Competition for online visibility is as fierce as ever, and it's crucial to explore every avenue you can that can increase your online visibility. When it comes to improving your SEO, you need to make use of every gain you can, marginal or otherwise.
One such avenue that can help is the implementation of Schema data for SEO. But what is it?
What is Schema Markup? Schema Data?
Schema data, also known as Schema markup or structured data, is a “special” code that you can add to your website's HTML to help search engines better understand your content. It provides context to your website's elements, such as articles, products, reviews, events, whatever is relevant to what you offer.
The actual data or code itself isn’t something that is seen by the end user, just search engines.
Why Implement Schema Data for SEO?
When you search for a business online, and the search results not only display the name and location but also its rating, prices, and even upcoming events, that's the magic of Schema data at work.
It sounds scary and it looks scary, but for the relatively low-effort involved, Schema data is absolutely worth your time.
Here's why you should consider implementing it for your website's SEO:
Enhancing Search Engine Visibility & Improving Rankings
Schema markup effectively communicates the nature of your content to search engines. They’re not just relying on your on-page content. When search engines understand your content better, they are more likely to display it prominently in relevant search results. In other words, increased online visibility. So why not give them some extra help?
Increasing Click-Through Rates (CTR)
Imagine your webpage standing out in search results with eye-catching details like star ratings, product prices, or events. This helps not only by grabbing users' attention but can also give a bit more confidence in the quality of your content. As a result, users are more likely to click on your link, leading to higher click-through rates.
We implemented schema data on Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s concert events which now appear as featured snippets when searching for concerts in their area.
Another client of ours, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, also implemented schema data on their events which had the same effect.
More Informative Search Results
Schema data allows you to present additional information directly in search results, making it easier for users to decide whether your content is relevant to their needs. This additional context can include images, ratings, reviews, and more. However, it must be said that like with most things Google-related, it’s no guarantee that they will present you in this way even if you do implement the schema data. As always, they decide.
How to Implement Schema Data
Implementing Schema data doesn't require advanced technical coding experience, but it does require careful consideration and accurate implementation. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started:
1. Identifying Relevant Schema Types for Your Content
Before implementing Schema markup, identify the types of content on your website that can benefit from structured data. Whether you're running a blog, an online store, or a local business, there are specific Schema types that align with your content.
You can look at Schema.org on how to get started with this guide.
2. Creating Schema Markup For Your Website
Creating schema is straightforward, and you can write it out yourself using the information in the Schema.org guide linked above, or you can use one of the many Schema generator tools out there.
For a business with a physical address, I would recommend implementing LocalBusiness schema data on your homepage.
At the bottom of any schema data page, you can find examples of how it should look. To the right of the ‘no markup’, there are multiple tabs which are different encodings in which you can implement your schema. We like to use J-SON, and Google recommends it too as it’s easier to maintain.
For an easier time, this schema markup generator tool is excellent and allows you to input your relevant data into fields and creates the markup for you!
3. Schema Implementation
You can add Schema markup to your website by inserting the appropriate code snippets into your HTML. If you're unable to do that, ask your developer.
Schema markup can technically go anywhere within the HTML, but ideally, nestling it within the <head> section is best because that's where search engines look first.
4. Structured Data Testing and Validation
After implementing Schema markup, you should always test and validate your structured data to ensure it's all correct. Google's Rich Results Test (formerly Structured Data Testing Tool) can help you identify any errors or missing elements in your markup.
There’s also a Schema Markup Validator tool to test the same code but without Google-specific warnings.
When testing with the Rich Results Test, pay attention to “Errors” that appear in red and fix them. “Warnings” that appear in yellow are more advisory, but you should consider them to help enhance your data.
Common Schema Markup Types
There are various Schema types available, each tailored to different types of content. Some common Schema markup types include:
- Article Schema
Article Schema is ideal for blog posts, news articles, and other written content. It provides information about the article's headline, author, publication date, and a brief summary. Publication dates help search engines understand how “fresh” the content is.
- Product Schema
Product Schema is essential for e-commerce websites. It displays details about products, such as their name, price, availability, and customer reviews.
- Local Business Schema
Local Business Schema helps brick-and-mortar businesses by providing information like address, phone number, opening hours, and customer reviews.
- Review Schema
Review Schema allows you to showcase ratings and reviews for products, services, or businesses. This adds credibility and trust to your content.
A word on FAQ/HowTo Schema
FAQ Schema was perfect for addressing frequently asked questions, as it would help display a list of questions and answers directly in search results, making it easier for users to find relevant information.
However, Google is putting an end to that (along with HowTo), so it might not be worth your time implementing it with your own FAQ pages.
Avoiding Common Schema Implementation Mistakes
While Schema data can offer remarkable benefits, it's essential to avoid some common pitfalls:
Overuse of Schema Markup
Using excessive Schema markup can confuse search engines and may even lead to penalties - although this is pretty rare. Still, you don’t want to drag your ranking potential down by adding even more code that possibly contradicts other data.
Only implement relevant Schema types that represent your content. Don’t go crazy with it.
Incorrectly Structured Data
Improperly formatted Schema markup can hinder its effectiveness. Ensure that you adhere to the correct syntax and guidelines provided by schema.org.
Ignoring Updates and Changes to Schema Guidelines
Schema markup guidelines evolve over time. Stay updated with the latest changes to ensure that your structured data remains effective and compatible with search engine algorithms.
Future-Proofing Your SEO with Schema Data
As search engines and technology continue to advance, Schema data remains a relevant and valuable tool for SEO. By embracing structured data now, you're positioning your website for success.
Incorporating Schema data into your SEO strategy is worth your time and relatively straightforward to implement. It is also still somehow not really well-known and underutilised.
From enhanced search visibility and increased click-through rates to improved user experience, Schema markup offers a fantastic opportunity to make yourself even more understood by search engines.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make your content stand out in search results!
What is Schema markup?
Schema markup is a code added to a website's HTML that provides context to search engines, enabling them to display content more informatively in search results.
Does Schema data directly affect search rankings?
While Schema data itself is not a direct ranking factor, it can indirectly improve search rankings by providing search engines with more information about your website and help enhance click-through rates and user engagement.
Are there any drawbacks to using Schema markup?
When used correctly, there are typically no drawbacks to using Schema markup. However, overusing or improperly implementing Schema data could lead to confusion for search engines. There’s no real reason not to use Schema.
How frequently should I update my Schema data?
Regularly review and update your Schema data to align with changes to your content and offerings, as well as any updates to Schema markup guidelines.