now that, the crawlers could distinguish between title, article, date, author, main content, images, etc these are indexed and saved on search engines so that whenever a user searches for relevant keywords, the results are indexed and returned as SERPs.
Search engines follow a common standard to interpret a piece of data to crawlers. This is called Schema that helps crawlers distinguish between articles, images, videos, other types of data as well as entities like people, local or global business, organization, shops, etc.
For Example, when you search for a term like ‘Mission Impossible’, a search engine would search for anything that is related to the said term. A search engine would search for “Mission Impossible” which is a term enclosed in HTML tag denoting a heading while the term searched itself is just a string of two words i.e. ‘Mission’ and ‘ Impossible’. Here, the search engine might have no clue whether the term is actually a movie franchise or something else and that’s where Schema Markup comes into play.
Here is what it looks like:
Doing a schema markup for the same would enable the search engine to distinguish that “Mission Impossible” is a movie franchise and now, everything that is related to the franchise will be displayed on the screen either as knowledge graph or breadcrumbs or any other formats.
Types of Schema Markup?
Search engines crawlers crawl websites and index the schema markup to understand what a page offers and then produces relevant results to the visitors. Basically, there are three types of Schema Markup i.e. JSON-LD, Microdata, and RDFa. Back in 2015, Google announced that at least one of the given methods has proven its caliber effectively. Although this is pretty much how Google announces a method or feature working on its search engine, however, Google also stated that JSON-LD specifically was the leading and the most effective type of schema which could outrun websites not using it.
JSON-LD Schema Markup
JSON-LD is not an in-line programming technique but instead, it uses the script tag within the head or body to create markup using notations such as “type”, “@context”, and other attributes and therefore, it doesn’t require the developers to alter the HTML code to accommodate it.
Microdata is basically a type of schema markup that allows the web crawlers and search engines to index websites and produce richer results when asked based on the relevancy. The microdata has to be written in the HTML code with the help of tags that are itemprops, itemtype, and itemscope, among other sub-entities. To elaborate, the itemscope tag indicates the item or object being referenced such as ‘restaurant’. Below is the hierarchy, an itemtype tag identifies the item within and then, the itemprop tag provides an input for all the sub-entities. There are a bunch of other attributes within microdata that enables wider coverage for every type of data without any hassle.
Note that although microdata is fairly used, it is somewhat complicated to understand and draft but here’s an example that would enable you to process it better. Microdata is one of the three micro-formats that was earlier recommended by search engines due to its prowess over producing rich results. However, Google switched to JSON-LD later as it is the better type of micro-formats a website can try.
RDFa stands for Resource Description Framework in Attributes is an extension to HTML5 and it is injected within the HTML element that describes markup on Reviews, Recipes, People, Events, Places, etc. It is similar to microdata as it is an in-line programming syntax based on HTML, XHTML, and XML. To commence with, an ‘about’ tag is used to the item, ‘rel’ or ‘rev’ can be used to identify its relation to another resource. ‘content’ can be used to dictate properties and henceforth.
It enables the search engines to markup the websites and pages and improves visibility on the web by finding out the relevant search results when asked for. It is similar to microdata but uses a different terminology to define the tags such as ‘vocab’ describes the type of content whereas microdata uses ‘itemscope’. Further, the type of tag distinguishes the page such as ‘restaurant’. The property tag defines the entities such as address, description, name, and others.
The difference between Schema Markup, Microdata & Structured Data
The schema is a method used by search engines to markup data when a visitor searches for any keyword. The schema is created by webmasters who provide markups for different data items such as author, name, publish date, etc when it comes to books and name, address, contact number, location, email address, etc in case of a person. This markup helps search engines crawl and index the data and provide the required value on the snippet shown on SERPs.
On the other hand, structured data is actually the method used to markup data on websites such as Twitter Cards, rich snippets, Facebook Open Graph, etc. There are basically three types of structured data i.e. microdata, JSON-LD, and RDFa.
Can or will schema replace Open Graph?
The short answer is no. Well, the long answer is in fact long. Open Graph is a markup technique similar to the schema that allows the search engines to parse out relevant data such as image and it’s a related description to display. To put it in a more elusive and understandable manner, Open Graph used by Facebook pulls out the image, title, description, and URL when you are sharing someone on Facebook and Twitter which uses a similar technique named as Twitter Cards.
On the contrary, Schema markup allows the search engines to index web pages by pulling out the description behind what the content is about and when a visitor searches for the same, it retrieves the data and produces it as search results or SERPs. In fact, it has been evolving and now, differentiates between a person, location, products, etc thus giving results on relevant documents on the web as well.
For example, consider you are searching for an apartment in Beverly Hills and you have tons of options available. Search engines will also show you products and person related to the keyword you are looking for, such as a real estate agent or a homeowner who’s looking forward to selling his/her apartment or rent it out. Therefore, Schema may have an upper hand in terms of advantages but it might not be able to replace the Open Graph although both the techniques can be used in the congregation.
Why should you use structured data on your website?
Structured data has been around for some time now. In fact, it is an efficient technique to showcase information in a knowledge graph and other formats right on the SERPs. This eliminates the need to click on any link since the visitor has already acquired bits of information from the search results pages itself, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the visitors can’t click on any link.
The use of structured data on your website can enhance click-through rate by almost 30%, no wonder why Twitter is among the largest social media platforms to receive higher CTRs compared to bigwigs like Facebook where more than 4 billion people have their accounts and all thanks to Twitter Cards. There are several ways information can be displayed by inputting structured data i.e. news carousels, knowledge panels, etc and another type of data is displayed in breadcrumb format.
Structured data hasn’t been linked directly as a ranking factor yet but it does have a great impact on website’s SEO and boosting it gives your website an edge over competitors who might not be using any format of structured data and the level of sophisticated results it offers.
Why it is important to use schema markup for businesses and websites?
To summarize why it is important, schema markup on a website makes it attractive and engaging as all the information related to the type of schema is at a single place with images and videos embedded to it. This actually escalates click-through rate, therefore, increases the traffic on a website. Local businesses can setup schema markup with tags and add other details with the product or service they offer so that the search engines can interpret the data it indexed and present the required information to the users when asked.
Event markup enables the user to gather information about upcoming events right on the SERPs that reduces the overheads and efforts made by the user to grab required details while allowing the visitor to tap on information of great importance right away and avoid meddling over the websites searching for relevant information. As there are a variety of types of schema markup, there is a method to update it no matter what product or service you sell or provide, events you have, reviews you post, type of food or anything since there is a type of schema markup for all your needs.
Why and how is schema markup imperative for SEO?
There are a number of reasons behind why it is important for SEO. Although Google has indicated that some of the syntaxes may affect visibility only 1% of the websites are optimized for the schema which offers a major opportunity for website owners to tweak their schema tactics and churn out favourable results. So, the schema could induce higher search results although it is not proven or officiated yet.
Further, according to an estimate, websites with rich snippet have actually seen a rise of 15 to 50% in terms of click-through rates. As schema offers all the information about different data types in one place where a valid URL may be available or not, it is a great avenue for visitors to soak information they are looking for without opening any link. Once the schema is set up, the search engine will be trained to understand the content you are providing and process it well when visitors are looking for it. The schema can also help search engines to support voice assistants like Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant to understand the content first and deliver it to the users when asked.
How does structured data support SEO?
Implementation of structured data is crucial nowadays as it might spike up the click-through rates (CTRs) for a website by driving additional traffic to the websites. Since the structured data is more visually appealing to users, there are certain types of presentations such as knowledge graph, rich cards or rich snippets, rich search results, breadcrumbs carousels, and others.
Even though structured data is known to boost SEO ranking, it isn’t a ranking factor but it does have proven its caliber by escalating traffic, SEO scores and more. Search engines are evolving their search result algorithms towards the future because as of now, we aren’t limited to just finding out links of relevant websites but a bunch of links, as well as access to voice assistant that extrapolate user’s command and generate required output and that, ’s all after they understand what the command was and what does the data that it has actually meant and produce relevant results.
Does Schema improve SEO?
The answer is of course yes. To elaborate it further, a website with schema is actually pointing out the keywords, type of content, purpose, and other details to the search engines so that the crawlers can understand what the content is. Stating that a website is based on any domain such as e-commerce or technology or restaurant using schema can further enable SEO as the search engines would actually index your website searching for any tech or e-commerce website and so on. Although there is a no conclusive proof that schema influences the ranking of a website, things can change in the tech world pretty drastically and the fact that websites with schema tend to get at least four positions higher than a website that lacks it in terms of SERPs is enough to prove its caliber.
There is a number of other benefits that come in a bundle with Schema and how it works by improving SEO of a website. Since there are more than 19 million websites on the web and only 1% of the sites use schema, there’s a lot that can be done using schema and SEO. Also, there are different types of schema, different languages, different methods, and strategies and there are tons of attributes that can be added.
What are the benefits Of Schema Markup?
First of all, schema markup is known to enhance search engine optimization (SEO) for a website as it includes adding keywords and phrases while drafting markup, it enables search engine crawlers to understand content that a website advertises and show results accordingly. Schema Markup with rich snippet is known to increase the CTR but there is a catch. Accomplishing schema for a website doesn’t guarantee that a website will get a rich snippet as it depends on many factors and not just schema markup.
Although not directly but schema markup could also enhance website ranking considerably. In fact, according to an audit by a popular website, web pages with schema rank at least four places higher on SERPs when compared to those web pages lacking schema. If you are looking at the figures, websites with markup receive 15 to 50 percent higher CTRs, 1.5% extra time is spent on the website while 3.6 times higher interaction rate was reported. Schema markup is also known to boost local SEO as the listing is presented on Google My Business (GMB) and other business listing sites.
Do structured data affect website ranking?
As a matter of fact, there is no conclusive result that Schema improves rankings since Google or no other search engines actually proclaimed it. On the other hand, Google spokesperson has stated that structured data is not specifically a ranking factor but it does help with the indexing of web pages. It enables the search engines to understand a web page properly and produce results accordingly. Structured data might induce better results but it isn’t directly related to boosting the ranking of a website. But there is a thing, over any other type, Google has sided JSON-LD as the most preferred and recommended schema markup technique that might improve overall search results. If you are looking for any conclusive proof, you’ll have to try it on your website and check if which type of schema actually boosts ranking and results.
Does Structured Data/Schema Markup work on mobiles too?
Yes, structured data work on mobile too. Structured data actually enables the search engines to understand the content, type, and what is actually present so that search engines can produce relevant results when people are looking for it. This can be further explained using an example wherein you need to search for anything like a celebrity or movie. Take the movie ‘Inception’ for instance. When you search it on your mobile phone, the aggregate of the movie that Google was able to index appears on the screen. It provides a simplified yet informational tabular form of data that contains information or data types such as description, release date, box office, director, featured song, etc.
Similarly, when you search for any person, a similar result with varying data types appear on the screen and the same goes for events too and dozens of other types of items described by a schema. Here, Google is actually contributing the data assembled from several websites using the structured data which comes handy with mobile where it is called as ‘mobile first-indexing’ which is in reference to the tabular form of information depicted on the screen. Further, structured data is extremely crucial for voice assistant since it depends on what the user is asking for and what the data it has and what it can extrapolate from the two.
Types of items described by Schema
Schema Markup is basically of three types and you have already read it at the beginning of this article. Well, schema markup has a number of different markup types too which is solely based on which type of data you want to represent and showcase as markup data. The Schema.org maintains a library of all the markup types that you can ever search and thus, here are few of the types of items described by schema with their examples so that you can understand it better.
Website Schema Markup
Recognized by schema.org, Website Schema Markup enables websites to get higher visibility through site search box if the website features a site search box. Further, it can also funnel customers by displaying the estimated price of a product on your website enabling access to those who are interested in buying while diminishing those who might not buy a product in that price range. WebSite Schema was introduced in 2011 and has since been using by more than one million domains in its usage to escalate website’ ranking SERPs by giving it a boost or add-on when compared to other search results on the same page.
Organization Schema Markup
You might have come across this type of markup especially when searching for any organization or brand on Google. The search engines display knowledge graph bearing key data about the brand including the logo, domain, year it was founded, headquarters, social media profiles and other information. Google also displays the stock market metrics when searching for a brand on IPO.
It signals the search engines to showcase marked up entries in its knowledge graph and escalates brand presence and it is known to influence SERPs as well although it isn’t a ranking factor.
Breadcrumbs Markup Schema
Breadcrumbs are generated by search engines to showcase a user’s location on a website. It could be either consistent or it could be an inconsistent breadcrumbs trail along with either single URL or multiple URLs. It showcases exactly on which page the user had or will land. Breadcrumbs ate programmable using JSON-LD, microdata, and RFDa which are all types of markup schema.
Person Markup Schema
A schema called ‘People’ is used to describe details about a person dead or alive or fictional. There are a number of entities to add under the people schema such as name, address, affiliation, birthDate, birthPlace, brand, children, alumni, duns, email, and others. This allows the search engine to understand a person better and process results accordingly.
This is easy to understand as you type any name on Google like ‘Neil Armstrong’ and you’ll get information on that particular person right on the first search page. See pic ‘Neil Armstrong’. When a user searches for Neil Armstrong, the search engine exactly know what the user has asked for and what data that was indexed earlier literally means so that you get results on that particular person only.
Local Business Markup Schema
Local businesses use ‘local business’ schema in order to describe what it offers so that search engines can index the websites properly. Further, in e-commerce websites use ‘product schema’ that explains details on different products such as their names, code, price, reviews, images, etc.
When a user searches for any business or firm on Google, he/she gets GMB listing which is a schema markup that businesses can edit when required. For instance, when I search for ‘seo marketing company in Miami’, Google indexes and shows results on the given keyword. When I tap on any business listing, I get to see the information related to Address, Open Hours, Phone Number, reserve action and other.details right away.
Article Markup Schema
Setting up article markup schema gives a website edge over others not using the technique irrespective of in which position they rank. Article markup schema is a common structured data that can be understood with a simple example. When you type any keyword regarding any news or article, search engines show a list of articles related to the keyword and it’s nothing but article markup schema. When setting it up, the marketer is responsible for drafting all the information required such as image, name, date of publication, article body, URL, and other details so that the rich snippet could get higher visibility and CTRs.
Video Markup Schema
Similar to how article markup schema displays top news articles, Video markup schema displays relevant videos to the visitors on the search engine page. This uses the VideoObject schema also known as video markup. YouTube has a rich snippet feature built in and that’s why most of its videos are displayed on SERPs on Google but any website hosting videos can showcase their listing too.
Restaurant Markup Schema
There is a ‘restaurant’ schema that describes details about a restaurant such as with entities like accepts Reservations, Star Rating, Opening Hours, Price Range, Payment Accepted, has Menu, etc. For instance, when a user searches for any restaurant, say ‘Britto’s Goa’, the search engine indexes the details related to it and presents the data in tabular form right on the front search page. It is also a GMB listing and displays features such as Star Rating, Open Hours, Accepts Reservations, Phone Number, etc.
Event Markup Schema
All these items that can be described with schema are pretty self-explanatory. With event markup schema, a list of upcoming events can be highlighted onto the search engine results pages that eradicates the need to click on the website and search for the relevant events. It generally involves date, day, time, and event name among other entities and that’s all.
If you search for upcoming events on Book my show, it will display rich snippet on upcoming events right on SERPs.
What are the search engines that use Schema?
Schema markup is a well-recognized standard founded jointly by search engines giants Google, Yandex, Yahoo!, and Bing. There is a website ‘schema.org’ wholly dedicated to the technique and how it helps to prosper on search results and everything related to it which is shared by these four search engines. However, the question remains if any other search engines might be using it as a metric that would alter their search results. Since Google dominates the search engine market with more than 3/4th of the internet users, it is a big deal for those marketers and webmasters who are trying to rank on Google.
What Type of Structured Data Should You Use?
Based on Google’s recommendation, you must go for JSON-LD which is a script tag structured data that can be placed in head or body tag in an HTML document without changing any other tags to accommodate it. Using a script tag usually means that the browser will run it. JSON-LD took over the mantle as a preferred type of structured data after microdata was dethroned a few years back. But that doesn’t make microdata or RDFa a bad choice. Both the types of structured data are inline programming where the former is more popular than the later and thus, it is recommended more in case JSON-LD is not available. But that also means you need to understand the HTML document first before altering the microdata and if you don’t know how to do it, you’ll need to a developer to do the needful.
What Schema Markup Tags You Need?
Based on what site type you have, the schema markup tags differ. If you are new to it or someone who is confused regarding it, a competitor analysis can provide sufficient details on it. Depending upon what site type you have like for examples if you have an events and ticket booking site www.bookmyshow.com, to optimize it properly, you need to analyse a competitor such as www.ticketnow.com or others where you’ll get an input on what method your competitor is using, what different tags they have anchored to form structured data and how they have defined it.
Now, if the competitor is using JSON-LD, you’ll have to check out the script tag within header where the snippet is injected and since it is in a script tag, it is not visible to the visitors but you can run through a code analysis simply by going to ‘Inspect Code’. But anyhow, it would be a task to find out and understand the HTML codes properly if you aren’t well-versed with it. You can get help from a developer for it.
Common myths about Structured Data
Schema markup has its own set of myths and misconceptions that need to be burst firsthand. Here’s what you must know about the common myths about structured data.
Google uses it to create a massive database
Google doesn’t use the structured data solely but has other search engines in the congregation that shares the vocabulary and it’s working accordingly.
Structured data is ranking factor
No, structured data is nowhere correlated to the ranking factor on any search engine. In fact, Google clearly stated that structured data can induce an increase in click-through rates (CTRs) but it doesn’t directly alter results on search pages and thus, it isn’t a ranking factor.
Google doesn’t need it to figure out the content
Of course, Google and other search engines can understand the context indexed on the web and produce results accordingly. But it is a long procedure and yes, there is part of the content that the search algorithms cannot process properly and thus, it leads to poor performances. When establishing structured data for the site, a website is actually helping the search engines to ‘understand’ the content first and then disburse it to those who are looking for it. This can have a great impact on visibility and traffic on a website since it can be used across different mediums like Voice Assistant from Google, Microsoft, Amazon’s Alexa, etc.
Adding structured data equals rich snippet
No, it doesn’t work like this. In fact, there is no guaranteed that the search engines would provide rich snippet even after establishing structured data for a website and it might not be displayed on SERPs. Since the undisclosed algorithms that search engines follow dictates which and where the rich snippet will appear, there isn’t a guarantee that structured data can actually introduce rich snippet.
Why do we use Schema markup?
Now that we have encountered the common misconceptions and myths related to the schema, is it actually crucial to use it? The first depends on a lot of factors. Firstly, schema helps boost SEO score of a website and enhances being listed on search pages whenever a user searches for a similar keyword or phrase. Yes, the schema isn’t a ranking factor as of now but things in technology world change dramatically over a small time. Merely a decade ago, we just started using the internet commercially and now, it is everywhere and it is doing everything that is beyond our perceptions. Clinging to the schema is a great option if you don’t mind spending some time to implement the schema on your website to get escalated results.
If you have gone through the myths, you know that schema enables search engines to create rich snippets like knowledge graph but there isn’t a guarantee on it but with the changing paradigm with respect to schema, search engines might switch to schema in congregation to other techniques as both ranking factor and producing rich snippet out of it and it is just a matter of time. Do you know that only 1% of the websites use schema and since there are more than 19 million websites on the web, this number is quite minuscule and opting for schema gives an edge over competitors who aren’t using schema?
Here we are, concluding the article on ‘Schema Markup Guide’ that provides information on what is Schema Markup, it’s importance, benefits & types of schemas and schema types for your website. Hope this answers all your questions on what is schema markup and how you can go around with it to boost SEO of your business website.
But Schema markup might sound easy even after you have already gone through the entire article here, but it isn’t that easy similar to any other technique you use online. Here, mistakes can have repercussions or it could land you a top SERPs in case if you are lucky but that’s rarely since schema markup isn’t a jackpot that people can win simply by randomly selecting numbers attempting to win.
If you aren’t a person with technical skill about how websites and schema markup use, you can get in touch with me to enjoy my services on schema markup and strategies specially designed based on the type of items you have on your website so that everyone gets a tailor-made service at that’s all at highly competitive affordable pricing when compared to our competitors.