Apart from the standard search engine optimization practices, several New Age methods to improve SEO are in use. Schema markup is one such technique. It has gained prominence in the SEO industry over time and now posits itself as a bona fide optimization technique for achieving the essential rich snippets and answer boxes in the search results.
The truth is, the incoming online traffic is not coming to your website. Rather, the traffic remains confined to the search experience, and users are more interested in your business data than visiting your site. So, you need to take control and change the way your site is understood by Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines.
Doing so requires you to speak the language of the search engines. And this language is known as schema markup. Basically, schema helps search engines understand structured, location-based data like phone numbers, addresses, and dates. It is then used in video carousels, rich snippets, and other web elements, and displayed in organized, card-like structures to make the search results more valuable to the overall user experience.
Find out more about schema and its impact on local SEO below:
What Do We Mean by Schema?
Schema is known by many names – structured data, structured data markup, or microdata. The term is used to describe the language of the search engines. Developed in 2011 by Google, Yandex, Bing, and Yahoo, schema was conceptualized as an international standard vocabulary to better understand web content. Users were required to adopt it so the search engines could perform more efficiently.
Translating specific web content into schema requires you to first understand what the page is all about. After that, you must choose a schema markup class and use a set of properties to describe it. Once you’ve completed mapping out this information, enter it into the Schema Markup code, which comes in three separate formats like RDFa, JSON-LD, and Microdata.
- RDFa: This format supports multiple document types, including HTML 4, XML, and SVG. No matter what kind of web document is used, RDFa will probably work. This data documentation has other applications as well, such as the Open Graph protocol by Facebook, which is RDFa-based. The format is usually implemented in both the body and head sections of an HTML page.
However, this HTML5 extension is not the easiest format to handle and most SEO users prefer to start with JSON-LD and Microdata.
- Microdata: Standard schema microdata is the most widely used format. Marked up via HTML, it is also the easiest when it comes to implementation. This open-community HTML specification is meant for nesting structured data inside the HTML content. Microdata is normally used in the body of the page but may be used in the head as well.
Appearance: You must add pieces of your site code to HTML. These tags contain semantic vocabulary or pre-defined tags that are understood by the search engines. Although users are unable to view them, search engines can read these tags when crawling the web pages for indexing.
Compatibility: All major search engines support schema markup to make their tasks quicker and easier. Think of schemas as a group of common standards that cover various types of content, from videos, images, articles to various kinds of entities such as local businesses, people, organizations, and others.
How Does Schema Help Website Ranking?
While schema is yet to be considered a part of Google’s ranking algorithm, it is relevant to local SEO in multiple ways:
Sets Up Your Site for Future SEO
This feature is rapidly becoming more prominent and Google made an official announcement regarding its possible inclusion in the ranking algorithm in the near future. Thus, schema effectively makes your website future-proof.
Improve Your Search Snippets
Schema improves the presence of your site on the search engine results pages using rich snippets that are more attractive and informative. So, the entry of your website in the Google search results will be a cut above the rest and offer better click-through rates. What’s more, you can expect more visits to your site.
Right now, Google supports schemas like Book, Course, Fact Check, Livestream, Logo, Critic Review, Recipe, Breadcrumb, Article, Job Posting, Q&A Page, Social Profile, Carousel, Occupation, Media Actions, Event, Speakable, Corporate Contact, Product, Dataset, Local Business, Sitelinks SearchBox, Review Snippet, and Employer Aggregate Rating.
Use Schema for Local SEO
Schemas work wonders for local SEO. Structured data may be used by search engines to obtain more details about local businesses, including contact details and address. When paired with a well-optimized My Business page, it is capable of improving the local SEO.
How Schema Factors Into Google’s Guidelines
Google has implemented various guidelines to prevent spammy schema from showing up in SERPs. Ideally, structured data should never be spammy and must always reflect the precise contents of the page. Using a bulk spammy structured data may lead to eventual penalization by Google.
Google focuses on keeping its search results as spam-free as possible. So, if you think your local schema might be considered spammy, ensure that it meets Google’s structured data guidelines. This way, you don’t have to resort to brute force to pound the search results with spam.
Your schema must always align with the web page’s user intent. So, avoid marking up a page meant for a travel blog with that of a comedy club. This is a great way to avoid any confusion. Also, avoid creating schema markups that render your content invisible to users who may be interested in consuming this content.
Complete the schema markup to meet the parameters for inclusion and remove any misleading or irrelevant markup. Thus, if a markup requires an image, do not forget to include it or substitute it with some other piece of data.
Schema is slowly becoming a vital piece of the SEO puzzle, and you must consider it if you wish to keep pace with the latest SEO practices. Find out if your site is using markup data. If you’re unsure about schema, it might be a better (and safer) option to hire a qualified SEO service who can handle implementing and fixing the issues as required.