Have you ever wondered who in the world is doing schema markup and what are the challenges they face day to day? We were curious, and so this past February and March, we asked the schema markup do’ers around the world to tell us who they are, what challenges they face doing schema markup and the tools they use today to solve them. Below is the summary of what we discovered as well as quotes from our survey respondents.
Was there anything shocking in the results? I am most shocked by how many people choose to do the markup manually and the burden it must be to keep it up to date, deployed, and error free (but I’m biased as the co-founder of Schema App). However, I was not surprised by the varied actors, ranging from SEO Specialists to business owners and CTOs. I talk to our Schema App users weekly, and see the range of skills and have started to understand why business owners find themselves doing new and innovative things to move their business forward. What was most refreshing in the survey results, was the passion, energy and enthusiasm for doing schema markup. Everyone has their own way of doing it, but they share the same challenges, and yearn for the same outcomes.
Here are the details…
Who is doing Schema Markup?
In our survey, 40% of our respondents are doing schema markup for small companies with <5 employees. The second largest group is large enterprise, comprising of 13.3% of respondents. What does this tell us? Everyone is doing schema markup! From SMB to Enterprise.
On top of it, it looks like Digital Marketing Agencies and SMBs make up the majority of our Schema Markup’ers. So it is a mix of companies and agencies using this as part of their online strategy.
While we aren’t surprised to see Head of Search, SEO Specialist, and Digital Marketer as some of the top schema marketers, did you think the Business Owner, CEO and CTO would also be on the list? When I asked a CEO why he was doing it, he said that he was the one at the company looking at how they can differentiate using new tactics and strategies. Schema Markup was one he was looking at.
Frequency of Schema Markup
Have you ever wondered how often others are updating their schema markup? We asked and they are primarily updating it monthly, some tending to do it weekly. This will be interesting data to map to size of business or role.
Challenges doing Schema Markup
Finally, we asked what they key challenges are doing schema markup. The top challenge were:
- Showing the value of doing schema markup – reporting the impact and results
- Maintaining “health” of Schema markup when Google makes changes
- Developing a strategy on what I should markup with schema
- Implementing JSON-LD on different web platforms, not always easy to find a way to add to page
- Understanding Schema markup vocabulary
- Maintaining “health” of Schema markup when Google makes changes
- Showing the value of Schema markup – reporting impact/results
- Developing a strategy on what I should markup with Schema
- Discovering existing markup on the site or markup competitors are doing
- Figuring out how to do Schema Markup at scale
In their words…
“When I first learned about the existence of schema, I was so confused on how to implement it. I am not a developer. After trying many online generator tools and finding them unsatisfactory, I turned to my programmer hoping he could take over this task for me. He explained it was a different code altogether than what he writes. I felt overwhelmed when he confided he had no idea at all how to do it, even after spending a little time looking at it.” Owner Digital Agency
“I began learning schema markup a few years ago by reading online articles about it. The examples given on schema.org were not clear and sometimes it seemed they did not follow even their own rules.” Performing Artist
“Worse is that some of the schema is supported (but the rich snippets team) but not in the Structured Data Testing Tool. In addition, there’s usually very little way to communicate the value of schema, though it remains a ‘hot’ topic so it’s still easily sold to clients.” CEO of Digital Marketing Agency
“Schema markup is one of those things that when I first approached it felt a bit like witchcraft. However, after reading up a bit more on it I getting much more familiar with the structure and syntax. It’s still very much a trial and error process for me as I find that some of the guides out there, when put through Googles tool, don’t actual parse correctly. Very frustrating… but I’m getting there.”
Tools for Schema Markup
40% of respondents do their Schema Markup today manually, while the others use a range of plugins, add-ons, generators and Schema App.
What they like about the tools that exist today…
“I like that when I create markup in Schema App, I can re-use it easily to connect it to other entities. It saves me time and reduces my errors ” SEO Specialist, Digital Marketing Agency
“I ask for help in online communities and usually get answers. The definitions and examples have become better over time in both schema.org and Google.” Business Owner
“The SUPPORT from Schema app is what makes the big difference in my efforts, not just the tools. Sometimes it makes more sense to just use Notepad, still based on Schema app support” CTO
“We don’t use tools, we do it manually” Digital Marketer, Enterprise
“Internally developed tools and markup checkers that were developed for our specific needs.” Head of Search, Enterprise
“I like Yoast, Schema App, and All in One SEO plugins”
The results from the survey clearly state that Schema Markup is not reserved for the SEO elite, but is a language that is actively being adopted by SEO enthusiasts and experts alike to translate their content to be understood and perform in search engines. They share the desire to have more examples, and answers on best practices so they can figure out how to best represent their brands. While there are tools available on the markup that automate most of the process, while giving advanced users tons of options, many choose to do schema markup manually. I ponder whether this helps the coders maintain the art in their SEO, or if it just because they know how to do it accurately this way, even though it is not as productive as automation.
I look forward to seeing how the schema markup Ninja’s in the world evolve their tactics and strategies as we see more technologies use schema markup to provide answers and context and the role automation will play as the use cases scale. I plan on conducting another survey in 6 months to see what changes in the landscape.