Learn How to Develop a Schema Markup Strategy

Training Objective

Determine the critical success factors for your business to identify areas to markup. Look for opportunities to maximize ‘visibility’ as well as ‘findability’ in search. Plan out your Schema Markup strategy.

Watch as Martha develops a schema markup strategy for a local hockey team.

1. Define goals

  • Which pages are currently generating the most traffic
  • How you are capturing metrics
  • How you will measure success. Our customers are typically striving for:
    • Increases in pages visited
    • Increases in average session duration
    • Decrease in bounce rate
    • Higher impressions, clicks, CTR, and conversions
    • Better looking SERP results
    • Error-free structured data
    • Overall growth
    • Improvement in page rankings
  • Identify areas on the site that are working well
  • Identify areas on the site that are not working well

2. Create a table to capture the overall strategy

How to complete the table:
  • “Page” captures the key business concept and describes what is the page primarily about? This can get tricky because there are so many options and you’ll want to be as specific as possible. For your homepage start by asking yourself if your business serves a locality or something broader (i.e. is it a local business or an organization?). If it is a local business, go to https://schema.org/LocalBusiness, scroll down and look for the different options available to you. Choose the one that is most specific. For instance, perhaps you are an orthodontist. but you only see ‘Dentist’ on the list. Choose “Dentist”. We’ll use Wikipedia to let the search engines know that you are an orthodontist. If you are an organization that is publically traded, choose “Corporation”. If you are a Corporation but have several locations that serve a locality, then your homepage might be “Corporation” but you can use a Local Business definition for your branches. For example, a “Corporation” that has “ChildCare” locations throughout the country. Each webpage may have other schema.org types on it as well. For instance, your “Service” page may also have a “VideoObject” and an “FAQPage” about your service. We’ll nest these schema.org types under the primary type so that the search engines understand that the page is about a “Service” and these types are about the service. Wikipedia references will help us to further inform search engines about your service.
  • Is the page a single page or is it templated?  A page template utilizes the same layout for a specific type of content (e.g. products, services, videos, news, locations)
  • Where is it on website?
  • Is it eligible for a Google Feature? These features power rich results in search – examples include stars and images. You might choose to leverage reviews, videos, articles, FAQs, HowTos, etc. Some are optimized for mobile and/or voice. I highly recommend that you look carefully through the features. If you don’t have the content on your website that makes you eligible for a feature, consider adding it, but take note of the requirements because some of them are extensive. On January 31, 2020, John Mueller from Google, had this to say:

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.”  Google: Schema Markup Won’t Get Any Easier; Will Get Harder

Check back often as Google is always expanding the list.

  • Implementation:
    • Can you utilize the functionality your CMS (Content Management System) provides?
    • Can you utilize a plug-in?
    • Single pages can be marked up using the Schema App Editor
    • Templated pages can be marked up using the Schema App Highlighter
Page Table

3. Baseline metrics

Before you start, baseline your traffic. Google may discover your schema markup quickly, so you’ll want to baseline your traffic before you implement. 

Build your list of pages or sample of pages that you plan to markup.

Check the current status of the pages you will optimize:

    1. Search rank position
    2. Traffic
    3. Clickthrough rate % 
    4. Bounce rate 
    5. Time on Page
    6. Search Features, e.g. rich snippets, answer box, knowledge graph, etc.

4. Determine the schema markup strategy for each page

Choose the schema.org classification

Use the schema.org type that is the most specific while still being accurate. For example, we would classify this content  https://www.schemaapp.com/tips/benefits-of-structured-data-today-and-in-the-future/ as a “BlogPosting.

If you need help choosing the type:

  1. Use the Schema App Editor:
    • Class tree (start with the most generic type, which is a “Thing, and drill down) OR
    • Search (if you have a good idea of the possible name)
  2. Schema.org – is an excellent resource for understanding the nuances of the different class types

NOTE: Even though I plan to mark this page up using the Schema App Highlighter, the Schema App Editor does a better job of organizing the  schema.org properties into “Required”, “Recommended” and “Other” properties.

Some properties map to separate schema.org types – each with their own set of properties (see below for an example of this).

You must include the required properties for your content to be eligible for display as a rich result. 

Create a table. Capture each relevant property and identify its priority – noting whether it is a required, recommended or “other” property.

Only markup content that is visible on the page. When the content is not visible on the page, there is an opportunity to add the content to the page – note this on your planning document. (In our example, “author” is not on the website, so we have an opportunity to add it so we can mark it up).

Including “recommended” properties may also provide viewers with a better user experience.

You may not have the knowledge to complete the table at this point, but that’s okay. As you progress through the training, you’ll develop the skills to do so.

The blog we’re marking up

Arrow down

Schema App Editor shows properties for the Class and prioritizes them

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Populate your planning table

Planning Table

Embedded markup: The primary type/class/entity can map to a secondary schema.org type

Up until now, we’ve been demonstrating how you might consider the schema markup strategy for a Blog.  We’re going to switch gears and introduce the concept that one schema.org type can have properties that are actually another schema.org “type” with its own properties (and so on).

We’ll use the example of a “Product” to demonstrate this concept.  In this case, the primary schema.org “type” (aka class or entity) is “Product”.

Many of the “Product” properties are also schema.org types/classes/entities with their own set of properties.

For example, “offer” (colored bright orange) is a schema.org “Product” property that is its own schema.org type and has its own schema.org properties. When we are marking up this page, we would choose “Product” as the primary type but embed other types into the markup, such as “Offer”.  In doing so, we are letting the search engines know that this page is about a product that has an offer.

Each of the schema.org types have their own properties

For example:

“brand” is a schema.org property associated with “Product”, but “brand” needs to be further defined as either “brand” or “organization”. In this case, we are marking up the company’s logo, so “brand” should be associated with “Organization” which has a property, “logo” which maps to a schema.org class, “ImageObject”.

The Editor will guide you through the process

The Schema App Editor organizes all of the schema.org properties into “Required”, “Recommended” and “Other”. When you choose a property that needs to be further broken down into a new schema.org type, both the Schema App Editor and Highlighter will present you with the options specific to that type so you can select the one that best aligns to your content.

Learn how to connect your markup:

If you want to link content to other pages (either internal or external)  but aren’t sure how to do so, utilize “Schema Paths”.  “Schema Paths” demonstrates how one schema.org type can be connected to another one.  Embedded in the video below are instructions on how to use “Schema Paths”.

Fun Fact

For schema.org “types”, schema.org uses  PascalCase – which means the first character of each word is capitalized.

For “properties”, schema.org  uses camelCase means the first character is in lowercase while the first letter of the second word is capitalized.

You’ll hear us talk about Knowledge Graphs and Connected Schema Markup

Certain companies (like Schema App) create linked Schema Markup so that search engines and voice understand how your content is connected to your organization and to other things on the web. Connected Schema Markup is the foundation of the semantic web. As a result, your Schema Markup is more than code, it creates a Knowledge Graph. Read more about Knowledge Graphs.

A Knowledge Graph can enhance search engine results with information gathered from a variety of sources. It allows users to understand facts about people, places and things and how these entities are all connected.

Watch and listen to Martha’s super fun video that dives into “Connected Schema Markup and Knowledge Graphs”, and describes:
  • Why knowledge graphs are important
  • How they are built using triples
  • How adding schema.org properties creates triples
  • How you can create relationships between entities

Ready to move onto Chapter 2: Authoring?