What is Schema Markup

You Use “Search” Every Day …
And So Do Your Customers

Maybe you are looking to buy something online or research your options. Perhaps you’re in the mood for Thai food and are looking for a restaurant with great reviews and ratings or maybe you’re trying to self diagnose that weird ache coupled with a low-grade fever.  Regardless of what you’re looking for, your probably going to start with “search” – on your laptop, your smartphone, Google Home, Alexa, Siri … maybe even from your wristwatch. In fact …
More than “90% of customers report that they use search at every stage of their customer lifecycle” (Forrester)
So the question becomes, with so much content out there, how can you attract your target audience?
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How Structured Data Works

When a search engine receives an inquiry, they crawl the web looking for relevant and reputable results, but it isn’t always easy for them to decipher the content out there. Your website might make sense to humans, but does it make sense to machines?
With the objective of delivering excellent service to their users, Google, Bing, Yahoo and ultimately Yandex,  collaborated back in 2011 to create a comprehensive labelling system (an ontology) that they called schema.org.  The idea was that if website owners could tag their content with these labels, known as “classes” or “types” the search engines would understand the content on their webpages and well as the context of the content.  This improved “understanding” of the content would help to improve “findability” resulting in higher impressions, clicks, click-through rate and ultimately revenue.
Today, the schema.org vocabulary has grown to over 800 primary “types”, each with their own properties to further describe and bring clarity to the content. It is managed by a large group of interested individuals and chaired by Google.  Some industries have even created their own “extensions” so that they can describe their industry-specific content (automotive, financial, health and bibliography).
The challenge is that the schema.org vocabulary is extensive and is constantly evolving. Choosing the most accurate “type” can be tricky. Plus your website content changes as does the Google algorithms. Adding the code by hand is a time consuming, finicky effort and maintaining it is just an onerous, which is why we created Schema App.
Adding schema markup to your website is well worth the effort. Not only do the search engines explicitly understand your content, but schema markup can make you eligible for rich results and features (so you stand out from your competitors), optimize your content for voice search, allow your content to be accessible via many different devices and provide you with additional information in Google Search Console so you can understand what is driving your traffic.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts use a variety of tactics to help their customers be found and stand out in search. Schema markup is one of them.  Leading SEO experts recommend schema markup (aka Structured Data) as an imperative for success:
How it works graphic

Schema Markup Enables a Rich Display of Content

In addition to the URL and a description, a rich snippet might show ratings, reviews, photos, videos, price, promotions, availability, and so on. Because rich snippets provide incremental data and are visually appealing, they attract more viewers.

Without Schema Markup

Menards Rake ad
Pumpkin Pie ad
Rationalizing Denominator Google search

With Schema Markup

Rake ad
Pumpkin Pie search result
Rationalizing Denominator search result

Schema Markup Has Multiple Benefits

  • You’re found. The search engine explicitly understands who you are and what you are about and can, therefore, match your content to an inquiry.
  • You Stand out. Your content can be displayed in a rich, visual way that attracts the eye. This leads to more impressions, clicks, a higher click-through rate and ultimately more revenue.
  • Voice Readiness and more. You are set up to reap the rewards of leading-edge technologies such as Chatbots, voice search, mobile-first, Knowledge Graphs, and whatever else the future brings.
  • Brand Control.You’ll have more control over the way your brand is represented in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) allowing you to deliver the right message to the right audience, and to differentiate yourself from your competition.
  • Answer passage. Improve your chances of becoming the “authority” on a certain subject: Google wants both structured and unstructured content for their answer passages so to get in the running, you need both.
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Schema Markup Options

  • Write code. If you are tech-savvy, detail-oriented and have only a few pages to markup, you could do the research and apply the Schema markup yourself. Keep in mind that as your content evolves and as the vocabulary evolves, the Schema markup needs to be updated as well. This requires you to understand the Schema.org vocabulary, and also write code (JSON-LD, Microdata).
  • Markup one page at a time without writing code. If you have only a few pages or page types that require markup, take advantage of our Schema App Editor. Our risk-free solution includes a 14-day free trial plus training. Simply choose the class(es) that best describe your content and fill in the blanks found on our templates. We’ll take care of creating and deploying the code to your website.
  • Markup at scale without writing code. If you have a robust website(s) with pages that share the same structure, you’ll love our Schema App Highlighter. For similar pages, it allows you to fill in a template once and deploy it to 100s or 1000s of pages at once.
Options laptop graphic
“I think in the future, at least in a near-term future, we will have more types of structured data markup and it will continue to get more complicated.” 
There are a lot of requirements to enable “fancy” search results as well as features on Google Assistant (voice search)
“But purely from a markup point of view, I don’t see this getting any easier, unfortunately.”
John Mueller
Google: Schema Markup Won’t Get Any Easier; Will Get Harder
January 31, 2020

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