What Is Schema Markup and How Can Sites Use It?

27th Apr, 2021
Cillian Bracken Conway
  1. What is schema markup? (with examples)
  2. Types of schemas
  3. The benefits of schema markup
  4. Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT)
  5. Ways to create rich snippets

Many factors affect search rankings; one major factor is the content’s relevance to the user’s query. Schema markup is one method of increasing relevance, but it’s not often discussed by SEO experts. Why? Because it seems too technical for clients to understand.

This is a problem, because schema can be vital to the success of an SEO campaign. We break down the main facts about schema markup, and tell you how it can boost your rankings.

What is schema markup? (with examples)

Schema (also known as structured data) was created through schema.org in 2011 as a collaboration between the top search engines in the world: namely Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex.

But what exactly is it? Google Search Central explains:

“Google Search works hard to understand the content of a page. You can help us by providing explicit clues about the meaning of a page to Google by including structured data on the page. Structured data is a standardised format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.”

Schema.org also explains the importance of context for a schema markup:

“Most webmasters are familiar with HTML tags on their pages. Usually, HTML tags tell the browser how to display the information included in the tag. For example, <h1>Avatar</h1> tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format. However, the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text string means—“Avatar” could refer to the hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture—and this can make it more difficult to search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.”

In its essence, schema is the data used to mark up different types of items on a website, to describe them in better detail for search engine bots to easily understand. Ultimately, this is so that the user can view more relevant information for search queries.

Schema website example

serp mcdonalds australia

Almost any type of data on your website will have an associated schema on schema.org. In SEO cases, schema is widely used for data involving people, events, products, businesses, organizations, recipes, videos, and reviews.

Types of schemas

There are different types of schemas you can use, depending on your organisation and its needs:

  • Site search schema
    This is a search box placed under a website result, where users can type in queries without going to the actual site. This type of schema is beneficial for both users and SEO because it helps them determine if the site has what they’re looking for before clicking on it, and it filters out irrelevant traffic and encourages clicks that lead to conversions. Site search schema is most beneficial for websites with high-volume search queries. If you implement site search schema, this does not guarantee that a search box will appear below your search result—Google decides mainly based on the popularity or authority of the site.

Google doesn’t guarantee that a sitelinks search box will be shown in search results. Additionally, using the sitelinks search box markup doesn’t make it more likely that a sitelinks search box will be shown. For a list of common reasons why Google may not show structured data in search results, review the General Structured Data Guidelines.

serp pinterest

  • Product schema
    Product schema allows Google to understand key information about your product and in turn, display that information in search results. For example, schema that includes stock availability helps Google pull that information into the search results.

serp nikon

  • Event schema
    Event markup helps search engines determine the details of events like fairs, festivals, concerts, and online events like webinars, so they can offer your webpage to users searching for it. This means more exposure for your event and increased engagement since users interested in these gatherings can easily communicate with you and RSVP to your event. With proper markup, your event page receive get more interaction and clicks.

  • FAQ schema
    Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) pages are incredibly helpful for users. When marked up, this webpage can help search engines direct users exactly to an item that contains the user’s question and the answer to it. This can make your FAQs eligible for a featured snippet on the search results.

faq schema

  • Local business schema
    This schema allows you to provide essential information about your business in a structured way, making it easier for search engines to understand. Google will use this information to populate a business knowledge panel on search results (as seen below). If you don’t provide this information yourself, Google will try to figure it out from other sources. This may lead to inaccuracies, so it’s best you mark up explicitly what you deem to be correct and important information about your business.

local business schema

Best schema for SEO

Every type of schema is important for SEO because it helps search engines index your content and understand exactly what it means. This gives you more targeted traffic, more context and may make you eligible for Google’s rich snippets. Choosing the best schema for SEO will depend on your niche, type of website and target market. For instance, if you’re an e-commerce website, you could benefit from the product schema the most. In fact, product schema is required for businesses using Google Shopping. On the other hand, if you’re a restaurant, you’d benefit from a local business schema.

The benefits of schema markup

According to research, less than one-third of websites use schema markup. So, if you use this technique as part of your SEO campaign, you’re getting a huge advantage over the competition because you can enjoy these benefits:

It drives results. 

Schema markup allows you to easily convey your content to search engines so they can feed your information to relevant searchers. This results in more impressions, a higher click-through rate and more conversions for your business.

It boosts your exposure. 

With the right markup, it’s easier for search engines to understand your business and categorise you within the right niche. You’re discoverable across all surfaces – think wrist watches, billboards, cars… and your content will be optimised and ready for any form.

You can appear in rich results. 

Rich snippets offer a sneak peek into your content, giving users and search engines more interest in what you have to offer. In most cases, users are more likely to click on results with rich snippets. You can use tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to check which search engine result pages include rich snippets.

It increases your capacity for voice search. 

Voice search is on the rise and it’s more competitive than regular search because you only get one result from Google. With schema markup, you can position yourself for voice SEO, which will be used a lot in the future.

Your videos can be played right from search.

Schema markup can add rich information to videos in the search results such as length, as well as the ability to identify specific sections of your video content.

You’ll fill those seats for your event or course.

For both offline and online events, event schemas can help you rank in search results with information like venue, dates, times, pricing and availability. With less time between stages of user awareness, you can get users clicking that CTA a little faster.

It attracts the right job applicants for the role.

Hiring? Schema can help. You can improve the job seeking experience by adding JobPosting information about the role. By adding structured data, your job postings will be eligible to appear in a special user experience in search results.

Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT)

Although Google initially announced last year that Structured Data Testing Tool (SDTT) will be deprecated in favour of the Rich Results Tool, Google decided to migrate the tool into a new domain this year. This highly popular tool allows you to test your structured data by simply entering your URL or code snippet, and it will run the data to determine any errors in its code. SDTT is beneficial in validating microdata, RDFa, and JSON-LD formats, and can help you implement schema markup on your website.

Adding schema to your site

adding schema

adding schema

adding schema

There are multiple ways you can build schema for your website. You can get a developer to write it for you in JSON-LD format and add it manually to the corresponding pages on your website. If you are using WordPress, there are multiple plugins that can help you manage schema. Then, there are schema products like schema.app, which guides you through the entire process and deploys to all types of platforms. At Vine Digital, we use a combination of all three for our clients.

How to implement structured data

There are different approaches to implementing structured data to your site, and some can be quite lengthy. JSON-LD is the preferred schema syntax for Google.

How to tell if you’re using schema

With the Google Search Console tool, you can see what schema data your site is currently displaying. Once you are eligible, you can also use Google Search Console to evaluate these results’ effectiveness.

The Bottom Line: Schema Has Value

Schema markup can feel pretty mind-boggling, but you don’t have to stress about it! There are agencies out there like us, who get pretty passionate about schema and its benefits. If you need help implementing schema, contact us today.

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