Search engines are always trying to deliver the best, most relevant results to their users. While search engines are constantly improving, they can sometimes struggle to understand the context and meaning of the content on web pages. Pages that provide lots of rich information to search engines often appear more prominently on search engine results pages (SERPs). One way to provide search engine algorithms with useful data is by using schema markup. Read on to learn more about what schema markup is and how you can use it in your search engine optimization strategies.
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What Exactly is Schema Markup?
Schema markup is a semantic vocabulary of code that you can add to the HTML of your website to help search engines return better results for their users. Schema was created by four of the major search engines: Google, Yandex, Yahoo, and Bing. They collaborated to make a tool that would help web designers and website architects provide the information that search engines need to understand your site’s content and provide the best search results for users.
Adding schema markup to your HTML improves the way your page displays on search engine results pages. Search engine results that have additional data beneath the title, like star ratings, publication dates, etc. are using schema marketing to add this data. These are known as rich snippets. If you don’t use schema markup, the search engine will either add metadata below your title or will choose other information to display.
Web designers use schema to make sure search engines have the right data about your business, and search engines use schema data to give users trustworthy results. But according to research done by ACM Queue, less than a third of Google’s search results include a rich snippet with schema markup. Including schema markup can have great results for SEO, as it is often an underutilized tool.
Schema Gives Content Meaning
Search engines crawl web pages, index the content on your site, and rank their search results accordingly. With schema markup, your content gets indexed and returned by the search engine differently. The schema markup gives content meaning. Just like how in HTML code you can add HTML tags that label parts of your website as “title,” and “header,” you can label data in schema markup.
For example, if you include your business address on your website, you can tag parts of the address (street address, state, country, postal code, etc.) to give the search engine information about how to properly display this data. The way search engines are used has changed drastically within the past few years. The rise of voice search has paved the way for search engine algorithms to strive to deliver more contextual results. How a search engine interprets the context of your query will decide the caliber of a search result. Schema provides that vital context, making schema markup a particularly valuable tool in today’s digital world.
What Can You Tag With Schema?
You can provide a huge amount of data with schema tags. Each specific property you’d like to include information about has its own tag. Itemscope tags give information about an item, while itemtype tags specify the type of item you’re talking about. Item prop tags tell you about the properties of an item (i.e. name). You can find a full list of schema tags here, but for the most part, people use tags to provide more information about:
- Creative work – for example, the author, illustrator, name, and ISBN of a work of literature.
- Event – you can provide information about where and when an event is happening.
- Organization – use schema tags to denote reviews of your organization, number of employees, and even the organization’s slogan.
- Person – tag a person with gender, address, job title, and even tags like height.
- Place – tags like address, telephone number, latitude, and longitude provide information about a place.
- Product – provide information like color, weight, material, etc.
- Blog Post – There is a schema type for BlogPosting
In addition, each of these categories has dozens of subcategories, each with dozens of tags. Schema markup has very specific tags about almost anything you can think of, so it’s helpful when creating digital content for any industry.
How To Use Schema Markup To Give Your Pages A Boost
Because of the number of available tags, schema markup can seem a little confusing or overwhelming to get started with. But this is what is keeping a lot of businesses from using it, and learning the basics can give you a big leg up on your competition. When it comes down to it, adding schema to your website is just like adding HTML tags. The schema markup goes into div tags on your site. As long as you’re comfortable using HTML, you can start using schema markup. However, there is a bit of strategy that is helpful to know before you dive in.
To start with, the more markup you use, the better. Search engines thrive on this information, and the more you use, the better your chances of appearing more prominently on SERPs. However, you should avoid marking up content that is in hidden divs or other page elements that users can’t see.
You’ll want to provide clear, concise tags to improve the rich snippets that are displayed below the search engine result. The data you provide here can really improve your click-through rate. It helps users quickly determine what your pages are all about and whether or not they’re helpful and related to what they’re looking for. It paints you as an expert in your industry and will overall improve traffic to your website.
Marking up your pages with schema can be very time-consuming, but there are tools to help. If you’re using WordPress, there are plugins available to help. If you’re still a little unsure about how to best use schema markup for your web pages, Google has a helpful tool called the Google Structured Data Markup Helper. Simply choose the type of data you’re looking to tag, and Google can help you choose the best tags to use. Once you’ve added schema markup to your page, you can use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to find any issues in your markup before you deploy your pages. This is important because even small errors can prevent search engines from reading your data.
Schema has been around for a few years, but it’s still not being widely used. Now is a great time to get started using it to stay ahead of the curve. The more search engines know about the content you’re trying to deliver, the better your results will be.