A Quick Start Guide to Schema – Your Competitive Edge

Did you know that that more than one-third of Google’s search results include a rich snippet with information derived from Schema.org? Despite the high percentage of rich snippets found in Google search results, Searchmetrics found that only 0.3 percent of all websites are using this microdata. On top of that, pages using these tags have better organic rankings in Google.

How Does Schema Improve Your Search Rankings?

Matt Cutts was somewhat ambiguous about Schema’s impact on rankings in this October 12, 2012 video:

Google’s official position is they don’t “use markup for ranking purposes at this time.” Still, rich snippets can make your Web pages appear more prominently in SERPs, leading to an increase in traffic. With the evolution of the semantic Web, schema would seem to be a natural addition to the search algorithm in the future, as it is designed to connect things (not strings).

What Exactly Is Schema Markup?

Schema, found at Schema.org, is a collection of different HTML tags that can be added to a Web page. These tags create an enhanced description that appears in search results (commonly known as rich snippets). Schema.org is the result of collaboration among top tier search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Yandex dating back to 2011.

Schema Is Commonly Used to Create Rich Snippets for:

  • Organizations: Organization information (for example, details about a business such as a restaurant or attraction) that is marked up in the body of a Web page can help Google understand location information in reviews or events.
  • Events: Information such as an event’s title, date, and venue can help users decide which pages to click on in search results.

    tacoma

  • MusicWhen you mark up song information in the body of a Web page, Google can identify it and, when users search for albums or songs, they may use this information to display links to those songs or samples in your search result snippet.

    lady-gaga-schema 

  • People: Marking up contact and social networking information in the body of a Web page helps Google better recognize and display your information in search results.

    pravir-gupta 

  • ProductsIf you’re a merchant, you can give Google detailed product information used to display rich snippets (for example, price, availability, and review ratings) right on the search results pages.

    macbook-schema

  • RecipesWhen recipe information is marked up in Web pages, Google may use that information to show rich snippets for recipe results and for inclusion in Google with Recipe View.

    salad-schema 

  • Review RatingsUsed for marking up your product or service with review information and ratings.

    definitive-xml 

  • Videos: Google recommends using schema.org to mark up your videos but also recognizes Facebook Share markup.

Benefits From Using Schema

  • Rich snippet can be helpful to users and make a search result stand out.
  • It makes it easier for search engines to understand the page.
  • It can improve click-through rates.

Adding Schema to Your Web Pages

To add schema, you simply create tags according to the schema.org category for the data you’re tagging. For example, to create a schema tag for a person, you have to set the itemtype to http://schema.org/Person. A full list of items you can mark up with Schema can be found here.

Creating Tags

Creating your schema tags is actually fairly simple. You don’t need to constantly go back and forth between your HTML code and Google’s schema documents because Google has created a Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

structured-data-schema

After you select a category and enter a Web page address, the tool opens a preview of the site along with a bar on the side that lists all of the available tags. All you have to do is highlight a section of text on the page preview and right click to see a list of available tags. Click the tag you want and it will fill in the information on the sidebar. Once you’re ready to get the code, click the Create HTML button. It’s very simple – just add the generated code to the page. Third-party tools like Schema Creator have also simplified the process of creating schema.

Once in place, you may test your markup by using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

structures-data-testing

Adding New Schema Types

While there are many different types and subtypes listed on schema.org, the site doesn’t have everything. What if you have an item that isn’t listed? You can actually create a schema extension by adding another slash onto the end of an existing type and entering your new subtype. For example, if you want to designate someone as an archivist, you could make that a subtype of librarian. The tag would read Person/Librarian/Archivist. In this case, both Librarian and Archivist are actually extensions. Google and its partners have added extensive documentation to schema.org outlining how to create these extensions.

Schema and Other Types

Many Web developers were unhappy when schema was first announced because it appeared that some information types that were used by other markup formats wouldn’t be compatible. That meant they were going to have to add yet another type of tag to their Web pages. However, Google responded to this concern and made schema compatible with a number of different structured markups like RDFa or JSON-LD.

The Takeaway

do-tomorrow

You don’t need to add schema to your Web pages. That said, do you really want to risk falling behind, should Google incorporate schema into the ranking algorithm? Even without a SERP boost, rich snippets do make your search results stand out, offering improved CTR and traffic.

Related reading

thinkstockphotos-507274998
content
t-google-desktop-search-ui-test-1474026678
Business searching data infographic flat design vector illustration
Simple Share Buttons