Can you guess the universal language that websites use to interact with search engines?
No? The answer should be obvious.
It’s Schema.org Markup!
Schema.org is a markup vocabulary for structured data developed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex. It’s one of the latest evolutions in the world of SEO. It takes the form of code that you can add to your website to define what different elements, including dates and images, all mean.
Essentially, it’s structured data, and without structured data your website is all information, no context. Adding structured data is what gives it context, because it’s data with a very high level of organization.
When you store information about your website in a highly predictable and structured way, search engines can display it more easily and in a more detailed manner. Basically, because search engines can more easily glean what your page is all about and what different elements it contains, they can rate and rank you higher.
So if you get a handle on how to use the superb language of Schema.org, you might just get a leg-up on the competition.
To implement structured data, you need a vocabulary, Schema.org houses a collection of tags along with their properties for marking up the local business listings, products, reviews etc on your website in full detail.
Not everything is necessarily relevant to your website. Before implementing Schema.org on your website, you must first ascertain which elements of your website you need to markup. Do you own a restaurant? Do you sell products in an online store? Do you offer local businesses a service? Whatever your website is designed for, you need to carefully consider what you want to do with the available possibilities.
Once you understand the vocabulary, your applied structured data can be used by search engines to ‘read’ the contents of your web page. You might find you achieve a better display in search results in the form of rich snippets or rich cards.
Structured data in the form of Schema.org is very important for SEO because of its ability to increase the search engine rankings of your website. If your website listing has a rich snippet and your page actually does what your listing promises, then you are obviously a valid result for the customers. This will lead to a lower bounce rate.
Structured data forms the basis for a lot of development in the SEO world, and comes with its own set of jargon. Here are some of the key terms you need to know:
- Rich Snippets. Rich Snippets are the extra pieces of information provided by search engines in addition to the regular text in the meta description. They might contain product information like prices, reviews, breadcrumbs, site search, etc. See below.
- Rich Cards. Rich Cards are a new type of rich search results that only appear on mobile devices for certain types of items including recipes, movies, local restaurants and courses. They are presented in a swipeable, touch-friendly way.
- Knowledge Graph. Knowledge Graphs are a key section of information on the right side of Google SERPs. They contain important information about a particular topic: if you are a big recognized brand then you might see your name, logo, and social media profiles on a Knowledge Graph.
- Featured Snippets. Featured snippets are also a kind of rich search result but they don’t mine their content from structured data. They answer a search question in the search results using regular content from the related web page.
When you explore Schema.org, you will quickly realize that there are many chances to markup multiple things.
As I mentioned before, not everything is relevant to your website. Before implementing it, you need to know what to markup.
Try to divide your major schema into two groups: Creative Works and Commerce.
The most popular items to markup in Creative Works are as follows:
- Creative Works. This is the most generic group of creative works and relates to items that have been produced by someone or something. You’ll also find properties for sculptures, games and conversations. When you explore Schema.org, you’ll find that some of these properties are less valuable because they don’t have a rich presentation attached to them.
- Articles. An article can be a new piece of text or an investigative report. You can make a distinction between a tech article, news article, blog post, or any other kind of article.
- Books. A book can be in a paper form or in digital form as an eBook. You can mark it up in great detail, from its awards to its author.
- Music. Music also receives the structured data treatment. You can include specific properties like MusicEvent, MusicAlbum, MusicGroup, and MusicRecording to generate a ‘rich’ result.
- Recipes. If you add recipe data for your recipes on a cooking site, you can have your recipes featured directly in search engine results.
- TV & Movies. Movies and TV shows have their own pieces of structured data, along with reviews, ratings, and even the chance to order tickets for the show directly.
The most important items to markup in Commerce, are as follows:
- Events. Marking up your event listings might lead search engines to show your events in the search results directly. This is fanastic if you own a club, a venue or a business that regularly runs events.
- Businesses and organizations. If you’re a site owner, you’ll find the business and organization section of Schema.org very beneficial. If you list yours well, you might get a nice Knowledge Graph or another type of rich listing.
- Products. You can provide your product info to search engines with extra data to accumulate rich snippets. You can also enhance exclusive properties of your products with added information, like pricing, reviews, availability, etc. If you have products, then you should definitely add such properties in your structured data strategy.
- Reviews. Reviews and ratings play a pivotal role in the search process. Service providers, business owners and online stores, can all benefit from showing how trustworthy their offerings are.
If you own a local business then your hierarchy schema would be:
How to implement structured data
Using JSON-LD is the most preferred method for adding Schema.org to your website, however, just be aware that the search engine Bing does not yet support it. We can only hope that Microsoft will soon change this.
Below is a sample product listing of a grammar checker plugin. It’s just a small and basic listing of a product including its name, image, description, brand and price.
The old way of adding structured data to your page was by embedding them directly into HTML which makes the process quite inefficient and error-prone. This is partly why people have been slow to jump onto the Schema.org bandwagon. However, writing and maintaining them through RDFa and Microdata is much more complex than JSON-LD.
Below is an example for marking up a movie. Even visually, it looks too complex and hard to read.
Manually adding code is scary and overly complicated.
To switch over to Schema.org, and to make getting the hang of it easier, use the tools listed below:
- JSON-LD Schema Generator by Hall Analysis
- Google Data Highlighter
- Google Structured Data Markup Helper
There is no reason to run from structured data, and every reason to embrace it. If your site means anything to you, then you should figure out the best way to incorporate Schema.org. When implemented right, you can achieve great things for your business.
At the end of the day, search engines are constantly presenting search results in new ways and structured data is the best possible method of speaking their language.
Guest Author: Rajiv Partap Singh is a Digital Marketer at WebSpero Solutions. His passion is blog writing and he has been writing for the last six years on various niche activities and industries. He is a Google Adwords Certified Member who loves to connect with new people in new places.