Schema markup is a code snippet you add to your website’s HTML to help search engines better understand your page’s content. It’s also called structured data and uses a semantic vocabulary, the language of search engines.
Adding schema markup to your web pages allow major search engines to display rich snippets. This enhances user experience as readers find more relevant content with a click.
While schema doesn’t directly impact SEO rankings, it does help increase the click-through rate of any site, which makes it a vital part of any on-page SEO marketing strategies.
In this blog post, we will answer the question, “What is schema markup in SEO?” and explain how you can use it to your advantage.
- Schema markup is a type of code or metadata added to pages to help search engines better understand and categorize content.
- Benefits of implementing schema include improved rankings, increased click-through rates, personalization of results, richer search experience, and higher conversion rates.
- The origins of Schema began in 1999 but gained major traction in 2011 with the collaboration between Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex.
- While Schema does not directly affect page ranking, it plays an important role in SEO by enhancing our search experience with relevant rich snippets and integration into Google’s Knowledge Graph.
- In the future, AI and ML technologies will shape how we use schemas to generate more intelligent responses to voice searches.
Schema Markup Definition
Schema markup, or structured data, is a special kind of code or metadata you can add to your website pages to help search engines better understand and categorize the content on your site. Think of schema markup as a label or tag that provides additional context to the search engine about what your content is all about.
It’s like giving search engines a helpful roadmap that helps them better navigate your website and display the most relevant results for users.
Why Is Schema Markup Important?
Schema markup helps search engines better understand the content on your site, which can lead to improved search results rankings and increased click-through rates.
By providing additional relevant information about your products, services, or content, schema markup can attract more qualified traffic to your site, which can lead to more conversions and revenue.
Additionally, schema markup can improve the user experience by helping to personalize search results and provide relevant rich snippets of additional information about your site.
Understanding Schema Markup
To better understand schema’s role, let’s dive into its early beginnings, components, and how it works when added to a web page.
While the idea of creating a semantic web originated in 1999, it gained a major foothold more than a decade later through a game-changing collaboration between Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
On June 2, 2011, these search engines launched Schema.org, an initiative to create a universal structured data vocabulary. By November of the same year, Yandex joined the club.
With this project, applications, crawlers, and other data formats now have a shared vocabulary when reading web info. This made it easier for search engines to showcase multiple relevant links within your site as a response to a single query.
Three syntax options are involved in writing schema markup — microdata, JSON-LD, and RDFa. While they differ in implementation, they’re all used to achieve a common result — to get your schema markup running for search engines.
Microdata is among the older syntaxes used to add schema markup and works as an annotation to your individual HTML tags. Using this means you’ll have to mark each item on your page using machine-readable attributes individually.
While microdata is considered beginner-friendly, it’s only recommended for small-scale pages. Using this for larger websites like e-commerce stores can easily result in messy HTML code, which is difficult to update as your business grows.
Sample Microdata Code for the Movie Avengers: Infinity War
<div itemscope itemtype =”https://schema.org/Movie”>
<h1 itemprop=”name”>Avengers: Infinity War</h1>
<span>Director: <span itemprop=”director”>Anthony & Joe Russo</span>
<span itemprop=”genre”>Science fiction</span>
The above example shows three microdata attributes in action — ‘itemscope,’ ‘itemtype,’ and ‘itemprop.’ Here’s a quick roundup of what they represent in your schema markup.
- Itemscope: Used to tell a search engine what a specific block is all about. Our example tells us that everything within the <div> </div> block is about our <h1> tag, Avengers: Infinity War.
- Itemtype: Used to narrow down the topic to a specific type. This attribute is added as a URL format right after your itemscope. In the example, the link indicates that Avengers: Infinity War refers to a movie. It’s not a book, an event, or a product.
- Itemprop: Used to specify add-on details about your page’s topic. Our example shows helpful information like the movie’s directors, genre, and trailer link.
This makes it easier for you to alter or update your code. It’s also your best option to future-proof your page, especially if you want to expand its content.
Common attributes used in JSON-LD are @context, @type, and @id.
Sample JSON-LD structured data snippet for an Apple Pie recipe page
“name”: “Apple Pie”,
“name”: “Jackie Smith”
“description”: “This dessert is a go-to choice for small parties.”,
RDFa (Resource Description Framework in Attributes) works like microdata in that you’ll need to mark each item in your HTML code. The difference comes in the implementation and attributes used in the code.
As an older syntax, RDFa can be overwhelming, but its ability to mix vocabularies in the same content makes it a preferred option for developers dealing with multiple pages.
Sample RDFa Code for Google’s Mailing Address
<p vocab=”http://Schema.org/” typeof=”PostalAddress”><br>
<span property=”name”>Google Inc.</span><br>
P.O. Box <span property=”postOfficeBoxNumber”>1234</span><br>
<span property=”addressLocality”>Mountain View</span>,<br>
<span property=”addressCountry”>United States</span><br>
How Schema Markup Works
Schema markup works by embedding a code snippet of specific tags unique to any syntax listed in the previous section. You put it as part of your site’s HTML tag.
Think of it as your website’s way of communicating with search engines. Adding these markups guarantees better search engine results, as it pulls out relevant information based on the descriptions you’ve provided via code.
If you type ‘CNN’ in Google, for example, you’ll see related page links to Breaking News, Politics, and Live TV, on top of the link to its landing page. Search algorithms recognize you’ll want to visit the site and offer a faster way of browsing by providing quick links. This is possible through schema tags on the website’s source code.
Incorporating these markups benefits readers who want instant, quality search results and site owners looking to increase organic traffic. Search engines also benefit from this structured data by acquiring more valuable information and links to present in each search query.
Types of Schema Markup
To implement schema markup, you must first understand its different categories. This helps you narrow down the required attributes for your code and the best schema encoding types to use.
Here are the different categories:
- Organization Schema: This specifies details of corporations, schools, clubs, NGOs, and other organizations. Markup items include logo, contact info, location, social profiles, etc.
- Local Business Schema: This is used for entities with fixed physical locations or branches. It includes address, operating hours, menu or services list, and contact info.
- Product Schema: This is used for any offered products or services. It includes product information, price, and status.
- Event Schema: This provides additional information for any event at a particular time and location. Data included are event schedule, location, and price.
- Person Schema: This applies to any person’s detail, whether alive, dead, or fictional. Data items include name, birthdate, address, family members, education, etc.
Popular Schema Markup Properties
After identifying the appropriate schema categories for your pages, the next items to familiarize yourself with are the properties. Don’t fret if you can’t remember all of them. You’re not supposed to! We’ll discuss tools to help you implement schemas later in the article.
For now, let’s look at some of the most popular markup properties:
- AggregateRating: This shows the average ratings of a property, product, or service based on multiple ratings and reviews.
- Author: This refers to the author of the content or rating. Writers of an article and product reviewers are tagged using this property.
- Offer: This defines any transfer of rights, exchange of services, or product-selling. For instance, you can offer DVD rental, online streaming, and repair services using this property.
- Address: This markup property indicates a company, school, or organization’s physical location. It can refer to their mailing address, international branches, etc.
Implementing Schema Markup
Now that you know what schema markup is, it’s time to move to the next crucial step, which is implementing it on web pages. While you can write schema markup yourself, there are many tools that will do it for you, including Rankmath and Schema Pro.
Selecting Relevant Schema Types
What is your website all about? Identifying the business type is a crucial step before using schema markup. Once done, you can start determining the content of your website.
For instance, an e-commerce site selling shoes will likely have the following pages:
- Category Page
- Product Page
- Search and Listing Result
- Contact Page
- Store Locator
- Cart Page
Listing down your site pages helps you match the schema markup type fit for that page. The Product Page can use the Product Schema. On the other hand, Store Locator can use the Local Business schema.
Generating Schema Markup Code
It’s reasonable to get intimidated by schema markup, especially if this is your first time seeing it. But this is why we have a schema markup generator like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. With this tool, you won’t have to manually add tags to your HTML body.
You start by identifying the data type you wish to tag and paste your page’s URL. From there, you can begin tagging those sections with important information. Once done, download the page code to JSON-LD or microdata formats, depending on preference, though Google highly suggests the former.
Check out this step-by-step Google Guide to Using Structured Data Markup Helper.
To ensure your code’s running smoothly, Google suggests validating your schema markup using its Structured Data Testing Tool.
This tool has two options, but the Rich Results Test is what Google recommends for spotting errors and warnings that need fixing. If there are sections in your code to fix, you can edit them directly on the screen’s left side before clicking the ‘Run Test’ button at the bottom of the page for revalidation.
Here are schema markup examples from Google Search Central. These will help you understand how different attributes and classes define rich snippets.
“name”: “Executive Anvil”,
“description”: “Sleeker than ACME’s Classic Anvil, the Executive Anvil is perfect for the business traveler looking for something to drop from a height.”,
“name”: “Fred Benson”
Blog or News Websites
<title>Title of a News Article</title>
“headline”: “Title of a News Article”,
“name”: “Jane Doe”,
“name”: “John Doe”,
Local Business Websites
<title>Dave’s Steak House</title>
“name”: “Dave’s Steak House”,
“streetAddress”: “148 W 51st St”,
“addressLocality”: “New York”,
“name”: “Lillian Ruiz”
Schema Markup and SEO
Despite schema’s importance, its impact on page ranking is indirect. Still, it’s considered an irreplaceable component of any site’s structure. Here’s how schema benefits SEO and what the relationship looks like in the coming years.
Improved Search Results
Schema markup is responsible for the relevant rich snippets we see in many search results. This makes a huge difference in our search experience, as we see essential info about a topic we would otherwise miss unless we do a specific search.
Instead of only seeing basic metadata under a skincare product, like the meta description, for example, schemas give you more details, such as star rating, product price, and the number of reviews.
Using structured data to represent your page also taps into Google’s vast Knowledge Graph. This means the search engine can match search intent with the best relevant links from its index.
To understand how helpful knowledge graph integration is, take the query ‘Mark Zuckerberg.’
Aside from giving us his upfront bio as the ‘Chief Executive Officer of Facebook,’ Google also shows the most recent article featuring Mark’s name in the headlines. Besides that, we’re also presented with the ‘People also search for’ section, which features his wife, Priscilla Chan, and co-billionaires Bill Gates and Eduardo Saverin.
Lastly, structured data helps maximize voice search compatibility. As the Knowledge Graph expands, search engines’ voice search feature also improves. It can pull related entities or words from the knowledge graph to find the most viable answer.
Increased CTR and User Engagement
Research shows that pages with rich snippets get 58% more clicks than non-rich pages, which get 41%. This shows the edge of investing in schema markup to beef up your page’s structured data.
Increased click-through rates attract more organic traffic, enhancing the potential of helping your site become more visible to your target market online.
With the compact details provided by schemas, meeting users’ search expectations has become easier. It’s you indirectly helping them search and find answers faster.
Future of Schema Markup and SEO
It’s difficult to say if we’ll see further collaborations between search engines. At present, only Google is actively contributing to schema, which can be an advantage considering the company’s focus on expanding support and features of the markup types.
Seeing how machine learning and artificial intelligence shape search trends, we’re looking at enhanced online search experiences that intelligently display relevant content, including text-to-voice queries.
Schema markup is indispensable to your website’s structure. It helps create rich snippets that boost your page’s click-through rates over time.
While adding the markups looks daunting, automating it using a schema markup generator saves you the hassle. It’s also one of the best ways to future-proof your pages, ensuring it stands the test of SEO’s rapid changes.
As you start adding schemas to your pages, consider these three best practices:
- Understand the appropriate schema classification for your site.
- Use JSON-LD.
- Markup only what is on the page.
Applying schema markups on websites can take time, and that’s natural. Plan thoroughly. Identify what pages to markup and let the major engines like Google understand your site better.
With 11 years of experience in the marketing industry, Will Colbath is an expert in SEO content creation and campaign development. His extensive knowledge and skill have helped businesses achieve their goals with increased online traffic and search engine rankings. Outside of work, Will enjoys playing golf and participating in amateur tournaments throughout Southern California.