Your Schema Markup Crash Course

  • There are lots of things you can do to stand out in the SERPs, including using schema markup. 
  • Schema markup is structured data vocabulary placed as HTML code on your site that actually tells a search engine what content means. 
  • There are different types of schema to refer to different kinds of people, places, and things. 
  • By utilizing schema markup, you can serve SERP listings with rich results.
  • Rich results include shopping results, star ratings and reviews, and image results.

If you think success in SEO is just about getting those highly valuable, first-page rankings in Google, you’d be wrong. To get the absolute most out of your first-page rankings, you need to capture the searchers’ attention; otherwise, they won’t click through to your site. And a #1 ranking means very little if nobody is actually visiting your site. As we’ve covered on our blog before, there are a lot of things you need to do to ensure you’re standing out in the SERPs

Certainly, well-written page titles and meta descriptions are a must if you hope to be perceived as authoritative and relevant to the person searching, but that’s not all. By utilizing schema markup, you can serve SERP listings with rich results. Rich results are intended to make search engine results pages as user-friendly, relevant, and informative as possible. Examples of rich results include shopping results, star ratings and reviews, and image results, just to name just a few.

What is schema markup?

You’re probably thinking to yourself that if rich results are so great, why doesn’t everyone have them? The answer is that, in order for your listing to serve as a rich result, search engines need to understand the context of your site’s information. Schema markup is intended to be the way to provide that context of your site’s content directly to search engine crawlers. 

Schema markup is a structured data vocabulary placed as HTML code on your website that actually tells the search engine what the content means. For example, if your site publishes a blog, it probably names that blog’s author, right? When we look at the page, we understand (or assume) that the name under the blog title is the name of the person who wrote it. Search engines, unlike us, don’t always understand this context because they’re just looking at the code of the site (they don’t have eyes, after all). To provide this context, you can place code around that author’s name that identifies them as the author. 

Example of JSON-LD author code

There are different types of schema to refer to different kinds of people, places, and things on the web. You can find a list of all of the different schema markup types here. In addition to all of the different types of schema available, there are also different schema languages: RDFa (Resource Descriptive Framework in Attributes), microdata, and JSON-LD (Javascript Object Notation for Linked Objects).

Because it can be placed in the head tag, JSON-LD (shown in the screenshot above) is considered the easiest way to implement schema. It’s also the language recommended by Google. 

Why is schema markup important?

Primarily, schema markup is important because it enables you to serve rich results. Because rich results provide more information and are more useful and noticeable to searchers, they allow you to drive a higher click-through rate and stand out compared from your competitors. 

Secondarily, schema markup provides context to search engines about the content on your site which makes crawls more efficient. When search engines can better “understand” the information they’re crawling and indexing, they can surface that information more accurately. According to SEMRush: “The whole point of structuring your data is to communicate better with search engines like Google. When Google understands entities on a deeper level, it serves better results to searchers.”

Despite this, it’s still not accurate to say that schema helps sites rank better. In other words, having schema doesn’t increase a site’s overall rankings. It’s important to note that no conclusive test has demonstrated that the presence of schema markup alone contributed to better rankings. It’s also important to note that schema markup has been proven to increase visibility and drive improved performance for sites and pages that do rank well.

Rich results testing tool can preview rich snippets

What can you do with schema markup?

By using structured data, you can provide context for the information on your site, which results in more eye-catching and useful SERP listings. You can use schema markup to provide context for all kinds of different things, from the structure of your business or organization, the title and author of your blogs, or even to designate information for things like medical conditions and treatments. 

No matter what industry or vertical you’re in, there’s likely to be schema markup that will help search engines properly “understand” your site’s content.

What are some common types of schema markup?

  • Article – Article schema can be used for any news, sports, or blog article. When implemented correctly, articles are displayed with Top stories carousel and rich result features, such as headline text and larger-than-thumbnail images.
  • Breadcrumb – Breadcrumb schema displays navigation that indicates the page’s position in a site’s hierarchy.
  • Event – Event schema can be used to display an interactive rich result that shows a list of organized events, such as concerts or art festivals, that people may attend at a particular time and place.
  • FAQ Page – FAQPage schema can be placed on a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page, which contains a list of questions and answers pertaining to a particular topic. Up to two questions and their answers are then displayed on the SERP.
  • How-to – A How-to walks users through a set of steps to successfully complete a task, featuring video, images, and text. How-to schema can be used to preview these steps on the SERP.
  • Organization – Organization schema, usually placed on the homepage, offers information about an organization such as a school, NGO, corporation, club, etc.
  • Person – This type is used to provide info about a person (alive, dead, undead, or fictional).
  • Product – Provides information about a product, including price, availability, and review ratings.

How can I make or check schema markup?

If you’re interested in implementing schema markup on your site, you first need to decide which language you want to use. Google recommends JSON-LD, which is easiest to implement because it can be placed in the <head> section of a page and is also easy to troubleshoot. 

Regardless of which language you decide to use, you can browse through to see all of the different types of schema that are available, with previews of what the code should look like. There are also websites that allow you to drop in information and have the correct schema code generated for you. Once you have code generated, you can paste it into the validator located on the website. This tool helps to highlight any structural errors in the code. 

If you already have schema implemented on a page, you can use the validator tool or Google’s Rich Results tool to check for any issues. Google’s tool will let you know if the code makes a page eligible for rich results or not. 

It’s confusing; we can help 

At Redefine Marketing Group, we know how confusing schema markup can be, especially if you aren’t a technical SEO by trade. If you have any questions or want us to take care of your site’s schema markup for you, reach out to us! We’ve implemented schema on hundreds of sites and can help take your site to the next level in the SERPs. You can contact us here. 

Author avatar
Mauricio Moreno
Mauricio has close to 20 years of digital experience and a core foundation in the technical side of SEO. He’s led and executed strategy both in-house and on the agency side and enjoys defining successful strategies for our clients.
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