What Is Schema Markup: FAQ (Product, Google, WordPress, Review, SEO)

on SEO September 15th, 2020

There is no doubt that the internet has become the best place to reach consumers. After all, users turn to Google and similar search engines to track down new products and service providers in their area on a daily basis.

But, even though SEO and other marketing strategies usually take up most of the spotlight, as a search engine optimization company, we believe that adding schema markup vocabulary to your site is just as important.

While the architecture and content found in your website help Google determine your pages’ rankings, schema markup language can help your site communicate better with search engines. The main goal of adding schema on your site is to create a better experience for web users, but it can also help you get better results from your SEO efforts.

Although this element can give your website a significant boost in performance, not all companies are familiar with schema. In this article, we’ll go over the definition of schema, share the history of structured data in this context, and how to implement this vocabulary on your pages.

What is Schema Markup Vocabulary?

One of the reasons why schema markup is not as popular as other strategies is because the concept behind it may be hard to understand for some.

Schema vocabulary helps identify actions, entities, and relationships on webpages, emails, and other environments accessible through the internet.

In simple terms, schema markup is a type of structured data vocabulary (or coding language) that helps search engines understand different elements on your site. Through this coding language, companies can deliver more informative elements in the form of rich snippets that appear on SERPs.

You may have seen search results that feature ratings, direct links to specific parts of each page, and another type of rich snippet. This is because these websites have implemented review schema and other markups that allow Google to display more information along with the title.

Rich snippets deliver additional information to users who are carrying out a search, so results that have these elements stand out and are therefore more enticing.

A Brief History of Schema Markup Language

Schema.org, which is the official name for the group of professionals that focus on promoting structured data on the internet, was founded in 211 by Microsoft, Google, Pinterest, and other leading companies.

As we mentioned, the main goal of this organization is to promote structured data, which can help search engines understand websites better. Which, in turn, results in a better experience for both users as well as the companies that promote their services online.

It’s important to note that schema is not an official coding language, but rather a flexible vocabulary that can be applied in many different environments. These include microdata, JSON-LD, RDFa, and others, which have made this option a suitable alternative for more than 100 million websites on the internet.

Google is a mission to create a more structured internet so that websites can be easier to parse and that search results become even more accurate. You can help Google understand your site and, as a bonus, enhance your search results by using schema.org markup. WordPress, which may power more than 60% of the internet according to some estimates, also works extremely well with schema markups, making them a great one-two punch for getting better rankings.

The Relationship Between Structured Data, Schema Markup, and Google

Structured data is a mechanism that allows digital platforms to use predefined models to read, document, and display information. In other words, it allows websites and other platforms to pair symbols with specific values. This is the basic system that all platforms use and it’s a type of schema on its own.

Google uses crawlers, which are specialized pieces of code, to help read and index your website. This is common knowledge at this point. But, schema markups slightly change the way your web pages are indexed because it alters the way data is structured. Instead of telling your search engines what your site is about, it also transmits the actual meaning of your content.

For instance, you can run a search for “best car lots” and Google will produce a SERP for these words. However, with the right schema markup, Google understands that “best car lots” is a search usually performed to find a vehicle. This allows the search engine to produce more relevant results with rich snippets that contain more information, like a car lot’s review rating.

Types of Schema Markup

There are many different schemas that give companies a lot of flexibility in terms of the snippets that can be displayed. However, website managers need to understand how each piece of code affects the way snippets are displayed before implementing a specific markup. Google and other search engines gain a better understanding of your site when schema markups are implemented properly — but having the wrong piece of code can confuse these platforms.

Although there are hundreds of subcategories, the most commonly used types of schema.org markups include:

  • Action schema
  • Creative Work schema
  • Event  schema
  • Intangible schema
  • Medical Entity schema
  • Organization schema
  • Person schema
  • Place schema
  • Product schema
  • Check out the full list of subcategories here

By analyzing these markups, search engines will know what your site is about and display the appropriate snippets based on each user’s search. For instance, movie theaters can use a specific schema to display snippets that contain information about their showings or schedules in the search results.

How Does Schema Markup Language Affect Google Organic Results?

What is schema.org markup in SEO? Does schema affect your SEO rankings?

According to research carried out by the Search Engine Journal, there is no evidence suggesting a link between website rankings and the use of schema.org markup vocabulary. This is not to say that schema doesn’t help search engines — after all, this code helps Google and similar platforms understand the subject matter of your content. Markup language explains the relationship between the content on each page and the idea it represents, which helps Google deliver more accurate results.

Moreover, the effect of rich snippets goes beyond rankings because they also help improve your visibility. If you already rank on the first page of search results, having an informative snippet can help you attract user attention. And, some platforms have also seen increased click-through-rates when implementing markup vocabulary in their web pages.

In other words, even if it doesn’t help you rank better, implementing schema.org markup can actually improve the performance of each individual search result.

Implementing Schema Markup Vocabulary Into Your Site

According to Google’s official documentation, having structured data on your site can help the search platform understand your website. And, users will also see more relevant headlines, images, and overall data when conducting a search. However, this depends on how you add structured data to your site.

There are many different ways to implement schema markups to your site. One of the most popular ways is through Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper, which is a tool designed to simplify the process as much as possible. However, you still have to add the new HTML code manually, so the process can be daunting if you don’t have support from a knowledgeable expert.

Additionally, you can also opt to do the entire process manually, use different plugins, or implement a combination of all these techniques. There is no silver-bullet solution, so you need to create a tailored strategy for your business. In these cases, getting support from a search engine optimization company can make the process easier and allow you to focus on activities that increase revenue.

Generating Your Custom Schema Markup

As we mentioned in the section above, there are different tools that can help you create and implement structured data to the content in your pages. The actual placement of the markups vary depending if you’re using JSON-LD, microdata, or RDFa, but schema creation tools usually have a standard interface for all three.

Even if you use schema generators, it’s important to note that you still have to implement the code manually to your site. Website managers who want to tackle this process on their own need to be comfortable with coding, but we have to stress the importance of getting every step right. If not, the schema.org markups may end up doing more good than bad, so working with a professional is usually the best option.

There are three tools that you should employ when implementing schema. These are:

Schema Generators

There are many schema generators you can choose from, but you need to keep your website’s coding language in mind. Companies that don’t have that much technical knowledge can also stick to Google’s Markup Helper, which features an interactive interface. Once you enter the page you want to markup, the platform will present you with a workspace where you can click on each element and create the piece of code for it.

You can also opt for third-party tools that fulfill the same purpose, but you have to ensure you’re working with a reliable software provider. If you end up working with a shady platform, you may unintentionally add code that slows your website and compromises security on your site.

Testing Tools

One of the most challenging parts of adding structured data to your site without help is making sure you’re on the right track. Fortunately, there’s a huge variety of tools that can help you test and analyze your site to ensure you’re adding the markup code where it needs to be.

In addition to the Markup Helper, Google also provides a Structured Data Testing Tool. Users only have to plug the page URL or the line of code they want to test. The testing tool will run an analysis and show warnings or errors whenever there’s a problem.

If you want to use a third-party tool to double-check your website, SEMrush’s Site Audit Tool can be a good alternative. But, while the platform shows you the percentage of pages that have used schema, it’s only suitable for sites that use microdata.

Additional Resources

Companies and web managers can tap into a source selection of additional resources to help improve their schema implementation. This includes how-to guides, tutorials, and other tools that Google’s made available to all users at no cost. Additionally, the search giant was one of the founders of schema.org, so the company stays on top of the latest developments and informs users about these updates whenever they occur.

Schema.org is also a great place to learn about this type of semantic vocabulary. The platform features a releases page that lists any new details as well as the novel vocabulary entries that are added to their index.

Benefits of Schema Markup Implementation for Your Website

When websites use structured data, they help create a more organized web that results in a better user experience for everyone. Consumers rely on Google and similar platforms to give them relevant, high-quality information and websites that use schema help search engines read and understand their content in a more effective way.

Additionally, schema.org markups offer dynamic solutions that can be used by a variety of industries. Whether you run a food or car repair website, having the right markups in place will result in better headlines and more informative descriptions that may help improve conversions.

Schema.org markups also align nicely with SEO best practices because they can help highlight products, places, events, and other common business activities. And, instead of simply listing categories like “event” you’ll actually be able to set a place, give the event a name, and mention notable attendees.

Some of the additional benefits of implement schema include:

Better Categorization

Search engines need to understand the contents of the different pages on the internet to provide the best results every time there’s a query. If pages aren’t structured properly, it’s extremely difficult for crawlers to understand what the page is about. In these cases, the pages may not be displayed on all relevant searches. So, having schema markups throughout a website can give platforms like Google a better understanding of the content in the different pages it contains.

The main benefit of implementing schema.org structured data is enhanced communication with Google, which ensures that each one of your pages is categorized correctly. The different labels can help crawlers understand the word and the meaning behind them, so they will be able to understand the context of each query to provide the most accurate results.

In this sense, Google is aiming to forge a more semantic search environment. This means that instead of matching user queries with websites that contain the same terms, the platform wants to understand the context of each query and produce the best results the first time.

Increased Visibility

Schema markups can increase visibility in two different ways, albeit one of them is more succinct than the other.

Whenever users are searching for information on Google, they read each website’s title and description in order to find the most relevant result. Schema.org markup vocabulary allows Google and other platforms to build better titles and descriptions that align more with the users’ intent. This helps your content stand without actually altering the way the results are presented.

As we’ve covered before, markup vocabulary also allows Google to present snippets that can contain different pieces of information along with your results. These rich snippets can show users review ratings, text from a specific page, images, and other pieces of content pulled directly from your site.

Besides making content more eye-catching, snippets also provide additional information that helps users find the best results and shortens their research time.

Potentially Higher Rankings

Despite the fact that no correlation between schema.org markup and SEO rankings has been identified, it doesn’t mean that structured data doesn’t lead to better positions. For starters, schema helps Google determine how to categorize your website as well as each individual page, which will increase your chances of appearing on all relevant searches.

Not only this, but Google takes a variety of metrics into account when calculating your position, including user engagement levels and time spent on your page. If the users that visit your website are more engaged and spend more time interacting with the elements on your page, you’ll have better metrics and a higher possibility of landing in the top positions.

Rich snippets and more relevant descriptions in Google’s results pages can help attract users who are genuinely interested in your services. This can help improve engagement, reduce bounce rate, and have a positive impact on other key indicators that boost each individual page’s SEO.

Prepare Your Website for Future Changes

Voice search, AI assistants, and other technology trends will shape the future of digital marketing, but the good news is that structured data allows you to stay ahead of the curve. Internet users around the world are starting to use more semantic vocabulary to conduct searches.

Platforms like Google want sites to implement structured data because it works extremely well with the technologies that will change the entire online marketing industry. Websites that have implemented structured data will have “future-proofed” their content because Google will still have the ability to track down this information even if the queries come in different forms.

With this in mind, remember that structured data is implemented at the page level, so you’ll need to carve out time and manually add it onto each page. And, you’ll also need to make adjustments whenever you update or change the content on sites that already have markups.

Why Should Companies Prepare for a Shift to Semantic Search?

We’ve mentioned the fact that Google is adapting to semantic searches, but what does this mean exactly?

Semantics is a branch of language that focuses on studying the meanings behind words. If we apply this definition to “semantic searches,” it means that users are looking for an idea, rather than just a keyword. This means that each page should be adjusted to approach a specific topic in a more holistic way, rather than simply mentioning a specific keyword.

For example, when users look for “flooring installation,” the results that have taken semantics into account will discuss the different options (DIY, professional repairs, etc.) rather than focusing on one aspect of the keyword. This creates a better experience for users because they can get more answers from one single query and are not forced to look for additional information elsewhere.

Structured data is particularly effective with long-form articles because Google gets more context. Crawlers can understand the concepts on the page and how they relate to each other, giving them more semantic knowledge about the elements on a page. Because of this, websites that want to stay competitive and focus on user experience need to implement schema and prepare for a larger emphasis on semantics.

Tips to Implement Schema Successfully

Our goal with this article was to create an informational piece that helps users understand the concept behind schema markup. We purposefully avoided the technical side of things — but this doesn’t mean that you can’t get actionable information.

As with other business activities, staying organized will help save you time and hassle later on. It’s always a good idea to create a list of all the pages on your site and of the schemas you’re going to use. After implementing schema, you can check off individual pages on the list and keep track of how many you still need to markup.

If you’re not sure how to start or lack the resources to implement the coding yourself, partnering with a knowledgeable marketing agency can simplify the process and help verify that the new code has been implemented successfully.

Websites that want to implement schema successfully should also:

Identify the Most Popular Schemas

There are hundreds of different markups to choose from and an almost infinite variety of combinations. Even if they’re implemented properly, choosing schemas that don’t perform well will not have a significant effect on the results you get and it can end up discouraging you from adding markups to the rest of your pages.

Before you decide which schemas you’ll implement, take the time to identify the most popular ones. This will help ensure that the markups you use will have a higher chance of providing the results you want. And, it’ll probably save you a significant amount of time in terms of initial optimization.

Start by reviewing the list of all the markups found in schema.org and conduct some research using Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool to find the most popular schema types that competitors are using. If no competitors in your area have implemented markups, you can check out neighboring cities and be the first to use schemas in your area.

Determine Which Types Have the Most Value to You

Now that you’ve created a list of the most popular schemas competitors are using, you can determine which types have the most value to you.

Companies should take a look at the products and services in order to determine which schemas are relevant. If a business sells books or movies, the creative works schemas can come in handy. Organizations that sell physical goods, on the other hand, can implement product schemas that help them showcase their solutions right on the results page.

Under the right conditions, you can use more than one schema on a page to increase visibility even more. Companies that have good reviews, allow booking online, or offer any other feature may be able to capitalize on these. So, after choosing your main schemas, take the time to check out the rest of the list you created and see which ones can help increase audience engagement.

Implement Schemas to as Much Content as Possible

Markups are added to each individual piece of content on every page. As a general rule of thumb, the more content and pages you structure, the better understanding Google will have of your website and the easier it will be to place your platform in the right category.

Furthermore, implementing as many markups as possible will also create more attractive descriptions on results pages. Plus, having reviews, informational panels, and other markups at the same time can increase the credibility of your content.

Companies and web managers that implement schemas have to design a plan to gradually cover all of their pages. However, prioritizing the pages that have the most impact is always a good idea as these can draw more traffic and start producing results quickly.

Start Adding Schema Markup for SEO Today

Adding schemas to a website will improve the way it communicates with crawlers, which can help Google place the platform in the right categories. But, it’s crucial to understand how markups work, where they need to be placed, and how they affect search results in order to make the best choices for your website.

Identifying and implementing the right markups can be challenging, especially if you don’t have much experience with your site’s backend. The goods news is that our team of SEO experts can implement the best schemas for your company while you focus on delighting customers.

To learn more about schemas or our SEO services, contact us today and we’ll be glad to help.