If you’ve started doing some research into SEO, you might have come across the term ‘Schema Markup’ at some point. And unfortunately, often when people write about the technical side of SEO, it’s written in a complicated and confusing way. Or, it’s written within the context or other technical terms that you don’t know yet. So, this article is a beginners guide to Schema markup, in terms that we can all understand! Whether you’re new to the world of SEO or new to the technical aspects of SEO, you’re in the right place to understand what exactly Schema markup is.
First of all, what is Schema markup?
Schema markup is a number of different semantic vocabulary of tags that can be added to your website (in the form of HTML code) which improves the way that search engines interpret, read, and represent your webpage on search engine results pages.
This semantic vocabulary is what’s called ‘structured data’. Structured data is described by Google as ‘a standardised format for providing info about a page and classifying page content’. This essentially means that there is a certain format that can be used to tell search engines what category your page is in. It’s code, but it’s standardised and structured in a particular way. And, it’s REALLY standardised because it works for Google, Bing, Yandex and Yahoo alike. Yes, you read that right, the different search engines worked together on this one.
Schema markup basically gives context to your content. Search engines aren’t able to fully comprehend what your content says basically. Because, search engines are bots, not humans. Schema markup gives the search engine a little bit of information about what your page is. This includes categories like articles, events, and reviews. In other words, it almost categorises your content so that the search engines can accurately tell people this information in their search engine results.
It is sometimes referred to as an ‘internal business card’. If you can picture it this way, it makes a lot of sense really. If you gave somebody a business card it would have all the important information on, and that’s what Schema markup does for your website. The beauty of Schema markup, however, is that there are so many different things you can use it for. For example, if your page describes a recipe you can add loads of information such as the number of calories, the preparation time, and the reviews to the search engine result! So people a lot about the page before they even click on it. Schema markup was created for the user, not for the website owner which is important to bear in mind.
You might have noticed that some search engine results have this extra information on, like reviews and site extensions. This is what’s known as rich snippet, and is essentially the aim of Schema markup. If you’ve heard of rich snippets before, you might have a little bit of an understanding of Schema markup already.
See two examples of rich snippets, followed by a non-rich snippet.
So now we hopefully understand the concept behind Schema markup.
Why should we care about Schema markup?
Well, in the beautiful world of SEO, we’re always looking for ways to help our search engine rankings and our visibility online. What Schema markup does is improve how your website looks on the search engine results which in turn increases your CTR. The higher your CTR, the more relevant search engines believe your content to be and then hopefully the higher your rank next time. And the higher your CTR the more business you are likely to get out of the page, obviously. Just because you appear on search engine results pages does not mean you’re going to get anything from it unless people actually click through on to your site (and then your content is useful!). Nobody said SEO was easy!
Schema markup also helps to decrease your bounce rate. If people already know things about your webpage before they visit it, they will know whether its going to be relevant or not and consequently are likely to spend longer on your page. The ‘bounce rate’ is how many people leave your site without interacting with anything else. If your ‘bounce rate’ is really high, it can affect your search engine rankings because it suggests that your website isn’t providing good enough content to make people want to stay. So, whilst adding Schema markup to your site doesn’t directly help your search engine optimisation, like working on your link building does, it can indirectly be really beneficial.
So, now we know what Schema markup is and how it benefits us.
How do you actually add Schema markup to your site?
Without scaring you, it is different for every platform unless you know how to edit your code… sorry! Luckily for you though, unless you have a custom built site, there such be tools on every CMS or website builder to help you with this.
We’ll go through the main ones quickly and tell you where to go to get more information.
On WordPress, you can install a plugin to help you with this. And luckily for you, there’s loads to choose from. We would recommend going for Schema and paying for Schema Premium if you really want to optimise your use of Schema markup. Without the premium version you can still do the basics, so if budget is an option it’s not too bad.
If you really want to take your Schema markup further but can’t afford the Schema premium, go for another one of the cheaper options available such as these.
With Wix, you need to find the structured data you need on the schema website and manually add the code. But don’t be alarmed, you don’t have to go into the backend of your website. Follow these simple steps to find out how you add your schema markup to your wix site.
If you’re using SquareSpace, it’s a little trickier. There are a few options however. You can use the Schema App. You have to create an account and enter the details you want included. There is a detailed step by step guide on their website, but you do have to pay for this.
Your other option is to send the information straight to Google, this is possible for any site but obviously only works for Google and not other search engines, take a look at this set up step guide.
If you would like some more information check out these guides or get in touch with us.