Schema markup is essentially a method of defining the content on your website. You’re telling search engines like Google more about what each webpage is about and how Google can better serve users with your content.
You may not exactly see an increase in your traffic from the search results, but you are likely to see an improvement in how long people stay on your website. This is because schema markup helps to connect users with content that is relevant to them.
Schema markup has been around since 2011 and it was developed by some of the biggest names in search results – Google, Yahoo, Bing (Microsoft), Yandex and Pinterest. The information you need to apply schema markup to your website can all be found and used for free at schema.org.
Schema markup is called microdata – it’s a set of definitions or enhanced descriptions that you use within the HTML code on your website to give more information about the content. This is known as a rich snippet. The idea is that you have the power to provide details about information that could be seen as ambiguous.
Most website content uses standard HTML codes that tell the likes of Google what is important on a page.
For example, the H1 heading is seen as the most important piece of content because it tells the reader and the search engine what the page is about. The browser displays the content between the tags <h1></h1> as the main heading for the reader to take note of. The search engines use that tag to rank the page for the keyword in the search engine results pages.
However, there is no extra information to help the search engines with relevancy to the keyword and context of the keyword.
Say your website is for a bakery and you have a page about bear claws. Your keyword phrase would be “bear claws” and your H1 could look like this: <h1>Bear Claws</h1>. Without any extra context, Google could display this page to someone looking for information on the claws found on a bear or even Bear Grylls, the British adventurer.
This is where schema markup and its microdata come in.
You add in the context and help to refine who your website reaches on the search engine results pages.
The notion of relevancy has become incredibly important for search engine optimisation (SEO).
Google’s major update to its algorithm in 2020 and 2021 was all about user experience and what they call their Core Web Vitals. Part of the page experience is how relevant the content is to what people are searching for.
By being able to add in the context of any potentially ambiguous content on your website, you can go a long way towards ensuring that your website is relevant to search terms used.
When you implement schema markup, you’ll see that your website gets much more visibility on the search engines for your keywords. This then leads to a higher click through rate.
The surprising thing is that so few people include rich snippets on their websites. This means that you can get a significant leg up on your competition while they’re still asking “what is schema?”
It takes a bit of work to include the information, but you don’t need to learn an entirely new coding language to do it.
The great thing about schema markup is that it’s been developed by the major search engines in an effort to help website developers. They want people to use the microdata and have made it as easy as possible to implement.
The Google tool – Structured Data Markup Helper – is probably the most commonly used of all of them.
You start by picking the best type for your webpage (remember, this is done per page and not for the website overall) and then adding in the URL or the HTML code onto the tool.
Now you’ll see the webpage on the left of your screen and data tags on the right. The tool can then guide you through the markups you should be including. It’s a simple case of highlighting the part of the webpage that you want to tag and including the relevant markup as suggested by the tool.
Once you’ve gone through the list and added in as much as you can or as makes sense for that particular page, you can tell the tool to create the HTML code for the page. The tool will highlight the microdata sections of the code, and you can copy and paste these into your CMS or source code for your website.
Just make sure you preview what the page looks like before you completely overwrite your original code.
You can also see what your webpage will look like in the search engine results with your new microdata added. The tool has a preview function that will give you a great insight into how your page is seen by the search engines.
Shema markups are divided into types and they are organised into a hierarchy to help you structure the information on each web page. This is also very helpful if you are new to microdata as you can use the types to break down your content and work out what is the best information to include.
The most popular types include:
Non-text objects (videos, images, etc.)
For example, on a blog post, you would use “article” to tell Google that this page is an article and you could also use “person” and “organisation” to show who wrote the article if that is important.
“Organisation” and “place” are both incredibly important for helping your ranking for location-based searches. “Action” helps to highlight your call to action on the page – making it clear if you want people to sign up for your newsletter or buy your product.
In the end, the answer to what is schema is simple. It’s a valuable SEO tool that helps search engines understand your content better to provide more targeted, accurate search results.