What is Schema Markup & Why Should You Care About It?

Schema markup has the potential to change your SEO game and boost search engine rankings. But that's only possible once you implement structured data across your website correctly. Here's all that you need to know about schema markup and how you can apply it to your site.

Traffic sources schema markup

One of the biggest game-changers in the world of SEO is called schema markup. It’s one of the most powerful yet under-utilized forms of SEO available today. That’s because not many people know about it. Or, they’re too overwhelmed by the whole idea of it.

However, once you understand the concept and method of schema markup, you can improve your website in the search engine result pages (SERPs). In this article, we’ll explain what schema markup is and why it is so important for SEO. Plus, we’ll share tips and steps on how to get started using schema markup for your website.

Let’s get rolling.

schema markup in SERPs

(Source: StriversEdge)

 

What’s Schema Markup?

Schema markup is a piece of code that you put on your website to help the search engines retrieve more helpful results for the audience. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about.

Let’s take a look at an example. Here’s a hotel business that has schema markup on its event schedule page. Their SERP entry looks like this:

Rich snippet for a page with multiple events

(Source: Google)

So, how does the search engine put their event calendar in the snippet? That’s where the schema markup enters into the scene. It tells the search engine to display a schedule of upcoming hotel events. Now, for a user, this is extremely useful.

 

Why Do You Need Schema Markup?

The search engines index the content on your website and return it in search results. However, with schema markup, some of that content gets indexed and returned in a different way. How? Because the schema markup tells the search engine what that content means.

Let’s take a look at these two snippets in Google:

rich snippets showing schema difference

 

Ignoring the position of the snippets, which one do you think will get the most clicks? The second one, right? That’s because it stands out from regular snippets. Plus, you can see review data as well which builds trust.

Websites that use schema markup enjoy better rankings in the SERPs than those without markup. In fact, websites with schema markup rank an average of four positions higher in the SERPs than those without markup. 

At present, nearly a third of Google’s search results include rich snippets, which incorporate schema markup. Yet, less than one-third of websites use schema markup.

In other words, there are heaps of websites missing out on a massive source of SEO potential. If you use schema markup, you’ll inevitably have an edge on the majority of your competition.

 

Types of Schema Markup

Schema markup helps your website rank better for all kinds of content types, including:

  • Articles/NewsArticle/BlogPosting - Describes articles and blog posts.
  • Local Business - Describes a physical business, including opening hours, location, and contact info.
  • Job Posting - Describes a job posting, including its salary and employment type.
  • Recipe - Describes a recipe, including ingredients and pictures.
  • Review - Describes a review of either a particular item or a collection of items, or a critic’s review.
  • Organization - Describes an organization, including website address, social media profiles, and contact info.
  • Events - Describes an event, including its location and timings.
  • Product - Describes a product, including the brand, price, reviews, and offers.
  • Person – Describes a person but can also be used to describe a person’s role within an organization.

There are hundreds of markup types. If you have any type of data on your website, there’s a good chance that it’s going to have an associated itemscope and itemtype.

For example, here’s an enhanced snippet of Apple (Organization schema type).

apple organization type schema

 

How To Implement Schema Markup 

Now that you know the benefits of schema markup, we’re sure you want to implement it on your site right away. 

Schema has to be included directly in your web page’s source code. You can implement it using any of these three formats:

  • JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD)
  • Microdata
  • Resource Description Framework in Attributes (RDFa)

However, JSON-LD is the recommended format for implementing schema markup. It’s a method to encode Linked Data using JSON (which is a file format standard with similarities to XML). It’s less susceptible to errors than Microdata and RDFa. 

So, how do you implement Schema JSON-LD markup? There are four common ways:

 

1. Add It Manually 

While adding the JSON-LD Schema markup manually works fine, it really doesn’t scale. This means if you only have 10 or 12 pages, and you don’t mind manually adding and maintaining it, then this method is fine. 

You can use Google’s Data Highlighter to make it easier for you. With Data Highlighter, you simply "tag" each data. Then Google can present your data more attractively, and in new ways, in search results.

 

2. Use Your Content Management System (CMS)

If you have a large website and you wish to add schema markup to every page, it’s best to have that functionality built-in your CMS, with your present fields reused for Schema purposes. 

This functionality can be custom-made. However, if you have an Open Source CMS, there are often plugins available. For instance, WordPress has the following schema markup plugins:

 

3. Use Tag Managers 

Many SEO experts also implement schema markup via Tag Managers as it doesn’t need going through development to implement it. But, we don’t recommend this method because it relies on JavaScript to be executed. And, Google has inadequate resources available for this method. 

As a result, it might take a lot longer for your schema implementation to be picked up and shown by search engines. After you make alterations, it will again take more time than implementing it directly in HTML. 

Moreover, several search engines like Yahoo, Yandex, and Baidu don’t execute JavaScript at all. Bing is apparently starting to execute JavaScript, however, they are still far behind Google in terms of scale and capabilities.

 

4. Use SchemaBoost

Another quick and easy way to implement schema markup in your website is to use SchemaBoost. It allows you to build SEO rich snippets for your website 100 times faster, without any coding at all.

All you have to do is just add a 2kb script from SchemaBoost CDN to your website. The tool will crawl your pages weekly, updating each schema according to content variations. The script only adds schema markup to your pages when serving search engines. It doesn’t affect user performance at all.

The best part about SchemaBoost is that it’s platform-independent. This means you can use it on any website, any CMS, or any other platform. You can link a schema to similar pages using a visual tree, which makes it much easier than maintaining your links manually or on a spreadsheet.

By default, this tool provides all schema.org types. It has integrated validation of each type. Plus, it supports changing values like date time, measure units, etc. to the ISO format for compatibility with the search engines.

schemaboost

 

How To Test Schema Markup Implementation

No matter what method you choose, it’s important to test your Schema.org implementation. Here’s how you can do it:

 

1. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool

After adding markup to your pages, ensure it is present by using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.  It is the fastest and easiest to read. When you input your URL and click “Run Test”, it will show all of your schema markup in an easy-to-read format in the field on the right side of the screen. 

Moreover, you can click on any one of the detected entities and see the corresponding JSON-LD in the field on the left side of the screen. It will also show any errors and warnings in your markup so that you can make adjustments if needed. 

For example, here’s the test result for Apple’s website:

google structured data testing tool

 

2. Google Search Console’s Structured Data Report

Google also offers a schema markup report to give you a complete overview of your website’s schema markup. If your website is set up with Search Console, you can see the exact number of structured data items on your entire site, not just one specific URL. This allows you to tackle errors systematically instead of one-by-one.

To use the Structured Data Report, log into your website’s Google Search Console, click “Search Appearance” and then “Structured Data” to see your report.

Google Search Console’s Structured Data Report

(Source: Uproer)

3.  SchemaBoost Live Viewer 

Live Viewer is one of the most exciting features in SchemaBoost. It shows you the exact schema that’s being built in real-time. You can add or remove a field or even a character and it’ll be reflected on the Live Viewer window. Additionally, you can see the schema errors and warnings on the top.

Whether you enter the value manually or via site highlighter, it will be updated immediately and schema errors/warnings will be updated accordingly. You can add Text/String for any field to override the default Schema.org structure because often search engines do not strictly follow Schema.org for some structures. 

So if you decide to put Text instead of URL value then this tool won’t validate that field as a URL and no error will be reported (unless the field is required and is completely empty).

live viewer

 

Wrap Up

Undoubtedly, schema markup has the potential to change your SEO game. When done right, it can significantly boost your search engine rankings. However, when implementing schema markup on your site, keep in mind Google’s guidelines to become eligible for enhanced snippets, and to avoid a possible Google penalty.

If you want to see SchemaBoost in action, contact us on success@schemaboost.com to request a free demo.