January 14, 20165 min read
Your strong content, optimized page titles and meta descriptions have boosted your website rankings and increased visits. Great. Now take the next step: Incorporate schema, or structured data, to raise your SEO strategy to the next level.
First things first: What is schema?
Schema is code you put on your websites that helps search engines return more informative results. Individuals at Google, Yahoo and Bing developed schema with a single goal in mind: Help search-engine users navigate the Internet more easily.
Schema appears in roughly 30% of search results, so you’ve likely seen it in action, even if you didn’t realize it. Here is an example of schema on a Google SERP page:
Schema code is indexed differently than the other content on your site. Specifically, the schema.org code informs the website what specific content means, not just what it says. For example, if you use schema to highlight upcoming events, as in the example above, Google will interpret that content as events and display it as such.
The schema.org website provides the following explanation:
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 for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.
Why Schema is Important
Regardless of the purpose of your website, schema will enhance your search results.
According to Google, adding schema markup to your site ensures that search engines better understand content on your page.
Schema markup can also increase conversions. For example, if you use schema markup around your products, it will instantly show visitors the information they need in order to make a purchase decision before they click a link leading directly to a product detail page.
Be cautious and realistic, though. If you overuse schema, Google and other search engines might penalize your site. Similarly, just because you have schema on your website doesn’t mean it will automatically appear when users Google your site. This is especially true if you use schema for informational purposes, such as sharing medical information, rather than transactional purposes, such as those relating to your products.
So, how can you use schema?
- Creative Works: Including books, movies, music, recipes, TV series or software
- Embedded Non-Text Objects: Audio, image or video files
- Events (screenshot – Google Milwaukee events):
- Health and Medical: Any relevant health or medical information, including medical conditions, drug information, medical guidelines, medical webpage (a single-topic webpage about a health or medical topic) or medical scholarly article
- Organization: A school, non-profit organization, etc.
- Person: An individual -- alive, dead or fictional
- Place: Business or restaurant location information. If you own a hotel or restaurant, you can even use schema to let users reserve tables or rooms.
- Product: Any offered product or service, from a pair of shoes to specialized screws
- Review: A review of any item, including a business, restaurant or product
- Visit Google’s Structure Data Markup Helper
- Select the type of data you intend to markup from the list.
- Paste the URL of the page you want to markup. After you paste the URL, the page will appear in the markup tool, which you’ll use to start tagging content or items on the page.
- Use the list of data items that appears within the workstation area. Highlight the appropriate items within your content. Don’t worry if you can’t tag every item on the list—just tag what you can.
- When you’re done, click “Create HTML.” Afterwards you’ll see your page’s HMTL with relevant microdata inserted into the selected areas.
- After your HTML has been generated, you can go into your CMS, or content management system, and add the code snipped into your header tag. (Make sure the code is inserted into the page-level header tag, not the site-wide header tag.) You can also download the HMTL with the schema markup included and copy and paste it directly into your CMS.
- After you’ve added the schema to you site, test it using the structure data testing tool.
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