In addition to the traditional search engine optimization (SEO) techniques people frequently utilize, there are a number of modern practices that can give your website a significant SEO boost. Schema markup is one of them and despite being extremely powerful, many websites aren’t taking advantage of it.
In fact, a study released towards the end of 2015 by Raven Tools found that a whopping 80% of websites weren’t using schema markup. A more recent study conducted by Bing and Catalyst found that just 17% of marketers were using schema markup.
Even the Schema.org website states that “over 10 million sites” use schema markup on their web pages, which equates to less than one percent of all websites out there!
It’s safe to say that schema markup is a severely underused SEO technique. But why, given its SEO-boosting capabilities?
The good news for you is that with just a little bit of knowledge, you can add schema markup to your own website and potentially get ahead of your competition.
What Is Schema Markup?
Schema markup is a kind of code (semantic vocabulary) developed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex that you can add to your website to help the various search engines understand the content found on said website.
This type of structured data markup is picked up and processed by the search engine bots as they crawl web pages. The crawlers themselves cannot view a website like we do and without structured data, a web page is essentially just information with no context.
It’s only by adding structured data that we give it that context, allowing the search engines to pull out the relevant parts of a web page in the form of rich snippets and rich data, which can be used to make the search engine results pages (SERPs) more informative – thus improving the experience for the end user (what Google and other search engines are all about).
Here’s an example from Google’s own Search Console Help Center of a local business website that has structured data markup on its event schedule page:
When Google’s bot crawled the site, it was told by the schema markup to display the schedule of events as a rich snippet on the search results pages.
Why Is Schema Markup Important for SEO?
Whether or not Google uses structured markup as a ranking factor is still up for debate. The search giant originally said it wasn’t, but then subsequent interviews with influential individuals at Google suggest otherwise.
The bottom line is that schema markup makes your website appear far more attractive in the SERPs, which inevitably boosts your click-through rate (CTR).
Look at the following examples with structured data:
Now look at this example:
Which is more attractive and which are you more likely to click on?
Put simply, websites with schema markup look more attractive and enjoy a higher CTR as a result. Furthermore, if two websites are pretty much equal in terms of SEO, schema markup could be the deciding factor that gets one ranked above the other.
Schema markup is also a very powerful tool for local businesses. It allows you to show vital information to potential customers in the SERPs, such as your opening hours, address, telephone number, testimonials, reviews, and your menu (if you’re a restaurant/café).
Ensuring your geographic and contact information is listed correctly on your business website should be the first step you take when implementing schema markup.
If you run an eCommerce website, schema markup is a must. You can get your products to display directly in the SERPs by using Product and Offer markups. You can include price, description, and stock information to create a result like this:
How Can I Use Schema Markup on My Website?
Fortunately, schema markup is actually pretty straightforward to use.
Here are some steps to follow:
2. Select the type of data you are planning to markup. You will have options like Articles, Reviews, Events, Local Businesses, Products, Restaurants, etc.
3. Paste the URL of the web page you want to markup.
4. Start tagging your data by highlighting the relevant text and tagging the type of elements you want to markup. For example, if you are marking up an article you’ve written, you would highlight the title and tag that as “Name” in the markup.
5. Once you’ve finished tagging, click the red “CREATE HTML” button.
6. Now you need to add the schema markup code into the appropriate places on your web page. You can do this via your CMS or straight into the source code (if you’re not using a CMS).
7. Finally, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to see how your page appears with the added schema markup code.
Adding schema markup to your web pages should be a core part of your overall SEO strategy. The more you do it, the more experienced you will become and before long it will be second nature to you. Plus, if you get into the habit of adding schema markup to your web pages now, you won’t need to frantically add tons of it in the future if Google and the other search engines do suddenly state that it is a ranking factor.