What is Schema Markup?

September 14, 2020
illustration of a computer showing structured schema markup code on the screen

If you’ve been working with a digital marketing agency, or have been researching how search engine optimization works, you might have heard the terms schema markup, JSON-LD, structured data, rich snippets or microdata, being tossed around.  But what exactly are they and what does it mean for your website and your online visibility?

Schema markup is a structured code that is added to websites to provide search engines with clearly defined information about the content on a site. Schema is recognized by some of the most used search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to help interpret the context of a page of a website. According to schema.org, “On-page markup helps search engines understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results.” The other terms, such as microdata or JSON-LD, are simply different ways of implementing schema markup.

The use of schema markup as an SEO tactic has become increasingly more important as the search engine algorithms continue to evolve and strive to understand the “content” of your website and how it will meet the needs of your visitors. Basically, the more context the search engines have about the meaning of your website content, the greater the opportunity it will have to be visible in the competitive organic search landscape for relative search inquiries. Looking at the actual markup may be intimidating or even difficult at first, as different types of schema will be required to describe various content types across websites. If you’re new to this, it makes sense to talk to an expert as this is advanced stuff.

How does schema benefit you?

Search engines have the goal of providing the best and most beneficial results to their users. These results answer the user’s questions and engage them right on the search results page (SERP). A couple ways Google tries to do that is by using structured data to provide “Featured Snippets” and “Rich Results.”

What are featured snippets?

According to Google,  “Featured snippets are selected search results that are featured on top of Google’s organic results below the ads in a box. xb aim at answering the user’s question right away (hence their other well-known name, “answer boxes”). Being featured means getting additional brand exposure in search results.”

What are rich results?

Google defines Rich results as “experiences on Google surfaces, such as Search, that go beyond the standard blue link. Rich results can include carousels, images, or other non-textual elements.”

Another added benefit of using schema markup, as we give the engines more information it makes it easier for them to index and rank your site. Think of it as “spoon-feeding”.

Let’s take a look at some different types of “Featured Snippets” and  “Rich Results” generated by the schema. Keep in mind this is only a partial list.

  • Instant AnswerInstant Answer Rich Result for SEO

  • Recipe Card

    Rich Result - Recipe Card - SEO - Schema

  • People Also Ask (PAA)

    Schema helps create PAA results

  • Video Carousel

    Rich Results Video Carousel

How does schema assist search engines in crawling and indexing website content?

Instead of a search engine just reading the code of a site, schema assists in their ability to read and understand the relationships between the different content on a webpage. Schema tells search engines specific information; what the content on a website means, information on the corporation or organization, who the author of a specific piece of content is, or that the website is owned by a local business and that the local business is physically located at a specific geographic location. Additionally, it can provide your operating hours and information about events you may be hosting.

Schema can also tell a search engine that your business sells a particular product, how much it costs, and that it has received 12 five-star reviews from real people. A better understanding of the context or concepts of content allows search engines to better match the intent behind a searcher’s query to the information on a website.

There are almost always opportunities for your website to be more informative about the content it provides through the use of structured data.Including schema code on a website can increase your chances of showing up in a rich snippet result but doesn’t guarantee it. However, it’s an important part of any comprehensive SEO strategy.

By giving search engines as much information about your website as possible, you increase your chances of ranking well which leads to more conversions. If you have any questions about schema, and how SEO strategy can help your company, we’re always here!

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