How to Develop a Schema Markup Strategy for a Website

Tutorial

When you decide to do Schema markup on a website, you have to figure out what pages you want to optimize and what part of the schema.org vocabulary you should use to get the best organic search results and the most Google rich results. This blog walks you through how the Schema App team builds Schema Markup strategies for their clients. We want to help you do the same for your own site, or for your client’s sites. This process is tried and true, and was developed by Schema App co-founder and Schema markup expert Mark van Berkel. Like video more than reading blogs? Watch Mark’s presentation on his process in the video below.

While you can use this process when you are DOING the work, I’ve also used a light version of this process to SELL the work. What do you need to optimize and then how do you price it. This same process (just not the doing part) informs the proposal I put together for clients.

This blog will cover these key topics:

  • Identifying the key content you want to optimize
  • Mapping key content to Schema classes
  • Doing markup for a single page
  • Doing markup for recurring pages

Identify Key Content/Aspects of the Business

The first step in doing Schema markup for a website is to understand what the website is about, what are the key things you want to rank for and tell the world about. This usually includes the business, contact information, products, services, reviews, and important people. It may also include authority articles about what the business does.

If it is about a business that sells pizza, then you would look at the locations and all their contact and ordering information, the pizzas they sell, their customer reviews and testimonials, and maybe the owner and team.

Here’s a way you can logically map this out to see what pages you should optimize. In this table, list all the key aspects of the business, then define it (ideally with a schema.org definition). Then find the page that talks mostly about this part of the business. We’ve used Schema App’s own website as an example. 

Key Content/Aspect of Business What is it?   Where is it on the website?
Schema App Brand Brand https://www.schemaapp.com/
Schema App Product Product

Offers

https://www.schemaapp.com/schema-org-json-ld-markup-editor/
Contact Information ContactPoint

Contact Page

https://www.schemaapp.com/contact/
Pricing Offers https://www.schemaapp.com/schema-org-json-ld-markup-editor/
WooCommerce Plugin Product & Offer https://www.schemaapp.com/product/schema-woocommerce-plugin/
Schema App Bootcamp Course https://www.schemaapp.com/product/schema-course-bootcamp/
Getting Started Guide TechArticle https://www.schemaapp.com/getting-started/

Review Eligible Google Features

The next step is to understand the Google features that are available and which ones you want to try to achieve for your top content. Get to know these features, and what markup helps produce each feature. It will help you articulate the value of doing markup to your client.

For a local business, we recommend the following features as a starting point. Some will depend on the type of business. The features with a (*) can all be done for the organization! So you can enable 5 features by just optimizing a page about the company.

Recommended Local Business Google Features

Complete list of Google’s Structured Data Features include (December 15, 2016):

To help you map the features to your top content, use the table above and add a column for Google Feature. First, review the key content you identified in the first step, and list what Google features they qualify for on that page. Then, in the new rows at the bottom, add the additional features you want to achieve. For the example below, I added Article, Breadcrumbs, Sitelink Search Box and Videos. Then you have to work backwards for these features and identify pages on the website that would qualify for them.

Key Content What is it?   Where is it on the website? Google Feature?
Hunch Manifest Organization https://www.hunchmanifest.com Local Business

Corporate Contacts

Logo

Social Profiles

Reviews

Schema App Brand Brand https://www.schemaapp.com Social Profiles

Logo

Corporate Contacts

Schema App Product Product

Offers

https://www.schemaapp.com/schema-org-json-ld-markup-editor/ Product

Reviews

Contact Information ContactPoint

Contact Page

https://www.schemaapp.com/contact/ Corporate Contacts
Pricing Offers https://www.schemaapp.com/schema-org-json-ld-markup-editor/ Products
WooCommerce Plugin Product & Offer https://www.schemaapp.com/product/schema-woocommerce-plugin/ Product

Reviews

Schema App Bootcamp Course https://www.schemaapp.com/product/schema-course-bootcamp/ Course
Getting Started Guide TechArticle https://www.schemaapp.com/getting-started/ Article
Blog posts BlogPost https://www.schemaapp.com/blog/ Article
Breadcrumbs Breadcrumbs www.hunchmanifest.com

www.schemaapp.com

Breadcrumbs
Search www.hunchmanifest.com

www.schemaapp.com

SiteLink Search Box
Tutorials/Youtube Video Videos

Evaluate Each Page – Single or Recurring

So now you have a list of the pages/content you want to optimize and determine if it is single page (only one exists and will ever exists) or is recurring. To figure this out, ask yourself the question, “Does this page type have content that is recurring?” Examples of recurring content include: blog posts, videos, recipes, and locations (if multi location business). If you have 10 or more of these pages, it is recurring.

Why Is This Important?

This is important because if the page is recurring, you want to figure out how you can automate the Schema markup. This is usually done by creating a page or post template, or dynamically creating the JSON-LD from a bulk upload or data feed. If it is a single page, then using an editor like Schema App makes sense. You will create the markup, deploy it, then maintain it.  

Add a “Single or Recurring” column to your worksheet and categorize each line as Single or Recurring.

Key Content What is it about?   Where is it on the website? Google Feature? Single or Recurring
Hunch Manifest Organization https://www.hunchmanifest.com Local Business

Corporate Contacts

Logo

Social Profiles

Reviews

Single
Schema App Brand Brand https://www.schemaapp.com Social Profiles

Logo

Corporate Contacts

Single
Schema App Product Product

Offers

https://www.schemaapp.com/schema-org-json-ld-markup-editor/ Product

Reviews

Single
Contact Information ContactPoint

Contact Page

https://www.schemaapp.com/contact/ Corporate Contacts Single
Pricing Offers https://www.schemaapp.com/schema-org-json-ld-markup-editor/ Products Single
WooCommerce Plugin Product & Offer https://www.schemaapp.com/product/schema-woocommerce-plugin/ Product

Reviews

Single
Schema App Bootcamp Course https://www.schemaapp.com/product/schema-course-bootcamp/ Course Single
Getting Started Guide TechArticle https://www.schemaapp.com/getting-started/ Article Single
Blog posts BlogPost https://www.schemaapp.com/blog/ Article Recurring
Breadcrumbs Breadcrumbs www.hunchmanifest.com

www.schemaapp.com

Breadcrumbs Recurring
Search www.hunchmanifest.com

www.schemaapp.com

SiteLink Search Box Single
Tutorials/Youtube Video Videos Recurring

Identify the Schema Class

So you’ve figured out that the page is a single page and not recurring. Let’s start by helping you get started to optimize your single pages with Schema Markup. To do this you need to ask, what is the main thing you are talking about on the page? The main topic will map to the primary Schema class. Schema classes are described at Schema.org or in Schema App are listed in the Editor under Class Tree.

There can be secondary things you are talking about on the page, and make note of these. Here are two examples from our worksheet.

Key Content What is it about?   Where is it on the website? Google Feature? Single or Recurring Main Schema Class
Hunch Manifest The company called Hunch Manifest https://www.hunchmanifest.com Local Business

Corporate Contacts

Logo

Social Profiles

Reviews

Single Primary: Local Business

Secondary:

Contact Information

WooCommerce Plugin Product called Woocommerce plugin https://www.schemaapp.com/product/schema-woocommerce-plugin/ Product

Reviews

Single Primary: Product

Secondary: Reviews

So for the first example, Hunch Manifest, the creators of Schema App, we would go to Schema App, select the Local Business Class, and then click create. Schema App then pulls in all the relevant properties for that class.

Review Page and Map Content to Schema Properties

Now that you know what Schema class you are going to use for the page you identified, you need to review what content is on the webpage and can be used to complete the properties.  We usually do this step in parallel with implementation. Why? Well, if it is a static page and you are using a tool like Schema App, then you can easily see what content is on the page and paste the content directly in the tool. If you are doing a recurring page, you can do this as you work through the page template.

The important thing to know is that Google’s Structured Data Recommendations require that the Schema markup you create needs to reflect what is on the page. Google says:

[Schema markup] should be an up-to-date and accurate reflection of the topic and content already found on the page, such as text, images, and videos. For example:

  • A page about a dinner recipe may use recipe structured data to list the ingredients and describe the cooking steps.
  • Markup should not be used to hide content not visible to users in any form, since it might create a misleading or deceptive search experience. For example, if the JSON-LD markup describes a performer, the HTML body should describe that same performer.

How to do Schema Markup for a Single Page

Now that you know what page maps to what Schema class and have thought about what content on the page maps to what property, you are ready to Implement Schema Markup. 

If you are using Schema App to do your implementation (so you can automatically create JSON-LD and deploy it to your site), read and watch the Schema App tutorial to see what it looks like for creating Schema markup for an organization. Using Schema App, you can fill in the properties displayed for the page type, click save. The JSON-LD will be created automatically and if you are using our automatic deployment with the Schema App WordPress Plugin, or Google Tag Manager, the JSON-LD will be deployed automatically to your site.

If you are not using Schema App, then you would need to hand write the JSON-LD, and reference the Schema.org documentation for examples on how to create the code without errors.

Follow the process of identifying the Schema Class, mapping content on page to properties and implementing Schema markup for each page in your table.

How to do Schema Markup for Recurring Pages

The first question to ask yourself when you are creating markup for a recurring page is: Do you have developer access? Do you have the ability to edit the page templates directly? The reason we ask this question is that if you have developer access you can easily add microdata to your pages. If you don’t have developer access, you will need to create the markup from a datasource (export or screen scrape). Let’s explore what each of these options look like.

Yes, You Have Developer Access to Page Templates

Great! If you have access to the backend of the website and the page templates, you can add microdata to the page. This way you don’t have to go into the database and map the data into a JSON-LD structure. Instead you can use the existing page template and just augment it with your microdata in the html. We recommend taking a screenshot of page prior to implementing the microdata. Microdata can impact the look and feel, so if you have a screen shot you can refer back to it after you have put in the microdata to get the page look back to its original state.

Once you have added the microdata, test the Schema. We recommend you test it before you deploy it to get out the errors before it goes live. Use the Google Structured Testing Tool and use the code snippet option to test your page. Once you have the Schema markup showing no errors or warnings, check the look and feel of the page so you can make sure that the micro data hasn’t changed the look and feel of the page.

Pro’s and Cons of this Approach

Adding microdata allows you to add Schema markup at scale to many pages and you can manage the type of markup centrally on that template. The problem with doing microdata on a template is that it requires a developer, is hard to manage because it is in the html, and can be fragile. What do I mean by fragile? Since your Schema markup is amongst the page’s html, someone changing the page layout, or editing the content in an html editor can remove or disrupt your markup. There are alternatives to doing the markup in template, listed below.

No, I Don’t Have Development Access to Page Templates

There are two methods that you can use if you don’t have development access or choose to take a different way to avoid the cons of doing a template. In order to figure out what method works best for you, ask: Can you add a tag using Adobe Tagging Framework/Google Tag Manager

No, I Can’t Use a Tagging Framework Like Adobe or Google Tag Manager

If you can’t use a tag, the only option is to do the markup manually, page by page or do no markup at all. Follow steps for above for “How to do Schema markup for a Single Page.”

Yes, I Can Use a Tagging Framework Like Adobe or Google Tag Manager

Yes! Great, then you can use the tag is a dynamic javascript implementation so you can pull in the structured data dynamically through the tag. What we love about this is that you don’t have to have developer access and you can manage all your markup outside of the website. Great for non technical marketers or clients who restrict your development access. There are two options on how to create the markup in this method. To figure out what is best for you ask, do you have a database dump?

Yes, I have a Database Dump

If you have an export of the data on your recurring pages, either in csv or mysql export, then you can take the data dump and map those properties from a page to the Schema Class and properties. What does this look like? Think of an excel spreadsheet where the headings are Schema Class Properties, and the data from the export is in each row mapping to those properties. Here is an example for organization and some of the properties:

Using this information, you can use the bulk upload from Schema App to generate JSON-LD and have the code deployed through the tag. After it is deployed you can test it with the Structured Data Testing Tool. So now that the JSON-LD has been created in Schema App from your bulk upload, you need to implement the tag so that when the page loads, the Schema markup is loaded dynamically. You can follow the Google Tag Manager Integration steps for how to do this with Schema App. After it is deployed, you can test it with the Structured Data Testing Tool.

No, I Don’t Have a Data Dump.

So now you are going to have to do a web scrape. The web scraping tool we like is import.IO. It is a visual interface that allows a non technical person to highlight the fields on pages and give it some patterns to recognize and it will do the crawling for you. It’s a great way to bootstrap the implementation without a developer. Once you have this data, then you can map it to the Schema class and properties. From this you pull out names, description, images, review information – anything that is relevant for the Schema class and properties you want to get. You may want to augment the information you get from the page with some additional data. For example, for ratings, you might want to add the minimum and maximum rating value.

Once you have decided your bulk data is complete, you can use the bulk upload from Schema App to generate JSON-LD and have the code deployed through the tag. So now that the JSON-LD has been created in Schema App from your bulk upload, you need to implement the tag so that when the page loads. The Schema markup is loaded dynamically. You can follow the Google Tag Manager Integration steps for how to do this with Schema App. After it is deployed you can test it with the Structured Data Testing Tool.

So now you know how to identify what pages you should optimize and how to determine the best way to optimize it depending on whether it is a single page or recurring page. If you have suggestions or ideas on how we can make this process even better, let us know! Happy Schema’ing.

 

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