For the technical SEOs amongst you, schema may already be a well-worn part of your day-to-day vernacular, but for many, it may be a part improving your Google rankings that you may not be aware of. If the latter is the case, we aim to cover the basics in this article, demystifying schema by covering what it is,what different types of schema exist, and how to use schema to bolster your SEO.
What is schema markup?
Schema markup, which is also referred to as structured data, is code that helps search engines understand what’s on the page; think of it as a vocabulary that’s easily understood by the likes of Google. The main result of having recognisable schema on your web page is that Google can use it to serve ‘rich’ results and rich snippets on its SERPs, which is good news for page clicks, as they include additional descriptions alongside the result.
By structuring data in a code format, there can be no misunderstandings for Google’s crawl to stumble upon, making a route to rich results an easy one.
How does schema markup work?
By adding schema to a web page, you’re telling Google exactly what information that web pages contain in a way that it can easily show its users in the SERPs. Don’t worry, the schema is added to the ‘back end’ of the website with the rest of the HTML, so the content still displays as you’d expect to a user. The code is cleverly hidden that way!
For example, a page without schema will simply display the meta title, meta description, and the URL - this is how most search results display on SERPs. However, schema within your HTML could give Google enhanced context about that page depending on the type of website you run (more on that shortly), giving the users more information and making it more likely to generate a click.
Why should I use structured data?
Whilst schema isn’t a ranking factor, it can help your prominence on a results page through rich results, making a click more likely. So whilst it doesn’t directly affect your SEO, it’s well worth doing if there's a schema that directly benefits your industry, as catching the eye of your user could set you apart from your competition. Using schema is also apart of SEO best practices, which Google likes to see.
What are the different types of schema markup data?
Local business schema
When you have a physical premises or operate in your local area, you’ll want people to be able to locate you and see instantly what you do. Schema helps you do this, allowing you to tell Google things like what kind of business you run, what your business hours are, and what your business address is. From dental surgeries to restaurants, it’s worth optimising your website with local business schema.
FAQs are a fairly structured part of your website anyway, so including this in the website’s HTML will extrapolate that onto Google results too. You’re telling Google that the data is in a question and answer format, and it knows how to show that to its users. It’s super helpful for voice searches too, which tend to present as questions. GIven the increasing amount of search queries which include 'how' or 'why' phrases, FAQ schema can increase your chances of a rich snippet result.
When you Google a well known organisation, you’ll generally see some information at the right hand side of the screen that includes their logo, a bit about them,and links to their website and social media profiles. This is known as organisation schema, and is particularly useful for businesses without a physical premises, which differentiates this schema from local business schema. This is not to be confused with the Google Business Profile data which can also appear on the right hand side of desktop screens.
As you may be able to guess, person schema focuses on individuals. This isn’t limited to celebrities, politicians and other public figures; it can be used for people in significant roles in your business, so that those searching for them will be shown the information they need. Person schema is of great help within the legal sector for professions such as lawyers, barristers and solicitors.
Job posting schema includes properties such as salary, location and date posted to help those looking for candidates get applications through Google searches. It makes a job search so much easier for those seeking employment too, so don't neglect this form of schema ig you have a careers section to your website.
For those that sell both physical and digital products, product schema uses information such as reviews, ratings and, all importantly, price, to create rich results for shoppers.
Regardless of what the event is online or offline, event schema can add information such as the location of the event, who has organised it, and when it starts and ends.
Article schema applies to blog posts and news articles, giving Google key data such as the headline, publish date, and author name. With plenty of voices out there, article schema is a way to be heard on SERPs.
What’s the difference between JSON and Microdata schema?
Schema.org is a vocabulary that can be used for both, but you’ll find that JSON is favoured in general - it’s readable to both humans and machines. In fact,Google itself has recommended JSON as the go-to for schema.
Can schema improve my SEO?
Whilst schema alone isn’t enough to support your rankings, it can help make prioritising them an easy thing for Google to do, as it can quickly and easily understand what the web page is about. By earning rich results and rich snippets, you’ll stand out from the crowd on the SERPs, upping your click-through rates and providing value to your audience.
How does schema help with rich snippet results?
Schema provides context to your web pages, allowing Google to select the data it needs to present them into an easy-to-see format on the results pages. Rich snippets jump out at users, improving your chances of winning a click from a competitor.
How to test your own website for schema?
A good place to start when you’re first looking into schema is to see what your website is already telling Google so that you can improve it. It’s time to get testing!
Thankfully, testing your website for schema has been made easy by Google’s official tools. A rich results test can be used for anyone looking for structured data on a website, whilst their schema markup data validator is for structured data that’s embedded into website pages, such as JSON.
Need help with your schema?
We get it - schema is a lot to get your head around, and getting started may feel a bit beyond your reach. At 427 Marketing ,it’s not just the on-page SEO that we get stuck into for our clients; our technical team can tackle elements like schema to effectively aim not only for fantastic search rankings, but ones that appeal to your target users too. Get in touch to talk about schema - or anything else SEO!